A tale of two sprout farmers

by Tom Deighan

Once upon a time, there were two farmers. One farmer was very old, and one farmer was very young. The old farmer lived alone on her farm after her husband had passed away, and they had no children together. The young farmer inherited the neighboring farm unexpectedly, and immediately made a home there with his young wife and several small children. The old farmer welcomed her new neighbors with fresh vegetables, jars of jelly, and eggs from her henhouse. They became instant friends. 

Very shortly after moving in, the young farmer shared his plans to get the farm producing as soon as possible. “I will grow bean sprouts!” he exclaimed proudly. “No other crop grows faster!”  Within days, the beans sprouted, and the old farmer was genuinely impressed. Before long, the ambitious young farmer could barely keep up, harvesting thousands of pounds of bean sprouts each week. The old lady helped every day with the children and small chores. They grew to love her very much, and she cherished every minute with the young family.

One day, the old farmer did not visit, so the young farmer checked on her at her small farm which connected to his land along a creek bank. Thankfully, he found her happily packing fresh dirt around the base of a sapling behind her house. Fallow fields that had not been cultivated for years surrounded her quaint home, and it was clear that she had no interest in crops since her husband passed. The only vestiges of a farm that remained were her well-tended garden and her beloved chickens which she introduced by name. The old farmer and the young farmer sipped lemonade and discussed grandiose plans for bean sprouts.            

In the coming days, the old farmer still visited regularly, but she no longer stayed as long, “I have important work to do!” she declared as she dropped off fresh eggs, pickles, or warm bread. Very soon thereafter, she died, leaving her small estate to the young farmer and his wife, much to their surprise. On their first visit to the old farmer’s place after her death, they could not believe what they saw. Rows upon rows of young trees had been planted in her final days. Neat labels identified fruit and nut trees of every variety. Within time, the young farmer learned that the old lady had been diagnosed with terminal illness before his arrival, and one day while sorting through her papers, they discovered correspondence with her attorney. She had given a child up for adoption over fifty years ago, before getting married to her husband, and when her husband died, she began searching. Her daughter was dead, but she had one grandson to whom the old lady anonymously gave most of her farm. She kept only the hired hands’ quarters and a few acres across the creek for herself. 

In the coming years, all those trees the old farmer planted blossomed into beautiful groves that sustained the young farmer’s family and countless others. His children returned to establish families of their own on the land, and his grandchildren played in their shade, picked their fruit, and gathered their nuts. He retired very comfortably, deeply satisfied and thankful for the life he lived harvesting seeds as soon as they sprouted. But not a day passed without marveling at his grandmother who anonymously sowed herself as a seed into his life and planted trees she would never see mature. As his great-grandchildren began to be born, the bean sprout farmer became a tree farmer as well, knowing he would never smell the blossoms, taste the fruit, or enjoy the cool shade of the trees he planted. Like his grandmother before him, the old farmer invested in children he would never know and who would never know him. And the last of his days were happier than the first.  

Tom Deighan is currently the superintendent of Duncan Public Schools. You may email him at deighantom@gmail.com and read past articles at www.mostlyeducational.com.

Comanche Times
United for Oklahoma - September