Diamonds Are Seen At the Open Gate Farm by Jon Stevens


The following posts is contributed by Jon Stevens at the Open Gate Farm on Camano Island.

Feeding chickens at the Open Gate Farm

This morning the sun was shining and drops of water were hanging on the tall grass like diamonds twisting and sparkling in the light.  We were reminded of that classic 1880’s book, “Acre of Diamonds”.  Here we have our acre, here we have our diamonds.  The thousands of lights on the lawn are only a drop in the bucket of all we have here. We have relationships, joys, resources and shining lights aplenty right here at home.
Over the years, our time on the road created an appreciation and love for seeing new sights, new ways of doing things, new ways of living.  Other cultures are fascinating, that’s for sure.  When we traveled, we lived simply with minimal effort.  One really does not need more than a small suitcase.  And people were always glad to see us, or at least our money.
Traveling is fun.  And it’s a great relief from the pressures of the present which push us around when we’re home.  It’s a big world out there, with much to see and do.
But there is also much here on our little island on the side of the Salish Sea which is not to be missed either.  We can talk about the glowing diamonds in the grass, the boisterous banter of the ducks, the joyful crow of our roosters, of the happy dog chasing away eagles and ravens and barking with all 25 pounds of his busy body.  We can talk about the soil that is year by year turning into a paradise for wiggling earthworms and tender roots of happy plants.  We can talk about the shining eyes of delight as a neighbor pauses up on the road to survey this bit of flowering paradise, then with a nod of approval goes on their way.
We can talk about all of that, but what is really important is the simplicity of it all.  When the eyes get blinded to beauty, when the heart is hardened against pain until separation from others seems the only option, when the losses pile up higher than the resources to meet them, it is easy to lose sight of what is really the answer.  When those things happen, perhaps we need to focus on simplifying life.
When we Americans look at a garden, we are drawn to and draw energy from lines.  An orchard is a powerful statement of organization.  A place for every thing and every thing in it’s place.  The straight rows of corn, leading the eye to the woodlot.  The family garden, a brown patch cut square in a green lawn with perhaps a tight fence around it. Most folks we meet seem to find more pleasure in a garden with clear lines than in the “English Country Garden” where flowers flop all over each other and each is arguing for more space. We like the linear.  Yet all these speak of simplicity too.
It may be that when the clouds of disaster let loose their rain of pain in our lives, we might consider meeting the deluge with simplicity.  We might stop filling our lives with energy draining activities like watching the news.  Turn off the TV at 9 and go to bed. You’ll feel better in the morning than if you stay up to catch the latest breathless reporting of someone else’s disaster at 10.  Not that much will really change overnight and you can catch up on it later.
What would happen if you played farmer for a couple days?  Stay outside until dark, working around the place.  Would that help clear the eyes and let you see the diamonds you have?  Would that leave you feeling better about yourself and your life than going in to watch overpaid people play games where someone always has to lose to make it good?
Pick out your favorite 7 shirts and give the rest away.  Maybe the same with pants. Then you will wash just once a week and life will be easier.  And that radio in the car? Turn it off and think.  Your farmer remembers how it was several years after leaving home as a young man when his mother got her first car that had a radio.  She was floored at how it interrupted her thinking.  What would you do if you had no radio in your car?  Now there’s a great topic for tonight’s dinner table!  Your farmer learned a lot of songs, singing with Mom as they drove down the road of life together sans radio. What songs are you teaching your kids?
Try some of these things, these simplifyings of life.  You may discover the crushing loads of our current economic crash less flattening.  You may discover that a simpler life, a life with less not more, is actually a richer life.  You may, as so many of us have, discover the diamonds that are laying all around you, waiting until you see their light.
Happy Hoeing,
Jon and Elaine, the diamond farmers, Snickers the diamond hunting dog, Mystery, the stone inspecting cat, Harley and his flock of shining chickens, and the Parson Dudley Brown and his flock of brilliant ducks all of whom live joyfully at
The Open Gate Farm
269 Russell Road,
Camano Island, WA 98282
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