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Merry Christmas

Agriculture.com Staff 12/22/2008 @ 7:54am

I've been thinking, and all in all, I can think of a lot worse places to be born than a stable.

They say it happened in a stable because there was no room at the inn. I've seen a dozen Christmas programs where the heartless innkeeper points his arm and orders the desperate family away, because he is full up. Maybe he wasn't so heartless. If you had to chose, which would you prefer? The hallway of a Thrifty Scot on a crowded weekend or a barn?

I'm not talking about one of my hog barns. There's nothing comforting abut a modern hog barn. They may be clean, efficient, well-maintained; any number of adjectives like that come to mind. But nurturing? I don't think so.

No, I'm talking about the barns we used to have. When I was very young, the barn we had was probably not a great deal different from barns of a couple of thousand years ago. There was a place to store hay and straw, stalls for animals, a couple of doors and probably a couple of windows for ventilation. Nothing complicated, but good enough for the purposes.

I know Palestine is a lot further south than Minnesota so I imagine it doesn't get nearly as cold in December. Although, the first Christmas my son every spent away from home he spent in a tent in Kuwait and he said it got plenty cold at night, so I'm sure some bedding was used. From all the talk about winnowing and thrashing in the Bible, I imagine the bedding was loose straw.

I'm sure it was dimly lit. Barns now are full of banks of fluorescent lights, but the barns I remember were all dim, and that was after electricity. I remember standing next to an older man at an auction once when they were selling kerosene lanterns for $115 each. He told me that the day he got electricity on his farm he had taken six of them behind his grove and thrown them as far as he could.

He said, and I quote, "If you set them damn things on the floor you couldn't see to tie your shoe." I'm sure the lanterns in Palestine weren't any better, but dim is OK. In fact babies prefer dim.

People might day, "But barns stink. Eww!"

Well, no, actually they don't. Not if they are kept clean, and the animals aren't sick, and fresh straw is in every pen. They still smell of course, but it isn't a bad smell, just the smell of, well, of life. Babies smell, too, you know.

All in all, not so bad. It would have been scary of course, all births are scary, but it would have been warm, and quiet, with the soft sound of animals shifting in the darkness. There would have been people around who cared, and helped, and through one of the windows there would have been shining light from the stars.

Maybe only from one star.

Sometimes, one star is all you need.

I've been thinking, and all in all, I can think of a lot worse places to be born than a stable.

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