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Vine pruning and hoof trimming (by Pastor Christian)

In my first week on the job as the Food Faith + Farm Manager at Good Courage Farm two notable tasks stand out: Grape vine pruning and goat hoof trimming. Grapes send out branches prolifically to increase the size and range of the leaf canopy, but all this growth takes energy from the plant leaving it unable to sustain the fruit until it ripens. The vines need to be dressed in such a way that there are not too many opportunities for the plant to grow. This allows the fruit to ripen rather than die on the vine.

Goats are naturally adapted to climb rocks and mountains. Their hooves are continuously growing protein keratin just like the nails on our fingers and toes! If there aren’t rocks and mountains to climb, the keratin does not wear down naturally as it should. Goat hooves need to be trimmed before they grow in on themselves and cause injury and infection to their feet. If the hooves grow too long the goat will not stay healthy. Goat hooves and vine branches are good things, but too much of a good thing is not healthy for an organism.

When we went into lockdown it was a major adjustment having all those good things of life pruned and trimmed away. At that time my vines were so overgrown and m

y hooves were growing out of control! It was actually a relief as good things were cut away so new growth emerged. Evening walks with my spouse and daily lunch dates with my kids were among the fruits of lockdown. Professionally, creativity and collaboration with colleagues flourished.

Before lockdown my life was overgrown. When pruned and trimmed, I realized how much I was growing in on myself and how many of my efforts were dying on the vine. As restrictions lessened and pressure increased to return to busyness as usual, I allowed the trimming to continue. I left a wonderfully missional church where I served for 12 years and was led by the Spirit to Good Courage Farm where it is my hope that our lives together will bear good fruit that lasts.

Jesus said, “‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)

A Prayer for Pruning: Creator God, grant relief to those whose branches are overburdened with too many good things. Trim us for the growing season that our lives mimic the abundance of nature and your abounding love in Christ the Vine.

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