The Biggest Little Farm Goes Head to Head with our Biggest Little Racist…

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
― John F. Kennedy 1961

That president (35) and the current occupant of the office (45) are apples and something orange, and it took just 58 years to go from “our better angels” and ‘the best of our energies and skills’ to “there were fine people on both sides” and Congresswomen of color should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

This weekend 31 innocent people were murdered and more than 50 wounded and/or hospitalized in two mass shootings – El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. I couldn’t cope with it – so I went to the movies. My brain couldn’t wrap itself around the carnage and the moral outrage it engendered when I learned that this president, protected by the Secret Service and safely hidden behind walls away from the prying eyes of the Fourth Estate, was shaking hands and signing autographs for “wedding guests” he didn’t know after playing golf at his New Jersey golf club. Meanwhile, the rest of America was viewing the carnage in El Paso and Dayton and grieving with the families of the victims.

Not until 48 hours after the murderous event in El Paso, did he address the country to offer tepid condolences to the victims, blame mental illness and video games for the slaughter, and offer platitudes about Americans coming together to fight the scourge (never once mentioning guns). Fuck him and the NRA, and the gun manufacturers, and Machine Gun Mitch McConnell who is blocking two gun responsibilty bills passed by the House from getting a vote on the Senate floor. I’m pissed…

Trump and his Ken doll consoling the nation

So, I went to the movies – where I learned a little about how better angels and Americans with their hands in the soil are still striving to make a difference. The Biggest Little Farm is a documentary about John and Molly Chester, a California couple, who pursued their dream of building a sustainable farm with diversified crops, orchards, poultry, and livestock from scratch…and I mean scratch. 

John and Molly Chester

It’s a good, old-fashioned, inspiring story at a time when they’re in short supply. For those of us who grew up slurping the Kool Aid about an honest, hardworking, by the bootstraps, build-your-dream America, this story will help you regain your footing and restore your faith. 

There are still real people doing real things in the right way, and what President Kennedy said about the moonshot is equally applicable to John and Molly Chester’s California farm enterprise. They did it “not because it was easy, but because it was hard, because the goal served to organize and measure the best of their energies and skills.”

Their story and grit will keep you on the edge of your seat. Will they succeed or will the starlings that descend on their orchard, the coyotes who raid their chicken house, the aphids and snails that eat their crops, the drought that empties their aquifer, the Santa Ana winds that blow their trees down, or the rain that washes away the topsoil destroy their dream?

The Biggest Little Farm

You’ll have to see the movie to find out, but in the process you’ll have spent two hours engrossed in an activity far more positive than the latest body count of gun deaths or presidential racial tweets dished out in the daily news cycle. It’s only two hours, but you’ll come out of the theater refreshed and ready to fight the battle to reclaim our amazingly rich and incredible country.


  1. Thanks for the update on the farming endeavor. For sure we’ll check it out when we return from the sticks of northern Montana and the Dakotas.

    One wonderful thing about being out here in Nowheresville for 3 weeks is that the town newspapers only carry info on how the hogs are doing and the latest chicken disease.
    It’s a blessing.

  2. I like your blog but something in this one startled and concerned me and I wanted to make you aware of it in case its not something you’ve thought of before, especially in the context of writing about the shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

    The term “drink the Koolaid”, comes from another massacre, the Jonestown massacre that took place in Guyana in 1978. I won’t say more about what happened there as its easy enough to find online.

    Please find another way to talk about blind obedience to orders. It’s painful, and honestly offensive, to find the term used so casually and almost as a joke when over 900 people were killed, many of them African American from Oakland, CA. Congresswoman Jackie Speier wrote an excellent piece for Politico last year on the 40 Anniversary of Jonestown. She was shot and nearly killed when she (as a staffer) along with Congressman Leo Ryan visited to see for themselves what so many of his constituents were concerned about. Congressman Ryan was killed. I encourage you to read it.

    Thanks for your time and your excellent writing.

    • Dear Alex: Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate your sensitivity to the Kool Aid mention, but Jonestown has become a metaphor and touchpoint for exactly what happened in Dayton and El Paso. I know the whole story and read Jackie Speier’s piece in Politico. I will keep your alert in mind in the future and try not to be glib about it. Nevertheless, I feel OK about using it when it comes to Trump followers and his racist rants. Thanks for being such a diligent reader.

    • Alex: One more clarification. In the Jonestown tragedy the followers “believed” Jones, and in my piece Kool Aid I used the metaphor to show my generation’s gullible acceptance of the American myth – the story as it was told to us as we were growing up. I still believe in American goodness and American institutions, but I’m no longer gullible in the same way. Your comment was thoughtful and I appreciated it. Just wanted to clarify my use of the metaphor.

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