The Story Begins...
There once was a farmer who owned a struggling family farm that was the primary source of income and food which sustained his family. Each year, the farmer took pain-staking detail to decide the crops that he would plant and to assess the potential yield of each crop. The familiar yellow corn was a staple of the farm and was the farmer’s primary crop. Additionally, he added tomatoes, cabbages, squash, carrots and many others.
He had relied on the iconic Farmer’s Almanac historically, to provide him with an annual forecast of the weather and potential yields from the various crops. Now, in modern times there were other more scientific means to anticipate the coming year’s weather and yields. However, they are still merely predictions and speculations. Ultimately, each farmer has to make and take an educated guess regarding the specific crops to plant and the varying amounts of each, as well. They may be predictions for the Farmer’s Almanac. But, for the struggling farmer these predictions are backed up by his decisions and his family’s survival was always on the line. One day during the Planning Season the farmer and his young daughter were visited by a stranger passing through who wanted to trade some bags of seeds for a few bushels of potatoes and carrots to feed his family. The farmer asked the stranger what kind of seeds they were. "They are sorghum seeds", replied the stranger. The farmer stated, "we are a corn farm mostly, and a few other crops such as potatoes, carrots and peas. I have never heard of sorghum". The stranger responded, “plant a little and you will like it. Plant a lot and you will love it". The farmer in order to be neighborly and kind took the seeds and gave the stranger the bushels, but he had no intention of actually planting the sorghum seeds. Later during the Planting Season, the farmer and his family, plowed their land, planted their seeds and began the impatient months of waiting for their crops to rise. There were a myriad of factors and variables that were considered. But, once the seeds were in the ground, the decisions were over. The next morning, the farmer’s young daughter discovered the sorghum seeds still in their bags in the barn. She ran to her father and exclaimed, "we forgot to plant these seeds". The farmer explained that they had just finished the planting and that there was no space left on the farm to plant them. The daughter said that the stranger said that we would love them if we planted them. The farmer said, "I have a small empty section adjacent to the corn that was to remain fallow at this time. We can plant them there". So, the sorghum seeds were planted there.
During the weeks ahead in the midst of the Waiting Season, they battled the usual challenges from insects and crows to sunshine and rain. Every night when the farmer went to bed he would always pray for rain. It was a practice that was passed on by his father who received it from his father before. Farmers all understand the they can spray insecticides for insects and even build scarecrows for the birds, but there has never been a farmer anywhere at anytime who could ever make it rain. So, once the farmer has done all that is within his power, he simply must wait for the rain to fall from the heavens. In the weeks to follow, rain fell occasionally and answered the farmer’s prayers. But, the farmer knew that he needed more rain over the remaining months. And his daughter sent her prayers upward each night, also.
But, as life would have it, during one entire week rain refused to fall. The farmer was concerned, but was not worried as he looked to the sky with hopeful optimism. One week became two and two became three without rain. Typically, farmers are more optimistic by nature than pessimistic. And they are not usually superstitious. But, no farmers anywhere ever want to utter the “D”word. They never want to even say the word drought until there is actually one. As the farmer waited, so did the rain wait in the heavens above. The farmer’s precious crops began to fade without the rain as the drought continued. And the farmer’s optimism faded day-by-day, also. It was not a matter of the farmer’s faith in the rain. He knew that all unwatered crops eventually pass a rubicon. That is to say, that there is a point of no return when crops so deteriorate from the lack of rain and precious nourishment that they can not be revived even with a deluge from the day’s of Noah. What the farmer did not know was that Sorghum is wonderfully made. Sorghum is different by design. Sorghum is a crop very similar to corn in its use and output. But, unlike corn, sorghum has been bestowed with some very special gifts that make it especially resistant to drought-like conditions. First, sorghum has been given a plan called a dormancy strategy. So, when the tough times come such as extreme heat and drought sorghum goes dormant and utilizes less energy and halts its growth command. Sorghum also produces additional roots during dry conditions, to improve its capacity to search for water in the ground below (if the rain is not falling from above, then sorghum finds the water that is already below). It has also been designed with wax on its leaves and stems to reduce the loss of moisture, it has also been prepared with narrow leaves and the incredible ability to fold those leaves in on themselves – all of these gifts along with its dormancy strategy allow sorghum to conserve moisture in both drought and arid conditions. Sorghum functions best when the heat is on! Sorghum came to the farmer’s farm from a far away land. He did not know what the sorghum was capable of and he did not know its gifts. He did not know that:
–Sorghum uses one-third less moisture than corn.
–Corn can cost $150 to $200 per acre for seed, sorghum will cost $25 per acre to plant
–Sorghum’s yield will equal corn.
–Sorghum can be planted and harvested with the same equipment as corn
–Sorghum contains the same amount of starch as corn
So, as the drought continued, the sorghum plants went to work. But, the farmer could not see the sorghum’s effort. The sorghum began growing more roots and reaching below the surface of the soil, stretching those roots further and further below while searching for water. Finding some and searching for more. There was something blessed happening to the sorghum as it grew and searched its roots. It was becoming more rooted and stable. It was becoming harder to move. All plants receive moisture through their root systems. But, that moisture also carries the life-sustaining and growth-building nourishment which comes from the nutrient-rich minerals found in the soil. And a plant can consume more nourishment with a larger root system. There are enough nutrients in the soil around any plant to make it ten times larger and stronger, but the plant’s growth is limited by the size of its own root system. All of those incredible nutrients go unused by an underdeveloped and unprepared plant. But, sorghum is getting ready for the rain!
The farmer’s drought lasted forty-two miserable days during which his large corn crop perished. When the rain finally fell the corn had already succumb to the ardent pressure of the environment. However, the precious rain did find a prepared, equipped and waiting sorghum crop. Only the sorghum was actually structurally stronger and more capable of utilizing the benefits of the rain after the 42-day drought than it would have actually been if there had been no drought. Sorghum remained green throughout the drought and ultimately resumed its upward and outward growth at the designated time and produced the harvest for which it was purposed. Even though it was delayed the sorghum still delivered. There are many lessons that we learn from the incredible sorghum seed.
The simplest is that we must be, Sorghum-Strong and Sorghum-Ready!
Click the link to the right to view the incredibly inspirational video of the Allegory of the Sorghum Seed.
The Allegory of the Sorghum Seed
(based upon a true story)
The history of humankind is filled with centuries of tragedies and triumphs. The human race has continued to develop over the years and we try to become the very best versions of ourselves possible. At the heart of the human condition is a fundamental question which is, are we a product of our environment or are we capable of much more? The incredible story of sorghum symbolizes that we are all built for a distinct purpose and that we are much more capable than we often realize. Sometimes the simplest image or reminder is all that we need during our darkest of hours to endure, overcome and rise triumphantly. The simple term “Sorghum Strong” has become that reminder for so many. And the image of this wonderful plant has become a defining symbol of purpose, accountability and achievement.