We start each day at Whetstone Boys Ranch & Boarding School, by logging the number of hours we have spent working on three things: health and fitness, agriculture and wood-working. Because our program is residential, we can budget every hour to maximize academic learning and personal growth; keeping a log helps us to account and give credit for all the boys’ hard work.
One thing that we routinely log, in regard to agriculture, is time spent cultivating the ranch garden. We are blessed at Whetstone to have a number of talented volunteers who mentor the boys on a weekly basis – in the kitchen, in the pasture and in the garden. Dr. Coats is our garden guru, and he has spent huge chunks of time getting our garden in shape. The boys often records bits of wisdom he shares about successful techniques, and one technique that can’t be ignored is cultivation.
Cultivating can be a frustrating process. It doesn’t always seem totally necessary. It’s easy to put off. It’s hard, blistering, back-breaking work. And you don’t see any immediate result from your labor.
You just have to trust that the time you invest in working the ground around your plants will yield fruit, or vegetables…or in our case, men.
We do a lot of things around here to cultivate the garden of the soul. We feed the mind with lively discussion about God’s existence and the reliability of the Bible. We assign books, require study, administer tests and evaluate progress. We develop relationships through ping-pong marathons, family nights, thrift store adventures, swimming excursions and never-ending ranch work.
And always we pray, remembering that all of our hard work is just preparing the soil. On our very best day, this is the very best we can do. God’s love makes things grow.
(BTW: Our garden looks great!)