The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs


A fable of greed

Many folk tales use the motif from Aesop's fable.

In connection to this old tale, Michael Bennett, a Storytell friend, sent me the following about his childhood on an American farm. Although Aesop's tale has been well known for over two thousand years, clearly we are still slow to learn the lessons.

I grew up on a small farm in Idaho. We had a main canal running through the middle of the property, and we were careful to maintain about 20 feet of pasture on either side - grass, brush, and so forth.
When my great-uncle died, his 40 acres was snapped up by someone else who plowed the pasture and extended the corrugates right into the canal. They picked up a couple of farm acres but lost their best topsoil within 3 years.
You end up renting a tank of anhydrous ammonia to try to put some nitrogen back into the soil, but that expense quickly negates any pickup from increased planting area.
In addition to the soil loss, they never realized that the pasture provided 20 to 30 pounds of wild asparagus every 3 to 4 days, and that was a cash crop at the local supermarket back door. They lost pheasant habitat, and the hunters glad to pay $25-$50 for the weekend permission to walk the fields. Not a lot of cash, but sometimes we would swap that for apricot or apple harvest rights with another family. Asparagus could also be given to other families who would be happy to let us glean their fields after the potato harvest. We could fill a pickup truck every October with 1500-2000 pounds of fresh potatoes that would keep six boys fed until June.
Plowing the pasture never made a lot of sense. It was all tax-free income, since nothing harvested from it ever had to go to the bean elevator.


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