March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield. O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. . . . You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.”
A passage to ponder while on my knees in the dirt on these cool/warm, sunny/rainy, almost-spring days. Can gardening be a part of bringing heaven down to earth? I have to think yes.
February 8, 2013 § 1 Comment
Check out the article (title above) that I wrote for A Growing Culture! Here’s a link, with the first couple of paragraphs below:
It’s no secret that more and more young people in the U.S. are looking to establish careers in local, organic, and small-scale farming, despite the risk, instability, hard work, and moderate income. Even many well-established career adults are abandoning their corporate jobs to start farms – and writing books about it. Most of these folks are unapologetic about their choices, choosing instead to either shout to the rooftops about why they’ve chosen a lifestyle such as this one, or to quietly go on doing what’s important to them. Yet as much as farmers enjoy their independence, getting started and continuing successfully depends upon a network of support from other farmers, researchers, landowners, and the general public.
Khaiti and Andrew French, who run Living the Dream Farm in Clayton, Wisconsin, were drawn to farming because “of loving good, real food and caring about how animals are raised in agriculture.” They are famous for their duck eggs in Minneapolis circles, and also raise turkeys, rabbits, chickens, and goats. Farmers such as the Frenches, inspired by voices such as Wendell Berry and Fred Kirschenmann, seek meaningful connection to the land, family-centric lifestyles, and practices that are in line with their carefully considered ethics.
February 8, 2013 § 1 Comment
I’ve remained on the quiet side the past couple of months, but guess why? Because changes galore have been happening. I like to take a little while to settle in before I start talking about it.
Remember when I went to North Carolina? Well. I’ve come again, with all my belongings and my dog in tow. We mean to stay.
I’ve faced transitions enough times that I feel something of an old pro at them (I no longer let all the uncertainty and newness pile up until I can do little more than burst into tears, for example). One of the best things about putting yourself into precarious and/or unfamiliar situations is that you learn to adapt, reach out, and trust. You fear risk less, because even while it sometimes makes things quite uncomfortable and even unpleasant, on the other side of risk you might find something wonderful. And you trust that the universe (or, for me, God) will catch you. In this overly-independent society you actually learn to accept help and to cultivate gratitude. People like to help people, did you know that?
I’ve been caught again and I have fallen into what seems to be a very good place. I’m so excited to be working in the farm and gardens at a year-round camp in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Here in Orange County we have many, many small sustainable farms, fantastic food co-ops, winding roads, and horses galore. Two and half hours east, we reach the ocean. Two and half hours west, the mountains. Everyone has been so kind and inviting; southern hospitality is not a myth. Tassie is thrilled to have new friends, and so am I.
We went walking with one of our new friends and her dog the other day, and since I am currently camera-less (two broken ones), here is a first shot of us in North Carolina, courtesy of Leah Maloney:
Pardon the messy hair; some days, like those where the only things on the agenda are a long walk and a lot of reading, it just seems all right to let it stay a bit wild.
So. We are going to become southerners. Hold on tight, y’all. I can’t wait to find the stories that are here.
February 1, 2013 § 1 Comment
Here’s a passage I came across in my reading yesterday that made me pause, re-read it, and ponder for a bit:
Thoreau, and his many heirs among contemporary naturalists and radical environmentalists, assume that human culture is the problem, not the solution. So they urge us to shed our anthropocentrism and learn to live among other species as equals. This sounds like a fine, ecological idea, until you realize that the earth would be even worse off if we started behaving any more like animals than we already do. The survival strategy of most species is to extend their dominion as far and as brutally as they can, until they run up against some equally brutal natural limit that checks their progress. Isn’t this exactly what we’ve been doing?
What sets us apart from other species is culture, and what is culture but forbearance? Conscience, ethical choice, memory, discrimination: it is these very human and decidedly unecological faculties that offer the planet its last best hope. It is true that, historically, we’ve concentrated on exercising these faculties in the human rather than the natural estate, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot be exercised there. Indeed, this is the work that now needs to be done: to bring more culture to our conduct in nature, not less.
– Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education
December 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
The cow is milked. The chickens and ducks and sheep and steers are fed. So is the dog, after she and I romped around in the snow for a bit. She feels better, now that we went to the vet and got the tick diseases diagnosed (sigh) and got her on some antibiotics. There is a time and a place for them, and this is one of them. It’s good to see her old spirit back. And so – happy Saturday!
There is something about a late(ish) breakfast after morning chores. It makes me want to eat healthier, to crave things like, today, kale and eggs and fresh milk (in my coffee). Back in Colorado, when I worked at the horse barn, I would grab a granola bar for my pseudo breakfast at 6:45 a.m. – which didn’t really count, in my mind, as anything more than enough fuel to get me moving for a few hours. I’d go out to the stables to feed and move and turn out horses, and muck stalls, and then around 11:30 or so I’d head back home to my real meal, a substantial and fantastic brunch complete with meat and/or eggs and almost always greens (especially when I was also working at the organic farm several days a week). Yum.
There is surely a mind-body connection here. The physical effort plus the great outdoors seem to send little signals to the brain that we need nourishment! and nourishment that is natural, real, from the earth and its animals as directly as possible! So as much as I love a little pastry or tart as much as the next girl, this isn’t the time for it.
And I think that is part of why I crave this farm-life so much. It builds health up from, out from itself, in so many ways. Done well, it perpetuates health – health for humans, animals, land. And, in my opinion, communities.
I’ve been reading the book Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes – and, lest you be misled, this is not simply about lucky suburban stay-at-home-moms who are financially comfortable enough to be doing what they do, possibly with a nanny in tow, and possibly eco-friendly in the I-can-afford-it kind of way. (There is nothing quite wrong with that, but it isn’t a reality for most of us, right?) So, if you aren’t in this position, and it seems that you have to go to work, whether you like it or not, this book is probably equally if not more so for you. Hayes explores how the home has functioned past to present, how the choices we make are driven by and/or affect our communities and society as a whole, and how many families are assessing the current trends in career and home life and making deliberate deviations in the pursuit of health and happiness. The book is full of examples, quotes, and real people that make you think, “Huh. I could do this if they could.”
So much of what Hayes says here makes sense to me. It explains why, for so long, I wrinkled my nose at nearly every reasonable career option out there. As I read through the book, so many times I thought (in my melodramatic way) Oh my heart! Yes. This is the life I have wanted. Thank goodness the sustainable/environmental movement came along, where I could find a few more folks with my kinds of ideals, and find jobs therein. That said, as a (still) single girl, it’s challenging to think about how I can focus on home and how I can create homegrown community without a partner in this divine crime, this subversion of commercial, corporate society. But I mean to try.
Here’s an excerpt:
When women and men choose to center their lives on their homes, creating strong family units and living in a way that honors our natural resources and local communities, they are doing more than dismantling the extractive economy and taking power away from the corporate plutocrats. They are laying the foundation to re-democratize our society and heal our planet. They are rebuilding the life-serving economy. (57-58)
Read the book! And eat kale for breakfast, at a table, leisurely, like you deserve it. Your body will thank you.
November 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
We are grateful today.
Today I went to LTD Farm to pick out a Thanksgiving turkey, help (just a little) with the harvesting process, and take it home only a few days before it will be enjoyed by me and my family. I felt meat-rich.
I took the feet home, too, so a certain golden retriever could have an afternoon treat.
She enjoyed it!
We are thankful for the farmers’ hard work, the turkey’s life that in turn sustains ours, and the Giver of good things for what He has designed and made available to us.