Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Interns Are About to Mutiny

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
T. S. Eliot

All I wanted them to do was start some lettuce seed.
I made the mistake of letting them see me add blood meal to the potting mix.
Nitrogen, I explained. Makes stuff green. Makes it grow. Makes pretty plants.
What blood is it? they asked. Where do they get the blood?
I knew there wasn't a right answer.
Slaughter houses, I said without hesitation. Never let interns see fear. I continued: Cows they're killing to make hamburgers. They collect the blood and dry it. I buy it and put it in my starter mix.
Intern #3 and Intern #4 are vegan. They asked about plant based sources of nitrogen.
This stuff comes in a little bag, I said. You go to the store and buy it. Put it in the starter mix. Makes pretty plants.
Intern #3 asked about nitrogen fixing bacteria on legume roots. He asked if that could be added to potting soil and made available to plants. Intern #4 suggested I get a bunch of rabbits and collect their droppings. Intern #3 asked what company was slaughtering the cows.
A bag, I explained. All you do is buy the bag. It's at the store.
I sneaked off behind the house to smoke a cigarette. As I returned, I heard them talk about farmers they had heard of who are vegans. They must have vegan potting soil, the interns concluded.

I've failed them miserably, and I now must confront that. All they wanted was for things to be perfect, and I reached out and gently balanced their bubble on the tip of my finger, gazed at it momentarily as the sunlight danced around it's surface, and burst it, unmercifully.
They work for someone who buys things in bags.
And I have become , I now realize, someone who buys things in bags.
Any dream that I once had of perfection was lost in the check-out lane. The farm that I once had in my mind to construct, a farm of self-sufficiency and ecological balance, fell victim to hard economic realities. No, there are no bunnies on this farm, and, no, I do not collect their droppings to feed my lettuce plants. Such a system, though appealing on many levels, has not been constructed here. Not yet. Because I'm too busy and too tired just keeping my head above water.
The vegetables are planted like soldiers in straight little rows. I cannot run this place without diesel and electricity. And I just don't notice anymore. I go through the same old motions, scrambling just to get things picked and loaded into the truck twice a week, and get a little bit of sleep and get up and do the same thing all over again. And barely break even. And then do the same thing all over again. The time I need to push through this envelope and create something better eludes me. Sometimes, it seems, the vision and the motivation elude me. There was a time, it seems, that I operated on nothing but vision and motivation. Now I count how many heads of cabbage I need to harvest just to pay the light bill.
I like having them around. The interns, I mean. Not the cabbage. I need their youthful idealism and exuberance to remind me of what all this can really become. I need them to prevent me from sinking into a rut. I want to do something more than count cabbages. We're here for more than that. We're here to feed each other.


  • At June 21, 2005 11:44 AM, Blogger spiral said…

    Perhaps their youthful exuberance could construct a little shed for bunny cages and could start finding available rabbits that aren't too difficult. Or, perhaps, my sister could come out to help, as she raised rabbits on practically no money for a few years. She's probably getting divorced, and she'd enjoy the trip. :.)

  • At June 22, 2005 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    God save us all from

    1) vegans

    2) Idealistic young people in general

    I wonder how they think that whole rabbit thing's gonna work? What's going to happen to all the extra little bunnies?

    Can you tell this has hit a nerve?


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