Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Vignetttes From Another Side of Town

Driving through a pretty swanky neighborhood, I spotted a self-storage facility.
This is pretty high dollar property for someone to use for self-storage units, I thought.
Then I read the rest of the sign: the units are for wine storage.

I got hungry a bit later on, so I went to a grocery store. They offered valet parking.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen

My next post will be made from my condo beside the golf course in the hill country outside of Austin, TX. My brand new truck will be parked outside, and my cell phone will be beside me.The company credit card will be tucked safely inside me wallet, and my clubs will be resting in the foyer.
It's Christmas season again, with some amount of shopping days left, the halls decked with boughs of holly, and the days merry and bright. The good people of Austin will need Christmas trees, and that's where I come in.
The drill has been the same four years in a row, now. A Christmas tree farm in Boone has been taking its trees to Austin for some twenty years, now. Ten or more lots are set up - encircling the city not unlike the seize of Leningrad, no rich neighborhood going uncovered. Managers are hired for each lot - that's what I've done in years gone by. Stay in a trailor on the lot, lift trees all day, get muddy and cold and wet and then do the same thing the next day. That was the old days. I don't do that any more. Now, I drive around in a new truck all day, visiting each lot, advising and trouble-shooting. They call me a supervisor.
I'm not quite sure what that means, but I'll be finding out in the coming weeks. It's somewhere between mentor and gopher, somewhere between psychoanylist and whipping post.
One thing it means to me is that I'll be clean. I'll leave my condo and walk past the manicured lawn to my new truck (which will start everytime,) drive to various tree lots, and gingerly step through the mud on my way inside. I'll return every evening just as fresh as I left. A far cry from the farming life, where I can't get from my front door to my truck without seeing something left undone, something dirty and oily that needs to be picked up and moved, and there goes my clean shirt ....
I won't be scrambling around to fix a bunch of rusty old stuff with baling wire and duct tape; I'll make a few phone calls and things will get done.
I'll be joining the upper echelon of society, and I may never be the same again.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Update 12

How tough a man is often depends on where he is and what he's doing.
Louis L'Amour

The sky has been a clear blue and the days are beautiful, but winter is not far off. An ill wind falls off the mountains to the west just after sundown. It's bitterly cold and sends you inside for a jacket. It'ss just playing, though. A moment later it's gone and the air is warm. Warm just long enough to trick you into feeling good, and then another cold blast comes down the hill.
A trailer blew up on Meadow Fork last week, and what did they find inside but a meth lab. There's been a lot of speculation as to who was running it.
A Farmall went into a creek a week ago and busted its front axle. I promised to stop by and help with repairs, but, alas, have not found the time. The world could run out of Farmalls some day, along with old Masseys and old Chevys, and that will be a sad day. VWs are becoming like hen's teeth in some parts of the country. You don't see them around here near as often as you used to.
D*'s greenhouse pieces are covered with dead goldenrod and pokeweed. They're still there, in the middle of the field, but you can't find them. I bush-hogged around them a while ago, and only ran over metal stuff twice. D* and S** had a falling out some time over the summer, and D*'s been told to hit the road. The water to his trailor has been shut off, and there's cement blocks piled in his driveway.
S** has either shingles or hives, depending upon what doctor he goes to. It hasn't slowed him down a bit. He asked me to crawl on the top of his barn this afternoon, and hang some electrical wires and things.
Bear season has come and gone. No one I know was in any way successful, but a Nissan coming down Hot Springs Mountain hit a cub and skidded into a guard rail.

Friday, November 04, 2005


The frost is on the pumpkin and the fields are at rest. 'Tis the end of another season which, in this cyclical existence of ours, means that it's the start of another. Throwing rye down on the fields is always the closing scene in the last act of every year, and it makes the fields a shiny green for when the curtain comes up for next year. Feeds the earthworms and improves tilth, too. All the market paraphanalia is cleaned and stacked in the packing shed. The hoes are hung in the barn with care. We just finished our seventh year, here. That's supposed to be a lucky number. The farm motto changes from time to time. Lately, it's been: we're still here.
And we are. We've been trucking veggies into Asheville twice a week, April through October, for seven years now. Sell them off the back off the truck in the parking lot of a food co-op.
Bit by bit, we've grown. Way back when I just worked the first field behind the house. Each year I've worked a little ways up the hill toward the mountain until I ran out of ground to plow. Then I turned over the fields in front of the house. Every year, I've managed to add a piece of equipment or two, but the farm is still run with great simplicity. Everything is old - I prefer vintage - and falling apart, but I make it work for me. We grow more and more every year, and it goes to follow that we make more and more every year, but I'm flat broke every November, just as I am in April, and my math says that means we break even. Winter has brought a range of occupations: building stone walls and building bridges and, the last few years, selling Christmas trees.
People have come and gone - all the houses on the farm have been occupied by various people for various durations - once I had an old school bus hauled onto the farm for additional dwelling space.
The community evolves around me as the fields do. People move in and people move away. People couple up and break apart. Babies are born. People die. Hot Springs, our local burg, sometimes seems so different from the way it was when I first got her, and sometimes seems exactly the way it was he first time I saw it. Life presents many symbols and many milestones, and I don't know which ones to pay attention to. The walnut trees in the grove across the road have grown and flourished over the years; the cedar in front of the house never changes.
The farm expands its operations somewhat. We've flirted with seafood for a few years now, this year selling enough that it has made a real difference with our bottom line. We'll expand that even more next year, selling a bit more fish at a few more markets. We grow slowly, but we grow.
The leaves turned late this year, but, they finally turned. The show up and down the valley is just as spectacular as it ever is. I look for excuses to go into town just so I can drive the road and llok at the leaves. This may be one of the most beautiful spots in the whole world, and I find myself having made a life right in the center of it. Often I'll think: there are people who spend their whole year dreaming about the one week-end they'll be able to come up here. I get to be here every day.
This is not the life one would choose if one wanted financial security. It's in fact about on the bottom of the list. But it gets near the top of the list for someone who likes to watch walnuts and cedars, and the sunrise and sunset, and one season turn into the next.

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