Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Monday, October 30, 2006

Stab Your Probiscus Deep Into My Heart and Suck Out My Insides

The inherent nature of all condtioned phenomenoa is one of decay, this we must always remember.
I was a bit apprehensive when a friend called this morning and asked me to help her gather bugs. I could think of more exciting things to do. But, alas, I allowed this inevitable tide of fortune to sweep me away, and found myself walking across a field with a giant net.
I walked all around. This way and that. Looking. After a while, I found a roly-poly. Then I walked all around some more. Looking.
The first conclusion I came to was that if I were a bird, I would surely starve to death.
After a period of time and my little vile still empty, I decided to allow nature to do the work. I figured I'd just look for spiderwebs. That's where the bugs would be. I was then informed that we had to catch live bugs.
I looked under piles of leaves, under old, rotten branches, up and down tree branches, under benches and at the base of fenceposts, even under the soles of my shoes. Nothing.
Midsummer, I knew, would bring billions of the little guys on every plant in my fields. But when you want them around ....
I put my elbows on the railing of a little bridge and looked down at my reflection in a brook. Then I looked to the sky, and then to the water again, and then to the sky. I looked at a little poplar growing along the water and noticed the moss was moving. I looked closer and saw that the moss was a bug.
I got the little guy into my vile and, bouyed, went in search of more. On the leaf of a rhododendron not far away, there was another ... well, bug. Six legs, little exoskeleton, antennea, yep, a bug. Into the vile it went.
I acted as nonchalant as I could for a moment or two, then ran to my friend with my finds.
"Err," I tried to play it cool, "perhaps these will help."
We gazed. We oo-ed. We ahh-ed. We enjoyed the exquisite beauty of nature. Then the big six legged bug walked over to the little moss bug, unfurled its mighty snoz and stuck it into the moss bug.
Hemiptera, I was informed. Some subsist only on fluids. They inject enzymes into their prey, that dissolve their insides. Then they suck everything out.
We watched the whole ordeal. The little moss bug never stood a chance. He was helplessly pierced. The big bug raised him up and swung him around on his sword, laid him down, and picked him up again. Our reflections were on the vile, and beneath that, the scene of horror.
I wanted to save the little moss bug. I didn't want the big bug to starve. I looked through my reflection at the scene below.
Impermanancy is the rising, passing and changing of things, or the disappearance of things that have become or arisen. The meaning of these things never persist in the same way, but that they are vanishing and dissolving from moment to moment.
Visuddhi Magga, 7:3.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

'Til Death Do You A Favor

Autumn brings its usual antiquated and pagan rituals, with people celebrating old fashioned religious rites with the fervor of cave-dwellers piercing the hides of buffalo fetishes.
The clocks go back tonight (I think,) and the children dress up in a day or two and go door to door to get candy.
Meanwhile, people across the nation fight to change state constitutions so they may legally own each other.
I'm packing my bags, and getting ready to go to Texas. Up in Boone, they're about to start cutting trees, trees that will be shipped half way across to the country, to a place that couldn't grow a Frasier fir under any circumstances, but a place where people will pay exhorbitant amounts of money to stick some greenery in their living rooms at the start of winter. The greenery has some symbolism attached to the shortest day of the year, holds some promise of hope when all around is brown and dieing and it keeps getting colder. It means a lot to me. It means the green will keep rolling in, though the fields are frosted and I can't grow vegetables and the markets are closed, alas, I will not starve after all. There is hope, hope pinned to an evergreen bough, a tiny piece of greenery that can be deposited and see me through the winter, to when the sun warms the earth once more and seeds sprout in the fields.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shamefully, I Am Not Dieing At The South Pole

My lack of blogging lately has been something of a concern with me. I become introspective and ruminative and try to get to the meaning of things, and then start thinking about something else and a few days later remember that I haven't been blogging a lot, lately.
One of my excuses is that I've been spending quite a bit of time away from the farm, lately, in the middle of a swamp, where there is no Wi-Fi. Driving across the state so much, I got myself into books-on-tape. The selection of just the right tape was a constant challange. I wanted something that would keep me entertained for 500 miles, but never chose something that I might actually want to read someday. All garnered from the rather skimpy shelves of the local library.
Because I was headed for the Coast, I started selecting books of a nautical theme. I discovered Patrick O'Brien, and listened to the story of someone who escaped from a Japanese prison camp and made it to Australia in a fishing boat. I listened to Linda Greenlaw's books. I got reacquainted with Thor Hyerdaal, and now know more about Ernest Shackleton than any human being rightfully should. The Shackleton thing led me to a book about Robert Scott and his quest for the South Pole.
What strikes me most about Scott's tale, other than the fact that they both mourned and ate their sled dogs, was their fidelity to their journals. Every detail of the journey is recorded somewhere: weather, dates, times, latitudes, longitudes, the performance of their equipment, what dogs they ate, and what other menbers of the team did and said. And they did this every day, in sub-zero weather, while starving and freezing to death.
I blog once a month, if I get around to it.
My farm records start off with a bang in April, get slightly neglected into June and July, and future archeaologists will conclude that absolutely nothing happened around here in October.
And the best thing about the Scott team's journals are the delightfully British tone to everything: Dreadful weather today. Lost another toe. Then they'd record the temperature and take a celestial fix and march another twenty miles.

Friday, October 27, 2006

How did I Get Here?

Today was grey, cold and drizzly. There are probably few places in the world where such a day can be absolutely gorgeous, and this is one of them. A bit past peak leaf time, the mountainsides are dappled with color and kinda make your jaw drop open when you look at them. Frost came last week and knocked just about everything down - left dry brown stalks here and there, and gooey green messes everywhere else. And its beautiful. And the grass glows - it hasn't been mowed in a month or more, and isn't even grass to begin with, but an assortment of weeds, but even on an overcast day it glows, what with that October sunlight coming in low and bouncing off it from the sides.
I was down in the swamp the past two weeks, standing over a chainsaw all day. Never been happier in my life. I've ruminated deeply on this swamp thing. Can't for the life of me figure out why I love it so. I've come up with, of course, all kinds of halfbaked theories, all of which make perfect sense and none of which really seem to explain it. Dave and I went back to his place after our swamp work to put the tools away and get a good night's sleep before I headed back here. I got up early the next day and walked to the beach, spent a few hours on the sand, watching the sun come up over the endless string of waves pounding the shore.
I've done little to deserve all of this, I assure you. I'm not particularly bright, not particularly hard-working, and wasn't born with a silver spoon anywhere nearby. I never planned my life so that I'd be able to do things like this - in fact, have done very little planning at all. I've never set a goal, didn't go to college, and have never had an excess of money.
It seems as though paradise should be reserved for those who deserve it. People who come up with new scientific theories or math formulas, people who are captains of industry and own yachts and stuff, people who rescue people from burning buildings or saved their friends in Normandy. People like that.
I'm a poseur. A fraud. I don't deserve this. I just got here 'cause I was looking for a job.
Guess I'll stay.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Crash and Burn

It seemed like a good idea for so long.
At least it did to me.
We were going to abandon this idea of scattered half-assed markets all around town, and all meet together in the middle - one big market. Everything you ever wanted in one parking lot, with enough space for all vendors and no one turned away. It would have been bigger and better than ever - more fun for all involved and thus creating a new momentum all its own. A momentum that would carry us all forward to a place of more customers and more money. And that even deserves an explanation point: !
There was a flurry of excitement when it all started. Meetings, committees, plans. people made phone calls and sent emails and let their imaginations spin out with all the possibilities. We finally got some concrete plans together: a site, a starting date, even a name and a logo. And slowly folks dropped out. Slowly, like at first they seemed less enthusiastic, and then they suggested they might not want to drop their existing market, and then they said they wouldn't be at the new market ....Some folks responded with outright hostility, grasping at every reason they could think of for why this market was a lousy idea. Others just said nothing and hoped the whole idea would go away.
Some responded to these objections by redoubling their commitment to the new market, and proclaimed they would be there no matter what others felt about it. This response pissed some off even more, and they redoubled their objections to the market. A casual observer could be forgiven if his or her impression was that this would either be the greatest thing ever or the end of sustainable agriculture as we know it.
I'm struck by the tremendous weight an idea gains when it shifts, as Eliot put it, from the shadow to the reality. The turning point in attitudes, it seems to me, came when this thing became no longer an idea somewhere off in that distant future, but a tangible object existing just before us. Changes would be called for - soon! Off the snug little security of known routines and off a little bit into the - unknown. And many retreated back.
What's curious to me is that many vendors at many existing markets speak of what they want their markets to become by describing most of the attributes of the big market, but are still unwilling to make the shift.
The things not dead yet, but that may not be good news. Those determined to forge ahead may end up with just another small-sized market, struggling for existance year after year with a marginal customer base. The market may be delayed a year, giving all those with cooling feelings about the market the chance to be with the idea for a while, maybe rekindling their excitement. Or maybe the whole thing is in a tailspin, just a hundred feet or so from a fiery crash with a hillside.
It's been an entertaining process, at any rate. Far more indicative of some basic human responses than of agriculture in general, but then, maybe those are one and the same, anyway.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The environmental sciences division of Let It Grow has been overworked, lately, and the woodpeckers may or may not be happy.
We've been clearcutting forests down by the coast, but don't worry - we've got good reason.
It all started when my buddy Dave decided he wanted some mushroom logs. He'd heard from "around" that he could get some at a nearby wildlife preserve, and he called for information. He apparantly was the only person who had called in a long time time, and the director invited him out for a personal tour. They spent the day driving around the preserve, the director pointing out every tree and shrub, butterfly and bird. There's a nature trail here, the director said, and a nature trail there, he said, but no one ever seems to come out ....
Dave volunteered to improve one of the trails, and offered to bring some of his friends out and lead them on a walk. I'll come along, too, the director said. No one ever seems to come out here ....
Whenever he saw Dave out there, he'd stop and talk to Dave for the rest of the day.
Once, driving around, he pointed out a nesting site for an endangered woodpecker. The director hired a logger to go in and remove trees around the nesting site - the woodpeckers preferred a pure pine stand, and if maples and gums grew up to the level of the nest, there was a danger the birds would abandon the nest. All this is consistant with a management plan drawn up by the Fish and Wildlife Commission - where-ever they find an endangered woodpecker, the implement certain measures designed to make life a little easier for all involved.
Removing non-pine species mimics the natural state of the forest, the director said, and makes the bird more secure and makes it easier to forage. But the equipment used to remove the trees makes a big mess, and could end up damaging some of the pines.
This is just a big mess, Dave agreed. I could come out with a chain saw and clean up a site like this in no time. It would be gentler than using skidders, and the end result would be a lot better.
Next thing we knew, we were out there with chainsaws.
State biologists find either an existing nest or a likely nesting site and mark out an area of about an acre around it. Dave and I go in and cut down anything that's not a pine. We leave the site looking like it would have looked before human intervention - meaning before it was logged. At that time, the forest would have been predominantly pine, and wildfires would have come through periodically, burning other species but leaving the tall, thick barked pines alone. This is the environment the woodpeckers evolved into. We humans destroy things like that, and then work to re-establish it.
The volunteer days are over, too. We get paid for all this, thanks to the Endangered Species Act and, in turn, the federal government.
We've never actually seen a woodpecker. They're kinda rare; that's the whole point. We just kind of believe people when they tell us that they're out there, and we keep cutting down trees.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I'm about to take off for a week, and feel like posting something, just to keep a little momentum going on the ol' blog. Feeling a bit rushed, though, as I really should be packing and cleaning tools.
The season is over, just what I've been waiting for, in terms of not being rushed, of not being a day late with everything. And here I am, a day late.
Strawberries and spinach are in. Garlic and cover crops will go in as soon as I get back (?). Thus, in one sense, I've already started work for next year, and it seems inconsequential to say that this year is over. It's already next year.
I try and try to relax into this thing, and not always feel so rushed, but there's just so much to do and so much that can't be let go of.
There's somehow a certain satisfaction in that, in finishing something and feeling like I'm right back where I started.

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