Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Still Bitter, Still Clinging to My Guns

The tractor’s down again, so I decided to clean up a bit.
I spent the day clearing brush from the fence along the back property line. The property line, in itself, is a bit of socialism: I share it with my neighbor, Jack, and the French Broad Electric Co-Operative. French Broad comes through every few years and clears it out for me, readying themselves for the day when a big wind just blows their power poles over and they’ll have to rush in there to restore electricity. But I decided to help them out a bit, this year. It’s an election year I decided there was no better way to celebrate than to get myself tangled up in a half acre of invasive thorns. A pound of sweat and a gallon of gas later, I’ve got everything looking pretty good. Rose briars are hacked up, right up to the power right of way, and locusts are cut at ground level. I left them willy nilly along the fence lines, sometimes leaning against each other, so the birds would have something to play on. Winter can be somewhat dull for a bird – even from a hundred feet the monochrome of the landscape can be kinda dull, and I want to encourage them to recreate.
The long term plan for the back fence is to get it clean enough to run two bush-hog swaths along it, keeping it mowed about ten feet out. I need to keep the briars from entangling themselves in the fence wires, and I need to keep the locust stumps from getting big enough to hurt the bush-hog. As it is now, I ignore it, and French Broad comes along every few years and obliterates everything with this riding lawn mower/assault vehicle thing they have. Pretty nifty: mows everything, including old tires. But I figure there’s a better way. So I want to keep it mowed and establish pasture. The birds probably have other preferences; the briar shoots and little locust and poplar are perfect for them. The high grass and the eventual goldenrod are perfect for something else. I like the scrubby side areas of the farm – or, I like what lives there. Less and less of the farm, every year, qualifies as scrubby. As I clean up, plant, build, etc. things neaten up. I’ve sort of re-established that kind of habitat: perennial shrubs, berries, fruit trees, but there’s nothing like a true opportunist. Raspberries planted in a strait row are a poor substitute for a multiflora rose thicket. Anise hyssop and Echinacea stalks are never as much fun as goldenrod and ironweed. The birds are just gonna have to be happy with what they’ve got. I’d prefer my surrounding more natural, also, but I compromise without bitterness. I need that fence to make a living, and I’m not going to build a fence and then fail to take care of it. You don’t do this year after year after insufferable year without some sense of purpose. You don't do it without clinging to hope.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Came last night. On cat’s feet on something. The eggplant’s leaves are all curly and the peppers are mushy. Some of the weeds got burned
Something has to mark the start and the end of the season. The seasons are in fact cyclical, never ending, always changing, fluid, but it helps my mind to stay organized if there’s a start and an end. So: first frost is the end. First time I start seeds in the greenhouse, that’s when the season starts. Everything in between is non-descript, it doesn’t have a name and that means I don’t have to worry about it.
I’m going to supply my CSA for two more weeks, am still seeding cover crops, and am still building deer fences and greenhouses, but, the year is over. I mean, there was frost last night. Now I’m goofing off.
The off season can be a little intimidating, in that manner. Like a page with no lines or a recipe with no measurements, seems kinda fun at first, and you congratulate yourself for being such a free-spirited motherfucker, but you really have to stay on top of things or else you make a big mess.
It depends on your mood.
The view from the window right now can be interpreted in two ways. I can look out on all that I’ve gotten done over the past ten years. I can remember what the place looked like when I got here and think about what I’ve gotten done. Or I can think about all the things I haven’t gotten done. The plans that are on hold. I can think about what the place looked like when I got here and think about what a mess I’ve made.
I’ve been on an upswing lately. A pretty good mood. Deer fence is almost finished and there’s a pretty good sense of organization. Still, I’ve been here all this time and I still don’t have a grip on the knotweed back behind the house. And the laundry room is full of pieces of a sculpture I’ve been working on for about eight years.
It’s an end and a beginning!
That kinda works for me right now. It means, on one hand, that I’ve gotten through another year. And it means, on another, that I’m freed up for a while, and I can get caught up on all that need to be done before next year. I can get all the ducks in a row and start off the next growing season with everything in place. Because I can’t wait. Next year is gonna be really good.

Some Of You Are Going To Have To Leave

I took a quiz today.
By answering a series of fairly simple questions, I found out just how many planets we would need if everyone acted like me.
While I find solace in having placed well below the national average, I was still disturbed to find that it would take 2.89 planets to provide for a world full of me-s.
I should have said I recycle more.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Deer Fence Haiku

Dried poplar leaves
Swirl on high with delight
Above strung wire

Grasses bearing seed heads
So long neglected
Are trampled on one side

Pipes are straight as string
Pipes the color of dry leaves
Pipes up and down at field’s edge.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Good Times on the Farm

I'm really wanted to post about all the wonderful and excited things I did today, but I'm having too much fun. I winnowing catnip seeds on the living room floor. I've got newpaper spread out, I've got dried catnip flowers, I've got seed packets, and I've got two very happy cats. Gotta go.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Kiss Me, I’m Pathogen Free

I’m becoming fairly well updated on some rules to be imposed upon us by the unfeeling bureaucracy that we call government.
And that suggests an alternative though less fun title for this post: The USDA is Obsessed With Poop. Because it’s out there, everywhere, apparently, just waiting to infect the nation’s food supply. Its in the water, its in the air, its on leaves and in the dirt and can even be sucked through the skin of a cantaloupe. It’s traveling down stream at an alarming rate. It comes out of cows and pigs, out of deer, out of birds when they fly over your fields, and don’t think you don’t have any, either. And this poop would like nothing more than to infect the tomatoes you’re about to sell to someone who is going to back it in little Timmy’s lunch, who is going to share it with the whole class on the third grade field trip, and there, in one fell swoop, some poop wipes out fifty youngsters.

Co-operative Extension filled us in today on the steps vegetable growers will have to take to become compliant with some impending legislation. Hygiene standards are going to be set for the produce industry. GAP! is the Saturday morning buzzword they’ve chosen for these practices, in the manner that the US government mass communicates. Good Agricultural Practices. And, as noted, it all comes down to dealing with poop.
Not poop, obviously, but the salmonella and the e. coli and the etc. that so merrily resides and propagates in our intestines and in our poop. We’ll all be required to do things that we really should be doing anyway. Eliminating poop. Testing water. Streamlining harvest facilities.I’m up for the task. I’m going to catch all the stray chickens and keep them out of the fields. I’m going to find out exactly what kinds of coliform lurk in the pond. I’m going to reduce splashback onto leafy greens. I’m going to sanitize the packing area. I’m going to monitor the temperature in the cooler. Daunting tasks, maybe, but we’re up for it. We are, after all, professionals.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

They've Cut Silage on Jonathan Creek

It seems like it was just yesterday that I watched the guy plant that field. I suppose it must have been May. I can only conclude that it must be autumn. The sumac and the Virginia Creeper seem to agree. As does the political yard art.
Since last the sumac turned red on the side of the road, I've managed to burn and resurrect a tractor, watch most of my crops get eaten by deer, build a deer fence around (so far) about 80% of the farm, and pile up a mountain of greenhouse pieces in my front yard.
I stopped, months ago, telling people that it's been a a challenging year. I no longer delude myself so. No, it's been a year just about like any other. That's my conclusion as this growing season draws to a close: This is it. I cannot, indeed would be foolish to, expect anything better than this. It's always gonna be like this: broken equipment, ravished crops, and more projects started than completed. The question becomes: Can I accept that, or shall I forever battle against the present state of things and expect them to become my idea of better?
No, the guys were probably not thinking similar things when they were cutting that field, but they probably were hoping than none of the equipment broke and that the livestock made it through the winter. And they probably felt they couldn't be sure of either.
The perfect year is a dream of youth, and I am well beyond that. Weedless fields and bumper crops and hard-working employees and shiny equipment are elements of a fairy tale that I still, at times, wish that I lived with-in, but am slowly learning will never be.
This is as good as it gets, I say to myself as I stand near the barn and gaze out over my vast land holdings. And the true measure of my dementia is that that is fine and dandy with me. I'm just as happy here as anywhere else.
I'll watch them plant corn again on Jonathan Creek next year, and the equipment will be down or there will be a drought or a flood or a swarm of locusts or a tomato blight. Then they'll cut silage again and the sumac will decorate the sides of the roads. And then it'll all happen again the next year.
By next spring, I'll have another greenhouse built.

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