Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nevermind That The French Smoke Like Chimneys

The study shows that by applying widely accepted criteria for causality, scientists were able to identify exposure to the systemic insecticide imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid used in plant protection products such as Guacho and Admire) as the main cause for honeybee decline in the sunflower and maize areas in France.
-Jeroen van der Sluijs
Utrecht University

Everything's bad for the environment these days. You can't even use nicotine to kill insects without someone whining about it. First you can't smoke 'cause it's bad for you, then you can't use tobacco to kill bugs because it kills bugs.
This is just the beginning. Disgustingly bitter coffee served in shot glasses will be tied to the whipping post next, and don't even think about sharing any with your livestock. Smelly cheese is causing global warming no doubt, and rich sauces with names you can't pronounce is killing the health care bill.
How appropriate that this comes to light on the heels of Salinger's death. Just try to get through a page of Salinger without someone lighting a cigarette. Everything's connected.
Apology to readers: I know this is a silly post, and is hardly worthy of your time. I just wanted to say Jeroen van der Sluijs.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Parsing Excel

The seed order is going to be late this year. Or, late relative to years gone by. It will be right on time for this year. And it will be much reduced relative to years gone by. We're shrinking.
The fat is going to have to be cut around here, and I will do so without mercy. Fewer crops, fewer varieties, less acreage. These are tough times, and they call for tough measures. I'm measuring out every bit of fat that's trimmed, and then trimming some more. That ride to California with the mattress tied to the roof of the car is only one small disaster away, and, around here, disaster lurks around every corner.
We're going back to our roots, back to the early days of the farm, when we got by with less than nothing. It worked then and it will work now.
The new van (parked in the driveway, glowing in the starlight, not unlike a beacon of hope) signals a new paradigm. In many ways. It is clean and stark and white. Minimal. That's the course this year will have to take. Nothing extraneous. No curves, no swirls. Nothing symbolic of the past or the future. Nothing symbolic of the glory days of General Motors. No bumper stickers and no handmade signs. No skulls, no roses.
The van is a tabla rasa, a minimalist billboard, the bare necessities.
Thai okra? Gone. A dozen varieties of winter squash? One will do. Greens a staple of the Peruvian diet? Leave them there. Things that reputedly did well for Jefferson? He had slaves. Centerpieces from Sissinghurst or Hidcote? For sissies. Not even any squash with funny sounding French names.
The winter's been bad enough; now I hear there's a stomach flu going around. I've had all I can take. The thought of people around me throwing up is unbearable. It just can't get any worse.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Please, Sound Melodramatic

Freewill Astrology
Taurus (April 20-May 20)
I don't mean to sound melodramatic, and I certainly don't want to
encourage you to do something foolish, but if you've been pondering
the possibility of storming the castle, this would be a good time to
do so. What exactly am I implying with the phrase "storming the
castle"? Well, anything that involves a brave effort to fight your way
into the command center of the empire . . . or a heroic attempt to
take back the sanctuary you were exiled from . . . or a playful
adventure in which you work your way into the heart of the king or

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Invertebrates Thrive

When you got nothin', you got nothin' to lose

The fence is back up around the back forty, but there are still gaps up on the ridge and down at the bottom of the hill. I still don't know what happened to it; I got back from Texas and it was in shreds. Wires popped loose, fence posts leaning at an angle, steel pipes bent into organic curves, rebar doubled over. Blizzard? Ice? Marauding deer? Time and solitude have swallowed the answer. It'll be another few days before I've got it all back up, and until then the deer graze at will. There were twelve in the field this morning.
The greenhouse formed part of the fence along the road, until the snow collapsed the greenhouse. It, also, is a mess of twisted metal. Some of the bows are smushed squat, like the hand of a giant snow beast pushed them into the ground. Some are peeled back on themselves like a huge wind got inside and blew straight up. Supporting beams are twisted and bent like they're going nowhere in particular. I sorted through it all the day I got back and couldn't figure out, for the longest time, what used to be what. It was a hundred feet long. I'll sort through it all and save as much as I can, and rebuild it at fifty feet long. I'll have half the space and thus half the production and get off to a half-assed start, but it's better than no start at all.
The pipes were frozen and the refrigerator died and the front yard is flooded. And the van died and is somewhere beside a highway in Alabama.
But the earthworms are thriving. I left them in two bins, piled high with cow manure, and they have had a good winter, blissfully unaware of storms and freezing weather and general destruction. They munch and they cast. They require little more, and keep munching and casting though the world falls apart around them.
The bees, though clustered into tight little balls right now, have spent the last few days flying around, presumably relieving themselves after long confinement in the hives, but also, apparently, looking for nectar. There was one dandelion blooming near the raspberries.
The storms had not treated the bees well, either, but they survived. I got back to find two of the hives roofless, the bees soggy and clustered inside. By all rights, they should have perished. It was a week since the blizzard, a month since the worst of the winds, and I did not know how long the hives had been open. They should have frozen. They should have drowned. They should have absconded. They stayed right were they were, and they survived.
I've seen hives with cement blocks on top of them, and it always seemed excessive to me. It gets windy here on the farm, damn windy, but I've never lost the cover of a bee hive. Why bother with one more thing to lift? I know now. The old-timers, as usual, are right again. Keep a weight on top. You never know when a gales gonna blow up, a gale that will bend a fence or twist a greenhouse or lift the cover off a bee hive.
There's a lot of cleaning up to do. There's a lot to replace. It's not all gonna get done. A lot won't get done. We've been hit and we've been hit hard and we might not be able to make it back from this one. I haven't frozen and I haven't drowned and I won't abscond. There's gotta be at least one dandelion out there.

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