So tomorrow is our 28th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate we are staying in a cabin at Bemidji, MN. Yup winter camping in a warm snuggly cabin. The out door bif is just down the way and the seat is air temperature. Currently 7 degrees below 0!
Among the changes that have been wrought in our lives, this will be one to look forward to, the chance to travel more, be more adventurous. I will adventure out to the bog walk tomorrow on skis while Mary drinks tea and plays with colors in the cabin. The moon is full and the world is still.
|Tomorrow marks the halfway point and a halt to increasing darkness. How quickly it seems we've gotten to Dec 21. The houseguest idea was epic fail. The stuff of family legends for years to come.Explaining to her that the directions south and east and so on were determined by the sun's position, stands out as indicative of just about everything else. We may be hicks from the sticks and an easy touch for a good story, but when the evidence accumulated that this was not an attempt to start over, but rather a relocation to carry on the very same shenanigans, we decided to be become non participants. The cops chased them out of their last town, and city police were the last faces they saw in North Dakota as well. I considered the final investment of a tank of gas and 50 bucks cash to be money well spent. Enough to develop escape velocity and find somewhere else to orbit. I don't wish ill toward them, but theiving from your new employer on your second shift, well, every tree shall be known by its fruit.|
I'm now 49 years of age. The year past has brought a lot of unexpected developments that I would pass up if asked, but it doesn't work that way. I can still find at the core, the sense of contentment that took root a few years ago, so I try to nurture that sprout when possible. Somehow writing has grown out of me. What a lame expression but I don't know how else to say it. It was something that flowed at one time and now does not.
Winter calls to me to rest, relax, recharge. My evening chore routine is so very brief. Stunning to contemplate the old days, to think of my Dad who probably milked cows 4 out of 5 days his entire life. Farm chores in winter are just a blankety blank so and so! Liquids of every nature freeze to every surface,you're dressed in a moonsuit stumbling around in the dark. So why do I remember dad's barn so fondly? Mystery to me. Each night when the cat crawls over the quilts on us and tickles my whiskers with her whiskers, it feels like sleeping in the straw pile with the cats while the cows nuzzle silage and rattle their stanchions. Going to the barn at midnight Christmas Eve to see if the legend was true of the cattle kneeling to greet Jesus' birth.
Who could untangle the snarl of the bitter and the sweet and make sense of it all? I sit, as Mary did, and "ponder all these things in her heart". May all the blessings of God be yours in abundance.
From A Sand County Almanac (1949)
February – Good Oak
There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a
farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast
comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes
from a furnace.
To avoid the first danger, one should plant a
garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse
To avoid the second, he should lay a split of
good oak on the andirons, preferably where there is no
furnace, and let it warm his shins while a February
blizzard tosses the trees outside. If one has cut, split,
hauled, and piled his own good oak, and let his mind
work the while, he will remember much about where
the heat comes from, and with a wealth of detail
denied to those who spend the weekend in town
astride a radiator.
I have spent this day wood cutting, which always puts me in mind of this quote.I suppose it has some thing of a smug sound to it, but don't the self sufficient have the right to some claims uniquely their own? I think so. Both the boys were here with their wives and pitched in. and it was a fine day.We have a young couple staying with us as houseguests, trying to get their feet under them for a fresh start. Sort of a culture clash for a couple of 20 year olds to adapt to living at Castleprairie with no years of preparation time.I hope they make it. We can offer them a safe dry bed and food to eat, but the skills and grit to make a go in this world don't come as handouts. We shall see.
| When the sun departs leaving darkest night|
And snow has turned the garden white
The cow will graze on stored up hay
And I must come indoors to play.
Wow what a terrifically busy autumn I have had! Working for a different company put a new spin on my work schedule and it was a positive change. But now the temps in the teens at night may have put a finish on fieldwork . Eager to begin winter woodcutting season. A big change in our routine at Castleprairie has been the decision to stop hand milking a cow every day. Buying milk at the store still does not come easy to me, but in exchange, there may be other things I would rather do with my time.Get away and travel a bit more, for instance.
The new Bond movie, for instance. Terrific! Daniel Craig is on the way to eclipsing Connery as the best Bond. And that's hard for me to say, but he has humanized 007 and tactfully aged him. Losing Q was hard but the new kid stepped right up to the challenge. I won't give away the other changes until you see them personally. Skyfall is worth every penny!
I wrote this 4 years ago. Now the non Bt seeds are actually mixed into each bag, so some of the crop is sacrificed to the natural elements anyway. Isn't that what we were already doing?
Modern industrialized agriculture presents us with certain ironies, and this one is too delicious to pass up. I am fond of quoting Wendell Berry, who said "The genius of America farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems.” The topic today is refuges. No, not the National Wildlife Refuges, where eagles nest and whooping cranes dance, nor Manatee refuges in Florida or a refuge for the endangered green sea turtle. This is a refuge for corn rootworm, corn borer and cotton bollworm. Let me explain. The dubious miracle of genetic modification has allowed us to insert an insect killer, Bt, into the genetic code of plants. So, corn with the Bt gene will kill the insect that tries to eat it. Fantastic product, right? Except that, in the arms race disguised as nature, insects are constantly working to crack the code. Genetically modifying themselves through natural selection, insects will eventually find a way to survive eating a Bt plant. That's called "resistance". Do you think rootworms aren't that smart? Think again. Corn rootworm is the bug that began laying its eggs in soybean fields years ago in Iowa, because it knows that in IA, corn follows soybeans in the rotation as certainly as new pickup trucks follow harvest. The Man Vs. Nature classic is Jack Londons' To Build A Fire. And as you all recall from high school English, Nature wins. Decisively. I believe it always will.
The advertising supplement attached to the recent Successful Farming magazine encourages farmers to "Respect the Refuge." Each farmer is instructed to plant 20 % of their farm to non Bt corn. Yes, that's what I said. An advertisement saying "Our product is so fantastic, you should only use it on 80 % of your farm." The plan is for the worms who grew up in the Bt part of the field to take wives from the non Bt land so their offspring will be as dumb as their ancestry from the Stone Age. Evidently, amorous corn borer moths are willing to go as far as a half mile to pick up hot dates from across the section! This refuge approach is aimed toward keeping the entire insect family from developing resistance, and thus tanking the entire product line. This company, whose name rhymes with "Ronsanto", has had a strangle hold on agriculture dating back to genetically modifying crops to resist the herbicide glyphosate in 1996. We can rely on entities to act in their own self interest (Jared Diamond), and this supplement is certainly a testament to that. Its' message is spun in terms like stewardship, preservation, and common sense. But tucked into the fine print are a couple of less palatable issues such as "mandated by EPA", noncompliance could result in denied access and, a large portion of the global market is not interested in purchasing genetically modified crops in any form. This company broke new ground when it began taking its customers to court for not using the products in the prescribed manner. An amazing feat of legal finesse and public relations.
My point? It is ridiculous, not to mention presumptuous, to think that man can manipulate and impose on the natural order of things without nature taking its best shot in return. And that response of nature could take us places we didn't want to go. A system of food production that works with natural processes, instead of against them, will be more economic and viable in the long run. The "rootworm refuge" demonstrates exactly why I believe that sustainable agriculture makes more sense than the industrialized model.
| ||Posted 3/11/2008 11:52 PM |