I think it was William Penn Warren who said we pass from the stink of the ditty to the stench of the shroud. I love the way he frames life because it’s very farmish. Everything comes in blood and gore and shit and goes out in much the same way. We work the middle parts to frame it up differently. It was the spiritual leader of our Unitarian Church ( his name was Church ) who said the middle part was there to grow our soul. I hum about that. I whistle while I work that idea. I ponder as I wander. I have come to see things as such a meat grinder of silliness. Meaning getting build out of random combinations that form patterns. The patterns that are pleasing stick the others wait until they are. Beyond eating, breathing, sleeping, procreating and scratching the unreachable itch there ain’t much but an idle mind connecting dots. Granted some are of the critical thinking sort….math and science.. but most are just yearnings of sorts. I’m not here to oversimplify things but I’m pretty sure life ( beyond the animal needs) is just a wishbone of an idea. Our dreams are either winning or losing. Like the source of all computer code our yearnings are either on or off. The complexities arise from there. Break enough wishbones, create enough losers, and it will inevitably lead to a war.
Eating fire is how to start
What do you do when you decide to take a solo expedition into the danger zone? A place that was abandoned a century ago by most humans. A place of untold toil and misery. A place called sustainable, small scale farming.
A man who teaches electronic design at our local college was pleased I’m persevering with the farm work. “too many people come here with ideas… And they just stay ideas.”
Ha ha.. For me it all started with an idea of using hay to make electricity. I developed a big idea to generate power by burning pelletized hay. The idea was much bigger than my ability to manage the development. It didn’t go but the knowledge I acquired migrated into building a conventional organic farm. So here’s my take away.
There are two types of people that play with agriculture based ideas. There are the HOW’s and there are the WHY’s. The HOW’s are the rule based people. The people that figure out how to make something happen and then execute on the plan. Building a farm infrastructure is an endless process but up front it’s overwhelming. It stops most people dead in the dreaming phase. The money, the work and the time till results begin usually crushes the dream. Which brings up the WHY’s. This mind set is the romantic notion of making a farm, which is very personal. To do the greater good, to be part of a natural system, to be connected to the earth, to explore the mystery of life’s great cycle, to eat and share a life that is sustainable. Quite often the aspirational WHY’s can’t
support the pedantic HOW’s.
I’ve ended up being a dirt farmer. That’s the truth. I love the risk, the learning,the mystery and the work. I wake up every morning and thank God. But until I go to bed I bend and sweat and rarely stop to ask why. If you won’t work you can’t farm.
There is much more muck than there is mystery.
I work alone most of the time. I do things I would never do in civilized company. I promise you. Want to know one? Today I was in the tractor shed finishing a germination/ growing stand. It was snowing out and the cement slab was freezing. The insulator soles in my Muck boots were out so my feet turned blue a few hours into the work. I had Annie Lenox’s Medusa album cranked up and decided to jump my feet warm. I don’t dance and I certainly don’t ‘dance like nobody is watching’. But having a high speed drill in one hand and a screw gun in the other I found I could kinda add a crazy percussion, rhythmic whine to the songs by squeezing my fingers when Annie’s most excellent band made a beat. And it spoke to that thin slice of ‘Steve the dancing farmer dude’ in me. I started to move. Pumping drills and jumping my feet and smiling like I was auditioning for Deliverance Part Two. Somewhere in my mind’s eye I had no shame. A rat bolted from a grain bag.
Even God’s smallest creatures can feel an artist’s work going very,very wrong. Thankfully for all… I remain thankfully alone.
Photographed early this morning by an amateur astronomer, space capsule Spring which was launched last July into outer space, is beginning its re- entry into earth orbit. As you can see from the astonishing picture the heat tiles on the leading edge are beginning to glow. Splashdown is expected somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere soon.