Meanwhile, Back on the Farm

I keep meaning to write about the farm but a combination of our slow progress towards getting anything done and my obsessions with politics and macroeconomics have been preventing that. So here’s some quick updates:

Sasha has been making little mounds in the garden, and in the middle of each she placed a blackberry bush, which at this point is just a little stick. Also, she put some broccoli along with the berry bushes on three of the mounds. Our timing was, as usual, lousy. Immediately after putting these in a storm blow through. It dumped some rain in Norfolk but here in Suffolk all we got was wind and tornado watches. Small mound (about 4ft diam with stick poking out the top.

But none of the little sticks blew over, and it happens to be raining now, so I expect most of these will survive.

By Sasha’s command, I’ve been digging trenches for potatoes.

Me, with shovel

In the the trenches we drop potato pieces, each of which is about a 1 inch cube containing at least one eye.

Trenches, about 8 inches wide and deep, and 3 feet apart

We had Bill dig a basement for our smoker. I’ll describe this in more detail as it progresses.

Square hole, about 16x24 inches, and 8 inches deep
And Sasha’s been growing tomatoes, peppers, and ground cherries in the oven.

2 Trays of tomato starts in the oven

We keep them in the oven at night and put them outside in a tiny plastic greenhouse in the morning. For four days we kept the light on in the oven at night, for warmth, but now that the seedlings have grown a bit we stopped doing that and will soon stop taking them in at night. And of course, they’ll soon be planted.

The war on food.

While browsing Tina’s blog, I noticed she had a feed from the Polyface Farm Blog, which had a pretty interesting post about corporate efforts to shut down righteous food production.

I’m a little tired now. I was up late last night and I woke up early to do some chickens. I may write something that I’ll regret later and delete. So read now! Tomorrow it could be too late! With that in mind, I offer these thoughts:

Human production is turning to crap. Everything. The fine works of craftsmen are being replaced by plastic junk made by near slaves in factories supervised by people who have no connection to the product. It’s bad enough when it’s fake trinkets: Voodoo dolls sold in New Orleans museums that were actually made in China; Quilts made to look like they were sown with a grandmother’s love, mass produced and made of petroleum. They sell because they’re cheap. They make them cheap, sell billions at thin margins, make tremendous profits, and run the artisans out of business. Who cares if it’s hand made by a little old man in a 200 year old workshop who learned his skills from his grandfather. I can get one that looks just like it for $1.95 at Walmart. And because everything’s so cheap we buy lots of it and surround ourselves with gas-emitting crappy trinkets for which we have no respect. When the stupid thing breaks we’ll toss it in the landfill and buy another.

It’s cheap because of improved technology. It’s also cheap because of disrespect for the environment and for laborers, which of course, isn’t new, but technology has allowed us to take advantage of that disrespect in amazing new ways.

It’s bad when it’s trinkets. It’s worse when it’s food. We’re eating mass produced meat made from confined animals produced by near-slaves. It’s cheap but we buy so much that the purveyors of this poison make massive profits. It’s causing suffering to humans and animals by way of cruel treatment, deforestation, pollution, and the myriad detrimental effects of filling our bodies with chemical laden, disease ridden and nutrient deficient substances.

As the price of everything except the crap keeps going up in comparison to wages, it becomes harder to live without the cheap crap. In fact, the very existence of cheap crap justifies the low wages that make it easier to produce. Why pay someone enough money to buy real food when he can get ground beef from Walmart for less than two dollars a pound?

But there’s a small yet noticeable backlash against the mass produced substances that masquerade as food. And because there’s a backlash, the mass producers are fighting back, as described in the blog post that I mentioned above. If they win, it will be a tragedy. While I don’t actually believe that corporate executives are evil people conspiring against us, I do believe that the effect will be as if they were. We will have greater instances of disease outbreaks that will make headlines for a couple of days and then be forgotten. Animal cruelty will be institutionalized. The income gap will increase. Our waterways will be more polluted.

I can go on and on but as tired as I am I know that I might turn people off instead of encouraging them to read more. There are dozens of reasons to buy real food and encourage others to do so.

It is OK to indulge occasionally. I won’t tell you to stop eating at restaurants that probably use mass produced meat. I won’t tell you to spend $300 for burgers at you’re next cookout with friends, if you really can’t afford it. I support real food and real craftsmanship, but I also have made-in-china crap, and I occasionally eat fake food substances. I can complain all I want about mass produced trinkets, but I can’t write a blog without one. I think the benefits of communications technology outweigh the cost, and I make choices that reflect my beliefs.

But learn how important it is to support real food. Read Polyface Farm, See Fesh, read In Defense of Food. Then budget your time and effort so you can afford to support real food producers. Because we’ll all be better off if you do.