“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013

I was looking forward to having spinach as part of dinner tonight…sauteed and draped over something or other. I wasn’t thinking it that far ahead. I am one who can eat spinach in almost any way that it can be cooked, and in anything that it can be folded into or smothered with. And I can just eat it plain.

I like it best on a cold morning in the late winter, freshly picked from the garden row when its leaves are still framed with the crystals from the night’s frost.  I like it best when I eat it there in the garden. Tart. A hint bitter. I don’t mind the grain or two of sand that hitchhikes on the leaf and grinds a bit between my teeth. It’s my ultimate connection to the earth.

So while I was thinking about spinach, I was coincidently scrolling through articles on Google News and I found one from U.S. News about the viruses and other disease bugs on our foods:

“…a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that leafy greens are also the riskiest foods in terms of causing food-borne illnesses.”  -  Laura McMullen, US News.

In this dead of winter, I have nothing left in the garden and I have finished off everything I had grown in the hoop house. I started to feel anxious about the “industrial spinach” in its brittle plastic bag that was in the fridge – the spinach I asked my wife to pick up at the store last week (still perfectly fresh, a week from the store and who knows how long from the field).

Tasteless. Paper like. I wonder if it has any nutrients. No sand. No hint of the earth. And maybe it’s full of germs from the unknown. I don’t even know where it came from, if its gmo, or if it’s really spinach at all.

It just isn’t the same as mine. It doesn’t compare.

Tonight, I realized again how much I miss my garden. I think about how much I want to get out and plant seed again….and how much I miss knowing my own food.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January 6, 2013

I guess the holidays are over. I will spend the day taking down the outside lights. We hadn’t done lights outside in years; living so far back from the road there’s not much point. But I was in the mood this year and I did it more for myself rather than the cars that speed by 200 yards away on the highway. Those guys are traveling so fast they don’t have any time to look around enough to notice a fainted light display anyway. Even so, the delivery guy from Giuseppe’s appreciated the extra light when he came to the door.

So today I will be taking the lights down.

We already have the Christmas tree down. We have a little tradition with our Christmas tree….While all the neighbors drag their tree out to the curb for pick up, we drag ours out to the backyard. We tie it up to a tree near the bird feeder so that the song birds can take cover from the weather and from the Coopers hawk that hunts them there. We also tie it up in reach of Snoopie, who will snack on it until spring, stripping it of the needles and bark. When she’s done, there’s usually very little left – a few twigs on the trunk.

I have considered salvaging trees from the curb for the birds and Snoopie and the other goats, but I have always stopped short of this because I can’t be sure if they haven’t been treated with sprays to keep them fresh and green, or to make them fire retardant. I just don’t want to take a chance of possibly poisoning the goats. That’s just the thing – one never knows what’s on any things theses days. So if I don’t have to gamble, I don’t.

Today is not a bad day to be outside as its pretty warm for a day in January. It’s warm enough that the bee hives are active today. On warm winter days like today, the bees do housekeeping – they clean the hive of dead bees and whatever, get some fresh air, and stretch their wings so to speak. When it gets cold again they will ball up in the hive to conserve energy and heat. For now though, I know that all the colonies have made it this far through the winter.

The horses are doing a bit different today too- taking time to lay down and stretch out to capture as much sun on their bodies as they can. It’s no different than what we call sun bathing.

Later today I will be taking Patrick for a ride. I have been working with him almost every day, now that I have time since the growing season is over. I have been doing my best to work on his spooking – things that scare him. Being prey animals, it is an instinct for a horse to spook – it is a defensive mechanism that keeps a horse alive. Problem is, a horse that spooks can get out of control and either the horse or rider or both can get hurt. The trick is to teach the horse to trust the rider so that the horse stays under the riders control….even when he spooks. Trust takes a lot of time.

I guess I am keeping busy even if it is winter. Soon I will be ordering seeds and onions and leeks and potatoes and then before I realize it, I will be back in the field again digging and tilling and hoeing and weeding and planting and worrying if anything will come up! And hopefully, I will be ready when that time comes!