Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring Doings and Plannings

Some of y'all might be wondering what I'm up to. 
Some of y'all know what my plans are in general, and some are still in the dark because plans are still close to the vest.

So here are some general things that are going on. Some of you will know how these fit into my larger plan, and some of you will just have to be patient until I can reveal all.

I've got my spring garlic count! 90 made it through our harsh winter.  I lost some, in places where I didn't get enough mulch on top of them.  But 90 is still respectable. If I get 3 big cloves from all 90, planted this fall, that will be around 270 garlic plants up in 2015.  My crazy old lady co-gardener was surprised to see garlic in the plot this year. Most people around here are when I tell them what the plants are.  :-) It just means I'll have a monopoly on the market when the scapes are ready in June.  The scapes may be about all we eat or sell of this crop. Well, those and the smaller cloves I don't want to plant. This crop is meant to be the seed garlic for a larger cash crop next year.
My daddy asked me if there is a large market for Iowa garlic. I believe there is. My farmer friends at Coyote Run Farm, south of Des Moines plant something like a half acre of hardneck garlic every year. They have a picture of baby Rowen and I out for one of their garlic planting parties in 2009, so I know how much they plant. I know I will not be anywhere near that level. I also know they sell out every year.   The trick is nice big bulbs, and tasty varieties. Those two things are impossible to find in grocery store garlic. Get people hooked on the deliciousness that is locally grown hardneck garlic, and they'll never go back to the sad little grocery store garlic.

My cold frame performed well again this year, in all of its DIY glory.  The last frost date is this week, (and true to form for this spring, we have a frost chance for Friday) and my spinach has been producing like crazy since the beginning of May. Another week and we'll be buried in lettuce, some of which was also in the cold frame and is beginning to crowd out the last of the spinach.

My farmers market in town continues it's downward spiral.  This year the Chamber of "Commerce" has decided that it won't start until JULY 2nd!!  For fucks sake!  The other local markets are already starting, we went down to the opening weekend for Sioux City's market this past Saturday. And sure, it's no July market, but people were THERE! Vendors had greens, onions, eggs, meat, transplants and crafted goods. Customers were THERE! Why our Chamber thinks May and June don't deserve market times in our town, I don't know.  I strongly suspect it's because they are fucking morons.

Moving on. I've decided I will still register as a vendor and go in July-Oct.  I've also decided I'll start when I have the produce to start, and damn their official start date.  I'm making my own sandwich boards to offset the lack of city support for earlier selling dates. (Their limited support of the market includes signage along the main highway through town pointing motorists one block North to the market location.)  A big shout out to my dad, who brainstormed a bit with me on the sandwich boards. I got a start on them this past weekend, and my rusty woodworking skills came back to me. I even remembered to buy sandpaper and sand the boards before applying the primer. *high five* I'm making them really solid so they should last quite awhile. I'll be adding other things to my market stall this year. A scale is top of the list. I scored a big food-grade tray last year in a trade with a fellow market vendor, so that will find uses this summer. If I have enough of the chalkboard paint left when I'm done with my sandwich boards, I might make up some small boards for labeling prices/varieties of veggies.

In the fun news category, I'm signed up to run in another 5k this summer. The Color Run in Omaha in mid July.  I've been out jogging a few times this spring, in between the rains and storms. So far I'm running better than I did at the beginning of last year, much better. So, I didn't lose it all over the winter. Looks like this week might actually let me start the 3 times a week training that I did last year. If things go to plan I'll get to run with my younger brother, the ex-Marine. It sure would be nice to have a good time with him, it's been too long. And knowing that I'll be running with him will certainly keep the pressure on during my training.  Us two, competitive? ....yea.   :-D

So there's what's going on right now. We're keeping busy and holding on. How are things with all y'all?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Strong Women

A bit of poetry for the end of this week.  It's been a rough few weeks. Our savings has been going backwards, my job has been just as stressful as ever and I'm having to break in new ground for my vegetables because of the crazy lady and the girl scouts.
There have been some bright points though, Rowen got a new bike, a tag along that hooks onto Dave's bike, and he LOVES it. He was a happy little kid.
Logan is learning words, more every day, and continues to be just the sweetest little guy.
I've been painting and running and biking and doing some yoga to try and offset the hard work and stress.
Half of the Mother's Day cards are on their way South. Got to finish the last few though.  :-)

This poem spoke to me, and I thought I would share. I know a lot of strong women in my life, and I'm humbled that some consider me one. Enjoy.

"For strong women"

A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears
in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren't you feminine, why aren't
you soft, why aren't you quiet, why
aren't you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.

A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.
-Marge Piercy

Friday, May 2, 2014

Food for Thought

Food for Thought, For Becoming at Home in Our Place, For Thoughtfulness in Producing Food

With future generations in mind, may my family and friends never leave the land we steward poorer, nor its water scarcer than conditions were before we acquired responsibility for their care.
May we keep land meant to be farmed from being de-veloped, and re-envelope it with people dedicated to keep its inherent productivity in tact into perpetuity.
May we work as “greenhorns” to offer dignity, reciprocity and respect to the “grayhorns” willing to offer their land to us, and to never betray our covenant with them and the land itself.
May we seek to enrich the soil, diversify its plant cover and deepen its roots both within and beyond its harvested fields, its grazed pastures, or its orchards.
May we be diligent in learning how our practices affect those who live above and below us in our foodshed and watershed— not only the human lives, but all other-than-human lives as well.
May we participate in the regional culture of this land, and whenever possible, engage in the community rites and calendric rhythms that bind us to our place.
May we work to link the consumers of the food, fiber and timber we produce to the land on which it is produced, so that their values and ours are developed in harmony rather than in completion or in conflict.
May we encourage our members, friends and neighboring consumers to vote for what is best for the land at the polling booth where our choices help determine its governance, and at the table where what we choose to eat can benefit rather than harm the community at large.
May we share with our neighbors not only our successes in stewardship, but cautionary words of wisdom gained from our past failures as well, so that the principles that guide us and the practices that work on the ground are spread throughout this landscape.
May we refrain from solely focusing on increasing the saleable products from the land, but also on investing in the underlying natural processes which generate those products.
May we experiment with ways to control pests, diseases and weeds in a manner that does least harm to pollinators like bees and monarchs, predators, and
May we make long-term decisions about the destiny of the land and the choice of its future caretakers by asking a simple question: “What would the land itself want?” just as some Christian land ethicists often ask, “What would Jesus do if he were a farmer, fisher or forager?”
May we stay as humble as this blessed earth itself.
Message sent through Brother Coyote, OEF, aka Grayhorn Gary Paul Nabhan, to celebrate the Agrarian Trust forum in Berkeley CA in April of 2014