Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

May-niac... or Mayk up your mind. You see the theme.

Okay, right into it... May is crazy! The weather this month is stressing me out. May is behaving like a child and I'm totally calling 'time out.' Two days ago we were worried about losing our tomatoes (which we planted too early) to frost, and today it's 80, humid and we get hit by a series of thunderstorms. I think the most interesting thing is that I never really paid all that much attention to the weather patterns before... not like I do now anyway. Now, I have to know what's going on outside. It opens your eyes, being responsible for so much. I was working in the garden today when the thunderstorms hit so I scurried into the chicken coop. The chicks aren't living there just yet and it's become kind of a club house for all of us. I feel like a kid again, scrapping together whatever lumber and know-how I have to make something awesome with my friends. I can't wait to get the hens on the farm but to tell you the truth, part of me is gonna be really sad when the chicks steal my club house. I'll get over it though, for the greater good, and because the alternative would make me look crazy.

So I'm sitting in the coop listening to the rain batter the top of the tin roof and staring out at my garden like I tend to do, gazing into the nothingness of our beautiful plot of land and I started thinking about this whole idea... this local movement we're all a part of. It makes sense to do this... to me, and to you, but if we're supposed to change the way we're all doing things, we all need to change and have to want to change. The fact is that we need lots of people to start farming. If the solution to large-scale industrial agriculture is localization and community we have to begin building communities that way again. Communities now (in large-part anyway, I'm generalizing... just let me have my moment) are a collection of nearly identical homes neatly placed in what once was a family farm or a forest. This type of lifestyle has it's perks but what you begin to realize is that everything that you depend on for sustaining your way of life, comes to you from a source that you're unfamiliar with. We don't take care of each other anymore, we let businesses do that. I don't have to know how to grow food or make clothing, or build and fix things because I can just make money and pay someone to do it for me. The downside to this is that we become a bunch of dependent people. Independence in our society means the competence to take on debt... it means being old enough to pay for your own crap. But then we get ourselves into debt and become dependent on the lowest bidder.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing anyone personally, I am generalizing and soap boxing but perhaps when we're designing these massive housing communities, we could pencil in some farmland. We are kinda placing a lot of them directly onto farms... might as well give the locals a chance to fend for themselves. The idea is to empower your community and to make it functional from the inside out. And we can do it. We are doing it. Its crazy to think that only a few companies make all the food for everyone but it's set up that way. Its all one great big marketing money-making industry and It's pretty unstable. I don't know about you guys but I'm getting back to basics. I'm pretty sure that's what Thomas Jefferson and his crew were trying to pull off... dodging large government and bank control... starting a new type of place with an organic, adventurous attitude. They were the nations first hippies. Too bad we don't have a large, uninhabited (which didn't stop them) piece of land to exploit... but we don't and that's okay, we've got a butt-load of it hear. I think farming is a fulfilling way of life. I'm sure that goes without saying after that whole rant I just put you through, but you hung in there and you get a gold star.

So... some lessons so far this year: 1. Everything eats chickens. That looks like I don't know how to write but what I mean is there is not a creature in the wild that will not try to eat you chickens. Guard them with your life 2. If you live in Maryland there is no reason to transplant your tomatoes until June, once May has finished throwing a fit. 3. Building a chicken coop is not all that hard. 4. Poison Ivy is most potent in the roots of the plant so even if the vine and leaves are dormant you can still have a reaction to the roots.

Till next time

Views: 95

Comment by Cornelia on May 15, 2010 at 8:05am
Thanks so much, Doug. Always a pleasure reading your thoughts and seeing what the process of starting a farm means to you. Hope your tomatoes MAYke it through May's tantrums.
Comment by Carol Sullivan on May 15, 2010 at 11:11am
Here in Maine, May is truly May-niacal!!! We've had snow and then 80 degrees, repeatedy!! I have the desire to do small scale farming, but realize that I don't have the where-with-all right this minute, so, instead I'm supporting those folks that already have their system in place, by buying at the local farmer's market or going to our wicked-brilliant online farmer's market (www.westernmainemarket.com) to have access to many more goods produced by local folks. I believe this was put together with a grant. But it's a year-round market and makes such good sense out here in the rural hinterlands to have one place to go and pick up your goodies once a week instead of burnin' fossil fuel to save your health. It's such a perfect blend of technology and the good earth! In fact, you could even have a designated picker-upper so you save even more time and fuel. Go, Doug! Good luck with your venture. I still wish I could have chickens! ;-}
Comment by Carol Sullivan on May 15, 2010 at 11:25am
Oh, and another note...on the poison ivy, don't burn it--the fumes will irritate your lungs or worse, way worse. I'm grateful that we don't have that noxious weed here in the mountains. But we have something way more "fun"--black flies! They're here!!! It's always a trade-off somewhere along the line!
Comment by Chris on May 15, 2010 at 7:03pm
Seems like we always put out our tomatoes Memorial Day when I lived with my folks in MD. I live in Oregon now and the weather here is lousy cold until July. I start my tomatoes indoors in February and put them out in early May, under mini-hoophouses. Got my first ripe tomato last year in early July...most people don't get them 'til mid- or late-August.
Comment by Farm Frederick on May 15, 2010 at 8:25pm
Thanks everyone for adding your tips and thoughts. This is such a good way to share information.


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