Celebrating Small Steps

Late summer here is my personal version of hell and I bitch about it every year.

What better time to take a break from my current reality where I feel like an indoor prisoner and wake up daily wanting to lash out at all the idiotic Geoengineering causing drought here and weather chaos all around the globe.

I even want to take a break from my last post pondering passivity and violence and just notice for a day, or so, all the little things and little ways we have improved upon since I last felt this level of droughtrage.

I know I am just a bit more blessed this year than last, mostly by my own sheer will and resilience, and that of Hubby as well, no doubt, and that of some inspiring neighbors and cyber-friends, and perhaps if I dwell on that fact just a bit, next year will be just a bit more blessed in turn.

Last year’s late summer garden vs this year’s, not great, but still better!

A new young friend who loves plants as much as I do helps me identify the hardy, native heat-lovers of our area, and diligently and graciously watched our wee homestead so I could join my extended family at a reunion in July.  I look forward to returning the favor when her family vacations in October.  This is the sort of small steps a resilient community is made of, not the top-down control of Rockefeller’s ‘Resilient Cities’, because it’s the neighborly reliance that brings real hope and treasures and peace of mind.

borderpatrol
Collective Border Control, naturally 😉

I still don’t like okra, but I’m harvesting it anyway for the pigs and neighbors!  Every once in a while I throw a few into a meal, along with other traditional Southern favorites we didn’t grow up with, but are learning to appreciate, like collards and Southern peas, eggplant and jalapenos, all which have survived the heat, but would not be here now without regular irrigation.

It’s very hard to keep up with the constant weeding and mulching requirements in such circumstances, but these plants, along with the sweet potatoes, are actually successfully competing with the grasses in some cases.  Amazing!

I won’t mention the melons, because I’m hell-bent on keeping this post positive. So let’s mention instead the ‘mouse melons’, aka sanditas, or, Mexican Sour Gherkins.  🙂

Instead, let’s mention the fact that the young sweet potato vines and okra leaves are edible and quite tasty!

And the fantastic find this summer which I’m most excited to expand next year considerably, the Mexican Sour Gherkin.

Crop of the year, in my humble opinion!

mexican-sour-gherkin_LRG

Even in the dead of summer, of brutal heat and no rain, we enjoy meals raised primarily on this land.  As an added bonus now my raw milk source is 5 minutes away, whereas last year at this time it was 5 hours round-trip!

The aging fridge is full of cheeses we will enjoy all winter: Cheddars, Goudas, a Parmesan and an Alpine, several Brie almost ripe, a Muenster even!  YUM!  Last week I taught a couple of neighbor ladies to make 30-minute mozzarella and we had such a nice time.

Next they will teach me skills they’ve acquired—spinning, dying, soap-making–a few more small steps in our agorism adventures.  Skill-sharing has been such a crucial aspect of our most successful ancestors and I would be challenged to express how rewarding it is for me still, at 50 next month, to be learning so much that is new for me.  It is indeed a sort of middle-age renaissance!

I also foraged for elderberries, mustang grapes and peppervine berries, dried some and made some syrups and preserves.

peppervine

 

And, Another 400 pounds of pears, or so!

pears2017

I do believe still that’s thanks to our bees.  For several years we thought it was a weather issue, late frosts, whatever, but I am beginning to suspect it was a pollinator issue all along.

We will see, that’s just a hypothesis so far.  And in any case we continue for another year to benefit from the cider, the preserves, the cobblers, and the pigs are getting their fill, too!

beesgone

The Datura remains an absolute favorite of mine, blooming in crazy heat and exhaling the most exquisite fragrance into the evening air.  The thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano are gracefully resilient as well, I appreciate all y’all!

datura

And our dear Tori, who just as I was typing this post chased an enormous coyote off our chickens!

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Tori, 2 weeks old
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Tori today!  Rewarded Homestead Guard of the Year 2018

The blessings are very close at hand, the frustrations a million miles away.  I vow to maintain that truthful balance deep in my heart as I brave the coming days.

Peace and love to y’all, dear friends.

 

Part 15: Rascals of Science

pigsnchickens
According to modern science pigs should not eat table scraps and farm species should not intermingle due to cross-contaminating disease potential.  Someone should really be informing the critters of these hazards.

There is a science underworld that borders with pseudoscience where mavericks and rascals believe the world, indeed the entire universe, is holistic, not mechanistic. I’m fascinated by these courageous thinkers who have ventured into unconventional territory.  I recognize the strength of character and conviction such a journey requires. Whether or not they are correct is, to me ,secondary, though I believe they are on the right path.

What I admire is that they strayed from the consensus, they escaped the group-think and the brainwashing of scientism, all while holding fast to a theory of a collective unconscious. At what point, I keep wondering, did they choose to deviate from the accepted experts in their fields and trust their own knowing? I’m so curious, because I seem to have arrived at that crossroad myself.

I’ve read many books by seasoned gardeners and farmers with great interest; I was a Master Gardner for a couple of years until politics got in the way; I’ve taken many classes, watched loads of videos and have now about six solid years of practical successes and failures under my belt. I can say with relative assurance that close to half of what I learned was wrong, or useless for me, or this particular region. In hindsight some of it was just a waste of time. Of course, there was much essential learning happening too, but I’m making my own rules in the garden now, based on little other than intuition.

I might be completely wrong, I’m sure I’ll be called totally crazy, but we will see how it goes. Considering the weather whiplash of this year, we are off to a pretty good start so far.

What’s calling me has many names that seem vaguely similar: companion planting, permaculture, biodynamic agriculture—it’s basically like organic farming on (natural) steroids. 🙂

snappeas
Snap peas with a backdrop of Texas squaw-weed, thriving even in the weather whiplash.

There is a growing amount of literature on the subject and I will continue to peruse through it, for ideas and inspiration of what to experiment with myself. I get the very strong sense that what this field needs is more explorers, more rascals and mavericks, more little devils tinkering with the science-status-quo. I begin with one overarching position—the answer is not to be bought. The answer exists in the nature right around us. I need only slow down, focus, and really listen.

I had a lesson just today on how I am certainly lacking in that level of detail and attention.  I was marveling for a moment on a butterfly that landed in the grass as I was walking back from feeding the pigs.  How marvelous, I thought, and I squatted down slowly and got closer.

aniseswallowtail
An Anise swallowtail. I did not know it at the time, but looked very closely so I could remember just what it looked like to later find its name in an internet search.

http://www.gardenswithwings.com/identify-butterflies.html

I thought how lucky and clever I was in that moment– Lucky that I had such time and appreciation of beauty to take extended notice and so clever that I thought to consciously memorize its details so I could later look it up.

I was so intent on it, I nearly missed the smaller, paler, but on closer examination equally exquisite butterfly laying still in the grass not even a foot away from his showy cousin.  A very tiny creature, brownish and so more camouflaged on the just greening grass, but with perfect miniscule polka-dots  in varied shades of blue along the base of its wings–but I could not find his likeness on any search.

Most certainly they were enjoying a tour of our garden.  Did they also think it too wild and untamed?  Weeds and crops growing side-by-side, on purpose?!  Were they as incredulous as most modern avid gardeners would be of my methods in madness?

I’m sensing the butterflies saw it more like this.

gardensalad

But the weeds!  They are choking and starving your crops!  Are they?  All of them?  How do you know this, I now question.  You see, the jumping jacks are delicious and gorgeous in a salad and they want to grow next to the onions.  And the lady slippers and carrots growing side-by-side not only looked lovely, but produced the best crop yet.

carrots

The most unexpected, and it would seem magical, transformation I’ve experienced since beginning our rural life is my sense of smell has gotten very keen.  So much so it’s become a disadvantage when trying to engage in the outside world.  What I consider a heightened sense, a new level of sensitivity that serves me very well in my immediate environment, is called by modern scientists as a symptom of a brain disorder.  It’s in the ballpark with phantosmia– I ‘hallucinate’ smells and over-register the strength of them, it seems.  I bet they’ve manufactured the ideal medication to rid me of my new superpower. 🙂

This week’s bread crumbs:

Yogic Science ‘one consciousness’  = high consciousness? Not sure about that, but found this one interesting enough to include it.  He made me wonder, when did the goal of spirituality become happiness?  Somehow, I missed that memo.

Dada Gunamuktananda https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo0X2ZdElQ4

Rupert Sheldrake—morphic resonance, 6th sense–says, on modern science: “Give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jiJM4ybiho

You may call them simpletons, I call them inspiring.

“The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  It is at the root of all true science.  That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, is my idea of God.”  Einstein

muscove
Our Muscove flock–fertile and ferocious mothers that keep us in delicious meals all year.  Yesterday one ventured into the chicken coop and was attacked by the rooster and his harem and the ducks came across the yard to her rescue.  So loyal, and it would appear, terribly racist . . . or I guess species-ist?
rooster
“Is somebody messin’ with my bitches?” Nature is so very un-egalitarian, yet still manages to not slaughter one another–such a magical mystery our own social engineers might learn from!