Dozer, the Bulldog

Dozer, the Bulldog
Feeling the "Bern"

Ellie Mae

Ellie Mae
No time for gates...

Ollie Mac

Ollie Mac
My cooking assistant

Ollie and Annie

Ollie and Annie
Azorean grandmother


38 years on this mountain, come May 31st...



Papa and Ollie Mac

Papa and Ollie Mac
Priorities, Baby


Annie, my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms

My first portrait

My first portrait
"Mr. Farmer"

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Drug of Choice; Hint: It's Not Alcohol

My Drug of Choice; Hint: It's Not Alcohol 

I’m taking Sunday off from Kate Wolf and her festival.  I enjoyed Friday immensely, but had some hard times Saturday, some of them completely unnecessary.  I do understand how logistically cumbersome the whole arrangement must be, and that certain formalities must be in place, but the reality is, individuals control various components of the fair, and there lies the rub.

Give a person a position of authority or control, and watch him or her go to town.  Even if there are three people involved in the process, the one with the need for power and control will assert his or her influence over the situation.

Take the two “checkpoints” at the entrances to the main stage area.  Please.  The purpose would appear to be to prevent alcohol from being transported into the venue, for obvious reasons.  All well and good.  The organizers are not interested in inebriation abounding. 

So in achieving egress and ingress from the main area for entertainment and food, one must clear the “checkpoint,” over and over again.  There are three persons of both genders controlling the entry-points, and there is generally a steady current of festival attendees flowing through the checkpoints.

Thousands of people attend this event and one of the most challenging of logistical elements deals with the banks of porta-potties, which are clean, well-maintained and sufficient in number to handle the numbers.  But you must leave the main stage area to get to them, and then return once again.  So every time you need to use the restroom, you must pass through the checkpoint(s).

It was in the nineties yesterday; Annie and I hydrated ourselves with water brought from home in twelve-ounce bottles, and we brought a lot. Most remained in the truck, but we always had from a few, to as many as a half-dozen water bottles with us at all times.  Annie’s issues with cancer require that she drink vast amounts of water every day.  I personally drink three liters a day.  

Consequently, we needed to make that jaunt to the bathrooms pretty regularly.  Of course, we had our chairs set up in the main stage area, so they could remain there when we left the area, but we did not want to leave the backpack behind, for obvious reasons.

In addition to the the water, we had our food.  Annie being a Celiac, cannot eat the cuisine featured at the festival, despite efforts in past years.  She found that the food sickens her.  No problem.  We bring our own.

I have no food allergies, but still find the food offered at the festival to be unappealing to me.  I mean, hey.  Who’s going to argue with Indian, Greek, Ghanian, and an assortment of vegan and gluten-free food, from which to choose?

I mean, anyone besides me.  I do not apologize for my lack of adventure when it comes to food.  I do not care for curry; I do not care for lamb, and I detest the smell of garlic fries.  Garlic permeated the area.

There was a booth selling sandwiches, but the only thing I found to be conventional [to me] was the BLT.  There was also a pizza booth featuring gluten-free pizza, but what about something as bizarre as organic hamburgers, with cheese, or a turkey on sourdough bread sandwich, with tomatoes and lettuce?  Just asking.  Political correctness need not spill over into food.

The point is we chose to bring in our own grub, along with water and whatever else we crammed into the backpack.  I even informed the over-zealous guards that I did indeed have my drug of choice with me, but that it was not alcohol-it was reefer.

I do not like to think that I was singled out because of my somewhat unorthodox appearance ( I rock a prominent mustache), but I have little other recourse.  I watched countless people stream through, unmolested, and then Annie and I get accosted.  We are interrogated, and I have people I do not know, rummaging through my personal belongings.  And I certainly do not feel it’s anyone’s business, why we choose to bring our own food with us.  I owe no medical explanation to anyone but my doctor.

I did not have a drop of alcohol to drink all day, so they could not have smelled it on my breath.  I was walking by Annie’s side, holding her hand, and I was quiet and obliging.  

What purpose is served by me having to repeatedly subject my personal belongings to the gropings of strangers?  Call off the dogs and let us pee in peace.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happyday Farms-All Year Round

This is the seventeenth in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.

Happyday Farms:
All Year Round
One of the goals from the beginning, back in the early seventies, when we first came up to Bell Springs from the south, was to ultimately find a way of making a living, all year round, on the property upon which we were dwelling.  It was one thing to be able to work steadily from May though October, doing carpentry, concrete and any other outdoor work we could get our hands on, but what about when the rain-and snow-set in?  How were we supposed to make a living then?

The first May when Casey and Amber began selling shares of produce, the plan called for them to go as far into the fall/winter as they could, and then call it macaroni when they just couldn’t come up with enough produce for the requisite number of shares.  But a funny thing happened on the way to autumn, and the time never came when they actually pulled the plug.

So how does an organic farm manage to keep growing fresh produce, especially the tender greens used both for green salads and for cooking, all year round?  Think greenhouses and you are halfway there.  Now when you think about the average, run-of-the-mill greenhouse, you’re probably talking twenty-thirty feet long, by ten or twelve feet wide.

Not so with Happyday Farms.  I mean there are a couple the size of which I just mentioned, but the greenhouse that I am specifically thinking of is closer to eighty feet long, by twelve feet wide.  Though at first glance, it would appear to be a single unit, this greenhouse is actually not one, but two greenhouses simply melded together to form one.

Beginning with two parallel rows of metal stakes, twelve feet apart, twenty-foot lengths of inch-and-a-half white poly-pipe are inserted over one of the metal stakes, at one end of the line of stakes, and then bent with enough force, to place the opposite end of the white pipe over one of the matching metal stakes, twelve feet away.  In this way, once twenty or so of these plastic pipes are similarly inserted, four feet apart, the arch is formed, over which the greenhouse cloth will be draped.

How does the greenhouse cloth get fastened to the base of the greenhouse?  Once the twenty plastic arch pieces are in place, twenty-foot long hunks of two-by-four doug fir are fastened to the base of the arch-pieces, with plumber’s tape wrapped around the round plastic pipe and screwed into the fir.  The two-by-fours stretch along the ground, the length of the greenhouse on both of the outside walls of poly-pipe.

Then lengths of metal railing are fastened to the outside of the twenty-foot-long two-by-fours, and the cloth is inlaid into the rails with wavy, wire fasteners that make it impossible for the cloth to pull out of the rails.  It’s fairly complicated, with a little sophistication thrown in, but it’s a formula for success.  It allows crops to be grown inside in the coldest of temperatures.

The compost used inside the greenhouse is very hot, and is constantly emitting heat and that helps when the cold sets in.  That is how even the tenderest of greens will make it through the cold times.

Another technique for being able to fill the Happyday Farms shares is to obtain organic produce from another source and include that produce as a supplement to what is grown on the farm.  Casey buys potatoes from Irene at the Hogfarm, for instance, and that is a help.

Ultimately, Casey wants to include such after-market products as tomato sauce, tomato ketchup, pizza sauce, and other products that can be put up using crops grown on the farm.  I would love to be a part of that, because I always can cases and cases of tomatoes and the sauces I mentioned above.  

I just think of it as job security, and I’m grateful I’m not handling a shovel.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happyday Farms-Market Day

This is the sixteenth in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.

Happyday Farms:
Market Day

I am only an observer in the theater which constitutes Happyday Farms, someone who stays well out of the way, and who tries to lasso a few images with my camera that I can share with those who take an interest in the availability of fresh, healthy food options.

In an era where one can no longer trust the local grocery store to provide wholesome produce, it’s nice to know where you can turn, to guarantee that you and your family have access to a healthy alternative. So preparing for market in Laytonville on Mondays, presents organized frenzy as the theme of the day, and the fact that everyone knows his or her role, paves the way.  

There are at least five individuals handling the harvesting, cleaning, prepping, packaging and final preparations for hooking up CSA members with their shares.  CSA, or Community-Sponsored Agriculture, is a program that links consumers with the small, organic farmer, so that each week, a share of fresh produce awaits customers at market.  Additionally, Courtney sets up tables for displaying fresh produce in town, for anyone who stops by to purchase.

I focus on snapshots of the harvesting and cleaning process, and I also takes pics of what is growing on the farm on that day.  Each Monday, when I post from 15-20 pics on face-book, I include images of flowers, rows of greens or brassicas, and I post a lot of photos of tomatoes growing.  I am convinced we will have red tomatoes in early July, if not late June with the heat we have been experiencing.

As far as the CSA goes, in a perfect world, the consumer pays in advance, so that the farmer not only does not have to wait for harvest, he also has the money in hand to continue the operation of the farm.  In either case, the cost of the share is always going to be less than what it would have cost to go to the hippie store in Ukiah and buy the same produce.  Plus, it’s fresher.

One facet of Market day includes the gathering together of everyone at noon for a big spread, prepared by Annie.  There is always a green salad and fresh veggies from the farm, and there is always a main entree, most often than not, comprised of meat grown on the farm.

Considering how much there is to be done prior to lunch, there is always a collective sigh of relief when the pace returns to normal.  And this is only for the market in Laytonville, on Mondays.  There is the Wednesday market at the quarry, and in past years there was the Harris market on Fridays.

I think Harris may be left off the ticket this season, but there will certainly be a replacement, maybe Willits, which has been in the discussion for years, and maybe a different environment entirely.  With such a bountiful and beautiful assortment of goods available, Happyday Farms would fit happily into any comparable venue.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Happyday Farms-Fresh Tomatoes or Store-Bought?

This is the fifteenth in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.

Happyday Farms-
Fresh Tomatoes or Store-Bought?

I’m not convinced that folks have a clear idea of what constitutes an organic farm.  What’s the difference between a “traditional” farm and a small, family owned and operated organic farm, besides the obvious, their difference in size?

For starters, traditional farming is more likely to focus on one or at least only a couple of different crops, and grow twenty acres of them, say tomatoes, or corn, or whatever.  The fields are prepared in the early spring, the crop sewn into the ground, and the machines come along and harvest it when the time is right.  The fields then lie fallow over the winter.

An organic farm is only going to be a fraction of the size of a contemporary corporate farm.  At most, Happyday Farms encompasses between two and three acres of actual growing space.  Use a football field for comparison.  An acre is approximately three-fourths the size of a conventional football field, so there is a huge difference in terms of volume of produce that can be grown.

Aside from size, what distinguishes the one from the other, besides the practices employed by the farmer, is the variety of different kinds of crops that can and will be grown at any given period of time.  I am not talking fifteen or twenty different crops, I am talking sixty, eighty, a hundred different types of marketable products, all being prepped, planted, nurtured, harvested and sent on to market, or into CSA shares.

These crops include vegetables, herbs, spices, flowers and medicines, and it requires a fair amount of juggling to keep everything flowing smoothly, especially when it comes to deciding what specific items will go into the weekly shares, harvested Monday morning and taken to market that same day.

The orchestration of this process is what I would like to address today.  The casual observer of life might opine that a hundred different kinds of vegetative life, all flourishing simultaneously, might challenge the staff at a little mom and pop establishment like HappyDay Farms.

This would be the number one reason why Master Casey no longer chooses to do construction in the good-weather months; he wants to farm full-time.  With Amber, Lito, Courtney, and farm-hands Torrey and sometimes Conner, Casey charts a course each day which addresses the most pertinent issues, and sets the day’s plans into action.

For instance, on Monday of this week, I took photographs of the plot of garlic in the orchard, that was on the verge of being harvested.  There were four, sixty-foot long furrows, with three rows of garlic in each.  That makes (12 X 60ft) 720 feet of garlic, or the same as one row of garlic the length of two football fields.

For a small community, with Casey selling between thirty and fifty shares a week, that garlic is going to go a long way.  After being dried, it will be stored in the cinder-block root-cellar, which keeps the temperature inside the same as the earth, no matter how scorching hot it is outside, or how far below freezing it is.

What happens next, once these four furrows are harvested, which took place on Tuesday?  The following day, Lito, Courtney, and Torrey were in that space, with one using the giant fork to overturn the ground, one industriously removing the rocks that have surfaced from the fork, and the third one measuring out and applying the necessary amendments to prepare the soil for the next crop.

This pitch fork I am describing, is about thirty inches wide, with tines that are a least eighteen inches deep.  It is meant to be used on soil that has been previously tilled; otherwise it would be prohibitively difficult to even use it, unless, of course, you are a savage like Lito.

So the crew moves in, refurbishes the soil including a liberal amount of the rich dark compost, removes any and all rocks it can, and replants the area with the designated replacement crop.  In this case, it was a whole passel of Heinz tomato plants, with which we are going to make vast, unlimited amounts of ketchup, for inclusion in the CSA shares, particularly in the dead of next winter, when it is toughest to compile enticing shares for all of its customers.

And that’s how we do.  Most every day, there is a harvest and subsequent beds to be spruced up.  Happyday Farms plants all year-round, focusing on that which is seasonally appropriate, and that is another of those defining characteristics of the organic farm.

Unless Casey is orchestrating the set-up on a newly-formed terrace, in which case the rototiller is needed, the process does not require motorized equipment, and is as efficient as a clock.  As is the farm.

Casey may work from early morning until well after dark, through the use of a headlamp, and not think twice about it.  It is the nature of a farmer.  But when he is done, and munching down his dinner of home-grown, healthy, Happyday Farms goodness, I can only assure you he feels the whole thing is worth the effort, and then some.

There is no similarity between the huge corporate farms and the organic farm, except that of the soil.  Beyond that, the two farming experiences are as different as a McDonald’s “restaurant” is from Ardella’s, in Willits.

Or as different as store-bought, pesticide-ridden tomatoes from the ones you bring in from your garden.  If you understand that distinction, then you’re good on the rest. 

Happy eating!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happyday Farms- Lost: One Spare Tire

This is the fourteenth in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.

Happyday Farms-
Lost: One Spare Tire

Eating what is produced on Happyday Farms is not only a healthy alternative to the average ‘Merican diet, it is a serious avenue to natural weight loss, if you happen to be a person who currently feels as though you are lugging around a spare tire on your mid-section.

I am not a person who diets.  The idea of trying to lose weight, or inches, by limiting my intake of conventional amounts of food is unthinkable.  From what I have observed, for most people, the issue of weight is either huge or irrelevant.  There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.

I never had to be worried about weight gain until I had been teaching for several years.  Even though I was generally up for eighteen hours or so a day, and always on the go, the sedentary lifestyle of a teacher still eventually caught up to me, and I had to start being careful of what I ate.

That is, until stress knocked me for a loop, and I dropped from about 190 pounds down to 155 pounds, the same amount of weight I was carrying the day I strolled into the Armed Forces Examination/Entry Station, or AFEES, Los Angeles, in 1972.

Of course, I didn’t know it was stress; I just knew that I could not digest meat or dairy products and that I was living on salad and veggies, and people thought I was dying.  I never did get back to normal until after I left the teaching field, but then “normal” didn’t stop until I bottomed out (or more appropriately, maxed out) at 212 pounds, with a paunch hanging out over my belt that made me look as though I were carrying around a thirty pound watermelon under my shirt.

A little over a year ago, in May, Casey and the crew at Happyday Farms were functioning at such an elevated level, that it was deemed appropriate that Annie and I would not only start getting a weekly share from the farm, but that when it came right down to it, the garden was virtually ours for the picking.

I say “ours” loosely, because it is Annie who does the grocery “shopping.”  However, in the past thirteen months, I have become so enamored with the ability to subsist off of vast, unlimited quantities, of fresh, organic produce, that it has gradually become a mainstay.

Now here comes the kicker.  Last summer at some unspecific point in time, I saw a post on facebook by a long-time friend, who made a very simple statement to the effect that since she had stopped eating bread, about eight months earlier, she had lost twenty pounds.

Bread makes you gain weight?  Duh.  What would I eat instead, asked a guy who used to be able to live off of sour dough bread-easily. Not only did I stop eating bread, but I cut out flour tortillas, a staple almost as prevalent in my diet as bread.

And as to what I would eat, it’s no different, except that if I want a sandwich at lunch, instead of wrapping lunchmeat, or cheese, or tuna fish, or egg salad in bread, I wrap it in lettuce, or kale leaves, or some other form of greenery, which allows me to enjoy the same things I always have (except grains) with no restrictions on how much I can eat at any given meal.

All this came about last fall, about eight months ago, and having weighed myself this morning, I am happy to announce that I have lost twenty pounds.  I have not lost my watermelon completely, but it now looks more like a cantaloupe. 

Amazing.  At least to me.  I miss my poached eggs on sour dough toast in the morning, but not as much as I miss my spare tire.  

Seriously,  it was as easy as that. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Happyday Farms-Three Little Pigs-See How They Run

This is the thirteenth in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.

Happyday Farms-
Three Little Pigs-See How They Run

I can emphatically tell you that I have never considered the option of rearing a hog.  My father raised hogs in SoCal, back in the fifties and sixties, and again when he relocated here to Mendocino County in 1977. My son Casey raises hogs; I guess the hog-rearing gene skipped a generation and I am very grateful for that.

However, I do have tremendous amount of respect and understanding for the reasons that Casey and Amber are committed to going ahead and repeating the adventure of a year ago, when their first attempt at keeping pigs on Happyday Farms provided such an assortment of serendipitous escapades.

I call  them escapades because it suggests that I found these instances rather comical.  Of course, I was not the one chasing the three merrily sprinting miscreants, down the driveway which eventually takes one either to Unc Matt’s spot or the new pond.  Neither was an attractive destination for our rotund runaways.

Why would a farmer go through all of the fun and enjoyment-if maybe a little undignified at times-of raising pigs?  The answer is because it’s the most practical way to ensure that what you are eating has been raised properly.  

Of course, one can purchase locally-grown hogs and be assured they are completely organically raised, but it also costs accordingly, as well it should.  However, if you have twenty acres of rolling ridge-top, it makes a lot of sense to rear them yourself and cut out the middleman.

That noble concept being aired, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: what makes raising hogs so challenging?  It’s pretty well-known that pigs are smart fellers, more intelligent even than dogs.  That’s one reason George Orwell used them as the the animal that would rise up and dominate the others in Animal Farm, published in 1945.

They simply want to know what is on the outside of their pen.  Casey began by driving t-posts into the ground and affixing sections of rigid metal fencing to the posts with baling wire at first, and various other practical methods of attaching one item to another.

Theoretically, this arrangement should have been more than sufficient to keep the beasties inside.  And it worked most of the time.  Problems developed because first of all the pigs can be wildly rambunctious, so their play occasionally created problems when repeated encounters with a questionable union of two sections of fencing might separate them, creating gappage.  Or would you believe that a gate might not have been properly latched?

If the pigs stayed always in the same spot, then more permanent measures would probably have produced more permanent results.  But Casey only wanted the pigs to stay in the same spot for a certain period of time, before he rotated them to a different spot.  The advantages of running pigs (chickens, sheep, whatever) are so many in terms of refurbishing the land to make it more useable for farming, the list is endless.

In fact, for a period of time there in the middle of the summer, Casey used an electric fence to pen them in, because he could move it with only half the degree of difficulty, than the more traditional (and dependable) rigid metal fencing.  The problem with the electric fencing was elementary.  The pigs were willing to endure the shock of the electric fence if it meant freedom.  

So a sprinting pig would hit that two-strand electric fence and never slow down on his way to freedom, especially with a jolt of electricity to fuel the flight.  I will tell you in perfect frankness, with the voice of seasoned experience, you do not ever want to come into contact with that wire.  Ever.

So, hey, those little piggies must have wanted to get out pretty badly.  As I alluded to earlier, the first time I was aware that they were able to bust free, I was preparing to leave the house when I looked out at the driveway running past my home, and there were the three of them jauntily prancing down the road, with seemingly no cares in the world.

When I called Casey and asked him if he knew they were on the loose, all I heard was, “Expletive! Again?”  Oh, so this is a re-run, so to speak.

 How did Casey and Amber get the happy wanderers back to their home?  Elementary, as Annie and I witnessed first-hand one fine morning up on Bell Springs Road, while taking our morning walk.  Annie heard them before we saw them, wallowing in the cool spring grass, and we gave Casey a quick heads-up with our cellie, and told him we would wait there until he arrived.  Ten minutes later, along came Amber, almost nonchalantly hiking overland with a five-gallon bucket of oats, partly filled with enough goodness to produce a tantalizing sound when jostled.  And the three little piggies docilely followed her home.

I am still kind of reeling from all that I have learned recently about the duping of America (or more realistically, urban America, because the small farmers and ranchers never forgot it).  I honestly thought bacon and bacon grease were bad for you.  Cholesterol and all of that, you know.  And all of those vegetable oils...they’re all healthy, right?  Well, I still cannot explain the specifics, but then again, I don’t have to.

Casey and Amber are two of the most motivated individuals I have ever met when it comes to eating healthily.  I might even call it fanatical, except that fanatical has a pejorative connotation and there is nothing negative about wanting to steer clear of the harmful effects of what is available on the shelves of ‘Merican grocery stores.

I am proud of what they are doing and I am proud to be a part of it, even if what I accomplish has nothing to do with the actual production of food.  Small farmers need to be supported and given respect, because of all the vocations a person could have, wanting to grow food for your community is right up there at the top.  It is a noble profession.

Even if it means occasionally chasing three pigs down the road to the pond.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happyday Farms- Italian Bees

This is the twelfth in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.

Happyday Farms-
Italian Bees
I have a tendency at times to become overwhelmed by factors over which I have no control.  I have been reading about the decimation of the bees by the poisons of corporate America, and I have no point of reference.  Up here on the ridge, there is no shortage of bees.  

Until it came down in a windstorm about a dozen years ago, there was a live oak tree of undetermined age, that grew straight upwards for about six feet, before making a sharp bend over, and continuing upwards at about a ten degree angle, which meant there was a tremendous amount of oak tree, precipitously perched alongside our front redwood deck.

One fine spring day, a seemingly furious swarm of bees descended upon the area, and took up residence in this oak tree.  I was dismayed.  There were bees endlessly buzzing-lazily, I might add- around the front door to our house and I was constantly ill at ease at the very entrance to my own home.

Growing up, I had the usual panic at the immediate presence of bees, yellow-jackets or any kind of flying, stinging menace.  This uneasiness around bees left me abruptly, when my friend and colleague, Brian Bowles, was up visiting on an unrelated matter.

Approaching the house, I warned him that there were bees, and explained about the new tenants of the oak tree.  To my surprise, instead of sharing my concerns, he immediately asked if there were a ladder available so he could take a closer look.  Of course, to me, that did not compute.  I always wanted to get farther away.

Brian waved my fears aside, climbed up that ladder, did a little first-hand observing inside the hollow tree-trunk, and informed me that our bees were a strain of Italian bees, quite docile, and that I needn’t fear them in any way.  In fact, he went on to inform me that bees were very capable of picking up on human emotions, and that they could discern if I were paranoid, or at ease.

Of course I was astonished.  But I completely trusted Brian’s word and never once was left to regret it.  I have subsequently taken hundreds of snapshots, up close and personal, wandering among the plethora of bees on the farm without any fear whatsoever.

Furthermore, I have taken camera in hand and gotten close-up pics of a swarm on the move, and lived to tell about it, stingless I might add.
However, the gold star goes to Casey, who actually maneuvered his way into the midst of a furious swarm, gently scooped up the queen and placed her in a cardboard box, and relocated her and her thousands of best friends.  And he did it wearing a tee-shirt with no headgear.

Benny has it all on his phone video camera, and it’s the stuff of magic.  I think of it as just another in a series of miracles, that occur daily here at Happyday Farms.  

We need a hundred thousand Happyday Farms, each creating the same kind of miracles which go on every day of the year.  Included in those daily miracles is the sweetest of all: It’s the miracle of dealing with “factors over which I have no control” by kicking butt and taking names, on so many different levels, it’s laughable.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Happyday Farms-Grocery Shopping at Walmart

This is the eleventh in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.

Happyday Farms- 
Grocery Shopping at Walmart 

Dozer finagled his way off the front deck a week or so ago, and found the inevitable route to the compost pile, which is located inside the orchard.  The little miscreant was either smart enough to see the wide-open double gates and made a bee-line for the action, or he just got lucky, and wandered through because he smelled all of the delicacies lying just inside, waiting for a roly-poly bulldog.

Why the gates were open is immaterial.  Ever since the chickens took up residence on the north forty, the orchard has been out of the limelight.  There are about ten fruit trees planted on the top half, and vast quantities of both garlic and sauce tomatoes, for making catsup and pizza sauce, on the lower half.  

Amidst it all is a rapidly expanding forrest of St. John’s Wort, used by most of the mountain woman to make a variety of ointments and salves.  Annie has been using it ever since we moved here to make salves which serve as multi-purpose pain relievers, for any kind of skin ailment.

My guess is that the gates were open because the quad had been used, towing the trailer, to bring the rich, black compost into the orchard for both the trees and the soon-to-be-planted tomatoes. Technically, Annie and I are supposed to be conveying our kitchen compost up to the aforementioned chickens, way up the road, so the whole thing would have been moot, and there would have been no compost for the Doze to find.

Back when the orchard was first put in, it might have been thought of as the first step toward the fitting of the land for Happyday Farms.  There were manzanita trees growing along the road, one of which housed an ancient kids’ “fort” about six feet off the ground.  And at one point about eight years ago, Casey had a crew of three or four guys go through and remove those manzanitas and encase the area in a rectangular enclosure made of range fencing.

Roughly a football field long by about seventy-five feet wide, Happyday Farms is expanding this orchard’s usefulness more in recent months, simply because with Lito, Torrey, Courtney and sometimes Conner, Casey has a lot more options.  

That’s why they were out there a couple of days ago, planting sauce tomatoes into beds that had been earlier prepared.  Come to think of it, that’s probably why those gates were open from sometime last week.

Now the orchard is an enclosure within an enclosure, since the boys took and expanded the fence around my house and outlying areas, last February.  Instead of one gate to enter my complex, I now have six gates, two of them wide enough to allow a propane truck through, strategically placed at the north, south, east and west points of my compound.

But the orchard still has the capacity for allowing a number of agricultural endeavors to coexist side by side, and that’s the beauty of Happyday Farms.  With hard work, beautiful land, adequate water, and a positive attitude, we are carving a brave, new community up here on our mountain, in an effort to stem the tide of poisons entering our bodies, and those of our children who follow.

So many people are trapped in an existence, over which they have no control, that it behooves us to recognize that such is not the case with us.  We do have control, and we intend to exert any and all influence that we have, into the midst of our community, reaching out with fresh, organic, healthy food, so that those who reside within reasonable distance, have an alternative to the vile and pathetic offerings of McSanto and their ilk.

It saddens me to think that there are countless numbers of good, hard-working people, who have no knowledge of-or ability to alter-the path they are on.  They will continue to be forced through economics, to buy the cheaply produced, chemical-laden fodder, that corporate America puts out on its retail shelves.

Sad to think of people grocery shopping at Walmart?  Sad isn’t the word for it.  Barbaric is more like it, but everyone’s got to eat and the corporations have got to make money.  How it came about that there are no governmental stop-gaps to prevent capitalism from poisoning its population is unfathomable.

Right now, all we can do at Happyday Farms is strive to put out as much quality produce as we can for those in our community, and hope that the March Against McSanto continues.  And hope also that the reign of food terrorism comes to a screeching halt.

Otherwise, it will be life as we know it that will come to a screeching halt.