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

Spring

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

Flowers

Flowers
Daisies

Papa and Ollie Mac

Papa and Ollie Mac
Priorities, Baby

Beauty

Beauty
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

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Blunt Force Government





According to my careful calculations,
the helicopter landed right where the
pond lies today.

Like the spinning rotor of a helicopter, my thoughts swirl around my head as my own Day of Infamy arrives on the summer calendar, July 23rd. It was a day like any other day, back in 1985, except that a helicopter came out of the sky and set down in the field below our ridge top home.

Out streamed a crew of rent-a-cops, wannabes being paid ten bones an hour to eradicate cannabis, and up the hill they charged. Though the front gate was unlocked, instead of opening it and passing through, they kicked the gate in, splintering it, and requiring that it be replaced. They did the same thing with the gate onto the front deck, though they did manage to restrain themselves, entering the house without kicking in the unlocked door.

These thugs ransacked our home, using a crow bar to pry open GlutenFreeMama’s unlocked hope chest. Exactly what they expected to find in a woman’s hope chest, that would link us to a grow, is beyond me. They took nine hundred dollars from us, money that had been prepaid to me for carpentry services. In other words, before I could start earning income again, after the bust, at ten bucks per, I had to first work ninety hours just to break even.

Sweet Baby Lee
When the chopper set down, pregnant GlutenFreeMama had snatched up fifteen-month-old BenJamIn and grabbed not-quite-three-years-old HeadSodBuster by his hand, and headed out overland. They were trying to get three parcels over to my folks' place, where they waited for the invasion to end. 

I was nowhere in the vicinity, being gainfully employed installing blocking, while working on a construction crew building a new house. I received a phone call from a terrified GlutenFreeMama, after clambering down form the top of a ladder to take the call on the land phone inside Jeff and Carol’s old house, back when we were still anchored to kitchen walls.

Michael sang at our benefit.
No warrant was ever issued for my arrest and I never faced charges on the local scene. Instead, the raid having been conducted by federal “agents,” my home and twenty acres of land were seized by the government, a notice to that effect having been affixed to the destroyed gate on their way out.

For the dastardly crime of growing cannabis plants, I was going to lose my home.

I hired Ron Sinnoway, the pro from Dover when it came to cannabis. His specialty was land seizure cases, and he waved his magic wand and made it all go away, nine months to the day after we had been CAMPed on. For this service I was charged $17,500 and I paid it with a smile. 

About a third of the loot came from family and community contributions; we even had a benefit or two done in our name. The other two-thirds was given to me for services not yet rendered, by Michael for whom I was doing carpentry. In exchange for helping him the following year with his grow, he paid what was left of those lawyer fees, around ten large.

Indiana Slim and Bear
Thirty-four years ago today, the government tried to seize my home and property for the “crime” of growing plants. Its agents invaded my space, created havoc, stole from me and left a seizure notice behind, and all I could do was defend myself or lose everything.

All of this occurred because of 33 plants.

Placed in a historical context, what happened to me was not out of the ordinary for the time period. Just up Bell Springs Road the previous year, a couple had experienced the same invasion, but instead of fighting it, they had given up and moved along, losing their home and land. 

I was sweating blood.

I personally use cannabis daily to treat my mood spectrum disorder, and I use it exclusively for pain management. As a 66-year-old farmer, I have my share of aches and pains. 

Here at HappyDayFarms, we are licensed to grow medicinal cannabis on both the local and state level, no longer outlaws. We played the game, we pay exorbitant taxes and consequently, do not have to worry about the current eradication efforts going on around us. 

That does not mean that I have forgotten, or those around me have forgotten, what it's like to be invaded by agents of the government. I am outraged to learn that current efforts in Mendocino County, in Humboldt County and in other places near and far, include similar invasive tactics. I continue to struggle to understand why growing six or twelve plants, or thirty-three for that matter, gives authorities the right to invade and ransack people’s homes. It’s grandstanding, nothing more nothing less, on the backs of small farmers doing no harm.

As someone who has experienced Blunt-Force-Government, I call bullshit. Get a warrant, take the plants and then leave. It’s as simple as that. Treating these victimless crimes as though they were some sort of abominations, is reprehensible.

It needs to stop.
My parents, Pauline and Robert, and neighbor Rex at a benefit,
1985.









Friday, July 12, 2019

Got Zucchini?


I feel pretty much the same way about zucchini, as I do about reading. If you do not like to read, I maintain it’s because you are not reading the right stuff. If you (a) do not like zucchini, (b) are tired of squash in general or (c) have gotten bored with the green submarines, I might suggest that you expand your horizons as far as how to prepare this summer staple.

Have you ever tried:

…simply sautéing thinly sliced zucchini, with onions/mushrooms/pretty much anything, and adding desired spices?

…thinly-sliced and sautéd squash as a last-minute add-in to pasta sauce, over spaghetti/any-kind-of-pasta?

...roasting sliced zucchini in an olive oil/balsamic vinegar mix, along with peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, and serving it over pasta? Or putting the mixture on a pizza?

…the ever-popular fried zucchini patties, with grated zucchini, some onions/scallions, flour, egg and salt/spices? Lightly salting the grated squash and allowing it to drain in a colander, prior to cooking, helps prevent soggy patties. Adding a topping, such as guacamole, salsa, sour cream, ranch dressing or anything that piques your taste buds, is a must.

…preparing patties using equal parts drained, grated zucchini, and grated, rinsed potatoes, and then the rest of the ingredients? (Cheese optional)

…simply steaming cut-up zucchini and adding butter, salt and black pepper?

…zucchini casserole, a dish that layers zucchini, rice, pasilla chili peppers, fresh tomatoes, cheese and is topped with sour cream?

…including zucchini in such traditional dishes as [minestrone] soup, shepherd’s pie, quiche, veggie tamales, enchiladas?

…making an omelet, including onions, cut-up baby zucchini, mushrooms, sweet peppers and cheese?

…wait for it: zucchini bread? With coffee in the morning?

…zucchini on the grill? Whether pre-steamed for a brief visit, or sliced length-wise and grilled over the coals?

…a variation of zucchini on the grill, wrapping cut-up squash in foil, with butter, salt and black pepper, and grilling it over indirect heat?

…stuffing one of those got-away-dudes with a rice/ground meat combo, and baking it with cheese?

…zucchini noodles or zoodles? Using a spiral vegetable slicer, prepare zucchini and add olive oil, garlic, salt and anything else you choose, and serve cold. 

…zucchini tacos? Grate zucchini and sauté it with diced onions and add beaten eggs, paprika, salt and hot sauce, and cook until eggs are done. Put the mixture into corn tortillas that have been heated on the griddle and add cheese. 

…raw zucchini sticks, served alongside sliced cucumbers, carrots and cherry tomatoes, with ranch dressing?

On-farm we eat zucchini every day, and why not? It’s fresh, it’s free and it’s tasty, if you are willing to broaden your horizons. If you do not grow zucchini, but know someone who does, chances are that person would love to share some with you. 

Be sure and bring a truck when you stop by to pick “some” up. Chances are, you will need it.
zucchini casserole



















Wednesday, July 3, 2019

These Little Piggies Got Sunburned


“Peace, pot, love, groovy, posters, candles and incense,” was an old expression dating back from my childhood home on Fellowship St. I turned eight years old in 1960, so I was seventeen in 1969, formative years to have come of age. To this day I am not certain whether the expression above was intended to mock or glorify hippiedom.

I battled my boss(s) at Sunrize (sic) Market about sideburns and hair over the collar, from 1967 until I was drafted in December of 1971. I indulged in the Devil’s lettuce from 1968 onward and once I was finally released from the Big Green Machine, I officially accepted my vocation as a hippie.

Complete with 199th PSC fatigue shirt...
I wore my hair in new location, along with a fiercely red beard, long enough to once get caught in the spinning fan belt of my VW bus, the generally accepted hippie coach of choice. I didn’t shave afterwards; I just learned to keep my head out of the immediate arena of spinning pulleys. 

I wore bell bottoms, attended college from September of 1970, through May of 1982 (With that two-year hiatus as a draftee in the United States Army) and believed nonviolence was of paramount importance, the irony of my military service having a good chuckle. While overseas, I was a clerk in a redeployment division, the second-most powerful position for a grunt, behind only those who labored in finance. 
What is all of this leading up to? Well, I have been in crisis for the last eighteen months, my hippie lifestyle severely jeopardized by an inability to acquire correct footwear. Fortuitously, I managed to find salvation in the form of a severe paradigm shift, by changing to a different style sandal.

What happened was simple enough: The company manufacturing my old-style sandals went out of business, throwing me into crisis. This disaster led me to question my very existence. After all, I don’t even own a pair of shoes anymore, just two pairs of boots that I can’t get my right foot into.  

New look sandals...
My new sandals don’t have that problem because my toes simply flop in the breeze. It is a new-to-me style of sandal, one that is infinitely more carefree and daring, but one that leaves my toes exposed. I had resisted this approach to life-steadfastly-but capitulated when forced to admit that my feet were tied, at least metaphorically. 

Nowhere in the vastness that is Mendocino County, were the desired sandals available. I went as far as Ukiah, for heaven’s sake. Ultimately, I made the journey up to Garberville, in Humboldt County, where I felt I had as good of a chance as anywhere, only to be similarly disappointed.

However, for $71.00, I could refit my feet with what appeared to be the only viable option, eschewing the ever-popular flip-flops. I am a farmer, after all, but the reality is that both of my dilapidated pairs of sandals had given up the ghost within hours of each other, the second via Freddie the French bulldog, and I was desperate.

So I gave the pleasant woman the required loot and donned my new footgear. My initial assessment was that they were working out better than I could ever have hoped for, and I simply loved them. This balloon burst, ending up distributed amongst several of my toes, which took their time expressing unhappiness and then blistered up like fat, little pink sausages.

The funny thing is I had anticipated this response and had been cautious about how much time I spent in the sun in the early going. It was not until a full ten days after I had begun wearing the new sandals, when I had forgotten about caution, that they showed the cumulative effects of being in sunlight far too long.

What’s a respectable hippie supposed to do? When I asked my 295 tomato plants if they could get by without me for a few days, while I remained indoors, they cringed while the weeds chortled. GlutenFreeMama inquired-innocently enough, I suppose-why I didn’t just put socks on.

Horrified, I informed her that no hippie worth his salt, would ever wear socks with sandals. (It. Simply. Is. Not. Done. Period.) No, this was obviously a case for cannabis salve, and why not? It fixes everything else. But such was not the case, the salve making the little pink sausages squeal with discomfort. I was clearly out of my league.

The only thing that helped was soaking them in cool water, and time, which heals all wounds. Time was the big factor, but time refused to take, well, time off, and I was stuck having to carry on. 

Then, from the dim recesses of my cauliflower brain, came the answer, two days too late, but still welcome: baking soda. I put a tablespoon of it in a little dish, made a paste using water, and applied it to my tootsies. The discomfort, and equally important, the itching, ceased instantly, and the crisis was averted. Not only did the baking soda soothe, it served as a protectant from additional discomfort by an unforgiving sun.

With, I might add, my reputation as a bona fide hippie, still intact.








These little piggies got new shoes,
These little piggies got sunburned,

These little piggies turned red.