Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Brief Update

I apologize for the lack of new posts. I have been extremely busy working and getting ready to move. The house has been sold. Well, it’s not official until it passes the termite inspection on Monday. (Mother Goddess are you listening?) The home inspection was a few days ago. I am working on a longer post about the two healthcare systems in this country (did you know that there are two?) and I hope to have it posted on Monday. This is just a brief update.

-The house has been sold. It sold for less than I was hoping, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. Assuming the termite inspection comes out okay, I start moving out next week. “Moving where” is the key question.

-My “farm” is doing well, but it has turned out to be more difficult than I thought to do this on rented land. Instead of wandering out to weed for 15 minutes whenever I feel like it, I have to block out a large chunk of time.

-My book has officially been accepted by Amazon! I got the email last night. Look for it about the middle of June. It will also be in brick-and-mortar stores but I don’t have the date for that yet.

-The weather has gone completely mad. For about two weeks it seemed as if we were in India during the monsoon season. The rain was that bad. And it was fairly cool for April -40s some days. The last three days the temperature has been in the upper 80s. My thermometer says we came close to 90 yesterday. At the end of April. Um, what is July going to be like? Hey Congress WAKE UP!

That’s about it for now. Look for the healthcare post on Monday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Song of the South

“Song, song of the south
Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth
Gone, gone with the wind
There ain’t nobody lookin’ back again

Well, somebody told us Wall Street fell
We were so poor that we couldn’t tell
The cotton was short and the weeds were tall
But Mr. Roosevelt [Obama] gonna save us all”

-Song of the South, Alabama

That is one of my favorite songs. It is just about as old as I am. (Okay, it’s about seven years younger, but still.) It has long been a favorite here in the south. I have made an interesting observation about this song: as the economy has worsened, it has been played more and more often on radio stations, muzak, and I even hear people humming it more and more often. There is a strong sense of resilience down here. And there are an incredible number of people who are like Fine! Close down the plant! I’ll go home to Mama’s and help her with the corn! It will be interesting to see how this changes as the years go forward, and when the anger will start. (And against whom it will be directed.)

My little rented farm is thriving. The only thing in the ground so far is my salad greens, but most of the rest have been started in little pots in my office. This is what I will be growing this year: assorted salad veggies, tomatoes (Cherokee purple, Yellow pear, and Roma), peppers (Cayenne, sweet bell, and Jimmy Nardello’s frying pepper), Wautoma cucumbers, two kinds of pole beans, edamane beans, yellow crookneck squash, black beauty zucchini, patty pan custard squash, acorn winter squash, and moon and stars watermelons. Hopefully, the torrential rainfall we’ve had this afternoon hasn’t drowned my lettuce.

I’ve got an offer on the house. Assuming it passes inspection, it will be sold. I should get a few thousand dollars out of it, but it looks like I’m still going to be about $2,000-$2,500 short of buying the kind of land I’d like to buy. I’m going all in on this; there’s nothing being held back. If you’re going to shoot, aim for the stars, that way you might at least make the moon. Any ideas how I can raise some cash?

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I have a feeling this may be a really bad year for agriculture. Why? Available evidence and the weather thus far seems to indicate as much. We had a really cold winter here in the South. That almost never happens, these days. Then it warmed up around the first of March and stayed warm –I’m talking 70 degree days, with a couple of days in early March that were around 85. Then Monday and Tuesday of this week we had another hard freeze. Now, that would not ordinarily be a problem –our frost-free day here is technically April 15, and we usually get a couple of frosts in early April. But because the weather has been so warm everything has popped –including the fruit trees. There may be no peaches this year. Sigh. To make matters worse, all the rain we’ve had has swamped a lot of early spring vegetables and made it too wet to plant more. The early corn can’t go in right now because the seeds would rot in the field. Later on we’ll probably have droughts.

My rented farm is doing well. The greens are doing okay, but I planted them after the last round of torrential rains. Everything else is still in pots in my office. I knew better than to go ahead and put out my tomatoes like so many folks have been doing. I had the feeling we’d have another frost or two. I finally got an offer on the house, which is a very good thing. As long as it passes the inspection it’s sold and I’ll get a bit of money out of it.

The first copy of Walk-About came in yesterday. Am I ever excited over that! It looks wonderful. It’ll be in stores soon and I’m taking a bunch of orders from people I know. For once, most things are looking up.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rain, rain, and more rain (again)

We had six days of rain last weeks. I’m not talking about light, gentle rain either, or even mostly light rain with periods of downpours. No, we had six days of mostly torrential rainfall. We had some intervals without rain, of course, but mostly it was six solid days of rain. Then Monday was nice; Tuesday it rained again (light rain this time); Wednesday was nice, and today it is supposed to storm. It is a good thing I did not get my seeds planted last week; they would have been absolutely swamped. I worked all weekend, which is good because I needed the money.

Monday I finally got my greens into the ground. They are so pretty. Yes, not many have come up yet but there are a couple of dozen shoots all ready. As long as the rain isn’t too hard today they should be fine. It is only a couple of weeks until tomatoes and peppers can go out, sans hot caps.

Also, Monday, after I planted the greens, my girlfriend and I drove up to Amish country in Tennessee. It is so pretty up there. There are no suburbs and little in the way of subdivisions. One of the things that struck me was the difference in the grass between the Amish and the non-Amish. We went by one farm that had “English” neighbors. The Amish grass was lush and green. The “English” grass, while also green and growing well, was a decidedly different shade of green and looked rather…unhealthy. It was the same sort of grass, so obviously that is not the difference. It would have been hard to notice if the two had not been compared side to side.

We each got a dozen eggs and a gallon of real milk. Right from the farms where they are grown, of course. The eggs were $1.50 a dozen and the milk was $2.00 a gallon. I had never dreamed milk could taste so good. I drink the organic milk all the time, but this is another order of magnitude beyond that. It has a rich, complex flavor that I can’t even begin to describe. Sunshine and clover is the closest I can come, and that makes no sense whatsoever. I have been drinking entirely too much milk since we brought it home. I gave some to the cat and ever since then, when she sees me bring out the jug she tries to grab it. (She is Siamese after all.) I set my glass on the counter the night before last because the washer was empty, left the room, and came back a few minutes later to find her on the counter frantically dipping her paws in the glass and scooping up the bit of milk and cream that was left. She had the most comic look on her face. Then she gave me a look that said, plain as day, try to take it and die.

I don’t agree with everything the Amish do and believe in, but you think they know something we don’t?

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