Jan 2013 waiting to find out

This book is absolutely ROCKING OUR WORLD. Amidst all the worrying over what might happen with the frac sand mine brewing next door, all the hopeless feelings, Mark Shepard’s book “Restoration Agriculture” is a bright light for a beautiful future on our farm.<br /><br />
My husband completed a certificate course on Permaculture Design several years ago. I always thought that was a neat thing, but what does it actually do? Permaculture is a beautiful concept mimicking the natural world to produce food. It can be applied on many different scales, but up until Mark Shepard’s book, permaculture has primarily been a novelty, a fun word to say and a cool system to think about. What’s different about THIS book is that the author is showing how and why to set up a permaculture system on a large scale, and he’s giving financial proof that permaculture pays in more than just warm fuzzy feelings. And it’s an important part of reversing the damage that’s being done by annual agriculture. Hence the term “restoration” agriculture. I’m extremely excited. We’re lifted up with hope, our brains and pencils are putting together thoughts and plans. Yeah!!!<br /><br />
June 2013 Update- we’re attending a Field Day AT THIS FARM tomorrow! Will post pics and the story about how it is. Inspiration- oh YEAH!

This book is absolutely ROCKING OUR WORLD. Amidst all the worrying over what might happen with the frac sand mine brewing next door, all the hopeless feelings, Mark Shepard’s book “Restoration Agriculture” is a bright light for a beautiful future on our farm.

My husband completed a certificate course on Permaculture Design several years ago. I always thought that was a neat thing, but what does it actually do? Permaculture is a beautiful concept mimicking the natural world to produce food. It can be applied on many different scales, but up until Mark Shepard’s book, permaculture has primarily been a novelty, a fun word to say and a cool system to think about. What’s different about THIS book is that the author is showing how and why to set up a permaculture system on a large scale, and he’s giving financial proof that permaculture pays in more than just warm fuzzy feelings. And it’s an important part of reversing the damage that’s being done by annual agriculture. Hence the term “restoration” agriculture. I’m extremely excited. We’re lifted up with hope, our brains and pencils are putting together thoughts and plans. Yeah!!!

the new pioneers

On our farm, we live kind of like the pioneers did. We produce much of our own food- buying in mostly the things we can’t grow: coffee, white flour and salt. We heat the house with wood (mostly, although the furnace has been kicking in when the house gets colder than 55 degrees.) But we have so many modern luxuries that I’ve been pondering this morning! Snowpants, frost-free water hydrants to water the animals, high tech boots, electricity, hot water from the tap, gasoline to chainsaw the logs and haul it from Andrew’s folks’ place. If we think we’re as tough as our ancestors, we’re fooling ourselves… I don’t know how they did it, but they did. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here!

It’s funny how Midwesterners always lament about the weather. It’s cold, yes. It always is this time of year. The weather is a common bonding point, a shared experience we can all relate to, I suppose. This morning I’m grateful for so much that the cold doesn’t bother me, and luckily we have a sunny day to go along with the -16! When I go out to do chores, I admire the tenacity of our animals, who are outside all the time. They really are the ones who live like the pioneers did, enduring the vast extremes of our weather, just waiting for those blessed temperate days ahead.

unsettled

This purgatory phase is killing me. I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. I don’t need to know everything that is going to happen, just the future in regards to the neighborhood frac sand mine. The possibility of it is robbing me of my sanity, preventing plans from being able to be made, and creating a bunch of mind and emotion friction. Damn you frac sand businesses and greedy neighbor. Even without anything happening, our lives are currently ruined.

We go back and forth about this. Well, on one hand, we’ll only be set back one year if no mine goes in. But on the other, multiple-finger-hand, we might lose a year of establishing growth on our farm, setting up pemaculture systems.  Then again, it is a good thing we didn’t get in too deep here, not yet, in case we DO have to move. Then there is the possibility of having TO move –  not an easy thing to do. There could be some nice benefits of a new farm, but they are totally outweighed by the fact that we love it HERE. We love this land, we love this community and don’t want to leave either of them. You can see how maddening this processing is, and it is processing that doesn’t actually lead to being able to process. Aargh! We come to various conclusions, cause and effect scenarios, and then we just have to keep waiting. Waiting to see which way our life will go and flow. Suddenly, we’ve become unsettled.

I’m a hermitess in some ways, and with all this stress of the unknown, I’ve been craving a hole I could climb into and hide. Actually I just needed a place that was my own, a spot where I can spread out notepads and books, write, read, draw and dream. Sitting on the couch with a laptop was just not cutting it. So, yesterday, I set up my very own space in our “dressing room.” It’s in a cozy corner, facing a little south window, next to my clothes shelf (we can’t get a proper dresser up the tiny stairs, so Andrew brilliantly constructed clothing shelves upstairs.) I was able to lug a small table upstairs for my desk, one I bought when I was in my 18 year old nesting phase. It’s a classic wooden pantry table, covered with an enameled metal top. We used to use it for processing poultry, as the surface can be totally sanitized, but the table sits too low to be crouched over for any length of time, eviscerating birds. Recently we upgraded to taller, stainless steel tables bought from a restaurant auction, so my  adorable old table had sat abandoned until now.

To distract myself from this purgatory of waiting, other than making myself a personal space, I went on a shopping spree, thanks to my wonderful and dear parents-in-law! They gifted me some cash for Christmas and I bought books. 6 of them! Nothing makes me feel better than looking through books, they inspire me, encourage my own writing, and will be invaluable references and resources for many years.

The first splurge was “The Preservation Kitchen”- a cookbook for crafting preserves and then using these preserves in recipes. Perfect kind of thing for me, as I am sitting on a lot of preserved jars of things I don’t know what to do with, other than have late night pickle eating fits. Unique recipes like Beer Jam to be served with beef cheeks, roasted beets and whole wheat spaetzle. Yes, some day we will raise cows.

I also got “Whole Larder Love” which is like self sufficiency porn. Check out his blog and you will be seduced immediately into buying the book. He’s growing, gathering, hunting and cooking. Taking lovely, lovely photos and then writing in a style that is real, charming, grubby and hilarious. Another bonus is that he includes lots of rabbit recipes.

Next up, I finally got my hands on the Rancho Gordo “Heirloom Beans” cookbook. This one I’d describe as bean porn…. Gorgeous moneyshots of stunningly voluptuous heirloom beans, and easy going dishes made with them. Sitting on pounds and pounds of homegrown pintos and kidneys waiting to be shelled, I knew this book would provide a kick in the pants to get that chore finished. And new ideas for cooking them up!

The one book I didn’t plan to get, but did after reading the reviews, is called Faviken. There’s an umlot over that “a” but I don’t know how to make that happen. It’s a cookbook unlike any other I have heard of…There’s a restaurant in Sweden of the same name, with a 300+ acre plot surrounding it, and everything in the restaurant comes from this land and the region around it. Some of the recipes are very hoitey-toitey, foodie-schmoodie, but I appreciate the explanation of techniques, methodology, and cold-climate-specific food preservation. This book will be inspirational in using all kinds of ingredients we find, grow and raise.

There’s a tiny paperback in my new stack, called “In a Pig’s Eye.” Feeling sentimental about pigs, and wanting so badly to get a couple of them again, this seemed like a good pacifier. Once we know what’s happening, then we’ll get some pigs. Until then, I’ll just live vicariously through another person’s pig tales.

Joel Salatin’s book “You can Farm” was a luxurious purchase, as I bought it several years ago, but gave it to a friend. I remember it containing all kinds of practical and encouraging information, so I am happy to have it to reference again. I need encouragement. I need a book who’s title spells out in large bold print “YOU CAN FARM.” Yes, we can, and we will, no matter what.

My new books sitting at my new personal space will provide welcome distraction. The next town meeting is coming up in 2 weeks, and we’ll be hopefully hearing about strict ordinances going into effect in our township. We’re prepared to raise hell, but I’m resigned to observe the reality of the future. I just want to know if there is a real likelihood that a mine is going in. I could grow some balls and call our neighbor, the one who had the land tested for the frac sand. I am currently too much of a coward. Maybe I’ll lose it sooner than later and go pay him a visit.

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