Friday, November 12, 2010

Keep hacking

Sabbath eve, October 12, 2010

Another week has come and gone. Despite the implied unwritten rule that farmers must drop what they’re doing and work dawn to dusk during harvest season, I spent the last couple of days planting my winter garden while paying someone else to take my place in the pecan bottom. I know this is forbidden. But it’s not like I didn’t work dawn to dusk anyway. And I did look in on my hired hands a couple of times a day. It’s just that pursuit of the almighty dollar has to take a back seat to other endeavors once in a while or I find myself looking and acting just like all the rest of the industrial agriculturalists out there.

So I set out 2,000 onion plants, and planted 1,000 garlic cloves, made up rows with a garden hoe, planted seed and watered dry ground. I had to replant turnips and beets between tattered remains of plants that rose from seed planted a couple of weeks ago, now decimated by grasshoppers. Spinach and carrots are next on the replant list. Anyone got an organic solution to hoards of Texas grasshoppers? I didn’t think so.

I dug borders around cabbage and broccoli plants and watered them. They’re within a month of producing food. We also have green onions and shallots ready to eat.

The freeze I anticipated last week did not materialize and we still have lots of hot peppers to harvest. Some of the little bastards are so hot, one pepper transforms a dish into a near deadly concoction. (Does anyone actually eat habanero peppers?)

I pulled remaining sweet potato vines up and fed them to the goats. I shredded down a patch of black-eyed peas grown primarily to fertilize the ground. That plot of ground won’t get another crop until spring. I discovered that the sweet potato vines had rooted between rows and I found quite a few small potatoes in the middles that might suffice for a start next year when I ran the tiller through the ground.

A number of volunteer watermelons came up. I let some of them go for it when tilling the ground a couple of months ago, and for some reason they produced more and better melons than the initial crop. We eat all we can stand and give the rest away.

Eulit Miller caught about 20 catfish out of the Guadalupe River yesterday and traded me one good five pounder, already cleaned and gutted for a five gallon bucket of hot peppers. Good trade, considering he picked the peppers himself. Some say we shouldn’t eat fish from the river. You take your chances at the grocery store; I’ll take mine on the local fish and fauna.

Leah continues making some of the best fresh cheddar cheese can be had in these parts and we’re still working at perfecting aged varieties as well. I honestly don’t know what we’ll do with all of this considering our goddamned government likes to arrest folks for selling such dangerous stuff. Don’t want a swat team showing up at my door.

One good thing to report. Last week I loaned $300 to a man so he could keep his girlfriend out of jail. Today, he repaid $250 of the loan, a minor miracle in these times. The guy in question has a job drilling Eagle Ford shale wells, but also a family full of unemployed folks with serious needs. Now if I can get through this week without having to loan him back the money…

The good folks out in California decided not to legalize marijuana. So I guess we can continue to expect the war on drugs to keep people employed both sides of the fence. Henry David Thoreau once pointed out the ridiculous notion that the majority has to decide something’s right before it can be right. Wake the fuck up, people.

While it barely made a peep on the radar screen, last Friday there was one hell of a shoot out in Matamoros, just a half a mile or so from the bridge at Brownsville, Texas. At least 58 bodies lay in the street when it was over. A glance at the reports posted at this blog leaves no doubt that Mexico is coming apart at the seams.

I fear for the life of my friends in Mexico trying to make a go as legitimate farmers, even though they live in a remote part of the country long abandoned as a drug route. There seems no rhyme or reason to the violence down there. No one is immune.

Years ago, my friend Chuck Bowden wrote a book called, Juarez: the laboratory of our future.

I don’t think even Chuck Bowden understood how prophetic those words might turn out.

Keep hacking.

Shopping trip to Matamoros, anyone?

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