Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016 at the Farm

On a previously frigid 16F morning
Christmas Morning 2016
As I sit here typing this morning, it's a balmy 68F, and with the humidity at 99%, my back porch floor is soaked with "sweat".  To my old friends back up north this may not be what they consider very "in the spirit of the holidays", but this former Chicagoan prefers to slip out the back door without the need of several layers of clothing topped by a pair of Carhart coveralls, gloves, hat and boots to keep from freezing.

The sunrise was lovely, although I was a bit late this morning catching only the final remnants of it. The critters are starting to stir and will soon be looking for breakfast. We're not a particularly "up before the crack of dawn" sort of farm outfit here at Eden's. The farmer wakes when she's done sleeping and often will fill her belly, or sit down to write, before heading out the door for chores. No one seems to mind. In fact, often I find critters still sleeping in, when I come out earlier than the norm.

So while I reflect back on 2016 and its certain challenges to the world, I'm grateful that it was a year of growth for this farm. The soils are improving. I'm gaining more knowledge and experience about how to work within the soil's confines and what I can do to nurture it into something more like what it once was, before decades of neglect, overgrazing and erosion got the best of it.

Our harvests have been ample, delicious and steady this year. Granted, that last bout of freezing weather we had wiped out several things I wasn't able to cover. But the cabbage plants, most of the flowering broccoli, about half of the lettuces, some of the fava beans and beets - they should continue to grow and mature to harvest. The rest will be pulled and replaced by transplants awaiting in the greenhouse. And yet more will be seeded for later planting.

Life everywhere, as on the farm, is a constant cycle of growth and often at the end of growth comes demise, be it by harvest or other means. The wildlife see to it that the "other means" often include feeding them. Which I pretty much have to count on. There's plenty to share, generally, with the occasional hungry rabbit or squirrel. Although, the quite grown up shop cats get hungry now and then, too.....

Before a recent cold front, one of the "shop squirrels" drags pieces of frost cloth up to his/her nest.

I'm reminded of the simplicity things appear to be made of, as I walk my farm and observe the way Nature's creatures seem to just scamper along jovially without much care. Like the leaves and seed that blow directionless in the wind.

Behind that seemingly careless front, however, they are all fulfilling an instinctive need that is driving them. Be it to feed themselves, protect themselves, rest, or store up food for later consumption - much of what they do really does have purpose. Except I suppose when they're just plain being silly and amusing us. Maybe that's their purpose in those moments, to make us smile and laugh.

Certainly, we can all use a bit more laughter in life.

As you and your families go about your morning rituals today, tiptoeing around trying not to wake up Mom,  opening presents, gathering with family and sharing in memory making, do me a little favor. Please pause before you eat, and think of the hands that selected the seeds, that were previously gathered, planted, nurtured the plants that then produced the fruit or vegetable, grain or seed that you carefully selected and prepared.

Every meal I am fortunate enough to prepare and sit down to at home, contains more and more food that has been touched by hands I know. And it's a very peaceful, satisfying feeling.

There's just something magical about the dots being connected between the food on your plate and its source. Nothing came from plastic covered Styrofoam containers. Nothing fell into those carefully misted bins at the supermarket in the form that they lay there. And let's not forget those who transport the food we are not able to get directly from the source. Keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible is one thing, but we'd not enjoy the variety of diet many of us do, were it not for planes, trains and automobiles once in awhile. 
Fisherman Mike, Farmer Marie and Maddie, Co-owner of Smart Source Seafood
I hope more people are able to experience that direct connection with the source of more of their food in the future. I can tell you from personal experience, getting to meet the people responsible for feeding you - is quite a humbling feeling.

We are all dependent upon each other. We to them for growing, raising or catching our food, and them to us to buy and consume it.

Know your farmer, (fisherman and rancher). Know your food.

No farms. No food.

Who's Your Farmer?

The bumper sticker sayings are endless. But they all come down to the face and hands of someone, a person, who made what you eat possible. And to me, knowing them, makes it even more delicious.

In just a few weeks, I will gather with many, many farmers and ranchers, at the annual TOFGA conference being held here in Mesquite this year. Eden's is co-hosting a seed swap as one of the activities which is representative of one of the oldest traditions in farming. Sharing seeds. And telling the stories of how we grow food, what worked and what didn't, is at least as important as the directions on any package of seed. Heirloom seeds are our connection to our past. And, to our future of stable, nutritious, beautiful food. I'm so looking forward to seeing the faces of fellow farmers and ranchers! (It is open to the public, too.)

photo by Art is Life Studio

Many wishes of good health, happiness and of course, good food - to all of you - today and always!

Thank you for following my little "life on the farm" blog. And thank you for supporting local food and the places from where it comes.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

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