July 1, 2011

Under my feet, baby, the grass is growing.

The grass is greener these days and not just on our side of the fence. The black clouds swirl around us and we can literally see thunderstorms strike our neighbors as we hook up more sprinklers and know this one won’t touch us either. Well, that was the beginning of the June, towards the end we all got it good and we are all grateful. We would much rather deal with a little too much than far too little. And thank Glory, we only had hail once.
Our story of blessings in disguise:

The first of this month brought a 10 minute high wind and hail storm. It was a Thursday afternoon and Thomas was trying out a new market that evening in Boiling Springs. I stayed back with the interns, Matt and Erika and we frantically planted all the sweet potato slips we had cut as the clouds rolled in and the lightening and thunder crept closer. The storm arrived, the market yielded an understandably low attendance, and our field was laid out. Most of the leafy greens: kale, chard, pac choi, and turnips were beaten and shredded. The tomato plants were down from their trellises, and the squash plants were all pointing the same direction, on thier sides. Our gratitude was directed towards the market which did not yield much of an income but had unintentionally saved most of the week’s crops by requiring us to harvest a day earlier than usual and 6 hours before the storm hit.

Salvaged Hail Damaged Pac Choi

My dad asked me the other day, "So, I thought that farming was supposed to be less stress but it sounds like your job is just as stressful as anybody else’s". No and yes and yes, Lee. I replied that the stress is just as strong as everyone else’s but mine was based on a reality I believed in and was worth it because of my conviction. A little high on the horse, are we? Probably. I think what I meant was that I personally prefer to be concerned with producing food and anticipating (laughably) nature than answering to boss hog up in the office. But I honestly can’t say I blame or judge anyone who chooses or prefers the latter. The grass is greener over there when it tops a heat index of 110 and we absolutely cannot go hang out at the pool without sacrificing our meager income, so we work. Or when it’s Sunday and you just worked Monday – Saturday, and nope, no day off this week either. Or when you finally make it to dinner at 9:30 pm, pass out a little after 11 and are up again before 6. Or that we came home from market with produce and are broke again before the end of the week. No, this is not a pity party; I do not feel sorry for myself and I don’t want anyone else to feel sorry for us. I’m just through with handling misconceptions or juggling appearances.

We work hard and we are tired all the time and the growing season is rough. Our physical fatigue, dehydration, and heat stress give way to major contemplations about our way of life, absolute fits of rage and panic and complete mental and emotional meltdowns. But is anyone’s grass really any greener? Knowing that tomorrow might and most likely WILL bring any of the prescribed hardships does not change the fact that we will be up tomorrow by 6 as well, and it’s already after 11.

Now that you’re good and depressed, we’ll get to the fun stuff. So here’s our anecdotal pork story for the month:

Thomas went to RS Central Farm (go toppers!) last week to get our next round of pigs that will hopefully be ready by the holiday season. He brought home, honestly, three little pigs that were just weaned and so very cute. They are a mix of heritage breeds which means amazing flavor and great marblezation, and…borderline feral tendencies. We set up their electric fence paddock as usual and set the first one out. The little guy ran straight through the fence and took off for the woods. We all looked at each other and started running. Thomas, myself, Matt, and Erika started a cross country sprint/hike/walk/delirium that lasted 2 and a half hours. At one point we ended up with the piglet back in the paddock. We started back for the house, and turned just as he charged through the fence for a second escape. About an hour later I found myself hiking through all the back trails with a glass of water for Thomas, (he had yelled up and asked me to bring him one while he had his eye on the pig) only to end up in a Mobius strip of woodlands. I never did find Thomas in the woods but he came out later on his own. That night we went to sleep with Peter, as we came to name him, on the loose.

The following day we monitored Peter through the back window, watching as he came up to eat the bait/feed tray we set out for him by his friend’s pen (Loretta and Lucion have been gold star piglets so far). We moved his feed closer and closer throughout the day but ultimately Thomas snuck up on him while he slept. Peter was napping heavily and Thomas was treading lightly, taking almost 10 minutes to walk 25 feet. He paused, fearful that Peter would take off, then snatched him by the leg. Peter paused, apparently groggy, then proceeded the squeal like only pig farmers have heard. Thomas carried him into the pen and held him until he calmed down. It was here that he earned his last name – as Peter Peebody urinated all over Thomas.

Puzzle Peace out,


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