Pig Water

I try to make sure the pigs have fresh clean water to drink. But I think it matters more to me than it does to them.

When I give them clean water, it doesn’t stay clean long. Despite having wallows, the pigs can’t resist getting over into the tub, transforming their fresh water into muddy water almost immediately.

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This morning I cleaned and refilled their tub while the pigs were having breakfast.

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But at looking at their muddy rear ends, I knew it wouldn’t last long.

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I was right.

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Privilege

As we spread the message about good food, one push back we commonly get is that eating fresh whole foods is a privilege of the affluent. While we’re eating locally-grown produce, the argument goes, poor people are forced to eat junk food.

I have a lot to say about this claim, of course. I’ve responded to it frequently on this blog. But yesterday I was struck by something as I pondered it–something that suggests a significant cultural change in our lifetimes (at least in my part of the world).

When I was growing up, we grew or raised most of our food. That was evidence that we were “poor.” The folks who lived in town, who I envied, ate “store-bought” food.

So the food we ate as poor country folks (it was part of what gave us that identity) is now considered a privilege of the affluent, and the food that culture says is what the poor are forced to eat (fast food, frozen dinners, processed sweet foods, potato chips, etc.) were luxuries that we thought were reserved for people with money.

A strange reversal.

Challenges

This rediscovery of nature can never be at the cost of the freedom and responsibility of human beings who, as part of the world, have the duty to cultivate their abilities in order to protect it and develop its potential. If we acknowledge the value and the fragility of nature and, at the same time, our God-given abilities, we can finally leave behind the modern myth of unlimited material progress. A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing and limiting our power.

Pope Francis
From Laudato Si: On the Care of Our Common Home

Worth It

I spent much of yesterday pulling weeds in the heat and humidity. It seems impossible to keep up this time of year and I could easily bemoan that, as I so often do.

But even as weeds and wildlife overrun some of our crops, we’re bringing in abundant harvests that keep our tables full at the market and our coffers stocked generously for the winter. And we’re eating like homesteader royalty.

Last night Cherie made a vegetarian cabbage lasagna, using the last of this years cabbage along with the squash and zucchini that’s coming in now. It was amazing. And it wasn’t really a special treat. Fortunately for us it was just a typical everyday kind of meal, the kind that happens when you grow your own food.

So no doubt today will find me again sweating in gardens, doing my best to defeat all the forces that want to claim the gardens for themselves. And when I take my meal breaks, I’ll be reminded of why it’s worth the effort.

Back From the Goose

Both tired and recharged, we’re back from the Wild Goose Festival, facing a very busy week on the farm. I was already behind when we left, and nature did not wait for me to return. Four days away in the heart of the summer has left me plenty of work to do.

And I’m happy to have it to do. I’m off to a slow start this morning, but after I finish my coffee I’m ready to pitch into it.

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Our presentation was well-attended and well-received. I take that as further evidence that people are hungry for the message we’re trying to spread.

The view from our campsite

The view from our campsite

A misty morning on the French Broad River

A misty morning on the French Broad River

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It was a inspiring weekend, leaving me lots upon which to reflect, now that we have returned to the place that is our place.

Traveling

As we’re preparing to leave today for our annual weekend away at the Wild Goose Festival (the only time we’re off the farm for a weekend all year), I’m thinking of how stationary we are compared to how I lived before we took up this life.

These days, even a few days at a campground a few hours away is a very major break in routine.  But it wasn’t that long ago that I commuted twice weekly, 700 miles each way. And my law practice also required me to spend a lot of time on airplanes, in hotel rooms and rental cars. Sadly, because I was a workaholic maniac I often didn’t make time for much sightseeing or relaxation. I just got the job done and raced to the airport to get to the next place.

I did pile up a lot of frequent flyer miles and Amex points that way though. So when it came time for our family vacations we usually didn’t have to worry about airline tickets. The whole family flew long distances for much-needed vacations using frequent flyer awards.  Because it cost us nothing to get there (if we can say that the miserable life that produced those awards is “nothing”), our vacations were less expensive than if we’d gone to Disney.

The vacations were nice breaks and they helped me stay sane. But the business traveling really stunk. For folks who haven’t lived that kind of lifestyle, the traveling may sound fun or exciting. (It did to me before I lived it.) For those who have, it will bring to mind a great collection of miseries. Hopefully most people have a balance–occasional travel, in manageable bites.

When we stepped away from that world we left all that traveling behind. I’ve been on an airplane once in the last four years, and that was when Cherie had to attend a business dinner in Orlando.  We were back home less than 24 hours after we left.

I’ve heard lots of people say they want to travel when they retire. Travel is enriching and can be an enjoyable part of retirement I suppose. But if they say that to me I laugh and say I’m done with that. I’m ready to stay home a while.

But maybe we’re not entirely done traveling. For a while now Cherie has been thinking about us getting a travel trailer and setting off across the country for a year. That didn’t sound very attractive to me at first but I’m warming up to the idea. It’s not chiseled in stone, but for now we’re tentatively planning to take a year off, four or five years from now, and wander around North America.

In the meantime, I’ll keep traveling around White Flint Farm, mostly by foot.

No blog posts till Monday. Have a great weekend all!

Look Up

I spend many hours of each day staring down at the ground this time of year. That’s where the weeds are. That’s where the bugs are. That’s where the gardens are.

There’s a lot to be seen looking down.

But it’s good to stop and look up sometimes too.

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