More of Nature’s Bounty

We’ve been eating a lot more “wild” food lately. We’ve been particularly enjoying lambsquarters this summer, a plant that tastes like spinach. Whereas spinach is difficult to grow and can’t survive the midsummer heat, lambsquarters grow wild around the farm and thrive in the heat. It’s a delicious natural food overlooked by most folks around here.

Lambsquarters

Lambsquarters

And yesterday evening on our post-supper stroll we discovered a beautiful four-pound chicken-of-the-woods mushroom.

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It’s going to turn into some delicious meals for us.

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Foraging for wild food is probably the oldest human skill. But in a little more than a generation, we’ve almost entirely lost that skill in our culture.

These days few of us recognize the food and medicine that is growing naturally all around us. Instead, we depend upon drug stores and supermarkets.

We’d do well to begin recovering our ancient knowledge.

Nature’s Bounty

It’s been many years since we bought any meat. In fact, I don’t intend to ever buy any again.

While I don’t eat much meat, I do eat it a few times a week. And all of it comes from this farm (enabling me to call myself a “farmitarian”).

Because we raise pigs and chickens, I’m able to enjoy pasture-raised pork. And any time we end up with too many roosters they become meals for me.

But even without chickens and pigs on the farm, I could have all the meat and fish I could ever want or need, just from the deer and fish living wild here.

Venison is the only red meat I eat now, and there is a seemingly endless supply of that residing on this farm. And there are also a lifetime’s supply of delicious and nutritious meals swimming around in our pond.

Yesterday afternoon, for example, an hour at the pond turned into a couple of fish suppers. That’s less time than it would have taken me to drive to town, buy a couple of fillets (of unknown and dubious quality) and return home.

I like knowing that as long as I have a rifle and a fishing pole, I should never need to buy meat again.

Timesheet

I still get emails with the latest news from the law world.  As time marches on they become more alien to me every day.

For 26 years I worked with a timesheet always nearby. My time was billed by the hour, so it was important that I keep careful track of every task I performed, and how long it took. I would record the name of the client, the particular matter, a description of what I did, and the amount of time I spent (in tenths of an hour). My firm would use the timesheets to prepare bills to clients.

Some days the timesheet only had one item on it.  For example, it might read “Acme Corp, X case, prepare for and attend trial (day 3), 14.6.”

But most days I did lots of tasks for multiple clients. A more typical timesheet would look something like this:

Acme Corp, X case, telephone conference with client re. status, .3
XYZ Corp, ABC litigation, review correspondence from opposing counsel re. discovery dispute, .2
Smith Inc., Jones matter, prepare motion to dismiss, 1.2

Etc. Many days I’d fill two or three of them with entries.

So yesterday morning I thought it would be fun (and maybe even humorous) to prepare a timesheet for a day on the farm, and post it on the blog. I set out with that in mind, but it wasn’t long before I lost track of time. That would have been a cardinal sin back in the day.

Without a timesheet at hand, and now four years out of the habit of keeping one, it seems weird to divide my day into ten minute increments. Maybe I’ll try it again sometime, but alas, no faux timesheet today.

My time used to be very “valuable” back then.  Not so much now.

Yesterday morning, after coffee and a little internet time, I left the house at about 6:15. I fed the chickens and pigs, then began preparing for market. I picked squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans, and watermelons.

Chickens among the sunflowers

Chickens among the sunflowers

The magnificent seven.

The magnificent seven.

The walk back to the barn

The walk back to the barn

Sunrise at the Old House

Sunrise at the Old House

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After a couple of hours I took a break for breakfast. Instead of multiple cups of coffee and no food (as was my practice in the old days), I had a breakfast of eggs, new potatoes, watermelon and zucchini/blueberry bread–all fresh and from the farm.

And then I got back to work, without worrying about a timesheet.

Growing Up Confused

The confused deer who is living in the pasture with our goats has grown up into a handsome buck.

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If only I could convince all his fellow deer to move out of our gardens and into the pasture with him.

The DARK Act

Last Thursday the House of Representatives passed the so-called DARK Act (H.B. 1599) by a vote of 275-150. The key provisions of the bill are:

  • It forbids the FDA and State legislatures from requiring that GMO foods be labelled as GMO
  • It requires a government certification in order to label a product as non-GMO
  • It makes it illegal to suggest that non-GMO foods are safer than GMO foods
  • It allows food from animals fed GMO grains to be labeled as non-GMO

The part of the law that takes away the right/freedom of people of a state to require that GMO foods be labeled as such in their state is getting all the media attention, but as bad as that is, it isn’t the worst part of this bill.

We raise our pigs and chickens on Virginia-raised GMO-free feed. We pay significantly more for that feed in order to give our family and our customers meat and eggs from animals that have not been fed GMOs. We identify our products, truthfully, as “GMO-free.”

But if this bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President (which seems likely to me), then it will be illegal for us to identify our products as “GMO-free” unless we have an expensive and intrusive government certification (similar to being “certified organic,” which we choose not to do). Meanwhile, industrial farms feeding their animals a diet of GMO grains will be allowed to sell their products as “GMO-free.” And if we claim that GMO-free food is safer than GMO food, we will be in violation of the law.

If you’d like to see how your Representative voted on this, a link to the roll call vote is HERE.

OpenSecrets.org reports that House members voting in favor of this bill received, on average, three times more money from Agribusiness than those who voted no. “All told, the 230 Republicans and 45 Democrats who voted to pass the bill collectively received over $29.9 million from the agribusiness sector and food and beverage industry during the 2014 cycle, or about $108,900 per member.”

These days consumers increasingly prefer to know what’s in their food and how the animals they consume were raised. Even though the local food movement is still a tiny segment of the overall food market, the momentum clearly has the industry concerned. Concerned enough to dole out big bucks to buy freedom-stealing legislation such as this.

If this becomes law it will make it more difficult for consumers to know the truth about their food and it will make it more difficult for small farms like ours to get our message out. But the underlying desire for ethically-produced food won’t go away. As a friend of mine likes to say, things like just go to show that we’re winning.

Book News

There have been some exciting (to me at least) developments regarding my forthcoming book.

First, the cover design has been finalized.

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The other exciting news is that the book will include a Foreward by Matthew Sleeth. For those who don’t know of him, Dr. Sleeth is a prominent leader in the creation care movement, author of Serve God, Save the Planet, The Gospel According to the Earth and 24-6, and founder of the Blessed Earth organization. I’m honored that he will be contributing to the book.

We still don’t have an official release date but I’ll share it when we do.

The Final Paseo

We go for a walk every evening after supper. It’s a practice we adopted many years ago, after visiting my old college roommate in Spain and going along for a late evening stroll with the entire village. They call it a “paseo,” so we do too.

Our dog Ginny dearly loved our paseos. Even though she had a free run of the farm all day, she would become deliriously happy when it when was time to paseo.

Thursday evening we went on the final paseo we would share with Ginny.

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And the day ended with a beautiful sunset.

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