The More Choices We Allow the More Resilient Our Farming

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“On the trees are only a few gnarled apples that the pickers have rejected. They look like the knuckles of Doctor Reefy’s hands. One nibbles at them and they are delicious. Into a little round place at the side of the apple has been gathered all of its sweetness. One runs from tree to tree over the frosted ground picking the gnarled, twisted apples and filling his pockets with them. Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.”Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

INVASIVE SPECIES: As the most invasive species on the planet, the one that no boundaries can seem to contain, how are we to view our fellow travelers? Seeing the tumbleweed, kudzu, Himalayan blackberry, starling and cockroach, should we congratulate or uproot them? They have ridden across oceans with us, and settled in. Like us they have adapted, found comfortable niches and nourishment. Listened to the locals, and quickly learned to sing along. So I wonder what my attitude should be, when someone in the Ag-Industrial Complex identifies a foreigner as a pest and wants to enlist me to help stamp it out. Consider how many of the crops we grow have also traveled vast distances, wheat and barley and rye from the Middle East, rice from China, potatoes and tomatoes from South America. They may struggle a few seasons in our care, but then become good neighbors, adapted to their new home. – PH

 “You can make it all right if you will only be satisfied to remain small,’ I told myself. I had to keep saying it over and over to myself. ‘Be little. Don’t try to be big. Work under the guns. Be a little worm in the fair apple of life.’  – Sherwood Anderson

TO UNPACK A PHRASE: “…A belief in our inherent abilities to be a beautiful living proof against the weight.” Is that weight Lynn Miller refers to the dead weight of rampant indifferent living come to rest, its decay insuring only its own future? Feeding ourselves with grace and purpose should be a modest undertaking and a shared enterprise, pursued in quiet moments, but not enforced isolation. I think he’s saying there is beauty to be found in the living, that counters the essence of death, which is a slave to the law of entropy, that everything living winds down to a state of rest: dispersal: oblivion. The artful and beautiful efforts of farming answer that, though in the field we can never claim full credit. – PH

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Horse Collars:

Full Sweeney

Half Sweeney

Full Face


and the correct way to measure a horse’s neck.


A few reasons why farmers seem to lead a different life. 

1) Out in the field, you’re not crowded by other people, even come harvest when it might be nice if you were.

2) You always dress for the weather, and what you’re going to do.  (This also means your home has a mud room, or porch or hall full of boots and coats, hats and gloves for outdoors.  And slippers to change into.)

3) You only get paid several times a year, and some years not at all.  (And yet the bills come, as they say in these parts, regular as rain.)

4) There is always something useful to do, that needs doing, right in front of you.  That you have to ignore, to catch a breath.

5) There is also always something right in front of you to be thankful for, that has precious little to do with you, that you get to share and feel blessed.

6) Out beyond the city’s tinsel and orange dome, the days are truly bright, and the nights truly dark, enough that a body can get their rest.

 (If you have a list of your own to share, we’d like to hear it.) PH