Back Issue Vol: 46-4
Even after duplicate names are sorted out, Mammillaria is the largest of several genera of diminutive cacti with about 175 species worldwide. The Sonoran Desert species are less than 6 inches (15 cm) tall, with closely-spaced areoles bearing many spines that obscure the body of the plant. The areoles are at the tips of long tubercles that are arranged in 2 spirals (one clockwise, the other counterclockwise). These tuberculate stems contrast with the ribbed stems of the genus Echinocereus. In addition, many mammillarias have hooked central spines, whereas no hedgehog does.
Care should be taken that the charcoal be well pulverized, for it has been ascertained that during the process of burning the wood to get it, the openings of the pores become closed by a vitreous matter – probably caused by the fire melting the silicate of potash – and thus deprive it of the power of absorbing gases. By crushing it other openings are made, which unless the charcoal is again subjected to fire, will not become closed.
I tried once, in earnest, to buy a farm. Being that I had mostly been operating as either a contract worker or under-the-table, farm lending from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was out of the picture. Looking further into loans, business plans and creative land-use, the numbers didn’t line up. About six years later, the price of land in my county has gone up more than 25%. In the US, farmers under 35 have an average debt-to-asset ratio of 28%. Without inheriting land or building on external assets, jump-starting a farm is seldom viable. This reality of a systemic hardship surrounding farmland access has created a generation that rarely considers farming as a life path.
We have lately seen one of these implements, represented in the engraving, and we have been so well pleased with it that we have made arrangements for keeping a constant supply at our agricultural wareroom. It is simple in its construction and unerring in operation. Suppose the ground to be prepared for the seed, the wedge-like projection on the face of the wheel makes a furrow of the proper depth, into which the seed are dropped through a small tube leading to it.
I have been a fine artist for my entire life but as my vision of where the world was headed caused my art to become darker I found myself longing for something “real”, something tangible and meaningful in a rapidly disintegrating society. Dirt and food are real so I bought a piece of rangeland in Mendocino County, CA. Over the past 19 years my partner and I transformed ourselves into farmers, the farm into a family business, and a small part of the land into a gorgeous, thriving farm. We raise animals in addition to growing a large variety of fruits and vegetables for our main business, canning, which we do in the commercial kitchen we built at the center of the farm.
If we had to buy all we eat there is no way we could afford it. And I like having my husband home too much to give him up to a high paying job half my life just so we can eat well. Good food is expensive. Grass fed beef and dairy, free range chickens, organic and non-GMO fruit, vegetables, grain, honey, and maple syrup. So, we skip the high paying jobs and live on less, spending our lives in each other’s company and growing what we eat.
Every year finds some new unexpected battle with the elements. Seems like if I lay drip tape as I plant my rows then I am in for a wet year that needs no irrigation. If my memory is still smarting from last years’ wet summer and I plant my rows in hills, seems like the weather takes its cue to be dry. There’s wind storms and hail, rain in sheets and scorching heat. It can all happen and I don’t know when. In the meantime, we take what we get, cope with the weather extremes as best we can and are grateful for the crops we have. Although there is little we can do about the weather, we are not entirely helpless when contending with it. There are things we can do to help protect our garden.
There was one event, at least, that occurred in 1831 of which history makes but little mention although it has had a broader and more pronounced bearing upon human life, industry and prosperity than almost any other occurrence in modern history. That event was the demonstration in a Virginia oat field of the world’s first practical reaper – the invention of Cyrus Hall McCormick.
I know many people who will seek out, and pay a premium for organic produce, free range eggs, grass fed beef; maybe they belong to a CSA, know the name of their farmer and have a “hug a farmer” bumper sticker on the back of their car. Despite this general elevated awareness regarding food and farming, these same people often think nothing of buying a bottle of poorly made, cheap industrial wine. There is a disconnect here which I don’t entirely understand, though I have some ideas. It’s true that wine has a certain high society element associated with it, and not wanting to appear “snobby,” these folks pride themselves on drinking Two Buck Chuck out of a jelly jar. If they had any idea what went into the making of that wine, they would throw it out as quickly as they would a liter of Diet Coke or a package of Twinkies.
I reached away back into the back of the scullery cupboard and ‘hand fishing’ I pulled out a bottle. A small bottle with my name on it – in my Uncle Stephen’s hand. A bottle of poitin he’d given me; it must have been there for forty years. I’ve never been a big poitin drinker preferring a pint of porter myself but Stephen managed poitin very well. He’d put a splash of it into his tea in the morning and rub it on his joints at night.
Assuming that the beginner has the necessary tools and equipment, and that he has a fire properly built in the forge, he is ready to begin actual work. The best plan is to start with simple things and to lead by gradual steps to the more difficult jobs that require more practice and experience.
There is a brand-spanking BIG new book on Bonnie, “Bonnie Shields, The Tennessee Mule Artist,” coauthored by Meredith Hodges and Bonnie. This is a lovely coffee table book; huge, in full color, and overflowing. It offers the complete body of Bonnie’s unique, humorous and beautiful work presented in an engaging scrapbook format. Here you will learn, through articles and shared stories, of the impact Bonnie has had on the humor of western culture. Bonnie’s the real deal.
It had always been there, crowning the knoll for as long as the boy could remember and even longer than that, for as long as his father and even his old grandfather could quite recall. He had heard it said that the oak was already old when the first New Englanders and Kentuckians came to erect their cabins on Spoon River in the 1830s– and, earlier still, that bands of Pottawatomi hunters had stopped to rest in its shade, or so his grandfather claimed and, as certain proof, produced a small arrowhead from a drawer in his roll-top desk and related how he had found it tucked in the old oak’s roots when he was a lad himself. Which was proof enough for the boy, never mind how the father rolled his eyes.
Since the art of working horses has been around since their domestication, one tends to think that what can be accomplished with horsepower has surely plateaued. That we are just relearning and reusing what has been established in time past before it is lost. A subconscious belief that what can be learned, has been done, that the horizon has been reached. An arrogance that threads through each new age. Yet just as surely as machinery developed over the course of time, it continues on today. The mainstream use of draft animals may have subsided, but in the circles where they continued, the machinery they are yoked to has continued to develop as well.
If you are a small farmer with pork, or cattle breeding stock, or eggs, or spinach or farm-made gizmos to sell today, where would you go to put that ‘announcement’ to get it in front of your most likely customers? Is there a proverbial street corner – or event best suited for you to hawk your wares? And what would you include with your announcement, how would you make the proper and most effective statements? And what would be your goal? Do you want to send prospective customers to a certain market where your produce might be purchased? Or, do you want to invite buyers to your farm to look over your livestock and produce and buy some?