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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PST

Parasitic Experiences

Parasitic Experiences

by Catherine Bennett of Heuvelton, NY

It all started with a sign.

“We Have Worms”

It’s not complicated to make — I tore the cardboard box, handed it to Andy, and he wrote on it with a black magic marker and hung it in the store window. Everyone knows what it means, it means that if you’re not gonna go diggin’ for the earthworms yourself, you come in and and buy bait from him. It’s a seasonal sign; we scrap it every Autumn. No biggie.

But then… Davey’s cousin come up, and he — well, we all know Davey’s a lot smarter than he looks — or acts — I just didn’t expect Hank to be quite so… stupid. The way Davey tells it, he was driving Hank to his place, and Hank took one look at Andy’s sign and speed dialed a parasitologist, convinced we all had freakin’ tapeworms. Davey had to spend a half hour convincing him the water was safe.

The problem was, once Hank managed to grasp this concept, he went nuts. He started calling every friend he had in the city, urging them to come on out here. “You’ve gotta see this,” he says, “these people have worms.” And they show up, carrying USA Aid-style briefcases, and the cows can’t stop rolling their eyes because they’ve never seen anything less practical on two legs. I mean, they step out of their huge freakin’ cars, okay? Land in a pile o’ horse crap, and can’t figure out why the pigs are eating dead chickens. And I ask them, do you eat yours live?

So they have to see Andy’s place, and he thought it was the craziest thing, said that he was never sure if they were gonna buy some’in’t or just swab for the E.coli. But he did some business. It just felt like we were the tourist attraction and they were snatching at the souvenirs.

And so to pretty much everybody’s surprise – including, I think Hank’s – they stayed. Oh, they didn’t buy a house. But a few of ‘em found an apartment, raved about how cheap it was, called their investors and said they found a new market.

Parasitic Experiences

Before long, the tourists started going from asking the difference between a chicken and a turkey to yes, testing the water. They made calculations; they surveyed and analyzed and estimated. They started whipping out their phones at our well pump and telling me about the fifty bucks I could spend on a solar panel that’d take just fifteen minutes to install! No more hand pumping! I asked them if they’d ever actually set up a solar pump and while they hadn’t, they were quick to assure me that a short Youtube video’d cover it all. I gently reminded them that we didn’t have Youtube at the house, that fifty bucks was more than we make in a month, and that they were blocking the sun. They suggested we apply for a loan.

Once they figured out which end of a hammer you use, it got worse. “Wouldn’t it be easier if you mowed the field in May? Or September? It’d be cooler out, right? Less work?” “Hey, if you just set up this blog, you’d have followers in NYC who would want to buy your produce! And you could get a better deal! Sell to restaurants! Have you ever tried that?” Mmmmhmmm. There is no hay in May, honey. Or September. And sure, as soon as I’ve finished butchering those thirty birds and helping those two sows pig, I’ll start a blog about it. And the last time our neighbors tried selling anything to a city, they drove eight hours to have the sous chef reject their best radishes. Go ahead. Try it. I’d pay to see it happen. It’s not like I’m cynical, I swear, and if you can come up with a better way, I will take it. You just haven’t found one yet.

But they wouldn’t stop. And they begin to feel unmovable. Fixed. Like they’d dug their way into our skins and latched their tiny little jaws… It was ridiculous, Kate at the diner had to ask them to stop taking up two booths every night. Hank had left his cousin’s house and was living with his friends; I asked Davey what he thought. “They’re drivin’ me nuts,” he says, “keep telling me how big and beautiful this place could me. And I’d tell ‘em how beautiful it already is, but they’re… they don’t listen, they get a kick out of this place. It’s just one big feast for them. And I only have so much energy. I wish they’d leave, but it’s like they’re determined to ‘fix us’ with their big cars and their pinkie rings and their smartphones. They spend more money on clothes than I make in a month, in a year sometimes.”

And that was just it. After they stopped ogling the tomato plants and running away from th’ bees, all Hank’s friends wanted to do was teach us how behind we were. Technology would save us all! Food rots, so it has no value! And if they were exhausting Davey, it was no wonder most of us were feeling leached. They were in Andy’s store two, three times a day; they wanted an electronic welcome sign for the fire department, the town border, the school. They had to ask for directions to the church, but they showed up and preached the glories of electronic cars — six people walked out after explaining to them that growing your own peppers and carrots was better for the planet than such stuff.

***

City slickers don’t like t’see death, and I don’t expect we’ll see much of them past lambing season — we’ll lose a few babies, we always do, and most unaccustomed folks can’t comprehend it. We’ll explain the circle of life, and they’ll pack up after learning that placenta is edible and good for the soul. They’ll get confused when we mention stolen land or that world hunger is a myth. They’ll figure out that we’re not a new market, we’re just trying to survive the best way we know how. They’ll stop calling their investors, stop trying to put my house up on AirBnB, perhaps stop seeing us as a tourist attraction, but I don’t think they’ll ever see us as people.

I guess I just keep laughing, because — what drug the fancy tourists here was a belief in our dying guts. We had “tapeworms,” and they were here to save us. We were fine, doing quite well this year, as a matter of fact, whereas they – they’ve become the very thing they fear. At least eventually, a tapeworm will become someone else’s food, a hookworm eats histamines. Nothing will break down the electronic bulletin boards they wanted to replace our wooden ones – an unknown object, the environment can’t cope. And Hank and his friends were so busy fiddling with such crap that it never occurred to them to look at themselves. Worms, they are. Each and every single one of them. We don’t want them here, stripping the good out of our daily activities, just as one can resent parasites, taking meds to keep them at bay. The difference is that the tapeworms I had when I was two loved a healthy environment. These guys just want to kill it.

Spotlight On: Livestock

The Cutting Edge

The Cutting Edge

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In the morning we awoke to a three quarters of a mile long swath of old growth mixed conifer and aspen trees, uprooted and strewn everywhere we looked. We hadn’t moved here to become loggers, but it looked like God had other plans! We had chosen to become caretakers of this beautiful place because of the peace and quiet, the clean air, the myriad of birds and wildlife! Thus, we were presented with a challenge: how to clean up this blowdown in a clean, sustainable way.

Sheep A Logical Choice

Sheep: A Logical Choice

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Sheep have numerous uses on a smallholding. They are excellent grazers and are ideal at revitalizing old pastures as well as an excellent follower of the cows in a rotational grazing system. Cropping the grass at 2-3 inches that the cows have left at 8 inches encourages new growth in the spring. Their manure is usually in pellet form and is spread throughout a pasture as they graze. A sheep shares a ton a year of fertilizer with the earth.

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Besides good, tough iron for the shoe, we need an anvil with a round horn and a small hole at one end, a round-headed turning-hammer, a round sledge, a stamping hammer, a pritchel of good steel, and, if a fullered shoe is to be made, a round fuller. Bodily activity and, above all else, a good eye for measurement are not only desirable, but necessary. A shoe should be made thoughtfully, but yet quickly enough to make the most of the heat.

Types and Breeds of Poultry

From Dusty Shelves: A 1924 article on chicken breeds.

Finnsheep Sheep for all Economic Seasons

Finnsheep: Sheep for all Economic Seasons

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Another consideration for the Trimburs was health and ease of care. Heidi says, “Finnsheep, as a breed, won this one without contest! They are smaller, super-friendly, have no horns to worry about and no tails to dock. They are hardy, thrive on good nutrition and grow a gorgeous fleece. I love to walk out in the pastures with them. They all come running over to say hello and some of our rams love to jump on our golf cart and “go for a ride” – it is hilarious!

Work Bridle Styles

Work Bridle Styles

Here are fourteen work bridle styles taken from a 1920’s era harness catalog. Regional variants came with different names and configurations, so much so that we have elected to identify these images by letter instead of name so you may reference these pictures directly when ordering harness or talking about repairs or fit concerns with trainers or harness makers. In one region some were know as pigeon wing and others referred to them as batwing or mule bridles.

Rabbits

Rabbits

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The domestic rabbit has the potential to become one of the world’s major sources of meat protein. As human populations continue to put pressure on the resources of the food providers, the farmers, the rabbit is likely to begin to interest, not only the farmer, but the family interested in providing food for it’s table. They convert forage more efficiently than do ruminants, such as cattle and sheep. In fact, rabbits can produce five times the amount of meat from a given amount of alfalfa as do beef cattle.

Ask A Teamster Horse Don't Won't Can't Turn

Ask A Teamster: Horse Don’t, Won’t, Can’t Turn

After moving the drop ring on the other side down we went out to the round pen for a test drive. The difference in how she ground drove and turned was amazing – not perfect, but real sweet. With the lines at that level a right turn cue on the line obviously meant go right to her, and a left turn cue meant left. After we drove around for a while with me smiling I couldn’t resist moving the drop rings back up to the line rings – Bam, back to the old confusion.

Ask A Teamster Tongue Length

Ask A Teamster: Tongue Length

My forecart pole is set up for draft horses. My husband thinks we should cut the pole off to permanently make it fit better to these smaller horses. What would be your opinion? Like your husband, my preference would be a shorter tongue for a small team like your Fjords. The dynamics and efficiency of draft are better if we have our horse(s) close to the load. A shorter tongue will also reduce the overall length of your outfit, thereby giving you better maneuverability and turning dynamics.

Mini Horse Haying

Mini Horse Haying

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The first mini I bought was a three year old gelding named Casper. He taught me a lot about what a 38 inch mini could do just by driving me around the neighborhood. He didn’t cover the miles fast, but he did get me there! It wasn’t long before several more 38 inch tall minis found their way home. I presently have four minis that are relatively quiet, responsive to the bit, and can work without a lot of drama.

Littlefield Notes Making Your Horses Work For You

LittleField Notes: Making Your Horses Work For You Part 1

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The practical everyday working of horses and mules in harness has always been at the heart of what the Small Farmer’s Journal is about. And like the Journal, a good horse powered farm keeps the horses at the center: the working nucleus of the farm. All the tractive effort for the pulling of machines, hauling in of crops, hauling out of manures, harvesting and planting is done as much as is practicable with the horses.

Work Horse Handbook

Work Horse Handbook

Horses are honest creatures. And, what I mean by honest is that a horse is almost always true to his motivations, his needs, his perceptions: if he wants to eat, if he needs water, if he perceives danger. He is incapable of temporarily setting aside or subverting his motivations to get to some distant goal. This is often mistaken as evidence for a lack of intelligence, a conclusion which says more of human nature than equine smarts. What it means for the horse is that he is almost never lazy, sneaky or deceptive. It is simply not in his nature.

Ask A Teamster Hauling Horses

Ask A Teamster: Hauling Horses

For a claustrophobic animal like the horse, being confined to a small box while speeding down the highway at 60 miles per hour is a mighty unnatural experience. Luckily, equines are adaptable animals and are likely to arrive in good condition – if – you make preparations beforehand and take some precautions. Here are some tips to help your horse stay healthy, safe, and comfortable while traveling.

Hand Plucking Poultry

Hand Plucking Poultry

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I confess that I am cold-hearted and cheap. Though I love raising poultry, I hate spending time and money anywhere but on my little farm. So I process at home. If you are only raising a few birds for yourself, say 25 or 30 at a time, I recommend having a party and doing it all by hand. My journey backward from machines to hands started with a chance encounter with a Kenyan chicken grower visiting the United States. He finishes 15,000 broilers each year.

Living With Dairy Goats

Living With Dairy Goats

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Dairy goats are different than other types of livestock, even Angora goats. They are independent, unimpressed by efforts to thwart their supremacy of the barnyard (or your garden), and like to survey the world from an elevated perch. Though creatures of habit, they will usually pull off some quite unexpected performance the minute you “expect” them to do their usual routine. For the herdsperson who can keep one step ahead of them, they are one of the most enjoyable species of livestock to raise and ideal to small farms.

My First Team of Workhorses

My First Team of Workhorses

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In A Greenhorn Tries Draft Horses, a greenhorn (myself) tried a single work horse named Lady for farm and woods work. It was probably natural that, having acquired some experience with one horse, I should want to see what it was like to use two. Perhaps it is more exciting to see a good team pull together, and there is the added challenge to the teamster of making certain that the horses pull smoothly rather than seesaw.

Camel Power in Georgia

Camel Power in Georgia

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Last spring we got the bright idea to plow some corn with one of the camels, so we went to the shed and drug out the “Planet Jr. one camel cultivating plow”. My 86 year old Grandfather said “Son, don’t worry about thinning that corn, those camels are going to do a fine job of it, for you!” We plowed corn and I have some video to prove it, and as soon as I quit running over the corn and learned how to “drive the plow” we didn’t lose any more corn!

Changing of Seasons

LittleField Notes: Changing of Seasons

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We are blessed who are active participants in the life of soil and weather, crops and critters, living a life grounded in seasonal change. This talk of human connection to land and season is not just the rambling romantic musing of an agrarian ideologue. It is rather the result of participating in the deeply vital vocation that is farming and knowing its fruits first hand.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT