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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: How-To & Plans

Chicken

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She has one more gift to give: Chicken Pie.

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

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It is now possible to purchase a make of machine to suit almost any condition if the money is available. There is no doubt that eventually they will be quite generally used. However, the dry farmers are at present hard pressed financially and in many instances the purchase of very much machinery is out of the question. For the man of small means or limited acreage, a homemade implement may be utilized at least temporarily.

Book Review Butchering

Two New Butchering Volumes

Danforth’s BUTCHERING is an unqualified MASTERPIECE! One which actually gives me hope for the furtherance of human kind and the ripening of good farming everywhere because, in no small part, of this young author’s sensitive comprehension of the modern disconnect with food, feeding ourselves, and farming.

Blacksmithing Secrets

Blacksmithing Secrets Part 2

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One of the main advantages of having a forge in the farm shop is to be able to redress and make and temper tools like cold chisels, punches, screw drivers, picks, and wrecking bars. Tool steel for making cold chisels and punches and similar tools may be bought from a blacksmith or ordered through a hardware store; or it may be secured from parts of old machines, such as hay-rake teeth, pitchfork tines, and axles and drive shafts from old automobiles.

Horseshoeing Part 2C

Horseshoeing Part 2C

The wear of the shoe is caused much less by the weight of the animal’s body than by the rubbing which takes place between the shoe and the earth whenever the foot is placed to the ground and lifted. The wear of the shoe which occurs when the foot is placed on the ground is termed “grounding wear,” and that which occurs while the foot is being lifted from the ground is termed “swinging-off wear.” When a horse travels normally, both kinds of wear are nearly alike, but are very distinct when the paces are abnormal, especially when there is faulty direction of the limbs.

Henpecked Compost and U-Mix Potting Soil

We have hesitated to go public with our potting mix, not because the formula is top secret, but because our greenhouse experience is limited in years and scale. Nevertheless, we would like to offer what we have learned in hopes of showing that something as seemingly insignificant as putting together a potting mix can be integrated into a systems approach to farming.

Horse Powered Snow Fencing and Sleigh Fencing

Horse Powered Snow Fencing and Sleigh Fencing

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We were planning on having our cattle out in a sheltered field for the winter but a busy fall and early snows meant our usual fencing tool was going to be ineffective. Through the grazing season we use a reel barrow which allows us to carry posts and pay out or take in wire with a wheel barrow like device which works really well. But not on snow. This was the motivation for turning our sleigh into a “snow fencer” or a “sleigh barrow”.

Build Your Own Butter Churn

Build Your Own Butter Churn

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Fresh butter melting on hot homemade bread… Isn’t that the homesteader’s dream? A cheap two-gallon stock pot from the local chain store got me started in churn building. It was thin stainless steel and cost less than ten bucks. I carted it home wondering what I might find in my junk pile to run the thing. I found an old squirrel cage fan and pulled the little motor to test it. I figure that if it could turn a six-inch fan, it could turn a two-inch impeller.

Basic Blacksmithing Techniques

Illustrated guide to basic blacksmithing techniques, an excerpt from Blacksmithing: Basics For The Homestead.

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.

Blacksmithing with Pete Cecil Building a Fire

Farm Drum #29: Blacksmithing with Pete Cecil – Building a Fire

Lynn Miller & Pete Cecil talk about Blacksmithing basics, and Pete demonstrates building a fire in the forge.

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

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Watching Wayne’s sure hands it was easy for me to forget that this is a 91 year old man. There was strength, economy, elegance and thrift in his every stroke.

"Work Horse Handbook, 2nd Edition" by Lynn Miller

Draft Collars and How To Size Them

It is difficult to accurately measure a horse’s neck without fitting. In other words, there are so many variables involved in the shape and size of a horse’s neck that the only accurate and easy way to size the neck is to use several collars and put them on one at a time until fitting is found.

The Milk and Human Kindness Stanchion Floor

The Milk and Human Kindness: Plans for an Old Style Wooden Stanchion Floor

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The basic needs that we are addressing here are as follows: To create a sunny, airy (not drafty), dry, convenient, accessible place to bring in our cow or cows, with or without calves, to be comfortably and easily secured for milking and other purposes such as vet checks, AI breeding, etc. where both you and your cow feel secure and content. A place that is functional, clean, warm and inviting in every way.

Collar Hames and Harness Fitting

Collars, Hames and Harness Fitting

Farmers who are good horsemen know everything that is presented here: yet even they will welcome this leaflet because it will refresh their memories and make easier their task when they have to show hired men or boys how to adjust equipment properly. Good horsemen know from long experience that sore necks or sore shoulders on work stock are due to ignorance or carelessness of men in charge, and are inexcusable.

Delivery Wagon Plans

Delivery Wagon Plans

from issue:

While the low down delivery wagon is an improvement, the objectionable features are increased. But with all those objections the low down wagons increase every year. Their convenience outweighs all other objections. They are handy for country delivery and are fitted up inside to suit either grocers, bakers, butchers or milk delivery, or a combination of the four.

Building an Inexpensive Pole Barn

Building an Inexpensive Pole Barn

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from issue:

The inside of the barn can be partitioned into stalls of whatever size we need, using portable panels secured to the upright posts that support the roof. We have a lot of flexibility in use for this barn, making several large aisles or a number of smaller stalls. We can take the panels out or move them to the side for cleaning the barn with a tractor, or for using the barn the rest of the year for machinery.

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