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Public Transportation between Seattle and the farm.

Foillow these instructions, Reverse if you’re leaving from Seattle.

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Does our species have a future?

This is a draft, and it includes some references to other stories which I have not yet filled in. But do we wait to taste the cookies until the last batch is baked? Never! Read on forgivingly.

Why do people go to Europe when they could just stay here in this beautiful place!! Water, sky, mountains, lush temperate rain forest, smiling friends and neighbors. It’s beautiful here. Now, I love to be in Europe, and I can tell you why I go there.

I’m looking for authenticity. I’m looking for the unidentifiable continuity that makes the terrain match the villages, the goats thrive on local brush, the cheese was cultured with local bacteria and has never been the wrong temperature. In some villages people seem to all look alike, or maybe they just walk alike, or maybe it’s their slight tinge of accent, but it all fits together. [tillman riemenschneider] Everything was made right there, and it all matched. Not like grandmothers silver place settings, stamped from the same mould, but matched in a more authentic sense. Anybody could tell by looking at the embroidery patterns on your shirt that you grew up here. The patterns state their locality, and in their variation they state the individual. You could tell that the same smithy did the hinges for all the barns in town, except for the ones made by his father. None of it came from China.

I’ve been in villages which enjoy generations of knowledge, and it is stunning. In Serbia I walked through a village and looked into a barnyard and was struck by these two beautiful goats! A buck and a doe. They were beautiful, and they were proud! Their gene pool yielded to choices made by the farmer, and by the dog, and by predators.

Goats and dogs and people got together about ten thousand years ago. Symbiotic relationships grew over the generations, and the gene pools. Lets talk about goats for a moment. [herding stories. It was a lot like love.]

When they gambol, they’re not just stretching out their muscles and honing their balance, they’re also making us laugh so we will like them. We selected the goats that made us happy, and bade them to reproduce.

And in Europe I see tiny wisps of past generations of my family; things that taste familiar, songs I seem to have heard, that sort of thing. My mothers sisters used to play with us as toddlers by cupping their hands over our ears and tossing our head back and forth they’d chant ‘mocha sehe mocha sehe’ in time with the tossing. It means‘sifting flour.’ In Slovenia I saw the flour sifter: a wooden ring 8 inches in diameter and one end screened, and I knew immediately how to use it. One might think you’d shake it to sift flour, but I knew you held it with one hand and tapped the other side with your cupped palm. That little toddler game could go back thousands of years.

Authenticity and continuity are what draws me to village Europe especially, or any agrarian place that’s managed to be around for a few hundred more years. I love to rest my eyes on that.

I can also tell you why I come back. I know how these plants grow, how long the days are, what alders smell like in the spring, what it looks like when it ‘looks like rain,’ where to find the earliest chantrelles.

Both here and in our various continents of origin, knowledge of those times is still in living memory. And who knows what sticks in your memory.

Epworth story.

It gave me a sense of the continuity of time, and how far back I could see. He’d been around during the civil War. He might remember knowing somebody who had been in the War of 1812, and that person might remember knowing someone who was there in 1750, when some Americans still quite liked King George. Five links, two plus centuries. 10 people and we’re back to inventing the printing press.

In Europe you can look down those old streets in small towns and you can see back hundreds of years. It’s humbling and invigorating at the same time.

Memory isn’t selective. It’ll take anything you offer.

My uncle’s wife always cut the ham into two pieces, lower leg and upper ham, before she baked it. I asked her why she did that, and she said that’s what her mother always did. Well, turns out her mother did it that way because her mother didn’t have a large enough pot to hold a ham and had to cut it to fit the pan she did have. Habits move slowly.

What question have I asked?

What am I talking about.

What I really want to know is, do you and I have the capacity to take care of ourselves and our kids through the huge changes which are now coming about? Can we move fast enough? Will we go extinct with the Polar Bears?

Thinking of our human chain back 4-500 years, printing press to text messaging, its clear the pace of change has accelerated, and continues to do so. You can Google up an answer to any question in seconds. Human knowledge has doubled in the last xxx years, and the speed of communicating, recombining, reintegrating, transmitting is approaching the speed of light. That’s what the ‘singularity’ is all about.

If you take water at, say, 100 degrees F and lowered it one degree at a time it would change very little until you hit 32 degrees, at which time it makes a radical transition into ice. Same with boilingwater, you reach a 212 and it’s gas. At that temperature the old rules are cancelled and new ones are in effect.

Our information systems are approaching a singularity, and nobody knows what that means because none of us have ever been there before. What will we do with all of this information? And what, for that matter, do we mean by “all?”

We’ve come to count on the information we learn in school. But is that the whole story of what we know? Is any of what we learn in school useful? Is all of our other information of any value at all?

Can we make it over the next hurdle?

On the first day of Chemistry in high school, Mr. Brown drew a line of arbitrary length on the blackboard and asked everybody in the class the guess the length and write it down. He collected all the slips of paper and averaged them out, He measured the line, and it was exactly the average of all the guesses.

He meant thereby to teach us the scientific method. Mr. Brown counted on the right average answer to prove his point. I took from it a more humbling message: had we arbitrarily eliminated the guesses of the six stupidest kids in the class, who in my opinion did not qualify to enroll in anything as grandiose as chemistry, our answer would have been less perfect. We need everybody’s guess, not just those of the smartest kids. We know things collectively which we cannot know individually.

That brings us back to the Nature vs. Nurture debate. What do we learn, and what do we already know by virtue of some genetic predisposition to sort things out a certain way.
So I ponder our gene pool and 200 thousand years of evolution, and the little genetic propensities that gave an advantage to this individual or that individual of the species and allowed those genes to get passed on. But I don’t think it stops there. The names of all the humans since the stone age would be huge, but it would just be the Table of Contents. We are more than a collection of evolved individuals. We became socially and economically dependent on each other in villages.

About the time we developed self-awareness and started representing things abstractly, many things changed. We had art, and agriculture, and language, and probably music and art, we started building causality into our explanation of the world around us. We also had elders among us. We had post-menopausal women, whose perspective on the prosperity of the clan was no longer dominated by the constant protective estrogen stance of raising an infant. I think that villages that included crones had a better chance of survival than villages composed entirely of junior high school students. Just a hunch.

The goats and dogs co-evolved with us, and we understand a lot about each other.

Goatherd story

There were other things built into the genetic mechanics of a durable village. Each village probably had to have a nit-picker, otherwise the lice would take over! There had to be somebody who saved absolutely everything, so that if this year’s seeds didn’t sprout, she still had last year’s to fall back on. These functions survive today: maybe without our nitpicker accountants we’d be in trouble. Think of that lady who saves all those plastic bags and tin cans to the point where she can’t walk through her home. The gene pool is still delivering individuals like her, and I hope she’ll have the seeds when we need them. Even the legendary village idiot was a part of the workings of the village, pulled his own weight, and was accepted without regard to his diagnosis. We still recognize this acceptance when we go to family reunions. You actually have to sit down and eat potato salad with your uncle, even if you don’t share a single opinion about the world. It’s your gene pool acceptance lesson. We’re a crummy little species, but we’re all we’ve got.

It’s not you. It’s your gene pool! Our species is a long shelf of self-help books on coping with the modern age. Expectations have changed since we were villagers.

A‘functioning human being’ is now expected to be able to get to work (class) on time, be attentive to the task until the bell rings, then drop it, no matter how engaging, so as not to be late to the next class/job. One is expected to follow instructions politely all day long, no matter how absurd and inappropriate the task might seem. This is supposed to be a virtue. Anybody who doesn’t behave in this way needs to be medicated and brought back into the fold. We have names for aberrations; they’re called diagnoses. (Anybody who is anybody simply has to have a diagnostic self-identity.) A diagnosis is a way of pigeonholing a behavior, and thereby the individual. He’s one of those.??????

It may be that all of our ancient propensities carry the information we will need when we get to the new generation of villages, which is where I think we are ultimately headed. More on that later.

It’s not just our species. The goats and dogs co-evolved with us, and we understand a lot about each other.

Goatherd story.

Agrarian housemate wanted: must clean up after self, compost wastes, be able to cooperate on the dishes, smell reasonably good, and not take up more than it’s share of psychic space.

Industrial housemate wanted: Bring all you’ve got, and if that’s enough, we’ll accept you and grind up one of our less wealthy housemates and split the profits with you.

I think Agrarian vs Industrial is what Wendell Berry is all about, and Barbara Kinsolver, and lots of us. They are two separate sets of rules, and they don’t overlap very much. We’re in the process of chosing which one will prevail. Here’s a hint: Industrial society has only been surging for about 3-400 years. It’s just a blip.

Building an industrial society demands complicity in mining the world for resources and using them up to get ahead of everybody else. It can drive you nuts It’s supposed to drive you nuts, because you really grew up learning an agrarian ethic.

A person with a tractor can accomplish ten times as much as a horse and plow, and he can sell the surplus to get fancy: better??? bait, collateral, etc. Like, what? What are you going to buy? A shinier truck? When we were a less populous species, that worked okay, sort of. But nowadays, it’s got to come out even, because if it doesn’t you lose.

Agrarians do their math. Ten people working three hours per day six days a week can hunt and gather enough to survive, and have lots of time leftover to play with the kids. Working agriculturally with wise land use two hours a day can provide the same. There’s time to dabble in architecture, story telling, philosophy…..

The farmer knew how to keep the horse fed. It had to do with keeping the fields fertile, providing enough water, selective breeding improved efficiency and durability, manure fertilized the corn plants, and we figured out how to raise feed to hold the animals over the winter.

This was a problem in Europe in the 14th century. Grass would go to seed, get eaten to the ground, grain was too precious to feed to animals, etc. Livestock would be kept alive as long as possible, then slaughtered before it starved to death, and kept edible past it’s freshness date by making sausage, etc., but there was a limit. Meat just wouldn’t keep all winter. To make up the difference they built dovecotes.

A dovecote is like a big birdhouse or chicken coop. It’s often a round building with stone sides, one secure door, and a pidgeon entryway at the top of the tower. The pidgeons can forage the neighborhood, fly into the top of the dovecote and be safe from predators. Inside the walls were lined with nest boxes. In the very center of the cylindrical building was a post that centered on a rotating spiral staircase. A human could get in the door, rotate the ladder to collect the eggs from each nest, or nab a couple of birds for dinner.

Dovecotes went out of style when farmers discovered they could feed turnips, sugarbeets and rutabagas to some of their stock to hold them over the winter. Just another little trick to try to make the ecosystem come out even.

Farmers seriously watch the carrying capacity of their fields. Charles …… (editor of Acres Magazine) says that the first two inches of grass does not belong to you. It belongs to the earth. That’s the grass responsible for growing the part you get to use. If you destroy that bottom two inches, you’ve killed the field, and made yourself a pile more work.

The industrial model is to keep adding cows to the field until every blade is eaten, which ruins the field for years. It’s as industrial as an oil company that pumps the well dry and then sells it to somebody who will burn it. The oil company is richer, the buyer/burner is poorer, and so is the land. There is no such thing as a sustainable oil well. It doesn’t regenerate like your sustainably managed pastures do. Mining and oil drilling are cashing in on resources, not stewarding the means of production. Agriculture and industry are categorically different.

I’m not saying we should stop having industry, but we do need to demand it be sustainable. We shouldn’t subsidize industry to sustain wasteful and inefficient practices.

When you purchase a local cabbage, it’s a cabbage that was grown to be nutritious and tasty. It was grown in local soil with local compost enriched by local worms and local water, and the price you pay keeps the farmer in production.

When you purchase a cabbage grown in Mexico, it has been bred to ship well above all. The chemical companies provide minerals mined from the earth, pesticides to protect the plants weakened by artificial diets and by monocropping, which leaves fields vulnerable to marauding insects. The pollen diet of the bees there is also a monocrop, leaving the bees nutritionally compromised, and as well as suffering collateral damage from pesticides used to control cabbage moths, etc. It is grown with the labor of people who are trying to subsist on a diet of the only food they can afford, corn, which is getting more expensive because its production is subsidized in the US, and because demand for corn is increasing due to biofuel subsidies. Then after starving the Mexican farmer, we ship the cabbage with subsidized gasoline or diesel to haul it to where we can buy it.

In summary:
Local cabbage feeds your kids, your farmer, your soil and your community, and supports local food security.
Imported cabbage deprives your family of nutrition and flavor, makes insecticide and herbicide companies profitable, subsidizes labor practices which are illegal in this country, compromises the bee population, wastes petroleum, contributes to global warming, robs your community and the Mexican one of food security, etc.

In my opinion, only one of these two options is affordable, no matter what the price tag. I think there should be a sticker on each dollar bill, and when you spend it you have to check one of two boxes:
I spend this dollar in the service of large corporations
Or I spend this dollar in the service of my community.
Which of those dollars is it that you cannot afford to spend?

Back in the 1950s, the decade of technological promise, we had a saying: “They wouldn’t make it if it wasn’t good for you.” This is the motto of the agrarians, fresh off the family farm, making false assumptions about the motivations of the industrialists. Think we better change the system and stop drinking the Kool Aide?

I was working on some pots at a crafts booth at a street fair. A boy, about 7 years old, perhaps, came and stood at my side and watched. He asked an adult question, and received from me an appropriate adult answer. Confidence established, he moved from my side to directly in front of me where he could see better. He was dressed like a doctor or lawyer on his day off: slacks, jacket, coins jingling in his pocket. I noticed his badge: “Oh! I didn’t realize you were a member of the junior police squad. Is that an interesting career?” He responded in the mature tone we had established between us, neither of us wanting to sacrifice our common ground. He asked another question or two, then, preparing to leave, reaching in his pocket, and placing a penny in front of me on the table between us he said: “I like what you’re doing here.” And, nodding, walked away. An 8 year old citizen! How civilized.

We know early how to behave, don’t we!

I remember my first moral dilemma. I was 4 years old, and we were living in a 3rd floor flat in the slums of Chicago. We were rarely allowed outside. If anyone knocked at the door we were trained to demand the password: Ja-cha-ka-stallica privom. (Nobody ever guessed the password.) Mom would take us 3 kids outside when the vegetable man came with his horse cart, or for an occasional walk to the corner store. I was the oldest, and always in charge. On rare occasions we’d each be given a penny to put in the gum machine. It had the usual balls of many solid colors, and a few special swirly ones! If you were lucky enough to get one of those, you could exchange it at the counter for a five-cent candybar!

I inserted my penny, moved the lever, showed my green gum ball to brother Mike and popped it in my mouth. He followed suit, put his penny in, pulled the lever, and out rolled a swirly ball! Before I could stop him, he happily popped it in his mouth and crunched down on it. I was crushed, and torn. I didn’t want to ruin his enjoyment of this rare treat by telling him what he’d missed out on, but I didn’t want it to happen to the poor guy again, either. I chose my words carefully, and told him if he ever got a swirly ball again, to talk to me about it before he ate it.

How does a four-year old know things like that? Nobody taught me anything that complex. Just like the boy with the penny, I’d been around appropriate behavior, and made the right assumptions about how I should act. It’s not just about ‘setting a good example.’ It’s a categorically different way of knowing things. We know how to be good.

Knowing how to be ‘good’ is not valued in our school systems. It’s only important to know how to conform, how to compete, and how to pass multiple choice SATs. What an absurd package of assignments.

Lets think about other ways of knowing.

We have a genetic propensity to take note of certain shapes, like….eagles in the trees..Nobody said “look for eagles in the tops of the tallest trees.’ But when one shows up there, it sucks your attention from driving the car to focusing on a shape that showed up in your peripheral vision. You had to look at the eagle, even though you were just trying to keep your car on the road and thinking about dinner, your head turns to face the eagle before you even know what you’re looking at. It’s the really quick circuitry. It’s important information about predators, and its basic hard wiring.
You do know how to be alert to predators. [trust agrarian humansto not be predators]

Similar things happen for me when I’m picking berries. After I’ve picked for a few hours I notice that, when I close my eyes, I see a perfectly vivid image of the ideal sprig of berries. It’s a clearer vision than I can conjure up of anything I can ‘picture.’ It’s an archetype that must be associated with being a gatherer, harvesting food. I can do other things for two hours and not see idealized images, but food is different.
You do know how to gather food.

These represent a different way of knowing, and it is totally non-verbal. It’s a little pile of visual information.

These skills never show up on multiple choice tests. We integrated them into our thoughts and actions because they embody an essential particle of habits that allowed our species to survive. That information is still part of our lives today, though we usually choose to ignore it.

My mother very rarely spoke. She was a private person, and I always felt she taught me very little. However, when I go into the garden and reach for a plant or a weed, I see her hand and it informs my action. I know little things like how to twist a weed as I pull it, or how to pick berries by cupping my hand under them as I coax them off the vine. Nobody told me those things, but my hands know what they are supposed to do. I have seen healthy berry vines, and know what they are supposed to look like. I know how to stand next to a donkey and come to terms with who stands where by nudging with my hip. I may have learned those things by subconsciously watching, just being around on the farm.

There are other things about gardening that I refuse to know until bludgeoned by the facts. A friend dropped off a red currant plant as a gift. My immediate impulse was to plant it in a corner of my front yard chaos flower garden, even though fg f gh my berry patch was across the street, and it was full to the brim. No room there! The poor currant suffered in the pot for a few weeks, then I finally had to put it into the ground, even if it was a temporary spot. Okay. I reluctantly put it in the corner of the chaos garden. A few weeks later, reading Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, I learned that currants are good companion plants to maples. They share microbiotic support organisms so they both thrive. I had not noticed that the neighbor’s maple tree was on the north side of my chaos garden. That’s where I had planted the currant, exactly where it had demanded to be.

Now, I don’t even believe in that kind of interspecies communication. ‘ Sure, lady, the plant told you it wanted to be over there.’ It’s a stretch for me. But I don’t think it was a random coincidence, either. It’s more like a different way of appreciating my instincts, and learning to give my gardening impulses a second thought. But somewhere in me, I know a lot about the garden and the barnyard.

Facts about farm food production seem to go to a special memory bank as if I had created a dedicated pigeon hole for them. I find them in novels, conversations, songs, garden chats, newspapers, and wherever else, and they stick with me. I don’t memorize them, I just remember them, because they feel so interesting and potentially useful.

It’s sometimes hard to reconcile my hunger for tomatoes in the spring with the fact that it might not be time to plant them quite yet.

Back to the nit-pickers and seed savers in chapter one. Some of my ‘back-to-the-land’ friends are intent on learning to provide absolutely everything they need on one small piece of land. I asked my friend Lizzie if she knew how to knit, and she sighed: “No, but I guess I’m going to have to learn!” I gently reminded her that we don’t all have to learn to knit. Just some of us.

We’re doing this together. We’ll talk over the back fence, or maybe tear it down. We’ll walk through each other’s gardens and admire the bounty, and take part of the credit for it. We’ll develop recipes which are really local masterpieces, composed of foods that naturally mature together. The combinations will be magical and apt, and local.

Every year lilacs at mothers’ day, (no commercial boquet trophies), kale after the first freeze, backyard eggs, not to mention pasteries with local berries, wines, cheeses,

You’ll be comforted by the fiddle tunes that kept their titles and identities for centuries, and still feel like today’s music.

It’ll be like going to Europe, but it will taste just like here, and when you go away, you’ll miss it.

It will start to look like Europe, too. Convivial squares are returning, we’re understanding the importance of ‘third spaces.’ Conversation cafes, salons. We’ll see gardens, not strip mines.
We’ll be informed by music of our own making.

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Letter To Farm Members Nov 2011

Hi Farm Members

Not being an accountant, this ‘bill’ may bear no relation to any bill in your past, but it is serving an important purpose.
It is helping me figure out the economy of the community, the farm, and the world.
A farm is a great place to develop that kind of sense, and that’s one of the big reasons I love it when you come here, whether to rest or to work. I want to offer that place, and I want the privilege of bringing you Great Food. GF will tell you the truth. It nods to the land, the farmer, the ethic, the connection. It tastes real on the tongue.

At any rate, as farmers we decided this was the year we had to start breaking even, and we’re getting closer.
As a business model, this plan is absurd. As a community model, it rocks.
While Larry and I contribute ongoing everyday farm work and $ through workshops, portable sawmill work, selling wool, working with neighboring farms, and of course juggling (picture that) our wonderful animals, and more…our goal as a CSA is to have our member support to the tune of covering 1/2 the feed bill.

In summary:
The ten of you bought into this plan, some for $100 earlier this year, and some for lots of labor, some both.

I connect you with as much meat as possible and throw in a few extra farm products, from wool to breadboards, wine and cheese, to pickles. Your check is about feeding the animals. There are ten of you, and collectively you got about half of the meat we produced. (We ate some and bartered some.) It would be good if the fees paid for 1/2 the animal feed. But some of you only got one small load of meat, and others much more than that. That’s where I don’t want to be an accountant, but rather ask you to figure out what works for you.

Total yearly feed bill: $4,475.38.
Here are two suggested calculating algorithms:
ONE
half the feed would be $2,237.69 / so 10 people equals $22380 each

If you want to tip the farmer or extend special blessings, or
If you feel like you got way more meat than that, or
If you compared ‘real’ prices and concluded that the amount of meat AND having part of a farm is worth more…
Then adjust that $number up.

If you only got one tiny portion, or
If you had a rough year, or
if I neglected to remember your birthday, or
you came to the farm and did a bunch of work
Then adjust your $number down.

TWO
Here are some random and approximate online prices for pastured or organic meat:
Beef $8/lb
Pork $8-15
Lamb $9-16
Capons $8/lb
Prices for farm-fresh produce of course also vary according to season.
It would take me a week to conjure up how much it costs to maintain all the systems that get jobs done on the farm, or to care for the animals, or our hourly value as workers, or any other way to do an accounting short of taking on a corporate financial bean counting department.

You may have to make several trips up and down to come up with the right number. It’ll feel right. I hope you feel you are collaborating in saving the world by eating well.

Then… email me with change/addition ideas for the coming year.
and, based on your calculations, send a check or suggest a barter.

and… plan a trip to the farm.
I love you.

Sandy

Sandy Bradley
Granny’s Farm
31 Hurt Road
Raymond, WA 98577
360 942 0099

sandy@potluck.com

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Hog!

Come learn more about real food. Brandon and Lauren do a magnificent job of acquainting us with the many tasty aspects of pork. Do join us for the day! This is the last pig until next winter, at least!

February 6th: Pork Butchery in Raymond

We had so much fun during our January class in Raymond at Granny’s Farm we’re doing another one! Sunday, Feb. 6th at 9 o’clock, join us for a full pig carcass breakdown, complete with sausage making and other morsels of charcuterie: bacon, pancetta, black pudding, head-cheese, the perfect stock…

Our hosts at the farm, Sandy and Larry, outdo themselves with a complete lunch, fresh from their farm. Altogether the price for a ticket is $200, including a 20 lb. share of their farm-raised pork. The class is completely hands-on; you will chop your own chops and carve your own roasts.

Email farmsteadmeatsmith@gmail.com for details and sandybradley@pacifier.com for reservations.
Lauren and Brandon at Farmstead Meatsmith.

Sandy Bradley
31 Hurt Road
Raymond, WA 98577
360 942 0099

sandy@potluck.com

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Eating the Whole Hog

Class: Monday, January 17 (MLKing Holiday) from 9-5 at our farm (below).

Brandon and Lauren Sheard will share their skills and enthusiasm as abattoirs, butchers, charcutiers and local food lovers.

Larry will slaughter a few days beforehand, and you’re welcome to attend that for free. Get in touch with Larry to figure out timing. (Warnberg@pacifier.com)

The class will spend Monday taking the pig apart and learning how to make proscuitto, salami, anduille, roasts, ribs, bacom, lard, etc. Yum.

The class will be limited to 12 (including us), so you must sign up in advance. Lunch and dinner are included. $100 fee ($75 to the teachers, $25 applied to the fee we pay.)

If others would like to come and just enjoy the farm, they are welcome. Anybody want to help by taking on the kids for attending parents? Brandon and Laura have a 18 month old who’ll really enjoy the farm, I’m sure.

Do please let me know if you are interested. I’m so looking foward to it!

Sandy
sandy@potluck.com

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Allergies and Barnyards

Science says kids who grow up around farm animals have fewer allergies as adults. I think that’s why 4-year-olds of our species are compelled to go to the barnyard and pick up poop. Their compulsion is rewarded with an allergy-free adulthood, and the gene pool prospers.

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