March 14, 2017
What is in the VEGGIE BOX, Chard, Grapefruit, Savoy Cabbage, Carrots, Rutabagas, Parsley and Potatoes. Just a note: that the Oro Blanco grapefruit in your box today have some scarring on the peal-they should be just fine eating, just not pretty to look at. We also may have run out of the Oro Blanco and you might have the ruby red kind in your box.
This Week on the Farm
Anybody notice the lack of wind? Beautiful spring days have come without the roaring obliterating winds from the north that have often characterized the changing of the seasons in the Great Central Valley of California. I remember growing up in Modesto, and always wondering if the current North Wind was of the 3, 5, or 7 day variety, so strong the sky turned a dull queasy sort of pale blue. For years I hated that wind. Sometime during my farming career, I noticed that it was not so terrible, and came to accept it as a part of what made our state unique. I think I didn’t realize it quite at the time, but it was easier to be accepting when that wind was not so ferocious, and I am pretty sure the wind has been falling. So this year it is noticeable that with all the storms and heavy rainy season and sudden change in the temperature, there haven’t been the big winds. I don’t really know why, just noticing. And I have to admit, getting up in the morning and sitting at the table watching the light come to the world in the perfect stillness of dawn is a real treat. And watching the sun go down with all the brand-new-today leaves and flowers hanging still in the dusk is a special way to end the day.
Transitions, transitions, transitions. Sometimes I think the job of the farmer is to just ride out transitions, using accumulated experience to remain seated on that bronc. To paraphrase that old piece of hippie wisdom borrowed from another time: “May I always see the transitions I can do something about, see the transitions I can’t do anything about, and have the wisdom to know the difference.” The transitions of the weather, the climate and the earth are definitely not mine to alter, and so the wisdom comes into play. At the end of the day, I have to be satisfied with staying on the horse, making adjustments, believing in the riding out of the next bump, and go to bed at the end of the day satisfied that I have done my best. Well really, I mean some of this stuff is just beyond me and laying down the burden of trying to contain aging, the climate, the wills of my family, and what the fates have in store is like taking a good deep breath of fresh air. I have to admit that as the winds of change swirl around Good Humus, it is good to fasten onto a few concrete things like planting and repairing equipment and finishing a project, and moving another forward, just to stay away from the world I cannot change.
Yesterday, while late, I finished planting our new bareroot trees. In finishing that project, I moved a larger project forward. Our farming concept on this 20 acres has always been to mimic the processes of nature as well as we know how, and part of that is to create around each of our 8 fields a transition from annual to perennial plants, similar to a meadow transition into the surrounding woodland. Of course, it is a man-made transition, different from the meadow mix existing because of underlying soil and geology and climate restrictions, only to give way to the surrounding forest as the restrictions moderate. But we do the best we can, and the life of the transition zone, seems to be ok with the rough approximation, and so I am satisfied. But at Good Humus we are not usually content with the status quo, a great failing of an industrious upbringing. So as we realize our initial goals of diversity, year round production, the creation of niche habitats and growing conditions, and smaller field size, we recognize that we can go still farther. Divide each 2 acre field into 3 smaller half acre fields, surrounded by their own set of smaller, more domesticated versions of the California hedgerow that is the backbone of our farm. Plant plums and apples and quince and pears and lilacs and feijoas across each field, surround them with lavender and daffodils, flower bulbs and perennial bushes, and intensify the transition from the wide open expanse that we experienced 35 years ago to a complex haven of habitat that divide this land into smaller and smaller niches of life. As we continue to fill in the pieces, it is amazing to realize that there is no end to the process of diversification and the creation of new niches. Where will this be as a mature farm, filled with domestic and wild animals, domestic and wild trees, bushes and grasses both annual and perennial? What is the possibility around diversifying the experience of Good Humus as a community for all species? Well, creating or allowing that to happen is a burden of responsibility that I will be glad to lay down and watch as it occurs or not. But no harm in planting a few trees to let the land know that we are thinking of this and perhaps the time, and the place and the climate, and the fates, and all is aligned to watch it happen. I will be so happy to watch all this unfold. Thanks for reading, Jeff