Dancing

August 21st, 2012

I love to dance, I can’t really help myself.  I hear the music and a twitching begins in my toes, spreading to the rest of my body.  My conservative, shy, Midwestern mind always loses the argument in my head to allow others to take to the dance floor first.  When I lived in Colorado it was fairly common that I would be the first on the dance floor flinging my body around is wild abandonment.  In true white boy fashion I’m not sure you could call what I do dancing, it could be more likely described as herky jerky random thrusting head bobbing slip slid with a half twist but it’s what I’ve got.  However one dances is alright by me, I especially love seeing little children and the awesome rhythms they bring to the floor.  No inhabitations, no fear, no judgment, just peer feeling and joy.  Now days I’m involved in another form of dancing called farming.  To be a farmer you must learn to dance, around the season, the weather, the customer, the pests, the soil.  It is like no other work I have ever known.  Like a good dancer you must be flexible, all of your best laid plans mean nothing at times.  Like a good dancer you must also be nimble, to change direction with ease and speed.  You must be creative, to seek out those exotic plants that may or may not work on your farm.  A farmer, like a dancer, must also have faith, faith that someone will catch you if you fall or that the seeds you plant will grow and blossom into something beautiful or fruitful.  When it’s all said and casino done the most beautiful dancers or farmer/farms also develop and perfect a routine that to the outside eye looks easy, fluid, and beautiful but comes from years of perfecting body and mind and soil.

Although we have a bit of time left we are most certainly on the swing towards fall, the second half of the CSA season.  The days are getting slightly shorter and comfortable sleeping weather has returned.  I was at a bluegrass festival this last weekend in a quaint little valley somewhere in the hills of southwest Wisconsin and had to don the hooded sweater, and socks in the evening, I even saw my breath on the air.  So hard to believe how fast these days fly by.  Spend some time smelling the roses or listening to the crickets because soon they will complete their dance and a new one will begin.  Happy eating.

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Equipment

August 14th, 2012

I’ve never been much of a mechanic.  My brother and father always assumed that roll on the farm and at times it felt like there just wasn’t enough room in the shop.  Plus I am not a huge fan of conflict and when equipment breaks down conflict is soon to follow.  See, machinery on the farm only breaks down when it is needed the most, there is hay to be cut or baled, a storm is coming and seeds need to get in the ground before the rain hits.  Whatever time sensitive activity has to wait until the repairs are made and so with grumbles and a gait that informs even the most spaced out child to say out of the way the repairs commence.  Of course my father really was and is a mild mannered citizen so my brother and I would stay out of the way just long enough for the initial frustration to abate and then we would wade into the mix.  I’m not sure how many of you have watched The Christmas Story and remember the scene where the father and kid are repairing the flat tire on the car.  At one point the father spills the lug nuts and the kid lets off a few profane words, surprising both parents to say the least.  Because of this profane outburst he ends up with a mouth full of soap and wraps his friend into the mix by telling his mother that he learned the words from him instead the truth, which is that he learned them from his dad.  Well I find that part of the story particularly funny because as a kid I think the most profane language I heard was always associated with fixing equipment, and frankly that is part of the reason my brother and I would hang around to “help”.  We learned a lot……haha!  Cursing would be directed at the machine itself as if it could hear or cared, then the engineers who designed the thing with sprockets buried deep inside and hard to get at.  Then the weather, politicians, ancestors, plants, living relatives, animals, nothing was spared the wrath of my father working on equipment.  At some point I would boar of the whole display, after all there was online casino playing to get done.  I would wander off, but my brother would stay, and he indeed learned a lot, not only is he now a very confident and professional operator of machinery but he knows how to talk to equipment if you know what I mean.  I on the other hand can hold my own when it comes to operating equipment but am quite the rookie when it comes to fixing.  However I have committed to getting better this year and have actually made some minor repairs on my own.  What a feeling, it is our tools after all that have made human”s different from other animals.  The internal combustion engine is a very complex tool, but not so complex that even a layman like me can’t figure it out.  There are some very simple rules and processes that must take place in order for the equipment to work.  I’m sure I will never attain the level of professionalism my brother has but every little step I make feels like giant leaps to me, and while my language at times exposes my past I am way more relaxed when it comes to my repairs……so I’d like to think.  Things happen, equipment breaks, it can’t hear or know your true feeling no matter how you express them.  Speaking of equipment time to get on the tractor and make some things happen, here’s to hoping for one more day of repair free work!

Our Farm

August 7th, 2012

How do I put to words a lifetime of emotion and experience that my farm has provided my family and I.  The other day my friend Tina and I where on our way back from another farm, Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa (you should check it out if you’re in the neighborhood) and typed in 15270 Haucke Ln into our TomTom, a big red screen appeared and said “Some roads are unpaved”.  So maybe there is the starting point, our farm sits at the end of Haucke Ln, a dead end gravel road.  There are very few places left in this world with a quiet like a dead end gravel road.  It’s a quiet that allows your other senses a chance to function; sounds of the earth are as present as they can be.  Currently the Crickets dominate the night and Cicadas the day.  In the spring as the birds return our farm goes from an almost complete silence to a full fledge clamor.  Gaggles of birds, robin, redwing blackbird, mourning doves, staking their clam on some summertime property it is here they will build their houses, raise their young, and collect their food.  Beyond the sounds there are the smells, of earth awakening after the long winter slumber, freshly mowed lawn, basil and cilantro or other herbs newly picked, or of a continuous bloom of all different kinds of flowers lending both smell and sight to our experience.    At Keewaydin we have much to look at like the storms that have captured my imagination for years.  Keewaydin rests on a ridge between the Pine and Kickapoo Rivers, for years we have watched countless storms trek across the horizon towards our farm and beyond.  It is one of these storms that, in the annals of my mind convinced me to come home.   The stars and storms are striking; it is in these moments that the entire world presents itself.  Putting all of it together with the glory of touch, to hold the earth in hand or feel the breeze or rain on the skin.  The rain that nourishes the earth also nourishes my soul especially on years like this one when that rain is few and far between.  All the sense working in one way or another is what life is about and that is what makes farming so appealing to me.  There are very few jobs in our time that still connect you in that way and perhaps we are missing something when we lose that.  I say perhaps because humans are amazing creatures and we have found many wonderful ways to live and so who am I to say what works for me should work for all.  We do the best we can with what information we have at hand in the moment, and that is all we need to do.

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