MONDAY MEMOIR: IMPOSSIBLE

STEINHAUER BARN BARLEY DARTS

Impossible!  I thought.  But, I recognized her.  She’d been my son’s teammate.  The last time we had really talked, she was a little girl who’d come to play with our goats.  That was a decade ago.  But, honestly, I didn’t feel that old.  Looking at her uniform now, however, there was no denying this gal was a dental hygienist.  Yet, I continued to wrestle with the fact that she was an adult.  Still, and whether I believed it possible or not, she was all grown up.  And she assisted the dentist with my root canal.

Impossible!  Before the dentist began, this gal suggested that I watch a movie.  As I reclined, it would be played on a digital image screen, “on the ceiling” above my head.  It was the exact same one that, moments earlier, had been “on the wall” with photos of my teeth.  I was told it would entertain me; the whole time.  I laughed and scoffed at the idea.  However, I decided to humor her, anyway.  I chose a nature documentary.  Ironically, it was on mountain goats.

Impossible!  I mumbled (and drooled), as I watched adult goats scale vertical cliffs.  Had my mouth not already been wedged open, it would’ve dropped when the baby goats followed.  They dangerously slipped and slid, with marble-like pebbles underfoot.  I just knew that they’d fail and fall.  And I was certain, they’d be broken and shattered on the unforgiving ground, thousands of feet below.  I wondered, would it be an instant or a slow and painful death?  Yet, the baby goats held their ground.  They didn’t fall.  I questioned why.  Perhaps, the answer had something to do with their special hooves, vision, and youthful agility.  And perhaps, they’d never been told that it was impossible to do what they were doing.

Impossible!  Yet, my root canal was done.  Indeed, the movie had made the time pass more quickly.  I was also surprised when the hygienist asked about our homestead.  After all, she’d only visited once, ten years ago.  Then I realized that for her, that ten years was a long time ago.  So, I pulled a telephone out of my pocket.  And on it, I showed her pictures and videos of our goats.  If there had been another camera on our goats’ pen, she’d have watched them “live”, too.  (No, the goats weren’t dead.  I mean “live” as in, real-time and not previously recorded.)

Impossible!  The dental hygienist then shared her own homestead hopes.  Her income, little by little, would contribute to her dreams.  Even her partner didn’t discourage her.  In fact, he worked on farms, in the summer months.  And maybe, just maybe, one day her homestead would be close to where she grew up.  Perhaps, it’d be so close, she’d live in her childhood home.

Impossible!  Only two days later, another young someone told me of her homestead dreams.  She said she wanted healthier food for herself and family.  Meanwhile, her spirit cried out for the direct connection to chickens, ducks, pigs, cows, and goats.  After all, she grew up in touch with lots of critters on her grandparents’ farm.  It was a farm that had been built, little by little, over decades.  It required sacrifices, hard work, and persistence.  Still, some folks doubt that such a farm and it’s massive barn was built by a young man with a passionate dream.

Impossible!  She said she still remembered her first chicken and a duck.  In fact, they’d been gifts from her parents… when she was a little girl… decades and decades ago.  But, it could’ve been the fairy tale without the happy ending.  Why?  The family dog ate her chicken.

Impossible!  Decades later, this gal has a score of chickens, but her dog protects them.  And her heart has bubbled over with the addition of baby ducks.  Now, she’s wondering if pigs, cows, or goats would be possible, too…

 

“Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done.  God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.” – G.M. Trevelyan

MONDAY MEMOIR: TONS

ANTIQUE SCALE 5 PLUS POUNDS BARLEY DARTS

 

How much food do you eat every year?  Don’t know?  Well, thanks to the Google god, you can find out with the press of a button.  Unfortunately, you can’t eat Google and you should know this stuff.  BEWARE!  It may shock and offend you.  And you’ll most likely deny it, too.  Statistically, you eat five and a half pounds of food; every day.  Seriously.  That’s just you.  It doesn’t include your family members.  Add that up for twelve months and you’ll get 1996 pounds.  That’s nearly one ton of food every year.[1]    Yet, this post  is not about dieting or eating too much food.

 

Perhaps, you’ve talked about donating a ton of food to a third-world country.  Maybe, you’ve said you’re getting a ton of food at Walmart, as you’ve filled your cart with cheap pizzas.  Maybe, you’ve raved about the ton of food, at the local all-you-can-eat buffet.  Sadly, you may have made fun of America’s obese, by saying they eat a ton of food every day.  Less likely, you’ve ordered a ton of feed at the elevator for livestock.  But, have you ever talked about an actual ton of food for yourself?  Do you know what an actual ton of food looks like?

Yes, one ton of food can be hard to imagine and growing it is definitely a challenge.  Then again, starving to death is hard to imagine and morbid obesity and urban, food deserts are challenging, too.  Alas, there’s no arguing that to live, we need food.  However, who grows it, the type, the quantity, and the quality have and will continue to be sources of heated debate.  Meanwhile, we work hard to stay in touch with our own food; every day.  And believe it or not, it ranges from about five and a half pounds to a ton, per day!

 

 

[1] (Aubrey, 2011)

FRIDAY FRONTIER: SEASONAL CHANGES

WALK LOGGING BARLEY DARTS FEB 2018

As a middle-aged woman, the contrast of hot feet and cold torso is refreshing.  And that’s a good thing, because I can no longer tolerate my winter coat.  Yet, I continue to wear my insulated boots.

SUN LOGGING CAMP BARLEY DARTS FEB 2018

Yes, the seasons are changing.  While the ground is and will remain frozen for several more weeks, the sun is warming all that it touches.

 

CEDAR BRANCH BARLEY DARTS FEB 2018

And true to all of life’s seasonal changes, a medley of spicy, sweet, and sour aromas will follow.  There will be the sour pungence of wet wood shavings, the spicy scent of spruce tips, the sweet fragrance of cedar, and so much more…

 

 

 

THURSDAY THANKS: STILLNESS

WINTER CREEK BARLEY DARTS FEB 2018

In a 24/7 world, some stillness can do a body and soul good.  Just find a place where it doesn’t get you run over.

MONDAY MEMOIR: A HUMBLE POTATO

POTATOES PURPLE FINGERLINGS BARLEY DARTS 2018

Ah, potatoes!  Humans have had a love/hate relationship with them throughout history.  They were “The Spore of Witches” to colonists in Massachusetts.  Russian peasants knew them as, “Devil’s Apples”[1].  And folks like Shakespeare called them, “Apples of Love”.  And during the Klondike Gold Rush… well, let’s just say that potatoes were “Solid Gold”.  In fact, miners may have traded for them, ounce for ounce.[2]

Think about it.  An average restaurant potato is 8 ounces.  Today, gold is selling for $1255.75 for one troy ounce.  A troy ounce equals 1.097 ounces.  But to make it easy, we’ll say it’s just 1 ounce.  Multiply 8 by $1255.75.  In today’s dollars, a single, eight-ounce potato would’ve been worth $10,046.  And, believe it or not, those expensive potatoes may have been worth every penny.  Why?  Potatoes have vitamin C.  And without vitamin C, one can die from scurvy.

Who’d have ever thought wealthy men would die in need of a humble potato?  Alas, starvation is not classist.  Remember the million Irish peasants that died from lack of healthy potatoes?  They went from eating 45-65 potatoes a day, per person, to starvation.[3]   True, it was a different situation than the miners.  However, it was another history lesson that healthy, homegrown potatoes can save lives… and “noses”.

Yes, there was a time that potatoes even saved “noses”.  In fact, it was the government food program of the day!  In the 17th century, Germany’s poor were required to feed themselves.  If they didn’t plant and tend their own food (potatoes), they were told their noses would be cut off.  So, how did the people respond?  Well, apparently they survived and their monument is still standing.  The inscription reads, “‘To God and Francis Drake, who brought to Europe for the everlasting benefit of the poor – the Potato.’”

And here in Minnesota?  Well, in the 1850’s “the state’s population grew, agriculture was so minimal that Minnesota was not raising enough to feed itself, and nearly all food except garden produce and wild game had to be shipped up the Mississippi from regions farther south.  … in August of 1857 when a large New York finance company failed…land speculators living here ‘were forced to become farmers’…Those who were farming suffered rough times…after planting their seed potatoes, ‘had to dig them back up to feed their starving children.”[4]

 

 

[1] (Howell, 2016)

[2] (Howell, 2016)

[3] (Landsburg, 2001)

[4] (DEVELOPMENT PERIODS IN THE HISTORIC CONTEXT “EURO-AMERICAN FARMS IN MINNESOTA, 1820-1960”, n.d.)

MONDAY MEMOIR: HOG WILD!

“Another pig?!”  They squealed and continued, “Don’t you have enough already?!”  After the dazed and wild-eyed stares, came the pleading question, “Why?”  We weren’t surprised.  In fact, both Keith and I were used to such responses.  Fortunately, Keith patiently explained his reasons.  Unfortunately, we knew that any reason given, only provided more fuel.  It was fuel that fed more confusion and fiery retorts.  To them, this was confirmation that we’d lost our minds.  They looked at us, like we were suffering from Mad Cow Disease.  I smiled.  We weren’t buying another cow.  We were buying another pig.

Please don’t get me wrong.  Keith and I are very grateful for our friends and family.  We know they’re just looking out for us.  Besides, most Americans would have agreed that we were out of our minds.  In their books, even one pig is too many.  Alas, we had four pigs and two were pregnant.  A few days later, there’d be an additional dozen.  So, why on God’s green earth, did the two of us need to buy another pig?  The answer was simple.  Natasha was different.  She was a Berkshire.

Now a year later, Natasha’s all grown up and pregnant.  She will give birth in a few weeks.  And guess what?  We’re going to have more than just “another pig”!

MONDAY MEMOIR: FOR THE LOVE OF BRUSSELS SPROUTS

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

It was the week of Valentine’s Day, twenty years ago.  I was standing in the produce aisle, with my three young sons.  My middle son, Ted was sobbing… hysterically.  While, I was doing my best to comfort him, a stranger approached me.  She boldly chastised me “for making him cry”.  And then she demanded, “Just give him some candy!”  True, there was a bulk-bin of candy behind us.  However, I firmly told the stranger, it wasn’t candy that Ted wanted.

In fact, candy would have been cheaper.  Instead, Ted wanted fresh Brussels sprouts, in the middle of winter, for $8 a pound.  I had been explaining to Ted that we’d get frozen Brussels sprouts, when the lady had interrupted.  And when the lady tried to give Ted a piece of candy, he pushed her hand away.  Then Ted once again, very loudly professed his undying love for Brussels sprouts.  The lady’s face instantly flash-froze and she was speechless.  She had no other words of wisdom.  She simply turned and walked away.