Well, this is my first time ever blogging and I imagine that for a business such as ours the intent is to provide interesting and stimulating facts that encourage people to eat at our café…. That I should endeavor to create a measure of kismet and build the solid foundations of long-lasting relationships…
However, I believe I am going to miss my mark, as it were. I am actually going to use this opportunity to ruminate and grumble about the state of the world (vis a vie through my having quests at the farm this week) .. About the lack of care and interest, supposedly responsible people, show for the land upon which we live and depend upon.
Joe Natural’s began and continues as a farm based business. Each and every morning, rain or shine, the day starts with tending to our animals. The rest of the day can go in any number of directions depending on what needs to be done and what has broke and needs repairing or what other emergencies arise. The bees, flowers, vegetables all need constant care and attention – a form of job security as it where… Truth be told, I always forget to turn the compost pile so every once in a while I have to run up to the top of the farm and bring the tractor down to turn the pile (we use Alpaca manure as its high in nitrogen)…
Anyway back to the matter at hand: We had company in town this past weekend. A good friend for a lot of years. A monetarily successful person who waxes philosophically about organic food and health and all manner of related subjects – because as we all know – it’s all the rage to be organic these days…
Well anyway, the first evening they stayed at the farm, I was getting ready to make a fire (as we always do) and he asked if he could help… I declined the offer, but he was not to be dissuaded. So off he went with me to collect fire wood from the wood shed. Now, I chop and split my own wood (by hand I might add).. If you haven’t thought about it, during the course of the year trees come down around the farm and regardless of whether they are soft woods or hard woods we make use of them. Nothing like a good fire to keep the farm house warm and keep the electric company from absconding with your hard earned money.. By the way if you haven’t ever split wood by hand it isn’t done liked the portray in the movies… You don’t use an axe… An axe being a sharpened blade only gets buried in the wood and then you spend the rest of the day trying to extricate it… Believe me, I’velearned the hard way (what do you want from a guy raised in New York City??)
Actually you use tool known as a maul.. A maul looks like an axe but it has a blunter and heavier head so when you strike the wood log with a descending blow it splits the wood rather then cut into the log. Your best efforts notwithstanding, every so often you need to use a wedge and a ball peen hammer as well.. Anyway I’m sure you get the idea, it’s a lot of work. Work that I consider a wonderful and productive exercise (I gave up my gym membership soon after taking up farming and have never looked back)!!! Another aside, to conserve on fossil fuels, I walk the farm as much as possible carrying feed bags and whatever needs to be hauled by my own two feet. Besides being environmentally responsible it allows me to eat a bit more then I should and I fall asleep by 7 (I’m a huge fan when daylight savings time is over as I don’t feel so odd being asleep by 7 - at least its dark out!!)
Sorry for the tangent…. Now where was I??? Oh yeah……back to the point of this whole missive….. So, I start the fire… My fires are constructed along the lines of anorganizational chart of sorts. First some recycled newspaper, then some twigs cut from the downed trees, then some little wood (kindling as it where) from, you guessed it, downed trees… Now here’s where it gets a wee bit complicated: To get the coals hot I use the soft wood split logs first with a small amount of the split hardwood logs on top (the soft wood doesn’t burn hot but I don’t want to waste the wood. Then as the fire burns down I put on unsplit hardwood logs so we get a long lasting, toe warming, toasty fire…..And knowing how much time and effort went into chopping the wood, I judiciously use up my store of hand split wood..A reasonable and rational thought – no???
So my guest, who will remain anonymous (what’s that disclaimer they use in books ? “the names and places have been change to protect the innocent” or something to that effect – for a moment I thought it was please put you your tray tables up and your seats in their locked and upright position – but then I remembered where that was from) piles on log after log…..No amount of painful moaning, begging or pleading could stop him from his goal… The fire appeared to leap out of the chimney over the roof and up to the stars…. The intensity of the fire when it is massed, causes the wood to burn at a much faster rate, thereby necessitating more and more wood (if in fact one really deems a roaring fire a necessity) begetting the need for more and more wood – until, sadly, the whole pile was used. Used in the most disrespectful and irresponsible manner possible.
What does this little episode say about us??? What does it portend for the future of our land, our resources, our food, our health and that of our children and grandchildren??? How can seemingly intelligent, well educated people be so callous towards the care of that which binds us??? Have we become so lost or so egocentric we believe that wood actually comes from the front of a grocery store or a plain looking fellow in an old, battered pickup truck parked along the side of a road? And of course such blatant disregard for our trees extrapolates into blatant disregard for fossil fuels and the blatant disregard of all of the earth’s resources.
Look ……..for much of my life I surely wasn’t any better. I stand equally as guilty of making sure that my part of my world was handed down further diminished from how I received it. Unfortunately, that is the way it is. But I’m hopeful it doesn’t have to be. Yes, I decided to learn to farm and as a result developed different values. My curiosity and desire to learn lead me to reading various books by ecologically based authors. Agrarian Essays by Wendell Berry. The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon. Great Possessions by David Kline. There is so much to learn about life. The difference between living well and a life well lived.
Well I didn’t tell you a damn thing about Joe Natural’s and maybe that’s just the right way to start. If you want to discuss my point of view you can visit me at the shop in Leipers Fork. If that’s too far a drive wait a bit. On February 1st we are opening a second Café in Cummins Station (across the hall from Wild Wasabe) . Or your welcome to come visit me at the farm and chat if you’d like.
– Farmer Joe