Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Coming Peak-Beer Scenario: Are You Ready?

"Barley shortages lead to Beer Crisis"...grim news indeed! We better get on with that mead production to cope with coming drinkee shortages.
In other news, B has 50 chicks (of mixed stock) coming and so we're all boning up on chicken care. He also received a lovely antique no-till planter (to run with the tractor) from ebay.

Recent rains dropped a nice layer of snow onto the Sierras, visible through our binoculars, but too far away to photograph.
One of our yard rabbits, posing for Molly
"The garden like a lady fair was cut,
That lay as if she slumbered in delight,
And to the open skies her eyes did shut.
The azure fields of Heaven were 'sembled right
In a large round set with the flowers of light.
The flowers de luce and the sparks of dew
That hung from their azure leaves did shew
Like twinkling stars that sparkle in the evening blue."
-Giles Fletcher

"...Here in my chair with a book and the sssh of the water in my ears. Dull people go by. My ears are troubled with inanities. I hear clatter concerning ghastly trivialities. But the sum of all life is not trivial or it does not appear so... The clouds in the east reach out like hands. They beckon and signal, like fingers speaking of lands that never were. They talk to me of dreams that I had in my youth. "Better lands than this," they say, "await you." "Out! Come forth, Shake off the thing that holds you. Spring up into the blue. Be spirit not matter" ... Nothing is more interesting to me than just the silent passing of moods in the mind, hour after hour, day after day, year after year though nothing is said. A man draws near - you dislike him. He goes again and is forgotten. The sun comes out. You say silently to yourself - how beautiful. Life is good. In its light colorful dreams and moods rise and fall like the waves of the sea- all in silence. The sun goes under a cloud. Life is not so pleasing anymore ... On this boat sitting alone I have noticed this - dwelt on it. I have watched my moods shift chameleon like from grave to pleasant but with never a word to me from anyone."
Theodore Dreiser (1916)
I had more tractoring practice this week; grading and dozing on the driveway encroachment (a tiny bit, since I'm slow and rotten at that as yet). Last night I was cutting brush on the levee with a scythe and thus took along the whetstone and water for a steady massage of sharpening. And now there's a better path to the blackberries along the slough, at least until we get out there with the box blade.
..."Pathetic," he said. "That's what it is. Pathetic."
He turned and walked slowly down the stream for twenty yards, splashed across it, and walked slowly back on the other side. Then he looked at himself in the water again.
"As I thought," he said. "No better from this side. But nobody minds. Nobody cares. Pathetic, that's what it is."
There was a cracking noise in the bracken behind him, and out came Pooh.
"Good morning, Eeyore," said Pooh.
"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."
"Oh!" said Pooh. He though for a long time and then asked, "What mulberry bush is that?"
"Bon-hommy," went on Eeyore gloomily. "French word meaning bonhommy," he explained. "I'm not complaining, but There It Is."
Pooh sat down on a large stone, and tried to think this out. It sounded to him like a riddle, and he was never much good at riddles, being a Bear of Very Little Brain. So he sang Cottleston Pie instead:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie."

A. A. Milne , 1926

A female turkey came through very close to the house the other morning. Hope she brings some friends along next time.

Where the cigarettes grow near the lemonade springs,
In the big potato mountains.
Where the ham an' eggs grow on trees,
And bread grows from the ground,
An' the springs squirt booze to your knees,
An' there's more than enough to go 'round.
Where the chickens crawl into the skillet,
An' cook 'emselves up nice an' brown,
An' the cows churn their butter'n the mornin',
An' squirt their milk all aroun'.
Where the lunches grow on the bushes,
And bump the 'boes in the eyes,
An' every night at eleven,
The sky rains down apple pies.
So Iowa Slim sits on his porch,
While his wives all play wit' his hair-,
And he sees the freight trains runnin',
An' he says, "Go on, I don't care."
For he was an old-time floater,
An' he had more wives than a priest,
An' each of them loved the ol' bloater-
The dirty ol' bum of a beast.
His home is where the bird sings,
And young girls swim in the fountains,
An' the cigarettes grow with the matches,
In the big potato mountains.
Hobo song/ Jim Tully (Beggars Of Life)

BEETS ... pic by Molly
ARTICHOKES ... (Molly)
...Sometimes it's hard to find the time to practice the banjo...
"In the morning the mist comes up from the sea by the cliffs beyond Kingsport. White and feathery it comes from the deep to its brothers the clouds, full of dreams and dank pastures and caves of leviathan. And later, in still summer rains on the steep roofs of poets, the clouds scatter bits of those dreams, that men shall not live without rumor of old strange secrets, and wonders that planets tell planets alone in the night. When tales fly thick in the grottoes of tritons, and conchs in seaweed cities blow wild tunes learned from the Elder Ones, then great eager mists flock to heaven laden with lore, and oceanward eyes on the rocks see only a mystic whiteness, as if the cliff's rim were the rim of all earth, and the solemn bells of buoys tolled free in the aether of faery."
H. P. Lovecraft (The Strange High House In The Mist)
"The fact detached is ugly. Replace it with a series of cause and effect, and it is beautiful. Putrefaction is loathsome; but putrefaction seen as a step in the circle of nature, pleases."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1838)

"{T}here is now a historical baseline for assessing the incidence and pattern of Los Angeles tornadoes, but further research on the synoptic conditions of their generation has been stymied by a shortage of funding... The biggest advance has been the conclusive demonstration, based on both radar and radiosonde data, that classic supercell storms do occur in California but have gone unrecognized because of "preconceived notions that such storms simply do not occur there."
Mike Davis (Ecology Of Fear) 1998

We looked recently at an inspiring little 5' short on YouTube of Farmgirl who is doing a small sustainable urban garden, using several ag philosophies, and featuring aquaculture, coops set over beds (alhtough with some wrong lumber), a brooderhouse, and spinning out her own yarns and making clothes. What a great dead-of-summer or winter activity! ...Recommended viewing.

Here are the entire plans for the bike-powered pontoon boat, just 'cuz I would totally use one out here; along with the canoe and our other craft.

One of the beaver's dams, as shot by Molly. Perhaps we'll have a gallery of the beaver's many installations over the past years in a future blog entry.

Following is a gallery of some of our common local BIRDY buddies.
The Harrier
Great Egret
Redwing Blackbird
Lizzie-buddies (well they're related to birds)
Western Meadowlark (this pic doesn't do it justice)

Upstairs work on the 1890s house
"Outside, it is wet and penetratingly cold. My sugar maple perhaps intended to turn scarlet, then decided on yellow, the strangest yellow, as if it were strawberry gilded over ... I have an almost theological belief in gardens and I think that trees should be cared for as if they stood in flower pots."
Glenway Wescott (1945)
Naturally we try to generate as little trash (minimizing dump runs ) as possible, with re-use the order of the day, just like for Grandfather and Grandmother. And hopefully fabricating and welding and whacking together as much stuff yourself as you can. Even if we did have an immense budget to bring up the level of sustainability in the operation, one wouldn't want to merely purchase all of the goods and tools and necessities (unless they're used ones) anyway--that'd make us too-perfect consumers.

"Thrashing machine - Merill's - at house. Father dropped his pitchfork and the machine thrashed the handle till it got itself out of kilter. Sixteen bushels oats, seven bushels rye."
diary entry / Benjamin Browne Foster, 1847
There are lots of projects to push along every week, such as:
mushroom production, owl and bat boxes, windmills/panels and their electrical setups, bee boxes, aquaculture on the spread and local fishing opportunities, and so on.
What we may lack now in high-prettiness value, we try to make up for in sustainable immediate goals, to generate food for ourselves and and surplus goodies to barter with. Along with ferociously landscaping and house-customising and building.
"We had no difficulty in finding the Gardener. Though he was hidden from us by some trees, that harsh voice of his served to direct us; and, as we drew nearer, the words of his song became more and more plainly audible:---
"He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
A Penny-Postage-Stamp.
'You'd best be getting home,' he said:
'The nights are very damp!' "

Lewis Carroll (Sylvie and Bruno) 1889

Thursday, April 19, 2007


At an organic, sustainable farm experiment somewhere in California, we'll be exploring TOPICS in this ongoing column like:
preparedness (for things like post-peak-oil lifestyles)
bottomland and high water tables
sustainability, wildlife, livestock
solar and wind power and the attendant DC voltage system issues
painting, sketching, music and noise, landscaping, gardening, composting
old wood, old tools, old-school, and old-timey everything
comparisons to other farming eras and locations, such as my boyhood in farm country in Missouri. And of course those delightful "end times" things we all share nowadays.

(By the way, I alone am not Green Darner Farm, merely the moderator of this page)

" Vine shoots, heavy with inimitable stones, clambered everywhere; incombustible braziers glowed red all about, nourished by the mineral embers of every shade of green - brilliant green emerald, leek-green chrysolite, glaucous aquamarine, yellowy zircon, cerulean beryl; everywhere, from high to lows, from the tops of the vine-props to the lowest point of their stems, the vines dripped buches of rubies and amethysts, clusters of garnet and alamandine, chasselas of chrysoprasus, muscat-colored olivines and grey quartz, hurling out fabulous streaks of red lightning, purple lightning, yellow lightning, as they stretched upwards in a tower of fiery fruits the very sight of which was sufficient alone to suggest the palpable impossibility of harvesting such a crop, one only too ready to spit out a dazzling must of flames under the weight of the vine-press."
Joris-Karl Huysmans, En Rade
"I am ... a mushroom
On whom the dew of heaven drops now and then."
John Ford (1586-1639?)
A couple of G's scores from a recent farm auction (below)
View looking west

"When I am in the country I wish to vegetate like the country."
William Hazlitt, On Going A Journey
The metasequoia tree (below)
A living room under construction
A greenhouse being put up
Great White Egrets (always feeding nearby, as are the pheasants, but they're more sly and hard to photograph-pics of them next time)
"The gardener bringeth loads, and his arm and neck ache beneath them. At morn he watereth the leek, and at even the vines - - - -. It also goeth more ill with him than any calling.
The field-worker, his reckoning endureth forever; he hath a louder voice than the abu-bird - - - -. He, too, is wearier than can be told, and he fareth as well as one fareth among lions; he is oft-times sick, - - - - and when he cometh into his house at eventide, the going hath cut him to pieces."
Egyptian school textbook, 1300 B.C. (Nineteenth Dynasty)

" "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."
"Blasphemy" the general screamed starting to his feet. "Man is made to submit and obey."
Acting out a final confrontation with this Satan he paces the room fingering the jeweled handle of his sword. He cannot return to his maps. Still muttering imprecations he steps into the garden. Under the orange trees an old man is cutting weeds stopping from time to time to hone his knife on a stone, hands like brown silk unhurried and steady. He has worked there as a gardener for ten years and the General has stopped seeing him years ago. He is as much a part of the garden as the orange trees and the irrigation ditch flashing like a sword in sun. The House of the General is built on a high hill. Orange groves, date palms, rosebushes, pools and opium poppies stretch down to massive walls. The Caspian Sea gleams in the distance. But the General can find no peace in his garden today. The Old Man peers at this through the orange leaves with laughing blue eyes and stabs up at him from the irrigation ditch. Forgetting the presence of his servant the General raises his clenched fist to a distant mountain and screams: "Satan, I will destroy you forever." "
William Burroughs, The Wild Boys

"Drowsy animals, snug in their holes while wind and rain were battering at their doors, recalled still keen mornings, an hour before sunrise, when the white mist, as yet undispersed, clung closely along the surface of the water; then the shock of the early plunge, the scamper along the bank, and the radiant transformation of earth, air, and water, when suddenly the sun was with them again, and grey was gold and colour was born and sprang out of the earth once more. They recalled the langourous siesta of hot mid-day, deep in green undergrowth, the sun striking through in tiny golden shafts and spots; the boating and bathing in the afternoon, the rambles along dusty lanes and through yellow cornfields; and the long, cool evening at last, when so many threads were gathered up, so many friendships rounded, and so many adventures planned for the morrow."
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind In The Willows (1933)
Photo below: By "G", from a farm auction recently attended
" For the children of poor folk the country road in summer is like a playroom. Where else can they go, seeing that the gardens are selfishly closed to them? Woe to the automobiles blustering by, as they ride coldly and maliciously into the children's games, into the child's heaven, so that small innocent human beings are in danger of being crushed to a pulp. The terrible thought that a child actually can be run over by such a clumsy triumphal car, I dare not think of it, otherwise my wrath will seduce me to coarse expressions, with which it is well known nothing much ever gets done.
To people sitting in a blustering dust-churning automobile I always present my austere and angry face, and they do not deserve a better one. They believe that I am a spy, a plainclothes policeman, delegated by high officials and authorities to spy on the traffic, to note down the numbers of vehicles, and later to report them. I always then look darkly at the wheels, at the car as a whole, but never at its occupants, whom I despise, and this in no way personally, but purely on principle; for I do not understand, and I never shall understand, how it can be a pleasure to hurtle past all the images and objects which our beautiful earth displays, as if one had gone mad and had to accelerate for fear of misery and despair. In fact, I love repose and all that reposes. I love thrift and moderation and am in my inmost self, in God's name, unfriendly toward any agitation and haste. More than what is true I need not say. And because of these words the driving of automobiles will certainly not be discontinued, nor its evil air-polluting smell, which nobody for sure particularly loves or esteems. It would be unnatural if someone's nostrils were to love and inhale with relish that which for all correct nostrils, at times, depending perhaps on the mood one is in, outrages and evokes revulsion. Enough, and no harm meant. And now walk on. Oh, it is heavenly and good and in simplicity most ancient to walk on foot, provided of course one's shoes or boots are in order."
Robert Walser, The Walk (1917)

Kitchen in progress.
One of our many local Swifts (below)

Two views of the sunset spot.

A green darner, underside
Much of the compound
Even though it's spring, all of us locals have had to irrigate a month early this year.
The meta-sequoia spot, on the slough.

A happy plum tree (below)

Sunset in the kitchen

" In the open spaces, mostly along the line of the old road, there were little hillside farms; sometimes with all the buildings standing, sometimes with only one or two, and sometimes with only a lone chimney or fast-filling cellar. Weeds and briers reigned, and furtive wild things rustled in the undergrowth. Upon everything was a haze of restlessness and oppression; a touch of the unreal and the grotesque, as if some vital element of perspective or chiaroscuro were awry."
H. P. Lovecraft, The Colour Out Of Space