Friday, May 6, 2011

with wings as eagles

Well, I looked out of my kitchen window last night and saw two ratty-looking dogs--toy group--trying to tear apart one of my chickens. I shouted in anger and grabbed the first tool that came to mind, which was a wooden spoon. I chased them into the street, hoping they would be killed by a car. They stopped for a minute and I almost caught up to them, but of course their flight instinct kicked in when they saw the look in my eyes and the way I was brandishing my spoon. I sincerely believe I would have killed them if I'd caught them, or at least given them the beating of their lives. I am not a good person, I realize. But I do think that an animal that attacks and kills without compunction when that's not part of its duties is an animal that's tired of living.
Well, Byron, surprisingly, the chicken was not killed, just bloodied. She is a little shaken up, but lived through the night. The dogs are impounded for ten days at the owners' expense, and if she dies they will be put down. I value apex predators in our food web, but a domesticated dog is not an apex predator. A dingy, poorly-socialized terrier mix is not an apex predator.
She's jumpy and a little bruised, but I think she'll make it.

We're getting a lot of milk these days, if anybody wanted to know. I have a gallon and a half, plus almost a gallon of whey. Thankfully our little cousin Isaac is going to take some of it off our hands. He loves the goat milk because it's good for his body.
I am so pleased with Hazel. I never thought I'd like a goat as much as Finola, but Hazel may be the one.

On Wednesday afternoon I went with my sister Justine and her husband Cannon (don't steal their identities) and his farm class on a tour of First Frost Farm in Nibley. It was fantastic and rejuvenating and my passion for gardening has been reawakened. They are very crafty (meaning clever, not mod-podgey) and resourceful, and they use row covers to keep the bugs off their brassicas, which I am going to copy. Stupid cabbage moths. It was so encouraging to see that their lawn hadn't been mowed and their house was an older Craftsman like mine, and it wasn't all sterile and perfect. It looked like what it was, a working farm, and that seems to be one of the things that disappears with large-scale agriculture. The big farms look more like factories than places that grow food.

Anyway, we were asking questions, and of course I was coming off like a know-it-all wet blanket ("Do you sometimes feel like the farm is running you and not the other way around and sometimes you'd just like to go to Italy for two weeks?"), and this pale, chubby kid with Buddy Holly glasses and a crunchy fauxhawk asked, "When you tell people you're certified organic do you find that they make a value judgment?" And the way he said it rankled a little, because the tone was just so pious, like he already knew the answer, and it was, in his mind, "Boy, do they ever. We've got these idiot rednecks buzzing their crops all the time, and they just don't get it." But the farmer, Bill something, sort of shrugged it off, and said "It's interesting. People are different, but it's not that bad." This, to me, is a vivid example of a problem with the organic food movement. Twenty, or even ten years ago, yes, they were iconoclasts and rebels, and there was a lot of pushback from the mainstream food buyer. But I don't think that's the case anymore, and this combative, self-righteous attitude is just off-putting. Trust me, I am fluent in sanctimony. Earth nerds can't be going around acting like we're better than everyone. We are, in some ways, but that behavior doesn't win converts to your cause. We have to be welcoming and inviting. So I appreciate farmer Bill for downplaying the conflict, because I don't think the conflict is as heated as people think it is--not at the local level, anyway. Higher up the chain is a different story, but most people around here look for produce at the farmers' market, and in many cases, their first concern is that it's local, and then they ask organic or conventional. And that, to me, is how you get agriculture back, how you wrest it out of the bony, necrotic talons of Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson. You talk to the farmer, you ask him questions and tell him your concerns, and he'll grow the way his customers want him to. But you've got to talk to the farmer yourself, and you've got to stop acting like you're a hero for buying organic. Again: you are, kind of. But shut up about it already. The militance is unbecoming.


Jenny said...

Great job on saving that chicken! I wouldn't have been surprised if you had killed those dogs with your bare hands. We should have tasted the goat milk while we were there. I would actually like to try it- just because!

Amy said...

Bravo! Well said. I liked that last very long paragraph. And, just to say, to me local comes first and organic is the frosting on top of that delicious cake. (although a lot of the stuff at the farmer's market seems to be organic anyways)