August 31, 2006 – Thingamajig Thursday #39

Here’s this week’s “Thingamajig Thursday” entry. Also check out
last week’s answer.

As always, put your guess in a comment below.

This is an end bracket for an old barn sliding door. The doors are attached to a pipe with a slot on the bottom that receives the rollers. The end of the pipe is held on the shed with this thingamajig.

August 29, 2006 – A Garlic Testament

This is a wonderful gem of a book about farming and life, exquisitely written. The title is A Garlic Testament (I think that because it is “a” garlic testament and not “the” garlic testament, author Stanley Crawford, New Mexico garlic farmer allows for another version).

Here’s a great passage that is entitled – The Cranky Farmer Talk.

“Is your stuff organic?”┬á There will be a moment of hesitation, I will look you in the eye to assess what kind of response you want. If a rhetorical one, I’ll say merely: “we have never used any chemical herbicides or pesticides and never will.”

Often this suffices. But sometimes I see genuine curiosity. Then I go on to explain that the only organic pesticides I have used are rotenone for bean beetles and sabadilla dust on summer squash, and only occasionally. Yet even these, because they are still poisons, however, organic, I’m still reluctant for a narrowly personal reason, that of my own health.

So what about you? I would conclude. What about your life? Is it organically lived? Here I might pause to summon up the courage to bring up the forbidden subject. And if I might ask, what about the money you would offer to pay me with? Is it organically earned? In short, how have you managed to solve these problems in your life? Have you actually figured out how to live a clean life in a dirty age?

Then I will listen. I may hear rationalizations of a fanatic, fretting over notions of exalted states of bodily purity. And for good reason. Perhaps in the poisonous desert of a city there is little else you can do besides seek out what you hope is “pure” food. Yet I hope I will also hear the deliberations of someone who understands the endless dilemmas of living in these times, someone who understands the term organic as pointing towards an ideal of how a community might better elaborate itself around the use of land and water. How it might regard the rural landscapes that surround it, the cycles of nature and the interactions of the vegetative, the animal, the human and cultural. How it might seek to draw back into its life what the fashion of the moment has exiled to “the country.”

The question is posed. I will ask it or not, you will answer it or not. But whether spoken or not, all this and more comes to bear on that instant of suspicion or of trust in which I hand over at last a small sack of garlic in exchange for a few pieces of paper.

These will be new and crisp or wrinkled and smudged. Either way, as always, they will be engraved with magical images and words, and will reveal nothing about the uses to which they’ve been put.

But enough. Thank you. It’s been good talking to you. Enjoy your garlic.

Now go read it.

Last week I lamented about the world swallowing up Martin. Well, today, my fears of letting the world engulf him were justified. The little guy came home with a battered nose, mouth, and chin from falling off playground equipment. He looked bad, but I don’t think he is any worse for wear. He said the nurse was nice.

August 28, 2006 – Stuck Goat

This evening the goats were bleating like they do when one gets separated or they need help. It’s a different kind of sound than the “feed me” or “milk me” sounds.

Nellie caught her head in the fence.

Trying to get her head out every which way – neck first, nose first, and on…

Finally, it’s time for the fence bending blocks and levers to try to bend the wire just enough to release the goat. If this doesn’t work, the ultimate solution is the sawz-all!

Free at last!

Last night it started raining (about 2.25 inches worth of driving rain) about 3:30 am and strong east wind and unseasonably cold August temperatures in the mid-50’s. I started to worry about the chickens outside, but tossed fitfully until first hint of light, hoping not to see a pile of dead birds. Just one died – a turkey – but I jerry-rigged additional shelter with tarps to get them through the rest of the day.

August 27, 2006 – Why are We Doing This?

Today Linda presented the service a church entitled: Greetings from the non-barcode people: eating and living well in place (first part stolen from a chapter title from Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma). It is kind of ironic as just the night before we considered liquidating all the animals, ceremoniously burning the gardens, and going to Wal-Mart to buy a freezer full of instant dinners at 5 for $10.

Then we’d have time to read more books, drink more coffee in coffee shops, travel more and yada-yada. We’re at the end of the season burn-out. It was on top of a bad week at High Hopes. One of the sheep died, we figured we had lost at least 17 of our broilers to an unknown stalker, the cows broke through the cattle panels in the back pasture and munched down all the hardwood trees I planted last year, we had to temporarily move the 2 day old turkeys into the house, and attended a wonderful, but sad memorial service. This is on top of a transition week to all kids starting a new school and Linda starting another academic year.

On Friday she had a meeting with our congressional representative and Senator Grassley’s aides concerning an appropriation for the sustainable and entrepreneurial program at MCC. Keep your fingers crossed.

I also was able to do more scavenging. The local Freecycle site announced a farm was open to take any and everything from the outbuildings (for free). It was only about 30 miles away, so I thought it was worth a try to see if it was good or junk. I didn’t find out about it until day two of the “open barn,” but still got some good stuff, including a 1/2″ drill, lots of oyster shells, transluscent panels, an aluminum and wood 8 ft ladder, a vintage 50’s Scwhinn Hiawatha bike with the nice baskets on the back, cream separater bowl, and so on.