Given my openly admission to a vegan lifestyle and my tempered discussion of it under the circumstances, everyone that I have encountered at Full Life has been remarkably understanding towards my position. This doesn’t change my attitude of animals being raised, suffering needlessly just to be killed later. All of this seems extremely Dadaist and absurdist. Please understand that this is not how I began life as a vegan, this time or the first time I began as a vegan. Though I became a vegan for the same reasons, living on a farm, seeing and encountering living and breathing animals daily and contemplating their ultimate end has codified my position even more. I am still grateful for the understanding I have received and will always be grateful, but my next move will definitely be to a vegetarian or vegan intentional community or one that is vegan or vegetarian friendly.
Late Friday afternoon, Pal asked me what my learning intention was as his latest intern. I took for granted that Paul is doing this actively as a sustainable farmer for he and his family. I was surprised and impressed to hear that he is doing what he is doing to primarily educate. My feeling and my philosophy is that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student, though most do not have a piece of paper that authorizes them to be one or the other or both. How I feel about the social construction of certified education systems is another discussion entirely, but given my interest in permaculture, teaching, and anarchism, my views would not be hard to deduce. I found his question an intriguing one, given that I had considered it so often over the last several weeks and months but never voiced it to many at the University of West Georgia and certainly to no one on the farm. It has always been my intention to learn as much as I can to maintain myself and my future family but it has also been to teach others in some way to maintain themselves as well, combining my interests in permaculture (small-scale agriculture that sustains a small community or family group that is environmentally sustainable), herbalism, anarchistic community building, and propaganda, all within the scale of an intentional community, rather than a single family farm. The latter would obviously include participatory action research with community groups in various national and international locales to actively change and eliminate destructive sexist propaganda used in their community to sell mass-marketed products. Anything is possible and while this is ambitious, this is what I want to accomplish. I want to actively be the change that I want to see on this planet.
Monday morning began with moving lumber from a makeshift temporary temporary shelter (more or less a temporary but solid covering placed over lumber laid outside of a regular temporary shelter) to the tool shed (above the pantry that is here called “the tool shed”. Additionally, lumber exposed to weather and rain was moved to under this makeshift temporary temporary shelter. For the first time I utilized an angle grinder to lightly grind off the sides of slightly weathered lumber exposed to the rainy weather to prevent further mold or temporary decay since this is viable lumber that can be used to build the house later when the spring weather warms enough to begin. Later that morning, I mixed seed planting compost from composted manure, gifted peat moss, and remnants of composted rotting wood. This was mixed as two parts (two five-gallon buckets) of manure and decomposing composting wood and a few shovelfuls of the peat moss. Apparently, to maximize the nutrients in these composting elements they have to be rationed properly. I mention this because most of us are used to purchasing composting soil from the nursery. Once properly mixed, the compost was added to seedling pots, and year old Black Seeded Simpson lettuce seeds were sprinkled into pots six at a time (to insure against any “dead” seeds. These were placed into the greenhouse for germination.
Wednesday and Friday, besides the standard egg cleaning for the farmers market and the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture—a community distribution network that distributes local agricultural goods to the local regional community for a modest exchange rate) there was cutting of seed potatoes to be done for planting later on Friday when it warmed up and the rain stopped. Any potato larger than a tennis ball was to be cut at least in half for planting, but potatoes had to have at least one live potato eye. Potatoes used included Red Pontiacs (most did not need to be cut), White Kennebecs (developed by the USDA in Maine several decades ago — some had to be cut), and Yukon Golds (very large but delicious potatoes – all but one had to be cut). The cut potatoes had to have at least 24 hours to dry out before planting. The last part of Wednesday morning was spent transplanting Brassica Family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica) seedlings ready for larger pots (because some didn’t grow) and for the garden bed. Fertilizer was added to plantlings in sectional seed pots to stimulate growth.
On Friday, the Brassica transplanting was completed. These and other plants were moved into sun in the hoop house to take advantage of the warm weather. Plantlings in sectional seed pots were watered depending upon size. The sunny day obviously warranted water, and smaller sectional seed pots required more water, given that such pots dry out faster than larger pots. When the afternoon arrived, it was warm enough to visit the Haven to prepare plant beds by removing protective hay (rotting hay is good for potato growing, apparently). Plant beds were furrowed and all but a few of the previously prepared potatoes were planted about three feet apart and properly spaced apart from row to tow to allow for proper growth. Seasoned cow manure was lightly placed over the planted potatoes. The hay was left to the side in the walkways to give the newly planted potatoes a little air to breathe prior to being covered in hay. The hay will be placed over the potatoes in a few days to stimulate further growth.
After nine weeks of this, I am awed that I have become more accustomed to helping this farm to function on some level and I am amazed that the little that I am learning each day is adding up to something substantial. I am even furthering my knowledge, a little at a time, about the herbs that grow round Carrollton as “weeds” on the farm.