Saturday, February 26, 2011

Getting together

People lean on each other more in hard times, or at least they should.  Getting together more instead of 'going it alone' all the time would be a good thing for all of us.

When I was out for a run this morning, the local garbage company “special pick-up” truck passed me on the road.  Like many people not living in a major city, we pay for our garbage to be picked up; if it's not "regular" garbage, than you have to call in the special truck.  It costs a minimum of $100 just to get the truck to come to your house.

As the truck drove by, I looked longingly at the garbage bags of sheet-rock piled up in our back yard from the kitchen wall we had torn down a few weeks earlier.  We figured we would just wait until we bought a trailer for the farm in the spring to tow the bags down to the dump, which is free.  But the bags are an eyesore.

I couldn’t help thinking that it would have been nice if neighbors reached out to each other, leaned on each other a bit more.  If whoever had ordered that truck had picked up the phone or shot out a neighborhood email asking if anybody else had anything to dump, it would have been cheaper for us all and made the neighborhood more beautiful (and tight knit) to boot.

With all the connectedness created by the internet and facebook, it still seems like people are as disconnected from the people who live down the street from them as ever.  In the old days when we built this country, neighbors came together to put down roads, raise barns, and take in the harvest when help was needed.  Today, most of us have enough money to afford not to need each other: we drive to work alone, pay for our own wireless and TV hook-ups, and buy our own snow-blowers (why not a neighborhood tool library?).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Perpetual possibilities

After three weeks in the box
Who knew that the vegetables and fruits we eat contain future gardens in them?

Don't answer that.  As I get older, I realize that there are numerous, embarrassingly large gaping holes in my basic understanding of the world.

Last week we walked into a grocery store known for carrying local produce and asked if we could buy a box of potatoes.  They led me to a back room where I bought a 50 lb. box of potatoes for $35.

So our potatoes are sitting in a closet in our bedroom growing eyes.  When the potato grows three or four eyes, we'll cut them into pieces and each piece we put in the ground in the spring will produce a plant with ten or twelve potatoes.  From one potato we'll get thirty!

Waiting for the thaw...

We have a plan.  We have our seeds.  We're repairing tool handles, sharpening shovels, and straightening old rusty rakes.  We're building a hot-frame to give our slow poke vegetables a head start.  We're striking deals with local farmers for free horse manure.  We're getting to know our neighbors.  We're trying to get grocery stores to give us their old produce for composting.  We're bartering labor with friends, building up favor credits, exchanging winter head work for summer hands work.  Life has changed.

Now all we need is the snow to melt.