5 Times MORE Promised, than is There – Water

OK, so drilling a well for water has put water on high alert for me. I see “alerts” everywhere. Of course, it’s in the news because 98% of California is in a “exceptional drought condition” alert.

Endless Supply...NOT

Endless Supply…                      NOT                                               Other states have experienced, and are still struggling, with water issues

But this takes the cake. Really.

It takes some doing…. promising 5 times more water to people, than is even there, in a normal rain year. That’s what the latest California water assessment just published, showed:

“For 100 years, California’s State Water Resources Control Board and its predecessors have been responsible for allocating available water supplies…

Here, we present the first comprehensive evaluation of appropriative water rights to identify where, and to what extent, water has been dedicated to human uses relative to natural supplies.

The results show that water right allocations total… 

–  approximately five times the state’s mean annual runoff.

–  In the state’s major river basins, water rights account for up to 1000% of natural surface water supplies…”

Researchers from UC DAVIS & MERCED, released the results of their in-depth study, and it is truly mind-boggling what the actual details reveal.  These researchers present us with the reality of what the results of past management has been. Read Abstract~whole article

We already know that the allocations were made on unrealistic expectations due to heavier-than-normal rainfall, for the last century (according to tree ring & other research going back hundred/thousands of years).

But still, FIVE TIMES the usual rainfall, in this century? Talk about creating a no-win situation.

TEN TIMES the surface water (rivers, lakes, streams)???

If we don’t get serious now… hey, literally, that bottle of water WILL be the new gold.  You can’t eat or drink gold so it’s value will trade places with how we value water these days.

CADILLAC DESERT: American West & It’s Disappearing Water 1986

Cadillac DesertReminiscent of the classic work, Marc Reisner‘s book, Cadillac Desert (1986), which delved into the history of water use in the American West.

The UC Study illustrates the hard outcomes of past decisions, that we are facing in our current era.

If you haven’t read it, and use water in any form (clean, dirty, ice, irrigation, food, drink), in my opinion you should be required to read it for a better understanding of something, we in the ‘developed world’ take for granted, and should not.

I say that, not because, I want to be judgmental but because you truly do need to know what your future reality is going to be based on. It’s useful to know how we got there. The ‘human factors’ that we need to confront because as human beings we need to recognize our “flaws” and find a work around, or they will become our fatal flaws.

The book is a fascinating read. The promo reads, “It explores the triumph and disaster, heroism and intrigue, and the rivalries and bedfellows that dominate this significant chapter of American history. At the very least, this book should be required reading for every high school student in the Western United States.” and its true.

It is a key to understanding how these states obtained the water that transformed them from deserts to oases and encouraged multitudes to move westward. Even though it was written many years ago, it is a timely reminder that western water resources are not limitless. By reviewing what was done in the past perhaps we can learn how to better utilize this precious resource in the future, especially now as the Western States are experiencing extreme drought. With the forecast reading, “more of the same” don’t you think that would be the smart way to handle it?  

We need to seriously reorder how we use the water we do have. Here are two interesting charts:

(click on any picture to get a larger version, that is more readable)

cropVsWaterValue bottled water vs tap water

If it takes more than double the amount of water to produce grapes, than most of our other fruits, is this a wise use of 98% of our farmland in Sonoma County?

 I think it is time to start making some rational decisions of how we use our resources. Perhaps we need to give tax breaks to those who produce useful lower water consumption crops?

Or look at this chart: To be honest, I had no idea of these numbers, and I hate to look closer. What adaptations do we need to start thinking about?

waterProductsWeBuy

Western WATERSHEDS ~

this is one of the most stunningly beautiful maps I have seen, and the information shared in it is priceless.  I couldn’t believe this was done in the 1880’s. It shows where the water that falls, drains to, naturally.

powell's watershed districts

Perhaps it is time to implement the suggestions made along with this map, after the first assessments were made of the western watersheds (a recommendation sidelined in pursuit of other interests).

California’s use 170 gal/day/per person on average. But that number dramatically varies depending of industry (farming takes more); wealth (large lawns, landscaping, no money worries), and climate (cooler coastal regions don’t use as much water.WATERUSE gallons 020914

Each watershed area should manage water allotments for the water they actually receive (i.e. not amounts but a percentage basis). Instead of 1 million gallons you get 1% of whatever falls, the previous year. Period.  You can choose to store it to even out the years but you can’t be guaranteed more than what is there. Water flows in specific directions; reduce the energy outflow to move it to other areas.

You can’t steal from others (those around you, or the future)! Crying that your ‘need’ is greater than other’s (or will impact more jobs, or the food supply, etc) is just an excuse to try and get someone else to bear the burden.  Have we become a nation of “whiners” always wanting someone else to bail us out? 

San-Diego-County-Water-Supply

It’s an insane system that is doomed to failure, that is built up on unsustainable promises.  We can begin to adjust now, or crash & burn.  It is time to back off our current system and begin to deal with the realities. Our current system has encouraged the development of land, businesses, and population growth that can not be sustained.  San Diego had enough water for 800,000 people; it now has a population of over 3 million. How do we deal with that reality? 

POPULATION OVERSHOOT

It is the “doomed discussion” ~

Population Growth

Population Growth – where are the limits?

not to be talked about!

but it underlies EVERY single problem we face. Population overshoot.  

We love our freedom to have as many children as we wish. We love that freedom so much, that we apparently are willing to condemn our children themselves, to a world of starvation.  

We no longer have ‘new ecological niches’ to move to, in order to handle our expansion (or to kick other people out of).

Carry WaterWant a closer look at that world we are creating? try africa, or rural india, rural china… populations in the billions (or soon to be at the rate we are going).  

Never mind the problem of not enough jobs, their won’t be enough food/water, so that problem will be solved.

Painfully.

My heart weeps.

A PLACE TO START ~ California water fight

It is critically important to educate ourselves as water issues will be a major battle this upcoming year. With a $7.5 Billion Dollar plan on the ballot, we will be hit from all sides, to choose a specific path, from those with vested interests (not necessarily the Main Street Man’s interests). Corporations, who’s only goal is to make money anyway they can, don’t care about the future much, and certainly not about the quality of that future.

A democratic society, i.e. one that makes decisions by vote, need to be educated about what they are doing. Not just swayed by pretty pictures, sad stories, or persuasive rhetoric…. which is in essence, letting someone else do the thinking for us.  

Thus we need to decide: aim toward making an educated realistic decision, or will we let someone else present us with a nice illusion, and in the future, we suffer the real consequences. It’s come down to the wire.

Where to start?  How to educate yourself fairly easily? In this day & age, it is ridiculously easy. In the Information Age it’s more about sifting through it to find unbiased, realistic information rather than pipe dreams.  

I caution you to be aware of “self-delusion bias” or “confirmation bias”:

that tendency we all have to only believe in data or information that supports what we want to believe, and to discard (devalue, explain away) those things we don’t want to believe.

  • Don’t take my word for it; start looking at reports (just look at who writes them and consider what their vested interest is)
  • Take a look at Cadillac Desert; it has stood the test of time, and research is proving out it’s predictions (check the library, or get a used copy)
  • Watch the series on Southwest Water history; Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature is a 1997 American four-part documentary series about water, money, politics, and the transformation of nature, distributed via PBS (unable to locate – see the youtube video clips)CadillacDesertFilm
  • YOUTUBE Cadillac Desert  Click here: Cadillac Desert
    Water and the Transformation of Nature (1997): Part 1:  Dream, Part 2:  An American Nile, Part 3: The Mercy of Nature, Part 4: Last Oasis
  • Take a look at the research report just released: accèss to full article Read the full abstract and look through the whole paper.  

SEND ME links you think are good to share,

via the comments section, so others can benefit!

Holiday Disaster has struck!

‘Tis the Season…      I went to pull out my supplies for making my traditional Christmas gifts.

Time to get ready

Time to get ready

To defuse the Christmas giving extravaganza, several years ago I decided to reframe my approach as things were just getting totally out of hand.  I wanted to reframe my approach to Christmas… back to something that a glimmer of meaning.

1) It needed to be personal (anyone can spend big bucks to buy something and yes, I’d love to do that, but just don’t have enough big bucks in my back pocket these days)! Who needs the stress… who made that rule, anyway. (Oh wait, I remember, the advertising media!)

2) It needed to be useful (something that could actually be used, not just looked at).  People have so many “collectables” that they are falling off the shelves and/or gathering a boat load of dust that cries out “I’m a failure” at keeping my house clean.  No need to add to that scenario. I want MY friends to actually LIKE me, not tolerate me. I’m envying my friends who have mastered the “enough is enough” and de-cluttered their homes!

3) I wanted it to be something that I created.  I have this terrible habit of collecting stuff to make things in the future. Unfortunately it tends to be, the distant future.  I just keep acquiring; but the “doing” is a little behind schedule. Uh, about a hundred years at this point!

Fabric is my downfall (well, … right after books) … the colors, patterns, textures, they all call to me with such appeal.  Then add in threads and fibers and embellishments; my creative brain just goes nuts.   So I MUST have some way to justify buying all this stuff, other than just wanting to be able to touch/look at it, other than to know that it is there if I want/need it. (Some people have comfort food; I think I have comfort books and fabrics!)

Once I master  thinking something into existence i.e. ‘creative brain=finished project’, I’ll be ahead of the game, but until then….

LOVE QUILTING?

25 different fabrics

25 different fabrics

Someone, after looking at one of my homemade quilts said, you must love quilting! ”

Actually, NO. I don’t particularly like it, but I DO like the results.  The part I like best is the creation of the design; assembling the fabrics, the colors, the patterns.  The actually “work” is just that, a chore to get done.

Sad to say, I have this awesome box full of completed “tops” that have not actually made into the quilt stage. You know, where you actually assemble the sandwich: the top, the middle, the backing, and then bind it all together.  One of these days I’m hoping to find someone who likes that part (I’ve heard that they are really out there…. somewhere). The only problem would be, WHO would get the finished project???? I don’t know if I could give up my “child”.  Perhaps someone would accept dollars for their labor?

Putting it together

Putting it together

THE PROJECT

BUT, back to my main subject today… the selection of a Christmas project that meets my requirements.

A few years back I decided on pot holders. Who can’t use a potholder. Even those who don’t really cook these days, occasionally need to reheat something, so could use a potholder! And maybe a cup towel if I’m really ambitious (usually planning to do that, but, darn, I always seem to run out of time)!

The other good point about a potholder… I can play with different techniques on a small-scale.  Last year I taught myself how to do

Lattice smocking - not as hard as it looks!

Lattice smocking – not as hard as it looks!

lattice smoking… and turned that into a dozen potholders! Success…. something useful, supplies actually used, and got to ‘design/create’ the item and managed to learn a new technique.  I WIN!

Of course, the last time I went down to visit my daughter she was racing around trying to find the potholder(s) to hang up, that I had given her last Xmas. She found one but couldn’t remember if I had given her two. The trauma… she put them away so they would not get messed up and now she had lost track of them.  Dang it! They are supposed to get used… not stored!

It has been said, the more valuable something is, the less it get’s used.  It’s either that, or it doesn’t quite match with their style! I prefer the first statement, overall.   These days you can buy a potholder from 99 cents to roughly $5, on average.  To make one… well-l-l-l, if you counted labor?  Probably $10 on up.  Like I said, “it’s a labor of love”!  (Love = caring, creative, personal, time, energy.)

Each year I have been able to refine my technique… more heat-resistant, an easier way to hang up (put a magnet in the corner), holds up to washing, and an interesting/different designs  from what you can find in the store.

Fits over the pot handle

Fits over the pot handle

POT HANDLES

This last year I experimented and made myself some pot “handle” holders. They slip over the handle.

Good thing I tried them out on my own cast iron skillets. “what’s that smell?… smoke?”

I discovered that the constant exposure, when they were butted up next to the hot pan, caused them to begin to smolder, and burn!!!!

Oh yeah, a great gift it would make… slow but insidious way to burn your kitchen down! NOT. Well, time to refine that one.

GETTING DOWN TO WORK

A colorful fabric stash!

A colorful fabric stash!

I got my new living space organized; set up a sewing area and pulled out my sewing machine. Dove into my fabric stash, drooling & caressing the fabrics, the colors… Super, I’m set… OMG.

Oh darn, where are those dang cords??? you know, the power cords. The thing you stick into the sewing machine to make it work it’s magic.

Wonderful!!!! have sewing machine on hand, but NO power.

Let me see, three, no, four storage units, where all our “stuff” is stored… and now I need to go hunting for a particular cord, for a 30-year-old sewing machine. Talk about a scavenger hunt… do you know just how much stuff that is to wade through, under, and around???? Bummer…

I have discovered that despite best intentions (and actually getting started during the summer), after our move, that most of this year’s potholder project  is “missing in action”. So much for being organized ahead of time and prepared! yikes…

Hmmm, I think this year, everyone is going to get “stuck” with some homemade blackberry jam. Everybody eats, right!

  Bon Appetite!

yum! blackberry jamhomemade!

Yum! Blackberry jam
homemade!

Aiming for a “real” christmas?

On your mark….

OMG, I walked into a store and was just overwhelmed with the onslaught of possibilities of

Decorate the House!

things I could purchase to create the most wonderful Christmas. My heart sped up!  Decorate the house, the yard, the office…  Buy that perfect, special gift for (fill-in-the-blank) uhhhh, wait… purchase?

The psychology of advertising is incredibly efficient and effective. We have learned the “triggers” that motivate people to do what we want, in the short-term, and have applied that to the science of sales.

Corporations have put in place powerful hooks to sell their “goods” by triggering our psychological buttons.  We want to please, we are good-hearted and like to share, we love to bring something special into someone’s life, we like to make other’s feel good… and the consumer society that we live in, tells us to do this with “things”.

The “REAL” gifts at Christmas

I would contend that the “real” gifts we give at Christmas are about connecting, sharing, laughing, appreciating, working together, creating community. It is about developing a sense of intimacy where people actually care about who you are and who they are.

It is NOT about the “things” at all. They are simply a method that can be used to express something.  It’s when the item/gift becomes a substitute for the real connection that it is actually a detriment. (Did Johnny get more/better gifts??? don’t they love ME as much? kind of thinking).

Purchase…Christmas, hmmm. Every heard of an oxymoron phrase?  Words spoken together that contradict each other. Oxymoron is one of my most favorite terms.

  • Bitter sweet
  • Deafening silence
  • Military Intelligence
  • Living death
  • Irregular pattern

But Practically… How?

We were able to switch, when I was problem solving the gift issue,  to a variation of gift giving. If there were 6 in our xmas group I would buy 6 useful gifts in a specific price range & wrap them. Before I would have spent hours and many miles trying to find “the” perfect gift for “that” person, a near impossible task incurring a significant amount of stress.

Christmas Present – choose one!

When it came time to open presents, each person was able to select one package (unopened). Interesting to see if people were drawn to size? or to fancy wrapping? I got to have fun being creative with the wrapping!  Once everyone had a wrapped package we would open our gift to see what we had.

Starting with the most senior (or most junior) person, we could trade for another gift and continued this until everyone was happy with what they had. (no trading directly back & forth, of course… had to go through a third-party). It’s a variation of the white elephant gift, but it was a LOT of fun. We laughed and shared; discussed possible uses for a gift for a particular person. We INTERACTED with each other. It was a special time that we shared together. Not as in isolation as I opened “my” gift to see what I had scored!

laughter

A huge part of a “successful” Christmas, is the feeling of connection and interaction generated; laughter, talking, sharing, working together on a project. But western culture has evolved to the acquisition of “things” as our focus. Well, selling more things meant work for

I got WHAT?

more people to make things for people to purchase (until those jobs/plants were sent overseas). How to get out of the ” more trap” and yet still have fun?

Some things I purchased: a quality extension cord, flashlight w/solar charger, a tool kit, a book, calendar, a puzzle, etc. iT NEEDED TO BE USEFUL, NOT PLASTIC JUNK, AND good for male or female.

A gift of something real

You could do this several times ($5 limit, $10 limit, $20 limit). We had MORE fun than the traditional open every gift you have in 5 minutes, and then look to see “what else is there” that quickly resolves to “is that all?” Usually opening presents was a rather depressing experience. Too much expectation built up for getting that “perfect gift” which is, in and of itself, a moving target that we often don’t even know the answer to.

We did get each person one “special” gift they had asked for but that was generally the limit.

The challenge is to defuse the “consumerism” overload of the media. DON’T go into the stores and subject yourself to the assault any more than you must. I think it’s challenging enough just to get through the grocery store these days.

Did you say USEFUL?

I know one couple that chose to buy one major thing each year, and then decided to take $25 each (well, that was many years back, try $50) and see how many USEFUL gifts they could come up with, for that Christmas, for each other.  I always waited, with bated breath, to hear who had won that year’s Christmas year challenge: number of useful gifts within the price target! They choose to make the focus on figuring out what would be of use to their partner which meant they really needed to think about what each was doing, working toward, etc.

Each of us will find our own path… to “deal” with the holiday season.  The challenge is to not let consumerism dictate and undercut the values we hold, or desire to hold.

Was there a Void?

When we are brought up in our current culture we start out by not even questioning the norm.  Except, except for that nagging feeling that something is missing.  We’re suppose to feel a “certain” way… but it isn’t there.  Why? what’s wrong with me?

Uh, NO. It’s NOT what’s wrong with you. It’s what is wrong with the way our process has evolved.

Finding what bring satisfaction

Over years, the traditions have evolved subtly,

to becoming more consumerist and it

produces an “empty” feeling, when that is ALL there is to it. That feeling should challenge us to see out what really fills that void.  As we do, we begin to touch on what has value in the long-term.

This season: Figure out your goal, make a list, and stick to it!, is the mantra!!! Become aware of the “media” pressures to push you in a certain direction.

Try this: sit down with someone this holiday season and ask them about their childhood.

Where they grew up? what they did? who had an impact on them? The doors will open up and you will begin to develop a connection to another human being, in a way that matters. And remember, there is no pressure, there is no one  right way… it is simply “being present” that matters.The challenge is to listen and to focus on that person and the world they are from.

Gathering together

*****************                                  *******************                             ********************

The Ugly American:  After looking at the statistics for this blog site I am blown away at the number of different countries it has gone to.  There is a certain amount of humility in that awareness because I am acutely aware of how incredibly selfish and self-centered americans are. We have so much.  We have so much materially.

It sounds rather tacky to be talking about how many gifts, or how to handle gift giving… when so many in the world will have nothing, or simply having enough food on the table, will be a gift.

In the USA it is a curse for many. The “curse” is that stuff substitutes for connection.

IMO, connection IS what is about. We as children grab for the gaudy wrapped junk, instead of honoring the relationships we develop.

Because I struggle with this dichotomy (Americans have much/many have very, very little) in the past we have chosen a charity to support.  In lieu of gifts, we donate to The Heifer Project: Theheiferproject.org. It fits well with our sustainable farming focus.

sample Catalog page

If you look at their gift catalog, you can choose to help support many different projects (water buffalo, chickens, bees, water, biogas stove, etc).  It’s gift that keeps giving, in many cases.  With livestock and education gifted, some of the offspring are passed along eventually, to others.  It increases awareness, health, nutrition, income, resilience among small communities. I would encourage everyone to find some NGO (non-government operation) to support that fits in with your concerns.

Giving to those you know and care about, is in some senses, not really giving. It’s like giving something to goodwill you no longer want… is that really “giving”?  How about I give away something I REALLY want… a whole different matter.

Contributing to the well-being of those you do not know personally, that adds another aspect to sharing. “Go ye into all the world” in a practical sense… giving something meaningful and of value, to those you do not even know. Isn’t that the real meaning of the “season”?

All the world

Pied Piper of Pigs…

One of the barriers for small farm folks is a place where you can process your livestock humanely, as almost all of those facilities have closed down due to regulation barriers. In order for me to sell, by the piece, products have to be done in a USDA certified facility where a regulator can certify that the animal walked… often 100’s of miles away.

For example, in southern california they have NONE, nada, as in “zero”…. livestock have to be sent out-of-state or to the north, to be processed. In northern california, fairly local, we do have one that will do beef… and none that will do pork. I have to go a 100 miles (each way) to get pork processed. Most of our pork products have to be sold as “pet food”.

A farm in Vermont, Sugar Mountain Farm, has taken the project on, to solve the problem for their area… and are requesting Kickstarter funding.  What is special about this farm, is that they are re-introducing the old pasturing methods and sharing that information on-line. Walter has a blog and moderates a group that helps farmers with a multitude of questions. He gives freely of his time, energy, and experience!

We are supporting their project, and I’m passing the word on.

But maybe there is something in YOUR local area you would like to support.  You can check out the Kickstarter site, and find a way (from as little as a single $, to more) to support building our local resilience (i.e. decrease our reliance on industrial foods/services). It’s another way YOU can make a difference.

Cheers!

 

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sugarmtnfarm/building-a-butcher-shop-on-sugarmountainfarm/widget/video.html

Interesting Tidbit

Discovered that you can tell how many views of the blog posting, and WHERE the views originate!  Thought you might find it insightful to see, as well.  I’m truly surprised at the broad reach postings have traveled. Almost 20 countries, including Morocco, Malta, Fiji…. who would have guessed. Over 1500 views in 10 weeks… just incredible. (list at bottom of post)

While Ruminations is focused on a small family farmstead in the USA,

building trust with the cows

and the happenings on the farm and how they relate to the broader picture, I wonder how other cultures/countries view what I have to say.

I know I have friends from other cultures who mourn the loss of their capacity to be in touch with the land & food production. They are working to return those values to “their world”, as well.

It all has to do with localization, I think. That and rebuilding local community.

Waiting for something to happen on the larger scale (government, business, etc) is just NOT going to happen. If its not about making more money, it’s long-term value seems to HAVE no value to them.

So it is up to us, and our neighbors, and our friends… to support our local resources… encourage, nurture, and give that positive feedback.  We have to take back control of quality, enriching the earth, and thinking long-term… it will matter to our children and grandchildren. We can choose to be victims, or we can choose to make a difference, however small it is.

Anyway, hope you continue to follow this journey with me, as we experience “our return” to an “integrated homestead”! Where land, soil, livestock, gardens, all play a part in an ecological cycle that is complete… Where there is no waste… everything, at some point, becomes an input for something else… just as it does in nature.  Mother Earth has spent 4.5 billions years working out this process, and we are only beginning to touch on the subtle relationships that she has developed.

Patiently we watch & listen… and hopefully, learn!

Country Views
United States FlagUnited States 522
Canada FlagCanada 19
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 14
India FlagIndia 5
Taiwan, Province of China FlagTaiwan 4
Ireland FlagIreland 4
Fiji FlagFiji 4
New Zealand FlagNew Zealand 4
Egypt FlagEgypt 3
Philippines FlagPhilippines 3
Australia FlagAustralia 3
Germany FlagGermany 2
Korea, Republic of FlagRepublic of Korea 2
Morocco FlagMorocco 2
France FlagFrance 2
Bulgaria FlagBulgaria 1
South Africa FlagSouth Africa 1
Malta FlagMalta 1
Turkey FlagTurkey

Ear Piercing Squeals

It occurs to me that Mother Nature has selected for the loudest, most piercing squeal possible, in piglets.  Those with the loudest voice got the most results.

All Momma Sow's piglets lined up to nurse

Mellow, easy-going guys fell by the wayside (or in real world pig terms “got squished or eaten”). If you didn’t speak up for yourself… you might pay a pretty deadly price (literally, of course)!

Those who squealed the loudest and the quickest, got a response, whether it be a 300 lb mom trying to sit on you, or if you got separated from the “herd” and needed finding…because alone, you were food for the predators!

SHARING…

We invite our visitors (or maybe twist their arm to come see our newest babies!), but anyway… take them out to the farrowing pen. Take them to see all the little ones racing around, burrowing into the hay piles, and trying to chew on each other ears or tails to see if they give milk, or crawling on top of other sleeping piglets to join in a group nap-time! At least until mom gives out the special grunt that says, “come and get it, kiddos… lunch is ready!”

Until that happens the piglets enjoy exploring their world. Job, our farm intern, scoops up two little guys and hands one-off to visitors so they can feel how soft the skin is, and generally, just get a chance to cuddle one of the babies. Who ever gets to actually touch a piglet!

Only, once the piglet realizes it is off alone, all by itself, with unknown creatures stealing it away from  his siblings… he lets out an ear-piercing squeal, and doesn’t stop. If you didn’t know better you would think he was being tortured instead of cuddled! And let me tell you, it’s a non-stop squeal that just gets more tortured sounding each moment it continues.

It’s all the same… you can turn it off… at least, on YouTube!!!

Mom perks up immediately to see just what is going on.  Job is standing in the pen, still holding the other piglet (who hasn’t yet figured out he’s all by himself & thus has NOT started squealing… but will shortly, I assure you).

OH NO, Momma begins her investigation and notices that Job is holding one of her babies.  She makes her way up behind him, and very carefully (I tell you, she IS a good mom, but a GREAT family farm pig) puts her mouth around his calf and gently mouths his leg.

HISTORICALLY…

Now this is impressive… because my husband freaks out.  In his teenage years, he was responsible for 400 pigs and learned to jump a 5 ft high fence, from a standing start, in a micro second. His experience was that a momma pig would take a hunk out of you without ANY warning… if they were even a bit concerned about a piglet.

A warning nip was just not in their repertoire! But a trip to the hospital would be in your immediate future, if you ever lost sight of where and what that mom was doing. Our pigs are bred for a better temperament, but it’s always better to take NO chances.

Job reached back quietly and put pressure on the mom’s shoulder, pushing her away, as he put the piglet back on the ground, all the while talking quietly to her.

Our visitor quickly handed the noisy baby back to Job who got him back to mom, as well. Job continued to keep pressure on the mom, and then began to scratch her.

What an intuitive touch… she responded to his returning her babies and then the treat of a good scratch.  Rather than lose his cool, he worked with the mom and reassured her. Elements of an excellent farmer… one who tunes into the needs of the livestock he is tending.

A FARM EXPERIENCE…

Going out on the farm, to milk!

I have to say that one of the greatest pleasures on our farm is being able to offer hands-on learning experiences at various levels.  Whether it be kids coming out and seeing a momma hen, roaming freely, gather her chicks around her and teach them to scratch, or young adults who want to learn how to milk a cow, make butter, or experience what it is like to care for animals on a day in,day out basis, it each has its own value.

In our lives today, we really live very disconnected from real things. We watch life. We watch movies, reality TV, play video games, interact on-line. We are, for the most part, passive participates in life watching other’s live a fantasy.

We don’t get too hot, too dirty, too tired, too anything.  We are always somehow “connected” (or is that “wired”) into the world and yet, not.

We bike, hike, sail, swim, skate, ski, play baseball, tennis,etc., but it’s usually very recreational and for our own pleasure. Somehow in doing something that is actually productive, there is another quality that comes into play. A sense of connectedness with the world that reaches into the soul. How can you explain color to the blind man?

Ever just stopped to listen… to see… to feel…? We’re always so busy on the way to something that we never stop and actually experience life.  Take that moment out to “just be”. To stop being in control of everything around us.

THE QUIET TIME…

One of the things I enjoyed about milking was the forced quiet time.  I could check out of the rest of the world… and just spend the moment with Bessie as she chews her hay, the milk machine clicks away, and the sounds of the barnyard drift into the milking stall. Bessie’s warmth and smell comfort me in a way I can not really express.

Probably because our culture has lost the words that express those experiences…. sadly.

Quiet time in the day, to milk Bessie

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