Monday, June 27, 2011

Homegrown Beer: the Barley Harvest

A good sharp sickle -- we got a sharper sickle in time for
the wheat harvest -- seems like the best harvesting tool.
Our threshing system gets the job done,
but we'd love to find a better way.
Paul and Hattie playing on the tractor as it starts to get dark.
Bringing in the barley harvest.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


  One of the several reasons we maintain a highly diversified farm -- we grow well over 100 varieties of garden crops; manage permanent pastures to feed cattle and goats for dairy and meat; grow grains for food and as a supplement to forage for our chickens; grow fruit trees, brambles, bushes, and vines; keep honeybees; raise mushrooms on logs; etc. -- is so that our customers can have a realistic option of knowing what went into growing their food.  The modern food economy has gotten so complex that it's impossible for normal consumers to know what goes into growing their food (which we see as a fundamental step to exercising good stewardship of the earth.)  Diversifying our farm is a way we offer to simplify your food economy.  The alternative would be for us to sell a much smaller variety of farm goods to a much wider pool of customers and, correspondingly, for our customers to buy just a small number of things from each of a much greater number of farmers, but that would mean that consumers would have that much less reason to get to know any one farm -- and it's hard enough for farms and consumers to make meaningful, informative connections as it is.  So we want to make it worth your while to get to know us, to learn what we do and why we do it.  In order to farm in a truly different way, we believe that truly different relationships with the consumers of our farm goods are absolutely essential.  Along these same lines, here's a little excerpt from a Wendell Berry interview:
Berry: Shorten the supply lines. Bring your economic geography back into your own view. That's not to say that we don't need tuna fish here [in Kentucky], but even if we were catching ocean fish in the least destructive way, it would still be wrong for us to be too dependent on tuna in Kentucky. We ought to eat more catfish.
We ought to see to it that our rivers are unpolluted here, and eat the local fish from them. And we ought to fish in a way that preserves the supply and, therefore, preserves the livelihood of fishing. What I'm trying to talk against is the idea that a so-called environmental problem can ever be satisfactorily reduced to a simple moral choice. It's always complex in its causes, and so its solutions will also have to be complex.
Fisher-Smith (Interviewer): It seems to me that you've turned these words "complex" and "simple" upside down, in terms of their usual positive or negative values. You've said you wish to complicate, not to simplify, every aspect of daily life.
Berry: Absolutely! Simplicity means that you have brought things to a kind of unity in yourself; you have made certain connections. That is, you have to make a just response to the real complexity of life in this world. People have tried to simplify themselves by severing the connections. That doesn't work. Severing connections makes complication. These bogus attempts at simplification ignore or despise the real complexity of the world. And ignoring complexity makes complication--in other words, a mess.
Interviewer: But that complication is considered to be outside the accounting?
Berry: It's left out of the accounting. That's right. People think either that they'll die before the bill comes due or that somebody else will pay for it. But the world is complex, and if we are to make fit responses to the world, then our thinking--not our equipment, but our thoughts--will have to become complex also. Our thoughts can never become as complex as the world is--but, you see, an uncanny thing is possible. It's possible to use the world well without understanding it in all of its complexity. People have done it. They've done it not by complicated technology, but by competent local adaptation, complex thought, sympathy, affection, local loyalties and fidelities, and so on.