Friday, October 15, 2010

Standing Up for What is Right

I don't like to get into political discussions. Mainly because I'm ignorant. I'm shamefully unaware, most of the time, of what is going on in the world. Trying to figure out what is really going on in government just makes me feel depressed and stupid. I have made a bit of an effort in the past few years to be more politically aware, but I'm not sure where to get accurate information. You know, the truth. It doesn't seem like anyone knows what the truth is - about our government.

Lately, I've been more interested in healthy food. How, where, when and why it's grown. Part of it is my own self interest because my husband and I want to farm and since we live in a college town that is surrounded by farmland, there is a lot of information about farming. Part of it is watching movies like Food, Inc. and reading books like Food Rules by Michael Pollen and You Can Farm by Joel Salatin. It seems the more I learn, the more I need to know and the more I need to act.

Even though I was brought up in the city and know nothing about what it takes to be a farmer - I have "farming genes". I know it's not the same as running my own farm, but I still feel like it's some dormant desire to get out there and dig in the dirt, breathe clean air, harvest vegetables, feed chickens, herd cattle, etc.

Maybe I'll be able to do it, maybe I won't. Either way, it should be my choice to decide if this is how I want to attempt to earn my living. It should also be my choice to eat food that I've grown/raised and to sell it to other people who want it too. More and more I am hearing stories about people who own small family farms, who are being penalized for wanting to grow their own food and sell it to others. I don't mean penalized like getting a slap on the wrist and being fined a few hundred dollars. I'm talking about people who have worked hard, sacrificed and grown a honorable business, just to be obliterated by some huge corporation or the government (who is being supported by the huge corporation) for doing something the huge corporation doesn't like.

There are a bazillion things I could write about this subject. Like: how our country is the land of opportunity and people have a right to start a small business; why would a huge corporation be so threatened by a family farm that they have to invest millions (billions?) of dollars in legal fees to fight them to destroy them? Is it right for us to have only a few corporations that are responsible for feeding our entire country? And in the process allow them to destroy the environment with farm waste and the use of tons of diesel fuel every year? Why do we let these same companies treat animals in cruel and inhumane ways in filthy, disgusting conditions then feed them to us for dinner? What about the workers who work at the food plants - are they compensated properly and treated well for their work? Why aren't corporate farms held accountable and why aren't they more honest about what is going on behind their quaint "farm fresh" labels?

But what I really want to know is why wouldn't our government allow me to drive a few miles into the country and buy some raw milk from a dairy farmer? Why are there so many expensive regulations on small beef/chicken/pork farms when the corporate farms are killing us with their genetically altered, corn fed, hormone pumped feces covered meat? Why doesn't our government care more about farmers who are willing to feed us clean, simple, healthy food than they do about the corporate farms? Seriously, is it in our best interest to poison ourselves in the long run, just so that some can have billions/trillions of dollars now?

I have to admit here, that I am definitely part of the problem. I love fast food and eat it whenever possible (and I have the waistline and blood pressure to show for it). If I had to sit in the stock yard where the cows lived that provided the meat for my Taco Bell tacos or where the chickens lived that provided eggs for the Egg McMuffin I had this morning, would I be able to keep from vomiting those meals right up? Probably not. Every time I pull into a drive thru, I should imagine where my food came from and who made a sacrifice to get it to me.

I know this is kind of rambling, but a change is coming and I want to do the right thing. If you are interested in one of the articles I've read recently, here's the link:

Family Farm Ordered to Destroy 50,000 Pounds of Cheese

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Well, Look Who Decided to Check in!

I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth, though I can understand why you might think I had. It's Fall, which seems to be so incredibly busy. I know all of you are experiencing the same thing. Too busy to keep up on laundry, dishes, housework, homework, blogging, art-ing, etc.

This month I have some of my art hanging in a gallery at the Unity Center. I have known for months that I was going to be doing this, but seemed to be cramming in a lot of work the two weeks before the opening reception. It's disappointing to know I could've had more pieces and more new pieces-if only I'd worked longer and harder at it, but it turned out fine. I like seeing my things hanging on the wall in a big room. That probably seems a little egotistic or self-indulgent, but I just don't get to experience it very often. A piece of art work framed and hanging on the wall, looks so beautiful and professional. It seems more real and possible that I'm an artist when something I made is being used to decorate someone else's space.

In addition to the gallery showing, I also did an art fair this weekend. It is the first fair I've done in a year and I found myself with the same regrets I usually have when participating in an event. Right after I sign up, I have great big plans to stock up on new, interesting and irresistible works that people will want to buy. The reality is there is not enough time and space on this Earth to accomplish the things I want to accomplish before an art show. Some day I hope to be a little more balanced and realistic about what can be done before I set up a display.

Anyway, it was fun, I met some nice people, got so spend time with my friends Jolene and Beth (my booth buddies) and be surrounded by art. I'll be doing another market in December at the same place - The Catacombs Artist Market at Artlandish Gallery in Columbia, Missouri. Maybe you can stop buy?


The chickens are doing well. The babies are no longer babies and are almost as big as their mama. I still don't know for sure if they are hens or roosters. I want to believe that all four of them are hens, but don't know what the odds of that are. I mean, it would be great, but is it really possible? Since we technically live in the city and have neighbors (who are quite understanding and patient, by the way), we would have to find a new home for any of our birds that turned out to be roosters. No one wants to be awaken at the crack of dawn by some obnoxious bird, right?

The biggest chicken news we have this week is that Velma (the mama) has started laying again! It's very exciting. I knew something was up on Friday, when I went outside and there were only 4 birds running around. Velma was nowhere to be found. I was afraid some wild animal had gotten her or that she was sick. I found her in the coop, in a nesting box. I thought for sure she was dying (see what a chicken expert I am)?. Later, I checked the coop again and Velma was gone. I reached into her nesting box and found the most beautiful, green, perfectly formed egg. It was awesome! I found another one again today and took photos for you all to see.

When I look at these eggs, I find that I don't want to eat them, because I know how precious they are. I know how long we had to wait for Velma to lay these eggs and how long it will take for her to lay another (24 hours). Somehow, when you realize how much effort is involved in getting your food, you tend to have more of an appreciation for it. I think that is definitely a topic worth writing about in another blog entry.

One last thing before I go....

We have a new addition to our family. His name is Russell and other than his "need" to traumatize our chickens, he's perfect.