My slice of paradise

I neither believe nor disbelieve the Mayan prophecy of the arrival of a new epoch come December of this year. I do however, try not to take for granted that I personally have more time on this planet, or will somehow avoid strife and difficulties when such events come along. Each of us will have our own Waterloos, usually at times not of our own making.

This notion was furthered by the passing Friday night of Mathew Walker, a former smoking buddy and friend of mine from a past life in the tiny West Texas town of Balmorhea. Mathew was a big burly man with a booming laugh and a big smile, spiritual, a philosopher, a magnificent story teller of exceptional recall. My life is better for having known him.

I am sure he will be missed by many.

Back at the farm, our budded pecan crop has moved from being poor to a near-total failure. We quit the harvest about halfway through when it became apparent that yields weren’t going to cover the cost of gathering.

However, we continue gathering native pecans from river bottoms with some success and I am thankful to have them. I postulate that insects are at fault. With all the spraying and care we could offer, the thin skins of paper shell pecans proved no match, while natives with their smaller nuts and tough rinds survived with no help whatsoever.

We haven’t yet had a killing frost and our garden continues to produce a decent crop of fall tomatoes and peppers. We’ve eaten our first broccoli, spinach and Swiss chard is ready to pick; cabbages are forming heads. Carrots, turnips, beets continue to grow. Onions, shallots and garlic look good so far. We recently harvested a modest crop of sweet potatoes. Leah canned a huge batch of salsa, and hogs continue to get a share of the produce we can’t keep up with, not an insignificant amount.

As if we didn’t have enough already, I bought four more young Jersey cows. They were cheap and headed to slaughter for no good reason. I continue to milk two cows and Leah continues making cheese from the excess milk. Hogs also score on the milk whey produced as a byproduct of cheese making. The possibility/probability of a flood of calves and wet cows looms in our near future. We’ll cross that bridge if and when the time comes, good Lord willing.

I also agreed to purchase two more Percheron draft mares, one with foal, another expecting. The deal includes a set of driving harness.

I haven’t done particularly well at the horse races of late. Two well intentioned trainers told me the key to being successful as a trainer: keep yourself in the best company possible and your horses in the worst company possible. This thinking is contrary to my nature, evidenced by the silks any jockey riding one of my horses has to wear: horizontal black and white stripes. I detest the company of most rich people; my goal is to steal big money races with horses discarded from their game.

If you go down, go down in flames.

The sun is coming up, another day of hard labor waits.

My slice of paradise.

3 comments to My slice of paradise

  • Inspiring…, as always, Don. Almost makes me want to get up from this computer and get out there and do something. I stress the “almost”. A rare, frosty, sunshiny day here on The Olympic Peninsula…, and I will be out there once that ole sun peaks up over the trees on the south side of The Ranch. As you well know…, if there isn’t something that has to be done…, there is always something that could be done.

    Hope you will get some pictures of the horses up soon. I think that my Granddad’s team of horses were probably Percheron. Wiki says that in the 30′s they made up 70% of the draft horse population in the US. And they seem to show the characteristics, to my eye.

    And right on partner…, write on.

    The Quillayute Cowboy

  • adrena

    Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world’s food crisis?

    Philipp Saumweber is creating a miracle in the barren Australian outback, growing tonnes of fresh food. So why has he fallen out with the pioneering environmentalist who invented the revolutionary system?

    The Guardian, By Jonathan Margolis

    • Don Henry Ford Jr.

      I see merit in both approaches. One approach, that of the originator of the concept, for multiple small scale sustainable operations that will never make much money but will survive chaos, the second as a large scale commercial venture that will make money for a few but also feeds lots of people.

      I admire both for what they’ve done, but my heart lies with the former.

      Chaos will wreck havoc on the commercial operation.

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