Let’s Get This Farm Started
- Fish In the Water is a farmer-to-be so-called foodie writer living on the beautiful rural Eastern Shore of MD.
What We’ve Preserved So Far
- 1 gallon lilac wine
- 1 gallon strawberry wine
- 3 gallons elderberry wine
- 2 quarts strawberry vodka
- 1 quart plum vodka
- 15 pints tomatoes
- 6 pints pickled beets
- 7 pints spaghetti sauce
- 22 pints various salsas (including peach!)
- 3 pints peaches in booze
- 9 pints green beans
- 10 pints pickles
- 4 pints zucchini relish
- 1 pint 1 half pint pickled hot peppers
- 4 half pints hot sauce
- 6 half pints barbecue sauce
- 6 quarts refrigerator pickles
- 6 quarts refrigerator kohlrabi pickles
- 2 quarts tomato conserva (paste)
- December 2013
- November 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- Bow Building
- Community Eating
- Cookbook bits
- Creepy Foods
- Old Blog bits
- Pretty Pictures
- Raw Feeding
- Raw Milk
- Science Fiction
- Self Employment
- Tales of Cooking
- Tales of Eating
- Tales of Writing
- The "System"
- The Food System
- To Meat or Not to Meat
Canning Inventory 11/14/13
4 pints pickled jalepeno
5 pints spicy pickles
2 pints zucchini relish
1 pint bread and butter pickles
1 pint pickled beets
2 pints pickled garlic scapes
12 pints dill (??) pickles
5 pints pickled veggies
9 pints dill pickles (with actual dill)
Pickle total: 41 pints
12 pints green beans
14 pints zesty salsa
1 pint spicy salsa
5 pints peach salsa
4 pints spaghetti sauce
14 pints tomatoes
5 pints chicken soup
8 pints beef stew
2 1/2 pints hot sauce
1 1/2 pints barbecue sauce
8 1/2 pints peach barbecue sauce
6 pints apple sauce
4 1/2 pints apple sauce
5 pints peaches
4 pints apples
7 pints strawberry “jam”
3 pints blueberry jam
1 pint lilac jelly
1 pint violet jelly
6 1/2 pints flower syrups
Jar total: 153, which does not include: things we gave away, things we already ate
Freezer inventory 11/14/13 (in quart bags)
9 green beans
31 green peppers
3 shredded zucchini
2 paw paw
8 cups pumpkin
1 bag ravioli
15 quarts chicken stock, 3 beef, 3 fish
12 pints refrigerator pickles
1 gallon lilac wine
1 gallon blueberry wine
3 gallons dandelion wine
Loads of potatoes and onions and garlic
Big jars of dry black beans, kidney beans, cranberry beans, shield beans, and one heirloom called jacob’s cattle.
Compare to 2012 (an incomplete list, I have no idea why I never typed it up):
1 gallon lilac wine
1 gallon strawberry wine
3 gallons elderberry wine
2 quarts strawberry vodka
1 quart plum vodka
15 pints tomatoes
6 pints pickled beets
7 pints spaghetti sauce
22 pints various salsas (including peach!)
3 pints peaches in booze
9 pints green beans
10 pints pickles
4 pints zucchini relish
1 pint 1 half pint pickled hot peppers
4 half pints hot sauce
6 half pints barbecue sauce
6 quarts refrigerator pickles
6 quarts refrigerator kohlrabi pickles
2 quarts tomato conserva (paste)
I’ve been (as is normal) going back and forth on whether to keep up this blog or not. I think the verdict is not- I won’t take it down, but I don’t feel like I have a lot to say right now. I’m thinking a lot of things, but more and more they have less to do with gardening and food and more with lifestyle and having a small business and being off the radar. And really I could write a lot about all of those things, except that living life and having a small business and staying off the radar tend to, well, not lend themselves to much in the way of blogging. Perhaps I’ll change my mind. But for now, I will leave you with these parting gifts- the changes I’ve seen in myself, aka why I could never go back to having a “job.”
1. Monday morning breakfast
During the faire season we do this thing on Monday mornings called Bazaar. People bring their stuff and it’s sort of like a mini flea market, but more importantly, there is breakfast. The best potatoes and bacon and eggs and baked goods you could imagine. And everyone gets their plates and hunkers down around a picnic table and proceeds to devour way too much food and way too much caffeine, all out in the perfect autumnal sunlight, which is filtering down through the canopy far over our heads.
Come back in two hours and everyone will still be sitting there. Not always- sometimes we wander off because there are pressing business sort of things to take care of, but mostly, still sitting there. Just talking. Drinking more caffeine. Dogs are wandering about. Children. Once there was a puppet show. But there is an ease to it, and I put this one first because I am never so perfectly aligned with the world as I am after Monday morning breakfast. Everything seems completely in harmony. And it has something to do with the freedom of it. What are you doing at 11 AM on a Monday morning? Because I suspect its not sitting out in the sun watching the dogs and the children run around, drinking tea and having amazing conversations. But that’s where I am.
In a place like a Renaissance Festival (and honestly I have no idea what the other shows are like, but I get the feeling it’s similar) there’s this overall sense of community, of camaraderie, among the people who work there. And it’s hardly like we’re working there, sometimes. Not because we don’t do work- my caffeine fueled all night sewing binges can attest to that- but because most of us aren’t really thinking of it as work, as in, this is the time I am at work, and this is the time I am myself, at home, living. For most of us (and I’ve asked around), it’s more like- well this is just my life. And on weekends people show up and we sell them things and they leave again- and on Monday we sit back and talk about it. These benches, these open pathways, are our living room. These other people are our housemates. I may need to go back to my booth and do inventory, but you can’t call this a job- after all, I live here.
2. The Ease
We were walking up to breakfast on site one morning and a friend said, hey, what happened to your skirt? I had been wearing a rather loud cherry print skirt the night before, but at the moment I was wearing black leggings (with holes in), a tshirt, and a green sweater (with even more holes in). And I shrugged. I hadn’t put it on because the benches were wet and I didn’t want to get the skirt wet, and really in general hadn’t felt like buttoning it. As we walked away, the handsome fella said, you know, she’s right, normally you won’t leave the house without a full outfit, including accessories. You won’t even go to the grocery store without putting on a dress.
And I said, well, it’s only breakfast, but what I meant was, I didn’t feel like I had left the house.
3. The Average Day
To be honest, it’s rare I do “dress” anymore. And that makes me a little sad, because I have a lot of awesome dresses, but it just means I get way too fancy to go to the little local bar up the street. In reality, here is my day: I get up when the handsome fella does, so he can go to work. I feed the animals. I read emails/blogs/the internet for about an hour, while I drink a cup of tea, and maybe have some breakfast, and wait for my psychologically disturbed cat who will only eat if you sit quietly with her to finish her breakfast. I take the dog out and we wander the yard and play ball and maybe I putter in the garden, pull some weeds, harvest something. One morning recently I stood there for about twenty minutes (throwing the ball) mentally playing with the Tetris puzzle that is crop rotation and enjoying a “breakfast cocktail.” I get the mail. I wash a few dishes or throw in some laundry, and make a second cup of tea. I start working around 9 or 10 or sometimes 11. I work for a few hours and go down and have lunch with the dog, and watch half an episode of something on tv. I go back up to work and get in a solid 5 or 6 hours before the handsome fella gets home, and I make us dinner, and work for maybe another hour or two, and we hang out and put up food and work in the garden and watch tv while I do handsewing. In the winter we play endless rounds of Carcassonne and put together puzzles.
It’s rare (outside of faire season) to leave the house more than twice a week. I do the domestic things- run errands and buy groceries and whatever. We have dinner with friends. We take mini camping trips to the mountains. But mostly my life is sewing and chickens and food, planning out dinners, and throwing the ball for the dog. My breaks from work are standing out in the yard, drenched in sunlight, thinking about next to nothing, drinking tea. All day I listen to music or books. I’ve listened to more books this year than I’ve read, because I have 8-10 hours a day of “reading.” If I have to work at night I watch a movie. I sometimes work long hours and often work weird hours (Sunday afternoons) and for nine weeks out of the year I’m hardly at home, but then I have Monday breakfasts and Saturday night late night singing and laughing and talking. In the off season I bake and can vegetables and figure out new and exciting ways to roast large hunks of meat. I love dinner parties. We make wine and piddle with new trellising techniques or building a second chicken house. Is this a job? Sure, if you feel the need to call it that. But for my part, I don’t differentiate between one part and the other, between where “work” starts and life takes its place. They are one and the same. Or can you hang out with your dog in your backyard while you’re at “work”?
4. The Most Awesome Job Ever
The only time I really feel like I’m at a “job” is on weekends at faire when the people show up. I have to wear certain clothes. I have to hide my cell phone. I have to work certain hours, and if I want to go hide in my room and take a break, I can’t. It’s the only time I sometimes feel a little constrained, but there’s a lot to make up for it.
One day this past season, a guy actually said to me, wow, you must have the worst job ever. He was being completely serious. At the time I was lacing his fairly attractive wife into a bodice. I just looked at him, and looked at his wife, and said, are you kidding? I mean, really. The only real “job” I have is to hang in our booth all day and help women get dressed. I get to make them really happy. Everyone that walks out of our store in an outfit suddenly feels great about themselves- confident, and gorgeous, and ready to have a really, really good time. And I helped them with that. Women who often don’t get to feel that way- can feel really good about themselves in garb. We actually have kind of a reputation for being the store that can fit all sizes (or nearly), and the store that will make you feel really comfortable about getting dressed up. And that’s my job! When I’m not helping someone get dressed, I get to talk to people, joke around, have a good time, people watch, and yes, I get to start drinking in the late afternoon as long as it doesn’t affect my ability to work. Oh yeah, and did I mention everyone around me is having a great time, so its kind of hard not to have a good time too? Really? Do you get to do this at your job?
5. The Things I Don’t Have to Do
Be anywhere near a computer. Show up at particular times (except for those few weekends). Go to a staff meeting. Lie. Ask for money (ugh, non profits- over it). Beg for money. Pretend I give a shit about something, or am something that I am not, in hopes that someone will give me money. Deal with horrible nasty people who I hope will give me money. Tolerate assholes (except some occasional drunk people). Paperwork. Sit in an office. Go to staff meetings. Work when I’m sick, or sad, or otherwise not up for working (mostly). Pretend. I never have to pretend.
6. What I Actually DO
At the end of the day, I have produced something. Some days I get a little down about what I produce- I mean, it’s not like Renaissance costumes are really direly important to the future of the world. And certainly if the shit hits the fan they will be completely useless. But I am making something. I can measure tangible progress by the movement of big piles of fabric to hangers. I love finishing a garment. I love seeing all the clean, finished edges. I love the shapes. I love everything about it, and it gives me so much pleasure to see something hanging there, on the rack, something that I made, something that someone will wear. At my old jobs I never felt like I was accomplishing anything. Sure, we’d hold an event, people would come, and maybe there would be that occasional moment when someone would come up to me and say that something they heard had changed their perspective, but by and large, nothing changed. I worked for years and years and years thinking that what I was doing was going to change something. But it never happened. And I think I finally accepted that I was deluding myself, that I was never going to change anything organizing my safe little programs behind a desk.
I like to think I’m not deluding myself, now. I’m definitely not changing anything working in my pajamas in my sewing room. I’m not changing anything by living by example (which I used to tell myself was really a thing, ha), because either no one knows that this is what I do or they think I’m insane. The fact that I’m always broke probably doesn’t much help in promoting the lifestyle, either. But I’m doing this for selfish reasons. I wasn’t doing much to help the universe when I was dead to the world because I resented what I was doing so much. At least now I love what I’m doing. I can figure the part about saving the world later.
At breakfast, someone said to me, “It’s just so amazing to be with people who get to earn their living by doing things they really love.”
7. The Truth
For whatever reason this faire season I got into a hundred different conversations about how faire was where we could all be ourselves. And it’s true, and since being home, this has become even more abundantly clear to me. As I said earlier, being at faire (when we’re not open), I never think twice about what I wear. And at home I get very carefully dressed to go to the drug store. I find going to the drug store rather stressful, actually. Suddenly I’m worried about what people think. What do they think of how I’m dressed? What do they think of what I’m buying? Even going to the bar with friends I will stress over what I’m wearing- and for good reason. The wrong outfit and I spend the entire night fending off critiques and questions and just plain sneers.
But it’s not just the clothing. At faire I will run and jump and climb things. I spent one morning randomly jumping from bench to bench. One night I got a little crazy and decided to do acrobatics from the stairs in our booth. You know. In general I feel a little wild and free and myself. More completely myself than I am at any other time of the year, when I am watching what I say, and acting all demure, and not randomly dancing on the benches just because I feel like it. I love living in a small town, don’t get me wrong. But you say the wrong thing in a small town, and the whole fucking town knows about it within hours. It’s exhausting, trying to gauge who I can say what to in case it gets around and destroys something, ruins a relationship, whatever. At faire? Even if someone disagrees with me, they’ll leave me be. At faire, you are who you are. You can be out at faire. You can be a freak. You can wear glitter and sequins to breakfast or you can wear the rattiest clothes known to man. You can be all of the things you have always had to hide, out of fear, and not be afraid, but be celebrated.
And everyone is probably weirder than you anyway, so whatever you get up to? It’s all good.
And there’s one more bit, about what I think of as the “faire personality.” We don’t see each other for the better part of a year. And even during the nine weeks of faire, most of us only see each other on weekends. And yet, when I meet someone, it’s like fireworks going off. We go from hi, nice to meet you, to having really intense conversations within minutes. Not every time- sometimes there are some really awkward, so, what do you do? kind of conversations going on. But so many times I’ve been listening to or pouring out a life story, things I would never talk about in other circumstances, to someone I just met. I’ve always been the kind of person who just plunges in when I feel a connection. Forget about convention or caution, my instinct is almost always right. And a lot of the faire people are like that, too. We have to be. We only have that one shot- nine weekends, or sometimes less- to make connections. If you tried to make friends the conventional way, you’d never get there. As it is, I feel closer to people I’ve met at faire (and spent far less overall time with) than some people I’ve known for years.
And you can’t be fussy about goodbyes. I’m not so good at this one, yet. I tend to linger. But you have to get good at trusting. At knowing that yes, you will probably see them next year, and you can pick up your conversation right there. Or maybe not. Maybe you won’t see them again. You never know what will happen. But that’s life, regardless, and if faire has taught me anything, it’s that you need to be good at letting go. Our time is short. So the time we do have should be as honest and real as possible. Why waste time pretending to be something else? Why spend your precious few hours on something that doesn’t make you happy, that doesn’t fulfill you, that doesn’t make you dance and sing with joy?
A job is something you can walk away from. A job is something you’re just doing, because you have to, and you do it for a certain number of hours and then you leave. What I’m doing, I’m doing basically all the time, and it blends seamlessly into the rest of what I’m doing. I do accounting in the morning and then go to breakfast and then go back to the booth to set up. I hang out with friends while I’m “working.” At home I sew and then I wander downstairs to put in a load of laundry. This isn’t a job, this is my life. And I don’t think I could ever give it up.
And last but not least, I am still going to be publishing. A long time ago I wrote a novel, and I want it out in the world, even if it’s not worth publishing through the normal channels. So I’m publishing it as a blog, and if you want to continue to read words I wrote, you can follow along here: Leaves are Falling, One by One.
I have all these pictures I haven’t posted. God only knows what half of them are.
There were probably a few other things that day, knowing me, but who can remember?
It’s raining. It’s been raining so much that the last rain hasn’t even drained away yet. There’s algae growing in the garden, and we’ve already lost several crops (broccoli, cauliflower, and a ton of onions) to the water. Last year at this time we were already in a drought- so maybe this is nature making up for the loss. All I know is that I can’t get in there, because everything is under water.
But what can we do? We’ve cut culverts, but even if the water drains from the garden, there’s no place for it to go. The rest of the yard is completely saturated.
So we’re building an ark, and preparing the animals, two by two. Fortunately we’ve managed to harvest the last of the peas, and there’s still food in the freezer, so we won’t starve on the voyage. But it’s going to be a broccoli-less year. Sigh.
Something has been preying on my mind lately as I constantly try to figure out how to make more money in less time. That’s the dream, right? To do as little work as possible and still make enough money to get by? For me it’s more than that- sewing takes up a lot of TIME, pure and simple, and there’s no way around that. At least with a desk job I could fuck off and write blog posts. Not so much with the sewing.
And the very unfortunate thing about sewing is that it doesn’t pay much. You get paid for what you’ve done, what’s finished, and if it’s not finished, well, have fun. There goes that paycheck. And it’s barely above minimum wage, anyway. I’ve tried doing custom work, but that doesn’t come out too much above minimum, either. The problem is that you don’t get paid for all the hours of dealing with the person you’re doing the sewing for. HOURS of trying to get them to make up their mind about what they even want, and then taking things apart and making them all over again when they change their minds or suddenly decide they want something else half way through the process. And there’s very little protection for the sewer in those instances. Sure, you could write up a contract, etc, that says you won’t deal with that stuff- but see how many customers you get then.
The long and the short of it is that people don’t want to pay for sewing. I once had a customer refuse to pay me for alterations I had done (even though we had agreed to the price beforehand) because she said she could have gotten a new skirt cheaper at WalMart. Well, go the hell to WalMart, people, and don’t waste my time. But no one wants to pay me for my real time. No one likes to hear that it really takes several hours (not to mention the time I spent driving to meet you somewhere, plus the time it took to measure you and listen to your long rambling story of why you need this alteration made in the first place) to fix a pair of pants. And that I feel that I should get paid AT LEAST $20 for all of those hours. HA! Tell someone you want $80 to fix the crappy pair of pants they bought at WalMart and see how quickly the customers line up.
And before I continue- PLEASE, PLEASE do not respond to this post with business ideas. Everyone, including complete strangers, seem to have the idea that’s going to change it all for me, and that’s not what I want to hear. I’ve heard it all. I’m good with what I’m doing. REALLY. I do not need you to find me more work. I realize it is all coming from a loving place, but PLEASE.
Anyway. What I’ve been thinking about is how unbalanced our economy is, in terms of what you can make doing what. When I try to think about how I could make money faster, well, the obvious answer would be to find something to do that’s higher paying. But what? The first things that come to mind are all illegal. I used to work for a non profit. That honestly wasn’t much more high paying, the only difference was that the checks came regular. And there were benefits. But otherwise- not much higher. Theoretically I could get a higher paying non profit job, but there aren’t too many of those around. I’ve looked.
This all becomes particularly obvious when I try to trade services with someone. I charge $30 an hour for “marketing” services (far more than I get for sewing), which range from teaching someone how to use facebook to creating brochures and press releases and the rest of it. Usually I’m trading for food- fairly simple- so I can usually take home a roast for an hour of work. But say I’m trading for another service, like acupuncture- at $100 an hour- or a massage- at $60- well that means I have to work for 2-3 hours to make up for their one hour. How does that make sense? It’s not that it isn’t worth it, their hour- I fully believe alternative health care providers should probably make even more than $100 an hour. But why is their hour worth more than my hour? I went to school for sewing. I paid for college. I’ve got nearly 30 years of experience in the field, as well. But I get paid minimum wage for my work? Why?
If you think about who does get paid well- doctors, CEOs, politicians- you can’t even apply the, they have a higher degree thing. Not all of them do (except the doctors, obviously). And they may work a lot of hours- or they may not. You could argue that it’s a lot of stress, their jobs, and that’s why they get paid more. But what about teachers and fire fighters and so on who hardly get paid anything at all? Don’t they work long hours and have high stress jobs? And degrees, for that matter? Why do they get paid so much less?
We have this skewed notion of what time is worth. Producing food- ha, well, that’s next to nothing. Producing clothing- same. Producing nothing at all (except a lot of paperwork)- why, good for you, Mr. CEO! Glad you could buy your third house.
This all goes back to my ever ongoing argument- that to fix this ridiculous economy, we have to start by paying people their worth for things of value- for things that will last. Not for fucking everyone else over (bank bailouts? anyone?). Of course we don’t want to pay money for things of value. We’ve got our heads so backwards about “saving” money- we want the cheapest deal! We whine and complain about buying an $80 pair of shoes (that will last for years) but don’t blink over $100+ cell phone bills. Data usage? Really? We all should be questioning what things are worth. What WE’RE worth. We’ve got nothing but time, after all.
Not this exact pig, but a pig very like this pig, from Black Bottom Farm. You might not want to read this post if you find it a little macabre (the pig is going to die).
Anyway, Black Bottom Farm is located in Galena/Massey/Golts depending on who you’re talking to, Kent County. It is where happy pigs live. They have a waterfront view.
I am so thrilled to have a place to get pork that I know has been cared for. Spoiled, in fact. And so it was with great excitement that we decided to get a whole pig and split it between four families. A whole pig is a lot of meat.
So among other things we plan to:
Make our own bacon and sausage
Render out the fat and make lard (to be used for baking, soap, and cooking)
Make pork rinds and cracklings
Figure out how to cook pig feet
Make something (?) out of the head- head cheese, or some kind of cured meat
Make stock from the bones
Thank goodness for Joy of Cooking. It has instructions for most of these things. What excites me more than anything is the relationships- the cooperation between all of us, to carry out all these tasks, to have these nutritious foods for our families. There’s nothing like the friends you make while rendering fat. : )
If you want to find out more about Black Bottom Farm, please visit their facebook page. You can also get Black Bottom meats at Kent Island Farmer’s market, at the Kingstown Colchester Farm CSA pick up, and on farm on Saturdays from 12-4 PM.
So recently I was skimming through my inbox, which is full of things from years past, and came across this lengthy email that I wrote to a friend at the time while I was in Germany. I have edited one section slightly to protect the people it was about, but otherwise I’ve left it alone. This was written in 2009 I believe. And it’s really nice sometimes (and somehow also alarming) to see that I was thinking these same things so early on. Sometimes it seems like these thoughts come out of nowhere, when really they’ve been slowly building over the years.
Also this reminds me why I liked Daniel Quinn. He tends to get dumped on sometimes for not taking his concepts far enough. Anyway, here goes.
You know this whole concept of our way of living being better makes absolutely no sense. I mean, think about alligators for a second. Alligators eat maybe once a week. They expend a little bit of energy to get a big meal, and then they lay around. Sometimes they lay in the sun. Sometimes they lay in the shade. Sometimes they swim around. How can our way of life possibly be better than this???? It’s like the beginning of So Long and Thanks for All the Fish which if you haven’t read you should (actually I should read it again. I wonder where I put it). He goes on about how humans think they are the smartest beings in the world because they have invented wheels and cameras and money and Rolexes and all this, while dolphins spend all their time playing around and basically accomplishing nothing, and dolphins think they are the smartest beings in the world for the same reason. I love that quote. Anyway, the same thing is going to happen to us as happened to the Mayans. Even all the archaeologists and anthropologists say so. It’s just that no one knows what will happen after that. My boss studies Mayan civilization, and he is pretty sure it was environmental pressures that caused them to abandon their civilization. They overtaxed their resources. They weren’t quite so good at invading their neighbors as the Europeans… well, the Europeans survived by conquering the Americas. The Mayans, for whatever reason, were not driven to conquer. So, you know, there’s that.
It really comes down to, who the hell is really happy with this way of life? The people at the top, maybe, the ones with all the money, but they’re the ones all committing suicide now as the economy starts crashing so I’m not so sure about that. Most of us from early on are really uncomfortable with the concept of growing up to do the same things our parents did, because our parents usually aren’t that thrilled about doing what they’re doing. I mean, whose parents didn’t complain endlessly about going to work? I don’t know, maybe there are exceptions somewhere. And yet you’re supposed to want this… why? I mean, would we all have gone to school beyond the age of maybe 8 if we hadn’t been forced to? And by the time we graduate high school, most of us have been successfully brainwashed. This is just what you do. There is no other way. I love this quote: “Karl Marx recognized that workers without a choice are workers in chains. But his idea of breaking chains was for us to depose the pharaohs and then build the pyramids for ourselves, as if building pyramids is something we just can’t stop doing, we love it so much.” It’s so true. We don’t know what else to do. But my opinions on communism can wait for another time.
I think one of the things that really touches me is Quinn’s mention of this kid he heard about, whose name he changes to Jeffery. I know so many people like this. They are some of the most amazing people I think I will ever be privileged enough to know. I knew this one guy. He could pick up any instrument and just play it. And he had such a head for music… every time I ever saw him play, even if it was just sitting on the back porch fucking around, literally moved me to tears. I am being entirely serious. And yet because of how incredibly fucked things are he had no place. He wandered. He would work for a couple months and get frustrated and quit and maybe come back and work a few more months, and he was so incredibly depressed, and so frequently described this feeling to me of just being lost, of having no place, of not knowing where to go, and THIS IS EXACTLY WHY CIVILIZATION IS FUCKED. Sorry. But this gets me really worked up. His family would be like, oh why don’t you get a job, how can you keep mooching off people like that, why won’t you take responsibility whatever, and this is the biggest tragedy I think I will witness in my life. It would be a complete waste for him to get a job, the same way it is a complete waste to build a parking lot over a heart breakingly beautiful lake or forest or something and then abandon the parking lot. How can we possibly do this??? My whole goal in starting a farm is to give people like him a place to go to get everyone off their backs. They may not even want it. But I love him so much that I at least need to try and create a place where he and other people like him can continue to exist, and for myself too. I’m built a little differently, so I can at least tolerate dealing with all the bull shit [modern note: obviously that didn't last], though I have to get away from it for longer and longer periods of time (hence coming to Germany for a month), and so I can be the one to save up the money and organize it and see it happen. A lot of people for some reason really like working on farms for a few months at a time when they get a chance, in that it’s so straightforward that you can do it for a couple hours a day and feel like you’ve really accomplished something, and then still have the time and mental energy at night to write and play music and the other things we love. Whereas working a bull shit desk job or retail job or whatever just saps everything I have, and at the end of the day all I can do is stare blankly at the wall (or in the worst cases, watch tv) and wish it were all over.
And here’s where Quinn has a point, whether you want to call it tribalism or whatever. In a regular job, people are interchangeable. The only person actually integral to the success of Summer Farm is basically Violet and I guess Rose because she owns it. But everyone else is interchangeable. Actually Violet really is too, it would just be harder b/c she currently knows what’s going on. But still you can just take someone out and you can easily put someone else back in. This will not be how my farm is run. I mean, we might offer some positions like that for interns or whatever when we need extra help, but the idea is that the people who are in are IN. They are investing their lives in the farm. The idea is that you wake up in the morning and you actually want to go and do something because it has meaning and purpose for you. You know that if you don’t do it the other members of your community will bitch and complain, and sometimes you won’t do it anyway but mostly you will. Nikki describes it here as working in waves- one week one person will be feeling really productive and do a lot of the work and the next week that person will be feeling less so and someone else will do more work. And let me tell you, even having been here only a few weeks I’ve seen it happen. Sometimes things happen less quickly, and it’s a hella lot more chaotic and messy and most people would probably flip out at the idea, but things happen if they have to. It’s more a natural rhythm. There will probably be other people living at the farm, because some of us will get married and stuff, and those people will pay rent. The rest of us won’t even need wages though, because the farm gives us what we need, and what’s leftover we distribute among ourselves, etc.
Random Quinn quote: “If you had a billion dollars in the bank, would you go on doing the work you do to make a living?” This is like when my friend Steve recently asked me, as we were discussing the farm plans, what would happen if the farm got really successful (against all odds). The question was if someone offered us millions of dollars to buy the farm, what we would do. And I was puzzled by this question, because I was like, well, unless I wanted to buy a bigger farm or something, I can’t imagine why I would sell the farm. And he was like, but you could have millions of dollars. And I was like, yeah, but what would I do? This is the difference between a job and a life, between what Quinn calls a tribe and the regular run of the mill rat race sort of thing where every person is on their own, and everyone is terrified of losing their job because then they have nothing left. If you work within a “tribe” you have skills and you have people who will back you up and won’t leave you out on your own if something goes wrong. So why would you leave?
Poverty is also a really interesting concept. See, you can only be poor if you can only survive with money. The only way our economy continues to function is that we deprive people of the skills and resources they would need to provide themselves with food and shelter, thereby forcing them to do something else entirely in exchange for money, with which they can then buy food and shelter. This is really ridiculous. I think the most fascinating thing in the world is to take away someone’s money and hand them the ability to get their own food. Well, more accurately, to watch them do this for themselves. At first it’s terrifying. No money? We’re taught that this is a disaster. You can’t live without money. But here’s the secret they never want you to find out: you can in fact live without money. They have just made it really hard for you to do this, because we all grow up with zero skills to make this possible.
So, voila. Thoughts on Quinn.
“If you can only be free living on a mountaintop or a desert island, then clearly you’re something less than free.”