The moon is in an earth zodiac sign, that means today is a planting day, good for the roots, and the life below ground. My hand steadies over a polyeurathane seedling tray, as I carefully and methodically sink the solitary seed into the sweet smelling black soil. This seed was saved, and its ancestor was also a saved seed. This is how farmers always used to do it, preserving the best of the best seeds after harvest ensured a promising crop next year, one more adapted and genetically thrivable to their unique neck of the woods, or in this case, the plot of land on which I inhabit. As I ponder how this seed came to being and its fate to be planted, my mind went deep. This was the direct descendant of it’s nearest relative that once gazed sunwards in its passive solar pursuit of nutrients. This seed that grew on the stem of a medicinal herb, or staple crop or fruit, that then fell to the ground or was otherwise collected, dried and extracted, then put away for the winter months to be planted next year, an annual seed, that bore the genetic memory to make hundreds more seeds after its own growth spurt. Now it was finally time to dig it out of the seed bins, and its unique packet and sow it in the greenhouse. March 2018. With one final contact before it was relinquised to the chaos of nature and the mystery of the soil microbes, I pushed it into the dirt with a kind of prayer and good luck, added a dampening of fresh well water, and put it beside all the other trays; Brassicas of different kinds, Salvias, Ginseng and other Russian medicinal herbs, Tobacco, Tomatoes, Spinach, Leeks. Some of these may not thrive, but I am fixed on growing things and wanted to try my luck. Others would be so abundant in just a couple of weeks and by the end of harvest, I would probably grow tired of seeing and handling them all.
Such is the life of a farmer, and a candid account of the kind of existence it is my personal conviction to live out, as the living archetype of the farmer, but this involved the symbiotic mythos of many other archetypes in tow, the pastoralist, the gardener, the medicine man, the philosopher, the astronomer, yes, even at this farm, the man who could read the stars and the celestial bodies elevated him one step above his merely terrestrially conscious neighbor. To live bio-dynamically with the earth, that is to say, to dynamically live with the biology of our planetary habitat, and more locally, the 200 acres of farm, feral and wild lands that engage our stewardship is an oath of place. To live and love one space for a long time, and to understand the complex relationships then are loaded with meaning from the moment they are encountered. On a bio-dynamic farm, nothing is quite what it seems, the fresh manure in the fields that are deposited after the cows lunch, is the future soil that will nourish the crops, fruit orchards, and the high field grass that will then again in turn feed the cow in the lushness of spring. What Salatan calls a ‘mobbing, mowing and mobile fermentation tank’ as the cow eats the grass that streams skywards by the sun, which is fermented and processed in the rumen, stored away as fat, fur, meat, protein and horn, then when optimal, the spirit leaves the body and we fill the freezer will all available cuts, that go into literally hundreds of meals, curried stirfry, maple marinated beef hash, bone broth soup, browned marrow, spicy burgers with wild food garnishes, and not only the choice cuts get eaten but all the edible meat, including organs, the ‘dynamic’ part of the cow. The cattle is a mainstay of this farm, and they are also the most noble companions, trusty coworkers, humble entertainment, ambassadors of wisdom, and they just look handsome, with their shaggy manes, perhaps an aesthetic trait as much as practical for the long cold Canadian winters.
We have been busy as bees, coordinating the timeline of the annual farming hustle. When and what to plant, when and where to transplant, how much to have for harvest and who will reap the fruits of the bounty when it is off the field. How many CSA members are there this year? This is what coffee is good for, mingling in the morning when the long day of work is not readily embrace on the minds of others, we plan and map out a general routine of what we can get done before dinner, luckily we are three, and this is not our first rodeo, so we are all dedicated, talented, and can profer good ideas when progress and production must be made. Weeding tends to be interspersed with the labor, like the careful pruning of an apple tree, or the shaving of a winter beard. The seeds you plant, end up being the minority, and sometimes methinks the seeds of weeds just sow from the aether, to have lived so long under the frost and frozen snows all season and to appear again when the desired plant breaks free into its new home, only to instigate the others to rise before him and race for the light. Weeding is stoic, but also mindless. It is an emptiness, before an emptiness, after an emptiness, in a Buddhist tone, it is meditative yet numbing. It teaches plant distinction however, and I wonder how the visual acuity promoted by pPsilocybin mushrooms might help in this humble endeavor, to pull the weeds from ones garden.
All farming is really about sex, and everybody is obsessed with sex, so am I, even if its kale sex, or flower sex (true to admit they are not as seductive, but interesting nonetheless). It is all about the stamens and the pistils, the birds and the bees doing their mating dances in the sun, or of pollen grains sifting the wind and impregnating another vegetable with their floral semen. The cows come in heat and the bull has a field day, female fruit trees await their suitor, and every plant, animal and mushroom is giving birth to new life. To grasp the nettle, the mint, the leek, and the lily, and place them bulb side down in a leather or hemp pouch, to gather and forage the wild goods for the market, and those cultivated vegetable greens that had their early beginnings in a greenhouse, such is the nature of picking day. Else on other days is prepared the berry patch, the vineyard, the food hedge, and the bee hives, sitting patiently for their turn in the season. Their time will come, when the transplants have been made, and the cows have rotated to the prizest patches of grass first. Beet, potato, squash, bean and kale, such with the strong will to live, poking their heads above an inch of soil and greeting the ancient sun, the same that shines on the pyramids at Giza. Roots go deep, and the flowers of fruit bud, while the tipi needs for its new spring skin, so ceremony and sweat lodge may manifest their experiences. Rare is a storm but the charge is left in the soil, thunder and nitrogen, fire and cosmic rain. At night, the chickens retire to their boarding room, for fear of predator. No longer the jurassic scaled reptilians as they were their ancestors, still formidable animals. Today I watched two cocks fighting over a promiscuous hen. Their manes flared with bouts of explosive leaps into the air, wrangling with talons in mid jump, and posing a formidable display of primal avian violence to the other. One went the winner, and the other, left to the coop to harry in the dark.
Kept in the dark are the preparations, dandelion, quartz, manure, bone char and tar, horsetail picked from the fen. They are plant fortifiers and herbivorous deterrents, rain callers, and sun prayers. A group of locals walk the land, looking for edibles while a maiden leads them at the perimeter teaching herbal wisdom. The cats make their home in a wood shed nook, while the dogs bark into the night sky at the detectable odor of a distant hare or badger. Evenfall, the a chorus of amphibian music lurches and rebounds over the organic architecture of hay field, hardwood grove, and crater ponds, then the night meditation of the owl, and the ushering of the whippoorwill. The feralness of the night’s mood lends a calmness to the chaos of the days dealings. All constellations in the afterglow, beaming their light down to earth, country, province, town, this land, my eyes, as they lend their celestial frequencies to my sleep and synchronize with my brain as I sigh the relief of another good day.