I am slowly reading Hugh Lovel's Quantum Agriculture and listening to John Kempf. Both are inspiring to me for their competence and faithfulness, although their approaches are very different. I particularly love this short article in which William Albrecht is quoted:
Read books and study nature.
When the two don’t agree, throw out the books.
Many of the insights, ostensibly about plants, are relevant to humans - how could they not be? Why does one plant get sick, another not? Context matters. Energy matters - inside and out. This year we had beautiful peach trees with glorious fruit cheek-by-jowl with beautiful peach trees and glorious-looking fruit, rotten to the core.
On deeper study, the physical context becomes clear: some trees too wet, pruned inadequately, a radical environment change (from grass to chip), clearly all a bit much for some of our young trees and their fruit production - but, if you're an insect, what's not to love? Whilst this is not news to many farmers, it has reminded me again, it's not the bug - be it virus, bacteria or worm, it's the context, inside and out, above and below, the milieu in which the organism finds itself that matters. If that milieu is not strong and resilient, something will eat your lunch... or you.
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Viktor Frankel, Man's Search for Meaning.)
So, the munted fruit and bolted onions became chutneys, sauces and relishes; the fly-struck apples were made into 200L of apple cider vinegar for a host of on-farmlet applications; we have learned about potato fruits and biennial onions and 'cover' planted the ever-enthusiastic dolichos lablab to ramble even when I am not! Everything that could have been done with our tomato mountain, has been done! And still they come... We've experimented with more honey-syrups and preserved infusions for Winter woes, are working on beeswax candles and have been lucky enough to get some of our garlic and onions freeze-dried for later.
So, Spring and Summer were a frenzy of picking, packing and planting and we certainly learned what to - and not to - do! We read and studied and tried to see what Nature was telling us.
Sadly, shortly after the new grape line was finished in December, we lost Sally's beloved 'Coops' who never failed to make us laugh. Despite being somewhat deaf and short-sighted, he trundled through 'operations', regardless. Irrespective of his small stature and unusual looks, he was fearless and always cuddled up to those in need of his presence. He was his own dog 100%, making the most of every moment. A happy chap, sadly missed.
Until next time: be fearless, give cuddles, "Yeha & Teeha!" *
(*Ewokese for 'thank you and farewell')