Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016

It's raining gently here at Northview, a real soaking, growing, rain, the first of the year. The kids have peas in the ground, and root vegetables and some onions down in Garden Number 1. I'll bet the seeds and sets are enjoying their drink.

Good garden dirt, Garden number 1

I planted lettuce mix, parsley, and beets out in my plastic barrel planters the other day. They were just waiting for a good soaking to get growing. It is hard to resist the temptation to plug in a few beans and maybe some squash, but despite the warm weather we are, alas, not done with frost.

Soon though.... soon. I took down some of the plastic off windows on my way downstairs this morning. of the best things in spring, opening up the view and letting in the birdsong.

Our pasture provides a good hunting ground for this Kestrel

A few daffodils that survived that terrible cold snap are brightening the little places where we set them out to naturalize. Birds are making whoopee everywhere you look, leading me to mutter, "Get a room."

And a pair 'o' Mallards is setting up housekeeping in the cow's drinking pool

In the dining room an incubator whirs and rumbles, warming and turning, and moisturizing turkey, chicken and guinea eggs. The brooder the boys built is home to dozens of peeping chicks and poults. The barns and coops are full of birds and lambs and our remaining four cows. The boss is plugging away at the fence so that soon I will be able to look out the kitchen window and see old Neon Moon and Bama Breeze and the big beef heifer grazing among the deer that are already out there every day. 

Enjoying the rich grass under the old Box Elder where the cows used to rest
while waiting to come to the barn for milking

BTW, when we went up on the fence I saw why the latter are hanging around under that spread out old Box Elder Tree. After decades, lifetimes even, of cows lying there to chew the cud and catch the breeze, the soil has nurtured soft, dense, rich green grass, that is as nice as the rye I am about to tell you about. It must taste wonderful to hungry ruminants after a winter on sticks and twigs. It sure felt good to walk over on our way down from the hill.

So it is kinda nice to celebrate Earth Day in a quiet way, maybe water a few indoor plants and open the mini greenhouse in the living room for a few hours so the tomato plants  can breathe.

On farms across America every day is Earth Day. Whether they be mega farms or mom and pop operations, every day is spent in tending the land and the livestock and growing food for the world. 

We saw some neighbors out on the land the other day when we went down to Schoharie Crossing looking for ducks. (One Lesser Scaup was about it.)

They were spreading the stored liquid valuable organic material that comes from cows on some green, rich, rye that had overwintered on their river flats land (some of the best land in the county if not anywhere.)

A big set of land plows sat waiting for the spreaders to finish, and we pulled off the road to let a gigantic set of drags and Perfectas (much bigger than the ones shown) pass us under the Thruway overpass.

I'll bet by now that land is worked up, fitted, and planted to corn to feed somebody's dairy cows so they can make milk so we can have it in our coffee and have cheese on our pizza.

I'll bet there would be many folks who would say bad things about that large scale farming though. 

However, eyes that have known farming know different. That green rye? It held the soil in place all winter, preventing erosion from wind and water. Now it is tilled under and into the ground where it will quickly break down into organic matter, enriching the soil, and providing food for the corn plants to come. A fine sustainable growing practice!

The manure delivery method? Nothing is wasted, and with the tillage tools coming right behind, all will be incorporated into the soil to feed the crop, rather than running into the river during a little rain like this one. Cow manure equals lots less commercial fertilizer too.

The scale of the tools? They get big jobs done quickly, when the timing is right for ideal plant growth. We have plows and drags and Perfectas on our little farm. They get the job done, but much slower. Less efficiently. When farms must compete on a global scale under trade agreements like the proposed TPP,  they must be supremely efficient and well-manged, and tend their land and livestock to the utmost degree of excellence.....

Or they end up selling the cows and dividing the land up for houses.....which may have nice lawns, but don't go far in feeding a hungry world, and provide lousy habitat for the birds and wild things. 

Thus, I will spend Earth Day admiring farmers big and small and being grateful that our cupboards and freezers are full of good things to eat.... and doing the little bit we do to tend the land and grow the food for hungry folks.


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Well said!

Jan said...

Reading this post is the perfect way to start Earth Day.

A. Montgomery said...

Love your pictures, and thanks for the Peggy pictures yesterday. Love Mom

Cathy said...

What a beautiful world. And yes! Well said.

Anonymous said...

Very good post!