Monday, November 5, 2007

An Extremely Different Subject

As we drove from the mountains of West Virginia into the flatlands of Ohio, the trees were turning, and beautifully so. Mountainsides were swathed in green, orange, and red. As we approached Columbus and the flatlands of the prosperous state of Ohio, at first we enjoyed the open farmland with a scattering of trees and farmhouses and the browning corn ready to be cut. Then about 25 miles from Columbus, we ran into urban sprawl. "Planned" communities clustered around golf courses where sprinklers kept the lawns green and beautiful.* What we call the house machine had been running at full throttle in the area, as it has around many of the nation's large cities.
We believe very strongly that there are two types of communities that genuine pagans should invest in.
1. A farming community where a group gets together to run a farm. We have spent hours upon hours advising pagan/Wiccans on the challenges entailed in such intentional communities. Gavin is a country boy brought up in rural England, and we had our own farm in Missosuri in the early 1970s. We do know the problems, and we know a lot about shortages in cashflow.
2. In another trype, the ashram, a group gets together and cooperatively buys a larger old downtown mansion that can be rescued and turned into several spacious apartments. Such a cooperative does a lot to save inner cities, especially in smaller communities, in what is called infill housing. The infill approach recycles land within urban areas instead of paving over yet more farmland or woodland just for the sake of conspicuous consumption. The apartments made from such older homes usually have spacious rooms and high ceilings and make much nicer living space than modern crackerboxes. A good sound group can share such things as the kitchen and the laundry room, enabling its members to put in high-quality commercial-style equipment that requires very little maintenance. The cost-effectiveness of such an infill arrangement is obvious, and of course it saves a few acres of contryside from the all-devouring house machine.

P.S. This is not a flame of Columbus. Columbus is only a typical example of what is going on over the entire nation. Every year a new area the size of Indiana is paved over. Many pagan/ Wiccans dream vaguely of buying their own piece of unimproved land. If that is your dream, to make such a commitment and to run a small farm, we strongly suggest that you place an ad in the local paper of the nearest easily accessible farming community, something to this effect :
"Volunteer free labor on your farm on weekends."
Most farmers work 24/7. A little extra help and a little time off is a real bonus for them. In this way you will get, as they say in Missouri, your boots into the pig muck (on the coast of North Carolina it's getting your oars into the water) without a huge painful outlay of cash and a lifetime's commitment. Doing this may save you a great deal of heartache later, because you will get a glimpse of what modern farming entails in the real world. It will offer (one of Yvonne's current favorite phrases) a reality smack.
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* See S. Steingraber's "Living Downstream" for a nightmare description of what golf courses do to the planet's health. At least a million gallons of water per day per course ... and the incidence of prostate cancer in greenskeepers is six times as high as in the general population, because of the lawn chemicals that go into the land to keep it picture-perfect. Aren't you proud to be a taxpayer?


Rhiannon said...

I grew up on a farm! We raised everything and didn’t need to go to the store for much of anything. We had cows (for milk, butter, cream), steers (for butchering), chickens (for eggs and meat), pigs for meat, we had our garden for all the vegetables you would want. Every fall we would prepare for winter with canning and freezing meat. That after the crops had been brought in from the fields
I loved it and think there is no better place to raise kids if you want to keep them safe and at home. BUT the farm does make kids a bit naive when it comes to dealing with some of the problems of today. The city has so many different things that one has to cope/deal with in order to just get by. Crime is the main problem. Theft, gangs etc. If a person is not street wise now a days they can be seriously hurt unfortunately.
Then there is the problem of the modern day farmer. Not much is done without chemicals today, the small farmer is no longer if you do not have thousands of acres you can not make a go of it and have to have another job in the city usually.

If I could get 50 acres that I wouldn’t have to worry about having the urban sprawl around it I would. As it is I don’t go into the city any more than I have to. People are just so rude any more.

Mister Anderson said...

Rhiannon, on the destruction of the small farm, one of the basic important parts in the development of civilizations and the U.S. in favor of the soulless massive business-owned monstrosities that are passing for farms, we certainly agree. And the destruction of the environment with the run off of chemicals and artificial fertilizers, as well as mutant crops (thousands of farmers in India have committed suicide after financial ruin as a result of being forced into using such seeds), and the hormones in farm animals are resulting in poverty, disease, poor diets, and are partly responsible for the invasion of the U.S. from Mexico by people who can't get work on local farms as they had for generations and are desperately seeking employment to support their families, again we agree.

However, I don't think being naive is the result of living on a farm. I have known hundreds of people who were raised in cities and are incredibly naive and totally lacking in "street smarts." Unfortunately, such practical education is not much valued. Many a city girl can't change a tire and many a city boy can't cook an egg. Those are practical skills that leave many city folk helpless. Most farm folk have those practical skills.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Let's not be too hard on the gold courses. Astroturf might be a practical solution to the water usage, as well as the use of pesticides. It would change the game somewhat, as I'm sure the dynamics of golfing would be different on astroturf than it is on regular turf, but that's a small price to pay.

As for farms, I've always been a big fan of farm subsidies, provided they are provided to those who grow crops-not to those who do not grow to keep prices artificially inflated.

Subsidies to small and mid-size farms would keep prices stabilized, and would more than make up for the taxes that the average person pays to support them.

There should be more encouragement of family farming, to balance out the agri-business that is turning the food growing industry into another mega international corporate concern, which is what is leading to a lot of environmental problems (such as pig feces)as well as food additives that are contributing to health problems, or have that potential.

Rhiannon said...

mister anderson

I didn't use the word naive.

Farm life is or I should say was (1950) a simpler way of life than city life. Also comparing the two today I still find the values of farm life much better than city.
Just because a girl from the city can not change a tire doesn't mean she is naive. It means she was not taught. On the farm You HAVE to know these things in order to make the life work. The Apostolic Christians have their whole family in on the working of the farm. This included the inlaw son or daughter. They are a real family unit looking out for one another as a family should and in recourse the farm grows and works.

Yes having the government come in and say "You have to do this" to make things better when you on a farm just makes things bad. It is one reason why my Mom stopped growing grains and went back to growing things the old way. The government wanted to control everything that was done and how. She said F you and had others farm the land but not the way the government wanted.

On chemicals. what can be said but they are bad. Not only for humans but also for animals! (even after they are dead!) Did you know that now the stores are allowed to put stuff in the meat to make it look fresher then it is? Yep really makes me feel good knowing I may be buying meat that really is rotten but it still looks great! I wonder if that could be put in a face cream……(sarcasm)
Has anyone wondered why so many have cancer today? Oh sure some would say it is because we know what it is and have put a name to it. I believe we have more cancer because of the chemicals put into our bodies. Has anyone seen the info-mercials that tell you about how the government puts certain chemicals in food to make you eat more so you become over weight? Then you have to go on drugs to help with the diabetes and blood pressure. Hmm another way of making the government rich. Then there is “no cure” for cancer. BS! There is the government just doesn’t want to let it out! Why is it that Europe are years ahead of the U.S. on surgeries?

Anyway enough of the ranting.
Chemicals bad. Fresh air and good living good.