Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stolen Seasons

It would appear the property I was interested in is no longer on the market. And not because I (unfortunately?) bought it.

A strange affair. I never really heard back from anyone regarding whether or not I'd like to make a counter-offer. Very weird. I came into work Monday morning, didn't have any emails from the realtor, and the listing had been removed.

It's a devilish thing not to know who you're supposed to be nor where you should go. Demonic, even.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Field Of Day Dreams

These are a few of the pictures Pat, a very friendly real estate lady, sent to me of the property in The Greater Titonka-Lakota Metropolitan Area.

I made an offer on the property Wednesday morning.

I'm nervous. I don't know if I'm more afraid they'll refuse the offer, or more anxious that they'll actually accept it. I'm trying not to jinx it. I'd appreciate the same concern from all y'all.

Add the fact that NPR for what seemed like most of the day took place in Des Moines and Davenport (urban farming, food safety, investing in small farms, fresh vegetable and fruit in schools -- it was truly eerie, in an infectiously positive way), and I'm beginning to believe that mom and dad are literally chomping at the bit.

Maybe I am, too.

When I was scheming late in 2007 to figure out a way to move closer to mom, I told her I was trying to find and interpret "the signs". When she got sick merely months later, she confessed that the cancer had cured her of searching out "signs" or divining any meaning from them.

Can't say I blame her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life Isn't Too Short

It's too fragile.

I had a nice visit with my oldest brother, Jess, on the phone this weekend. He had the flu last week, and he still wasn't 100%. But he's always had such a positive attitude, possibly to match my negative one.

I told him that if our dad were alive today, he'd be ashamed of me. I hate my job, I don't respect the people I work for and with, and I work in an unforgivably despicable industry.

Jess said, "No, he wouldn't be ashamed of you. He'd be frustrated with you. But he wouldn't be ashamed of you. I'm sure of it."

I suppose I frustrated dad plenty while he still breathed. It's a shame I have to do it to him in death. I hope Jess is right.

I do wonder sometimes, often, actually, if folks who had terrible parents whom they didn't like are batter off in the end. I think in some respects they are.

I guess my advice to you young parents out there is this (yes, I've said this before): Make your kids hate you; they'll be more consolable in the end.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Where are you from?"

[Sorry to belabor the Iowa thing, guys, but it weighs heavy on my mind like a carpet stain. This is just my way of Scotch Guarding it out of my brain, so to speak.. I.e., I know, I know.]

My great-great grandfather, Edward, was too young to fight in the Civil War. His older brother, James, wasn't. After the war, the 2 of them set out for Iowa to homestead. (It's my understanding that James was a real Lt. John Dunbar type.)

So Edward eventually settled in North Central Iowa, in what's now called German Valley.

I was born in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. For the first 5 years of my life, we lived in Sterling Heights, a nice suburb of Detroit at the time.

Then dad was transferred to Findlay, Ohio, in the North West Central part of the state.

About 3 years later, we moved to Mahomet, Illinois. Dad worked in Champaign-Urbana.

Then he was transferred, about 3 years later, to Columbus, Ohio, and we moved to a suburban town called Pickerington. We lived there for nearly 6 years, or so.

Then mom and dad and I (everyone else was gone and married) moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at the very beginning of my junior year of high school. That was rough.

About 2 years later he was transferred to Springfield, Ohio, and we moved to some acreage in New Carlisle, Ohio. That Fall, I was off to New York City.

I moved back to New Carlisle in 1990. Went to another college, graduated, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend graduate school.

That lasted about 15 minutes, and it was back to New Carlisle. I worked at a nursery farm for awhile, moved over to my brother's farm for a bit. I was aimless and getting kind of long in the tooth, so I moved to Colorado. Boulder, Estes Park, and finally Winter Park. I was there for 2 and 1/2 seasons. Met the-one-that-got-away, and then, after one more visit to New Carlisle, on Memorial Day Weekend we moved to Birmingham, Alabama. That was 1997.

So when people ask me, "Where are you from?", I think I'm just going to say, "Iowa."

Yeah, I like the sound of that. I say it proudly, with a good deal of charm and wit.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cabin Fever

Bummer. Schmutzie posted a 6-part video of the mini-documentary at his blog that, for me, since he posted it, had become a daily ritual and a spectacular inspiration. It was pulled due, I can only assume, to copyright issues. Now I'll have to snoop around The Internet Web to get my fix.

So I've decided, once I get to Iowa, to build a 20' x 20' log cabin using nothing but native trees, tweezers and a nail file. It'll be my summer home.

What is it about us that moves one to, what, regress? Devolve? To let ourselves, yet again, be held hostage to domesticated fire? Several books and movies spring immediately to mind:

My Side Of The Mountain

Dances With Wolves

White Fang

Legally Blond

I have a severe and acute case of homesickness. But there's no "home" to go back to. Hasn't been since 1998. Is that what I'm doing? Trying to create a "home" on the prairie where it all began in the first place? Someday remind me to tell you about the first of my kin to be born in this country, Edward, son of Patrick.

What sort of retarded lunatic (yours truly) craves solitary confinement by virtue of context? Who among the sane longs to come down with a case of cabin fever?

Fear. Despair. Gotta work on that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Medicinal Marijuana?

I've been racking my brain trying to figure out a way to generate income on the 8 tillable acres in the next 2 to 4 years. So I bought the following books:

Cooking Meth For Dummies

Hey Let's Grow Some Pot!

History Of The Poppy

Coca Cultivation And Its Uses In Curing Impotency: Short Term Solutions

Schooling Baby Boomers With Fake Ludes: A Primer

Talk about some page-turners!

In the part of Iowa I'm seriously considering relocating to, there are 4 sorts of people:

1.) Farmers

2.) Retired farmers

3.) Folks whose jobs are related to farming (e.g., meat inspectors, seed dealers, implement salesmen, etc.)

4.) People who hate farming and Iowa but don't know they're allowed to leave

That last group is a tough crowd.

What I'll do eventually is make the 8 acres a grid, and farm only 4 acres a year, rotating the fallow acres with the growing acres as well as rotating the particular crops themselves, careful not to follow one crop with an unsymbiotic one, and vise versa. (I'll go into the details of this later, when I'm actually there.)

At this point, most if not all Iowans never see the "food" that's grown right next door to them, literally. The farms have become so big that there no longer is a small farm culture. Which means, ironically, that rural Iowa doesn't enjoy the appreciation for fresh food that urbanites with disposable income do. I'm gonna change that, and here's how.

After I get good at it (I'm already pretty good, though it's on a small scale), I'll approach the area schools and offer to grow fruits and vegetables for lunches. Oh sure, there are zillions of government regulations, and the FDA practically subsidizes growing fuel instead of food. But there have to be dozens of lunchroom ladies that would look the other way when the sight of my way-too-early-on-account-of-cold-frame carrots immediately launches them into a narcotic-like flashback to their childhoods.

Then I'll start a program where the school itself grows its own veggies. It'll be a part of the curriculum starting in 3rd grade. Its inherent appeal and success will spread like wildfire. I'll be an agricultural community organizer, reminiscent of my President whom I have an enormous amount of respect for.

Change the way things are grown, harvested, cooked. Change the way we live. Perspective. What really matters. Sharing a meal. The Last Supper.

Perhaps my mom and dad could finally feel free to be proud of me, because I can't think of anything else right now that would make me more happy beyond description. Seriously.

Oh well. I suppose daydreaming is an art more than a business. Go figure.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Cow wants to be outside and eat grass (after it's milked) in the early morning.

Cow wants to go back inside in the early evening to be milked again.

Instead, cow stays in an enclosure standing in its own poop and is fed corn.

Corn doesn't agree with cow's stomach, and becomes gassy.

Cow gets sick; wants to go outside and eat grass and poop.

Cow, instead, is given antibiotics with its corn.

Cow gets sicker; meat is affected; still standing in own poop.

All cow wants to do is go outside and eat grass. And poop.

There was a great article in the Birmingham paper yesterday about one of our local farmers' market farmers. They raise beef, poultry and pork. The beef is grass fed. They let the chickens forage. And they let the pigs forage, for acorns. She said the acorns give the pork a wonderful flavor.

Articles like this make me feel less alone. And stories like this one make me believe I can do anything if I stick with it.

Here's the thing: Free-range livestock eats what it needs to be healthy, suffers less stress over the course of its life, and has some dignity. Because of these simple things, it tastes better, and, that's right, it's better for you.

I think I read where Michael Pollan said that a cow with a stomach infection, if left to its own devices to eat grass, will have a completely healthy stomach in less than a week.

No antibiotics needed.

I'll shut up now. (For awhile.)