Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Control of Nature

The weather people are calling for more rain, as if they've already forgotten how wet it has been through June and now the middle of July! What short memories! It's difficult to understate the importance of heat when growing food in a place with such a short built-in growing season. Rain, in excess, will dilute plant nutrition. In turn, grazing animals eat less nutritious food and thus grow slower. If Lucy and I were settlers, in the covered wagon sense, cast away from civilization, fending for our lives. We would depend on the food we could raise and store up for the long, hard winter. Were that not enough, our health would suffer. Plant and animal "performance" is linked, a chain reaction in response to environmental conditions. Food preparation can only take us as far as our experience permits, then uncontrollable forces take over. Forces of nature; weather, predators, disease... Whatever the disaster, the sooner we can get on with enjoying the present the better. I have come to do chores and found piles of bloody feathers on the ground. Now, when I walk down the path to check on our animals, I worry about what terror I might find. However, as participants in the business of life, death, and chicken in a bag, we all benefit from preparation and efficiency. On the other hand it's important to remember to be flexible and have fun. Our awareness of potential problems should not overwhelm the joy and privilege we could otherwise enjoy. Trying to find a balance between the actual and the imagined is of paramount importance because life should not be a reaction to dread. It should reflect the conditions at present, with equal regard to potential pitfalls and possibilities. There is no more effective way to learn these humane lessons than by coaxing food from the ground.

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