On Sunday May 4 we are opening the farm to all our friends. Bring a picnic and check out the farm. We have lots of wild space with great bird watching, sheep and lambs, chickens and baby chicks, aquaponics, and a few gardens newly planted. We will play around with scything and grafting, and walk the trails. We open at noon and will continue until 4:00.
In 1973-74, working as a scenic designer in Mexico City, I earned extra money dubbing movies on Saturday mornings. A group of us English speakers would meet at a studio to serve as vocal “extras”. All the main scenes had been dubbed by the pros, and we were there to fill in the bit parts. We would be given our lines, see a quick preview, and they would play the scene while we said lines like “I didn’t do it”. We never knew the plot, the motivation or the title of the movie.
Some people have that kind of relationship with their food. Cooking is not a family experience, shopping is like speed dating, and the garden is a decoration. Does it matter that the food you ate was unhappy, tortured, polluted, in poor soil, grown by an exploited farm hand, cooked and served by people disappointed with their jobs and eaten alone in a car with the dinner conversation on a cell phone?
Food is a glue for a society. When we get together, it is around food. I met a man named Gerardo Marin from the group Rooted in Community. He told the story of his grandmother making molé. It took a long time to make the meal. Her recipe had 52 ingredients, each with their own story. The day long process produced food, conversation and a connection to that meal through family history. I grew up eating out of our family garden. We all snapped “greasy beans” together from seeds that had been saved for generations. I still grow those same beans and cook them the same way my grandmother did. Food at our house has always been about knowing where the food came from, knowing it was handled with love, cooked with conversation and eaten as a family who was happy to be part of the story. The last time I saw my grandmother at her home she was 95 and making grape juice from the grapes she had picked that morning. She was straining the boiled and crushed grapes through a cloth that was tied to a broomstick, suspended between two ladder-back chairs. When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of Dylan, Brett, Kenan and me spending the entire day in the kitchen together.
Life is too short for fast food. I can’t miss out on the fun, the companionship, the meaning, and the memories. It would be like making movies without a plot.
Sunday April 27
Fruit trees and berries are mostly propagated by asexual methods. It is rare to grow these plants from seed. We use grafting, budding, layering, division and cuttings at the farm. Participants will perform a cleft graft, do stem cuttings of figs, grapes & pomegranates, leaf & petiole cuttings of herbs, root divisions & tip layering of blackberries, air layering on muscadines, and mound layering of rootstock. Each participant will leave with a tree they graft and the cuttings they have potted. The next class is Sunday April 27, 2:00 at Laughing Frog Farm. You can register by email $45
Saturday April 5
and Sunday April 13
I will be offering additional aquaponics workshops.
We will discuss the biological system, various systems being used by others, possible fish and other aquatic life, various organic feed options, pumps, stocking rates and growing bed sizes. We will talk about the types of plants that do best, the nutritional information of aquaponic fish and vegetables, types of media for the beds, and what you are eating when you buy grocery store fish. In both classes we will go through the construction of each simple, inexpensive system I have.
We will put together an IBC system, a simple to build system that will cost you around $250 and can yield 50 pounds of fish annually and lots of vegetables on a 4′ x 8′ footprint. This class will come with a complete parts list and written instructions.
Workshops begin at 2:00 in the afternoon and will last until about 4:00. The cost is $45 per person $80 for two people. Register by emailing me and pay at the event. You will have the opportunity to purchase an IBC system without the fish, water, media and plants. Classes are limited to ten people. Most of the class is outdoors.
Kenan Rote will teach an introduction to Earth Qi Gong for Women April 6. Instructor Tina Chunna Zhang’s says “This special medical Qi Gong was originally developed and perfected over the course of 1700 years by Daoists, Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) doctors and Qi Gong experts in China. It integrates the principles of TCM with the classical internal arts to feed the needs of a woman’s unique anatomy.” http://www.qigongforwomen.com/Home.html
Class begins at 2:00 Sunday April 6. $45
Kenan is a certified instructor who trained under Tina Zhang.
Register by email
Today is the fifth time that we are starting to plant tomatoes. We have lost peaches and plums, due to frost and cannot plant corn and beans yet. Too much mud followed by unseasonable freezes have interfered with our schedule. I make decisions easily but I was never very good at making the right decision.
When I was young and lived in Austin I designed the sets for quite a few movies. They all paid about $500 for two weeks of round-the-clock work with promises of residuals. I never saw a viewing of any of the movies I worked on in Austin, much less residuals–not even from gems like “Vampires, Second Blood”. One night in 1974 I got a call in the middle of the night asking if I could come down and become the scene designer on a new film. They had no money and were not paying any salaries, but would pay residuals. I had bills to pay and had no interest in working on some movie for some mythical future payment. Before I hung up I was told the title. It was so ridiculous and I knew I was right to refuse the project.
Sometimes you know you are making the right decision. I am planting tomatoes today. It is the right decision.
And of course I refused to design the sets for a movie called “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” for nothing other than royalties. Wouldn’t you?
When son Dylan was about four or five he saw my ”to-do” list and said “ta-dah!” with theatrical fanfare. Obviously he was influenced by the actors, opera singers and hams around him. Since then my daily lists have always been titled “ta-dah!”. There is a certain appropriateness to this. Every day I look at my list and assume I will get this, that and those done, but the forces in the universe converge to impede my progress. I adjust, retool, get out the duct tape and baling wire, walk around and evaluate every plane, and when something is finally complete–“ta-dah!”. So when the tomatoes get planted, when the new chicken house is complete, when the fence finds its’ way around the garden and the new raft beds in the aquaponics system are complete, I have nothing to say other than ”ta-dah!”. I then head back to the blackboard where new projects are waiting for their ta-dah! moment .