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May Days

Abundance surrounds us as the spring rolls out from the long winter here on the farm.

It's a time of merry-making at last weekend's full moon, when the May Poles were erected in all our local villages. This ancient symbol of fertility and lasciviousness is endemic for this time of year, when all the trees are in blossom with hope, and the garden is bursting in heady scents and brilliant color. It's also the time for planting seeds, and nurturing the dainty young ones in the greenhouse. Both Czech and English maintain that motherly sense of farming as sustenance of life in the words "nursery" for the young seedlings (and in Czech "školka"/nursery school).
Each morning the seedlings in the greenhouse are watered carefully with a bucket. It's a ritual. As is most of farm life. But particularly this time of year, when we don't know where to turn first to the chores. Back-breaking work morning 'till night, the team here pitches in giving that extra energy, knowing this is the season to do it. All we plant now has returns in the fall or in the future, if we are lucky: If the rain falls, if the grants come in, if President Obama decides to attend the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Develepement in Rio de Janiero in June.
At ArtMill we are working not just on growing our own food for the students due to arrive in a couple of weeks, (so that they will know what "organic" is), but also toward doing our small part to help change policy that can bring 'sustainable education' into the schools of our children; teach them not only recycling, but sustainable living in the larger sense. So we prepare for Rio, for outreach in Nigeria, Rhode Island, and the funnest of fun: our plastic bottle raft to float down the River Vltava next month to call awareness to the Safe Planet Campaign issues on Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes, specifically plastic pollution and electronic waste.

We do live in a global village. But it starts at home. In planting our own food garden each year, we want to share with all our visitors how easy growing one's own food is. Farm life is more physically active than city life, which is probably why we found piles of Francovka bottles (a traditional czech astringent rub for sore muscles) buried on the property for years. It's a slower pace than our western electronic-media-hyper intensity. And requires a daily ritual: feeding the livestock, watering, chasing run-away animals, milking the goat, closing the chickens at night, and on and on. Sleeping late around here means, uh, 8 a.m.
And for that we now have fresh greens every eve at dinner: arugula, 3 salad varieties, chives, herbs galore, and even last season's onions, still crisp and strong drying in the mill. Peas, broccolli, rhubarb, celery, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, beans, basil, cauliflower, etc. are on their way to a healthy summer before entering our cook's bowl (and our stomachs). Our hens' eggs are the color of pure sunshine, and guaranteed no chemicals, no additives. The meat we eat (rabbit) is absolutely pure, since I feed them myself every day with grass from the fields, our neighbor's organic grains, and our well water.
Who needs a Jane Fonda workout with a small farm? Try a "kosa"/scythe workout, cutting grass as our ancestors did. Great for the waist, hips, back. Why rent comedy films when you can watch Mom running down the street in her bathrobe and rubber work boots at 7 a.m. chasing the runaway horse? Who needs to plead for pity on a grant when you have a blind diabetic dog, a 3-legged cat, enough leaky roofs to fill a village, and possibly the most-painted old white horse in Central Europe?  
It is May, and time to make merry. Eat, drink, and walk in the wilderness. Hopefully on the path less traveled.

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2012-05-07 - 20:50:00  by barbarabenish

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