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Judy

Hey, Elaine. You live almost the same life as I do.. My husband (wildlife biologist) and I live in the country...by choice. I was city born and bred and hated every minute of it. When I took an aptitude test in highschool, it said I should become a farmer. A lot of sense that made to me, a female from an upper middle-class home in the city. Here in rural New Mexico I have two horses, 6 cats, 2 dogs, and 7 chickens. Plus large garden. Last year my husband killed a rabid fox that was after our chickens with a stick. One year we had bears in the apple trees. A couple of months ago we butchered a buffalo and put it up in the freezer. I have in the past packed out elk on my back (which is probably why I have back problems now...plus arthritis in my hands) and packed out catfish from the Verde River in Arizona. Correct, living on a "farm" is hard work. But I love it. Am getting ready to plant the garden again this year. Right now things are in pots, since it has been cold this spring. Don't think I'd much like your New York environment though. Too cold...and I'm 65 now so am slowing down some.

Enjoy your blog a great deal. I think there must be something about living out in the country that allows one to contemplate the larger issues and come to a more realistic overview of what's happening out there.

blues

God fucking damn, Elaine! Different lives, parallel, yet different universes! I came into this "world" neither rich nor poor. It became very complicated very fast!

I learned the "You Bet Your Life" game very damn fast! My mom "broke up" with my dad; maybe because they both had some odd brain anomaly. Whatever. So I got farmed out to an actual farm for a while. The chicken bullshit was the very worst. The asshole farmer's kid would light a chicken with gas, and watch it fly, crash and burn. What a scum!

The chickens were nearly "free range," as they just lived in a big shed. Every night, some poor chicken would be "it," would get taken down and eaten by the rest. That didn't help my attitude about farming one fucking iota!

But, as they say, I had my own problems. I soon moved to Bridgeport, CT, with my mom again. Capitola Ave, behind Father Panic Village. Tough gangs! Seventeen toughs once chased me for an entire day. They were gonna kill me; I knew that. But I knew EVERY back alley, Every hallway maze; every tunnel under the street! They finally had me totally cornered. A stone wall, two stories high, at the very end of Capitola Avenue. Giant stone wall, 30 feet high. Where was I gonna go now? Same story I have told so often! I simply jumped from the two stories onto solid asphalt. Cracked a front tooth. But the gang certainly didn't follow. This seems to be the very story of my life. Go a little further than your enemies. Well, I did.

Nothing particularly heroic about all this. I was strangely autistic. Learned tensor calculus out of books. Ate the peyote to get free. Fifteen years ago I went back to the place where I jumped, and just looking at it came closer to killing me than the jump itself. It's all been, interesting... I tried to go to "high school," but I couldn't write, so I never got past fourth grade, basically. Like I care.

Elaine and I have some strange thing in common. Blowing up the rock-solid gingerbread house with firecrackers. That is just what me and my gang would do. Oh yeah. Push the old envelope just a bit further. We were a tad nerdy, but the thuggiest gangs with their collars up kept a clear distance. For good reason! We were bad, BAD! Willing to risk our lives at any moment. Never willing to let go of any damn thing that life had to deal out. I wish I had known Elaine when I was a kid. We would have had one hell of a gang. I guess we still do, in a way. Fuck the stupid assholes. We will do it all our way. Come and get us, weenies!

I gotta stop this blogging bullshit. Gotta get my linguistics stuff out before the jerks blow it all. Tried to go to "high school." Went to school with a now-sitting U.S. Senator. What a wimp he became! Our gang would never put up with the shit he eats every day. My dumb-ass brother was an unacknowledged hero in the Vietnam. While I was protesting what he was doing in D.C. But that is par for the course. Damn good work, Elaine! The hell with the wimpy-ass gangsters!

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Blues, in the desert, we ranch kids waged long, hard territorial battles. Heh.

Judy, hey! Same here! I used to fish in the Verde River because I once had a boyfriend in New Mexico, long, long eons ago. It is odd in northern New Mexico. One minute, it can be very very warm. Then a blizzard roars in!

This is what makes farming fun; Mother Nature toying with us humans.

Ed-M

That article in the NYT just goes ga-ga over Mr. Neustadt, Elaine. And no wonder. He looks like a stereotypical buff, toned, fitness/fashion model! Which he'll probably become pretty damn quick.

Roberto

Not meaning to be the goofball who cuts the silent-but-deadly gas attack at the birthday party but..... given the increasingly super track record of calling thieves thieves and forecasting macroecon stuff is it wise to detail how long it takes law enforcement to reach your place? We need the real journalists manning the turrets as long as possible, Elaine. BTW.... you sure look happy in those farm pix!!!

Daliwood

During my childhood, I spent a lot of time near--and sometimes on--farms. I didn't get an allowance, for instance. I picked cotton to earn spending money. To this day, I think the rural farming life I was exposed to shapes a lot of my beliefs. It may be a little odd, but often when I'm in the grocery store, I think about how much of the food came from "family farms" versus how much of it is mass produced corporate farm output. Especially meat.

I also see the weather in terms of the natural cycles for farmers. I never hear people talking about the weather in terms of farming. They want endless sunny days for their kids' soccer games or their church picnics, but nobody seems to remember that crops need rain. The hardest working farmer can't grow much in a severe drought.

Here in the very agrarian portion of Tennessee, we have a number of small farms that have fallen to the developers axe, the only trace remaining of them being in the name of the cookie-cutter subdivision that suddenly appears: Apple Grove Manor, etc. But a few of them have held on, although they are often no more than a few acres. Every summer, I see these hold-out farmers parking their pick-ups by the road and selling beans, corn, tomatoes, melons, etc. I always buy from them. We also have the abomination of yuppie "farmers markets," garish, shopping-mall-style pavilions that sell the same South American produce as the chain grocery stores but put it in a wicker basket and call it fresh. Sadly, most of my friends can't tell the difference between real fresh vegetables from local farms and the stuff that's trucked in. It never occurs to them that much of the produce they're buying isn't even in season here. I guess ambiance has become a substitute for getting your butt in the fields and picking something.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Yes, Daliwood. Heh. Nearly every farmer in my region including myself has been driven out of business by cheaper food imports. We had huge, huge greenhouses here that now sit idle on the other side of my mountain. All but one dairy farmer has been driven out by the competition of injecting harmones into cows, etc.

donh

Elaine,

$6,000 in taxes for 23 acres, what a deal! that's what many of us pay for a house on a fraction of an acre.

The closest I have come to a farm? I married a farmer's daughter. She has lots of great stories, and a lot of common sense.

Abelian

Hi Elaine,

Found this link on a blog recently. Discusses the range of things humans find disgusting.

http://psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?
term=19980201-000032&page=1

One of the overarching themes of disgust is things that remind us that we are animals.

I would think that farming, seeing the blood and crap, birthing calves, having to shoot animals when injured would definitely fall into that category.

A farmer's son or daughter recognize that they are human animals, whereas capitalist and their progeny feel they have evolved past the human and thus feel they can exploit the humans as beasts of burden.

Also, an interesting article from 2001 in Harper's called Dr. Daedalus describing the ethical debate of altering human form and function.

http://www.people.umass.edu/jaklocks/Phil164/DrD.htm

What if a person could go to a plastic surgeon and easily obtain functional anatomical wings for a few million?

JSmith

My very first summer "job", at age 11, was mucking out a 30-stall horse barn. I'd shovel the stalls out into the aisle that ran down the middle, then shovel that into a loader that followed me from front to back. Pay: I got to ride the horses. And I thought I was overpaid - "I can ride all the horses? And all I have to do is shovel shit? This is GREAT!"

Elaine Meinel Supkis

This is why you fall for the Republican lies, Smith. Heh.

blues

I learned that too, Smith. When you shovel shit, there will always be more. Trust me on this.

JSmith

It wasn't that bad - it didn't even smell all that nasty. I suppose the "Republican lie" I learned was that if you keep at it steady and do the job you said you'd do, you get something you want in return.

(Unlike the Democrats, who keep promising me stuff and then finding some lame-assed excuse why it can't happen, at least not now...)

Double "HEH".

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