Monthly Archives: August 2008

Heavy reading, idle hands

Along with the gardening this summer I have been doing quite a bit of reading in areas that I don’t normally read. It started off in the spring with “An Underground History of American Education”, and has lead into various other alternative voices and perspectives of history, education, and economics. I never really enjoyed reading history or politics, so this was a new direction. The difficult part, and part of the reason that I do not write much about it, is that it is disturbing to dig into the history of our systems and difficult keep an upbeat perspective. Now we can look back on the ideas and thoughts that were prevalent a century ago and see how wrong or misguided they were, but our world today is still run using systems that were based on those ideas that we find so disturbing now.

One of the impressions that I am getting is the brokenness (sinfulness?) of systems. At the beginning of the development of a system (at least in modern history), whether it is political, financial, or educational, there is generally some good intent or altruistic motives. Over time, that good intent, which was attached to some individual or individuals, is supplanted by institutional goals that do not necessarily reflect the intent of the individuals who are now running the system. The system has a life of it’s own, but those that are the agents of the system do not steer according to the original passion, so the system drifts, and is easily diverted by those that would use the system for their own purposes. In some cases we now have monolithic systems of which we don’t even understand the original intent, but which are kept in place because those that control the system benefit through it regardless of how beneficial or effective the system is.

I am even tempted to say that systems are infernal tools for maximizing the effectiveness of vice. It only takes small suggestions in key places to turn a system towards malevolent intent. One proud and selfish leader can cause misery for millions, but is soon overthrown. A few dozen chairmen, or board members with minor bouts of selfish ambition, greed, or cowardice can cause generations of misery for hundreds of millions, if not more.

What better places for demons to play? We wonder why we do not see more overt demonic activity in the world today, but there is no need here. It is through the subtle manipulations of organizations that we are possessed. Everywhere we look we see huge systems for controlling the population, from education to economics to opinions and beliefs. Overt demonic activity is still powerful in some places where the predominant beliefs lead to a fear of spirits, but here we have TV, consumerism, nationalism, and the pursuit of leisure. We would call an old-school demon possession a trick, a fake, or a “condition”, not a thing to be feared.

See what I mean about staying upbeat? So my current question is: “what do I do with this?” I am still working on that, but one of the directions is to remain focused on the life around me. I have a sphere of influence, and within that I will be Christ. While it is helpful to understand the underpinnings of our society, it can also serve as a distraction from the real goal of pleasing God, and being love. But I still say RESIST!

I am still at the beginning or in the middle of some big ones that may not be finished until well into fall. It is good for me, even just the challenge to remain focused, and to question my inputs.

Mid summer update

There has been a lot going on this summer, but not much motivation for writing about it. The garden is doing well, and producing a good amount of food for our table, but it is clearly too small. But then again, we have still not really hit the tomato season yet. We have had a few handfuls off the vines, but the cool June, and cool nights for the last month or so have slowed down production. This cooler weather trend has affected the curcubits as well, and so far we have had only two cukes off the vine. I can see that we may not end up with a very good harvest if the nights continue to be so mild. My dreams of pickles lining the walls of our basement are fading. On a positive note, the small chilies, Hungarian Hot Wax, and JalepeƱos have produced well so far, and are drying, pickled, or frozen (respectively). The kale is continuing to produce, and we have harvested 3 cabbages, one of which was enormous at 10 1/2 inches across and I am guessing around 7 pounds. Bea found that she is allergic to the bean vines by harvesting several pounds last week. She will need to wear sleeves and maybe gloves for the next round of picking. The leeks are still getting taller, and are around 3 feet at the moment. While the last minute potato experiment seems to be doing alright, the corn experiment right next to it does not look too promising. We have ears and tassels, but everything looks stunted and yellow. The variety has bantam in the name, but I don’t think it means the entire plant stays under 6 feet tall. A fun surprise was the hops! We planted it and let it go where it wished this year, not knowing how well it would do. It has produced quite a few cones, and the first harvest is drying now. I am not exactly sure what I will do with them, but I know people who brew, so I might send them directions west.

On the animal front, we picked up 9 more chickens from a retiree that had too many bantams. He just loves birds, but was getting to old to move all the cages indoors in the winter, so he switched to the smallest bantams he could find. The population got a little out of hand, so he he asked my friend Jason at Tractor Supply if he knew anyone who would take some, and Jason gave him our number. These little Dutch Bantams are only 7-9 inches tall, and the 4 roosters were full-grown and feisty. They are slowly integrating with “the ladies”, who now seem like amazonian giants. We don’t think we will keep them all, but at the moment, they are producing eggs and entertainment, so they are earning their keep. Ah, eggs. Our ladies just started laying last week, and their eggs are the same size as those from the mature bantams, only brown. They will start laying larger eggs in a few months, but right now we have the novelty of feeling like giants eating 3-5 eggs in the morning with our toast. We also have the 3 rabbits, but I am leaning towards shipping them off. They may be soft, but they sure are not doing anything to pay for all the feed they eat. We have contact with a girl that raises meat rabbits, so maybe we will give away some that we have in favor of some that can “make meat”.

Our freezer is slowly filling with harvested produce and berries. When apple season comes around we will look for windfall apples for making applesauce and cider, and stock up on vegetables that can be stored. We have been drying chilies, chamomile, hibiscus, hops, mustard seeds, coriander, and oregano. Our perennial bunching onions have grown in nicely, so they may be next. The bulb onions are all pulled out and hanging in braids in the carport, thanks to Ariana. She already knew how to braid them! We have noticed that we are missing garlic, so we will be putting that in this fall for next year, along with lots more onions.

I could keep rambling on and on about the garden, and plans for the homestead… but I won’t. We will be pretty busy the next several weeks with family arriving back, and visiting, as well as some serious camping. Things won’t settle down again until near October, which is feeling too soon at the moment.