August 20th, 2009 pt. 2

Since I originally meant to write about a topic besides filth, here is part two. Many persons feel they are well informed in today’s society. Reading a reputable newspaper, perusing multiple internet journals and commentaries, looking at acclaimed news sources such as BBC online, and even balanced coverage of television and radio news…if anything is to be found not owned by Fox or Clear Channel.

Once I began an active involvement with agriculture, I became aware that news coverage exists which only overlaps the mainstream media sources occasionally. I thought I’d shine a flashlight (that was humor) on two weekly journals to which I subscribe, Capital Press and AgAlert. Capital Press has the appearance of a traditional newspaper, and reports on the happenings of agriculture in CA, OR, WA and ID. It contains humorous columnists, great seasonal recipes, and a Classified section to help anyone find that perfect llama. The California Farm Bureau publishes the "Life Magazine" sized AgAlert. Interestingly enough, neither publication overlaps the other very much as to content. Here are some headlines from AgAlert: "New barley varieties for beer could revive malting in California", "Farmers express relief after Humboldt creamery sale", " ‘New and improved’ durum wheat is on the horizon", "Lygus favors pima cotton over upland varieties", "Alfalfa fields show some deficiency in molybdenum", "Processing tomato growers anticipate a good year." Now let’s try Capital Press: "Ugly year for ryegrass seed price", "Chinese exec pleads guilty in honey smuggling case", "Wal-Mart eyes change in how it buys produce."  The thing about all this that interests me so much is that each one of these news items sums up an article that affects all of us living here Out West. Clothing, textiles, Campbell’s soup, contaminated foods, University of California research…..these little nuggets are in the undercurrent of our daily lives and yet we hear about almost none of this from the agencies that are supposed to be informing us. So next time the Boob Tube is blabbing all the latest about Britney or Brangelina, turn the damn thing off and take a minute to look up some real news. Both these publications can be read online, for free….and ya really ought to know about this stuff as it affects the world a lot more than….um…..Hollywood celebrities and the latest network TV show.

August 20th, 2009 pt. 1

Last blog I recall sailing off into the world of Farm Fashion….or lack thereof. Today something came up which reminds me of another joy of farm living….filth. This blog is dedicated to those unspeakable episodes that are common to farming life….and part of why we don’t wear Versace out here. Today I thought I’d engage in a bit of long-overdue vacuuming….bust a few cobwebs, get all those garlic skins off the carpet.

As I worked my way over to the windows, I saw a very large fly, moving slowly. I learned long ago that the vacuum’s long tube attachment can be used to sneak up on and schlock up an unsuspecting fly, and in a moment the plumpie was history. And then I saw another. And another, and another. A veritable Amityville Horror of large flies crawled on my window. These sorts of encounters bother me on a deep, visceral level. First off, it’s in the house, which is the last refuge against all the filth that’s outside the doors. Second of all, where the hell were they coming from? TWENTY FOUR flies later, I located the carcass of a mourning dove behind a speaker…..just flippin’ wonderful.

Flies and dead stuff go hand in hand, so naturally during egg season, it’s significant when a single egg in a nest has a coating of flies. As a rotten egg works its way from bad to explosive, oozing putrid fluid will often leak out of the egg….and this is pretty much a fly’s version of Hometown Buffet, with extra fixin’s. Extreme caution is warranted when handling a rotten egg. The slightest jarring can cause the egg to spew sulfureous greenish-black stuff everywhere, so they are best lobbed far away to burst at safe distance. But the average rotten egg has nothin’ on its counterpart, the dead-chick egg. When an egg dies during incubation, the hens don’t figure it out. I’m not convinced that birds have a sense of smell….which would certainly be good for them. The eggs can crack and bulge since there is extra meat with which to work, until only the inner membrane is holding the whole decaying mess together. The stench is incredible….but has a certain use. Stores sell fly traps, which come with liquid bait which is supposed to smell like dead stuff and attract the flies into the trap. But why use fake dead stuff when the real dead stuff is already at hand? So to set a highly effective fly trap, take a deep breath, crack that unhatched egg, and shove the….innards…of the egg into the gallon milk carton. Then run 50 feet away, gasp for air, and go set the top on the trap. If still in possession of the most recent meal, go on to the next chore while congratulating yourself on all the flies that will now be caught. But wait, there’s more…..the final armament in the Awful Arsenal is the Soup Bird. There are Soup Everythings….Soup Cows, Soup Horses, but since we don’t raise hoofstock here, we never get past Soup Birds. If it hasn’t already been guessed, this is my special desigation for something that has been dead so long in the heat that the skin acts as a leaky bag for the liquefied contents.

Of course there are other sorts of filth…dead insects, live insects, manure of all descriptions, Things Cats Do, dust, dirt, smoke, ash, rotten vegetation, animal injuries and disgusting wounds….the list isn’t short. However, this keep the body healthy….studies have shown that children raised on farms have the lowest incidence of asthma as a population…..it’s the filth.