food, farming, friends and family: a meditation on chosen simplicity and (in)voluntary complications – life.

Archive for May, 2010

Thursday Morning Thoughts

1. Find bra and motivation – time to substitute teach: Mrs. Wood’s 5th grade class, here I come!
2. Exciting Ski to Sea weekend coming up, very exciting weekend visitors.
3. This oil spill in the Gulf is real and horrifying – these pictures from the Boston Globe are gut-wrenching, and only begin to touch on the devastation.  Thinking about a trip to the coast this winter to see if I can help in the ongoing clean-up, demanding of myself that I reduce my own dependency on oil. 
Maybe I’ll hijack class today and get these 5th graders thinking about it too …

Plant and Animal Updates

A morning tour of our Douglas Ave homestead…

Chicken Tractor for the Broiler Hens (AKA “meat birds”).  You can’t see the wheels in this picture, but we move this portable coop around each night to give the hens more grass to pick through and quickly poop all over in the quintessential nutritional exchange. 

These ladies and gentlemen are bred to put weight on at a remarkable (and likely unhealthy) rate.  Keep in mind that they are the same age (5 – 6 weeks old) as the laying hens in the pictures below AND that they are already half-way through their lives at this stage.  This isn’t meant to be morbid; these chickens are well taken care of, and, despite what many people assume, they are active foragers and quite mobile.  That said, there’s little doubt that their rate of growth must be causing tremendous strain on their internal systems (an issue that the industrial food system is all too willing to gloss over – Food Inc: see it! ).  SO … I’m glad to have had the chance to be around them, happy that our farming group has decided against raising these types of chickens next time, and happier still to be a vegetarian (though always impressed by and encouraging of those who want to raise their own meat in a humane and intentional way). 

One of my favorite Spring sights: pea blossoms. 

Crawling Hops Vines

Chicken Tractor #2 : Interim mobile home for our 6 laying hens 
(4 Road Island Reds, 2 Barred Rocks)

The Garlic Patch: Garlic Harvest is usually in early July – but, for those of us who can’t wait, the scapes (garlic’s long loopy flower stalk) should be coming on any day now.  Same great flavor in a new decorative package: great pickled!

The Bird Farm Continues: Heritage Turkeys, a couple of weeks old. 

life starts here.

Our Bodies, OurSelves

I remember sitting at the dining room table, having dinner with my family, a short length of 2×4 wrapped to my forearm with an ace bandage thinking, ‘I bet most kids don’t do this.’

No, not the whole family dinner thing, though that too has definitely become more and more rare.

I’m talking about the 2 x 4.

It was summer of one middle school year or the other, and I had come home from a basketball camp with a sprained wrist (and a small trophy, but that’s another story). My parents are both doctors, so the news of my injury wasn’t alarming or even that exciting. In minutes I was outfitted with this new brace, and I have to admit that what it lacked in comfort and style, it certainly provided in stability. Nonetheless, it was a 2×4. And thank God I didn’t have to wear it to school.

Similar instances came up throughout my childhood – tape instead of stitches, going to school with colds, and avoiding X-Rays at all costs. (I still do this, because as my dad would always remind me – Knowing whether it’s broken or sprained won’t change anything, Erin; the healing process is the same. Plus, they charge an arm and a leg for those things.)

I would never say that my parents were neglectful in my health. No, confusingly, they were more protective about things like rollerblading, 4 Wheelers, and trampolines than most parents (because, as they would also remind me, those were some of the main causes of countless injuries they had treated). And my mom is still my long-distance doctor, the first person I call when I need medical help or advice.

Whether it’s due to the financial burden healthcare always seems to impose OR the fact that my parents’ DIY style of treatment has rubbed off on me (I’ve often said that I’m a doctor by association) OR the idea that I’m 25 years old and still delusional about my own physical invulnerability, the fact is I’m sometimes too hands-off about seeking treatment, getting check-ups, dealing with pain.

But I’ve had some wake-up calls recently. The aches and pains of friends turned into more serious life-altering issues. My own exhaustion (potentially due to anemia) as of late. The reality that my livelihood is dependent upon my body – and that sustainability isn’t something to keep externalized; it’s an integrated system that includes me. Yes, we are so much more than our bodies. But we are our bodies.

It’s hard to know where to go from here, in part because there are some other realities to consider: the healthcare system can be hard to navigate – 1) finding practitioners who are compassionate, knowledgeable, and affordable is a challenge (though not impossible!) and 2) there’s still an obvious bias towards specialized reactive medicine as opposed to holistic preventative care.

Ultimately, I think we do know our own bodies best. But we’re not always ready to listen to what they have to say. So in the spirit of dancing (farming, running, swimming, hiking, making love in every sense of the word) together 50 years from now, let’s encourage each other to open our ears, to dig deep (but not too deep – and always ergonomically), rest, stretch, and be patient patients when we need to.

with love and every intention to do some morning yoga,