Saturday, November 30, 2013


Few realize anymore that Black Friday was formerly the name for the Christian day of suffering and sorrow now called "Good" Friday.  It now means that certain "people" (corporations) will make it into the "black" in their accounts on this shopping day.  Several dozen people who pretty much never make it into the black by cleaning and otherwise staffing the stores owned by those corporations sat down in the middle of Snelling and University yesterday to call attention to their troubles at the risk of being hit by those in a hurry to get there.  I wonder about us.

What if we had used the political breathing room provided by the defeat of the marriage restriction and voter restriction amendments several years ago to not only balance the state's budget going forward, but also to push the state's minimum wage up to twelve or even fifteen dollars, thus guaranteeing those who work enough wages to keep body and soul together.  Where would big retail have fled to?  Might making common cause with these folks sitting on University and Snelling have helped us all by reducing the state's quotient of misery thus improving the quality of life for all?  And would not higher wages throughout the lower economic levels have helped keep the state out of future budget difficulties due to decreased demand for social helping programs?  Instead we have continued in our well worn rut of responding to whatever interest group has been hurt last, or has been able to make the most fuss.  Why?  Is it because the one taboo subject we have left is the matter of economic class?

Meanwhile, the pressing matters of elementary human dignity at work, the impoverishment of most of the earth's people in America as elsewhere, a shrinking natural resource base, a deteriorating natural environment, rising levels of violence and violent rhetoric and growing corporate control of our lives are left to fester.  What is wrong with us?

farm haiku

The black cat sits as sentinel over two frozen hog carcasses, stacked one on the other.  The rays from the winter sun begin to warm both cat and cat food. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

harvesting the leftovers

One of the many advantages, both economic and environmental, of our kind of diversified farm is that we can let the cattle forage in the cornstalks after corn harvest, and then when they have gotten their fill after several weeks, we can bale and bring the leftovers to the farm to be used as hog bedding in the feeding hoops and for the sows all winter.  And then the stalks help with getting the manure back out to the land in the spring.  This way of bringing fertility to the cropping acres not only returns the phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium in the hog's manure, all of which are valuable nutrients, but it is the next best thing to a grazing system in that there are microbes cycling through the animal digestive system that appear to be quite necessary for the health of the land.  So there is a real sense in which we harvest our corn crop three times.