Thursday, April 3, 2008

Turning the Good Earth...Not A Product of India


Spring is still slow in coming. A slight break in the weather this past week allowed the snow to melt from the 'daff's" and put me in the field working a little ground.

It won't be the highball kind of year I'm used to, what with the cucumber production being taken from us. In an interesting note, we have been doing a bit of a media blitz to try and get the word out to the consumer about the pickles they eat. Dean Foods and their spin off pickle/relish division, Big Valley are up to their old tricks. Their labels are very misleading....big surprise there! The standard for pickles here in the northwest was "Nalley's". This was the company absorbed and destroyed by Dean Foods. Although they still market under that label, the product is very different. But here's the kicker....right now the Nalley's label
reads "Northwest Grown" ...as it has for many years. On the bottom, in very small print you will read, "Product of India". We are pressing Big Valley to show us what part of "Northwestern" India produces Nalley's products. Needless to say, if you see Nalley's/Big Valley products in your store or fast food restaurant, boycott them.

But onto better things. I am at a loss to think of something that smells better than fresh turned dirt. If there were a smell associated with the word optimism, it would be the aroma produced by the disk ripping through winter fallow ground, or the plow turning over the rich dirt. It is the smell of the good earth that keeps me believing that "this will be the year." This will be the year of good prices for the berries to match good production and quality. This will be the year the plants placed in this good ground will grow disease free and give reason for the same optimism next year.

We live in a very pessimistic age, or so it seems to me. I know I get bogged down in this world of endless bad news. The smell of freshly turned soil, the growl of the diesel engine pulling the plow, the hypnotic motion of the dirt rolling off the moldboards never fails to put me in a better frame of mind.

I think all of us could learn from what the plow accomplishes as it glides along. In one smooth motion it takes the old weeds and worn soil laying on the surface and buries it deep, to be rotted down and replenished. In it's place fresh, good earth is placed to the top where strong, new growth can take place. Couldn't we all use a little burying of the old and a new seedbed put in its place?

Don't you sometimes wish that was your hand on the steering wheel of that John Deere? Don't you wish it was you dragging that chisel plow behind, deep tilling a piece of ground that will yield food? Don't you wish you too could say that you produce not a mere bauble, but a necessity of life?

I can say that, and India still has not stripped that from me.

I'm still one lucky son-of-a-bitch. I can go out and turn the good earth.

2 comments:

SDP45 said...

My folks still farm, though they have had a hard time making ends meet every year.
During my time on the farm, it always felt like there was a sense of accomplishment when the job was done. Even doing something like building a new chicken coop was satisfying.

Dan

Foamer Jones said...

Awesome post. I live in a Coast Range "hippie commune" and we produce and preserve most of our own food and get the rest from as close to home as possible. You're right, there is nothing like turning the earth and knowing you can grow your own no matter what unsustainable economic nightmare the rest of the world is doing. Building, growing, harvesting.
Now when the Coos Bay line is re-opened and i can wave at the engineers again, it will be even more American Gothic lovely.