THE PRICE OF FOOD, THE COST OF STAYING ALIVE – Marilyn Armstrong

This post started out as a comment to Rich’s piece, but it reminded me of all those years when the Fishery Department in New England begged the fisher-folks to hold back on fishing out the spawning areas. St. George’s banks — which is technically both U.S. and Canadian waters — I think the line runs right through the area. George’s Banks are closed, both by Canadian and American authorities because of overfishing.

If they didn’t close them, there wouldn’t be any fish in the future. Almost all our fish these days is imported. Salmon from Canada where it is farmed, and the rest from Asia.

Our food has more than doubled in price. We could buy a week’s food for the three of us for around $150 before the quarantine. Now it costs MORE than $300. We do have some locally grown food just beginning to show up in the markets and ironically, our farms which have been doing poorly are suddenly a very big deal. We can get (easily) eggs, milk, honey, and strawberries. We have tons of blackberries growing in our own back 40, but it’s even more lethal than our rose bushes and before we can get them, the birds eat all of it.
Squash is coming into season. Also cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and with a little luck, we’ll have a good year for peaches. Soon (I hope!) we will also have fresh corn. We don’t grow mountains of corn because we have so little flat land, but what we do grow is delicious.

Everything is organic. Not because we are such believes in organic produce, but because we have such a high water level, fertilizer seeps into the aquifer, and if we kill the aquifer, we are all in big, permanent trouble.

We have no slaughterhouses. I’m sure that the individual farms raise a few pigs and beef cattle for personal use, but it doesn’t go to the stores. There is a huge chicken farm nearby. They have a big restaurant (no open right now, of course), but they also sell it in their shop. It costs twice the imported prices but it is very good and their chickens roam free.

Shooting through a wire fence, these are impressionist chickens. Need eggs?

Anyone with a back that works grows acorn squash (by November I’ve overdosed on squash), tomatoes, and onions. Also round, red potatoes. Some people have started growing jalapenos, too. In this limited rural area, summer is the only time you can get fresh local fruits and vegetables. After September and October (apple season — we have gigantic orchards for apples and they are great apples … and the farmers keep cross-breeding new varieties, albeit our local apples are much more expensive than the imported ones. Probably not THIS year!

The cows in the meadow

Not much fish except via Canada where they farm salmon. We used to have wonderful fish, but they overfished the region and it’ll be decades before we can get fish from the ocean again. Our rivers are good for trout — if you like trout and none of us do — and while down on the Cape they are farming lobster, there aren’t enough of them for more than their immediate areas.

New England had the biggest and best fishing fleets in the world. All gone. The fleets are gone and the areas are now filled with private boats. Which is fine, but they don’t bring in fish.

The fisherfolk were warned yearly to NOT go to George’s Banks because that was where they spawned. Garry covered those stories and he always came back shaking his head at the thick-headedness of the fleets. Yes, they’d need to raise prices and wouldn’t be able to bring in the volume of fish they had before, but if they didn’t stop harvesting the fisheries, there would be no more fish at all.

Eventually, when no one cooperated, they closed down the areas about five years ago (maybe it was longer — has swept by so quickly — before there were no more fish to breed. The coast guard patrols the area and there are all these little wars at sea. If we don’t poison the waters, fish will come back — and that’s if we manage to keep the Canadians and Japanese from trawling the areas.

Seafood, the delight of New England is gone. We do get great eggs and butter, though. The milk is great, but we have a lot of people here who have inspected cows, so they don’t homogenize the milk. Garry loves the cream on the top. I stopped buying it.

After Garry steals the cream, even the dogs won’t drink it.

SHARING MY WORLD AT HARVEST TIME – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 10-14-19

QUESTIONS:

Why do we have such trouble telling our loved ones that we love them?  Do you have that kind of communication issue with your loved ones?

I did have that problem when I was younger, but I worked on fixing it and I don’t have it anymore. Probably proving that yes, some problems can be fixed.

Decorations for holidays?   Spirit lifters or pain in the butt?   Or a mix?  

It used to be a bit of both, but I’ve sort of streamlined the process and it’s so easy these days, it’s pretty much no trouble at all. I don’t decorate for all the holidays anyway. Just Christmas.

Do you donate to charities?  Of your time, do you feel money is the only true gift, or other?  

I give a little when I have a little to give. I used to offer services, but it never seemed to work out the right way, so I gave up. I offer people posts if they think they can use them, editing if they need it. But if it gets complicated, I jump overboard. Mostly, I do what I can within the limits of financial means. It isn’t much, but it also isn’t nothing.

Are you too superstitious or have you ever played with an Ouija Board?

Yes, but I was maybe 10? I don’t believe they work so it’s just a game.


halloween-clipart-vintage-5

HARVEST GRATITUDE:

This week please share a photo or image of what ‘harvest’ and “Autumn” mean to you!   Thanks! 

SUNFLOWERS BY FARM, ROAD, AND RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Sunflowers by the Farm-September 29, 2019

Apparently, the original owners of our favorite farm have sold to a new owner. He’s not a new owner in the sense of being young and looking to make a splash in the local farming world.

He is also Native American and I’m guessing the only Native in town. I wasn’t comfortable enough with him to ask him about tribe and affiliation … but he looked like a classic painting and he had long wavey white hair. Handsome man. Maybe a bit young for me and anyway, what would Garry say? Of course at our age, Garry is most likely to ask when the next corn cutting is coming. We are no longer hot to trot.

I think he is in his early sixties though he might be older, just in very good physical shape. Friendly, too. I was grateful. There’s no guarantee that new owners will be as friendly and glad to have visitors as previous owners.

I’m assuming the original owners retired. For one thing, their house is huge and now that I’m pretty sure the kids have left, that’s 18 rooms plust at least two full levels of stairs. Way too much to try and care for. And the house is more than 100 years old, so figure there’s a lot to be done.

Farming is hard, even if you aren’t trying to prove anything. I’m glad he sold to someone who wants to keep the farm as a farm and not turn it into condominiums along the Blackstone. Uxbridge is underpopulated and that’s the way I like it. I know it’s hard to find work and if we had more people, we might get something better resembling a “government.” But who needs a government anyway?

When all my other flowers die, this is what takes over.

As it is, we don’t have a mayor — or anyone who wants to be one. No one wants to be anything. It’s a “head’s down and you’ll keep out of trouble” sort of place.

The next farm down the road has a herd of dappled Tennessee Walkers. I think all Walkers are dappled and their colors change from year to year. Mostly, they are gray, ranging from nearly white, to medium gray. If I were still riding, what a discovery this would be!

Garry with chickens

Even though it has been more than 20 years since I rode, I still get excited at the smell of horse. Non-horse folks wrinkle their noses, but the smell of a well-worn set of leather chaps is like perfume to me. Maybe that’s why I don’t mind that my house smells like dogs who urgently need a bath.

MARILYN’S FARM – Marilyn Armstrong

I was surprised at how little foliage had “popped.” The Blackstone runs along that road and that usually brings out early foliage. Not this year. I also noticed that the meteorologists have stopped predicting “leafing” areas. Usually they are busy telling us where to find the best foliage, but the last two years were really bad, so they stopped.

In the name of improving something, even if it isn’t much, I changed to the “clean energy” variation from National Grid. I don’t think it’ll make a huge difference in our bills, but I need to feel like I’m doing something, even if it isn’t much.

So these are my farm pictures. Not much foliage but there’s some. Meanwhile, I got some very cute cows!

GARRY’S FARM IN THE VALLEY – Garry Armstrong

We were hoping for some color in the leaves. There was a bit, but not much. Still, the cows were out and more importantly, the cats were everywhere. It is surprisingly difficult to get good pictures of cats. They sit very still until that final moment when they turn their head so all you get is the back of their neck.

But this beauty sat nice and peacefully for me. A happy cat on a happy farm!

Shooting through a wire fence, these are impressionist chickens. Need eggs?

The barn and road is always beautiful. Just about when I started shooting, the clouds thickened up and the light started to go away. We just made it back to the car as the rain began to fall.

The farm road. Follow it if you want to see the horses.

And this was the last shot before the drops began to fall. No rain predicted, but it still rained.

The barn and corral and our car, tucked in the corner. happy weather watching.

FOUND ON THE FARM – Marilyn Armstrong

Things Found on a Farm

It had been a lovely morning and early afternoon, but by the time we go our gear together, the sun was playing peek-a-boo. We went anyway. We were just going around the block to the farm along the river.

There are two or three farms along the Blackstone. Maybe four. The first one, where we usually go, is a dairy farm. Corn, eggs, fresh milk, butter are sold on-site. We never get any of the corn because we show up too late. By then, the corn is gone except for the hulls that would be good for squirrels or cattle, but not for people. They did have apples, but I still have a bunch of Galas at home.

You definitely need some cows on a dairy farm!

I had a fair number of pictures from the farms already, but they weren’t “things.” More like animals and products, so this time, I tried to get pictures of implements. We got done just in time before the (not predicted) rain started to fall.

Ignore the chickens!

Corn and apples for sale

Not sure if this is a tiller or just a groundbreaker. I may live in farm country, but I ain’t no farmer!

The guy who owns the other farm came by and invited us to come on over and take pictures of his new horses. He has quite a lovely heard of Tennessee Walkers, known as the most comfortable horse to sit on if you are going to be on a horse for a whole day. The guy, who wasn’t much younger than me, still rides all day long. He only uses his truck when he goes into town.

Farming implements, including a John Deere — the Rolls Royce of farming equipment.

More farm equipment, but I couldn’t name it for you. Sorry!

I was impressed. But he never took a bad fall, either. It’s not the riding that’s the problem. It’s the falling off. Next time!

And just a few more cows

I used a filter called “opalescent” to give some very soft color to a couple of pictures. They are almost color, but almost not. Regardless, very pretty.

Cee's Black-White