AgriCulture: A Year in Review

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Green E-Market Bulletin September 13, 2019
WHAT’S NEW THIS WEEK:Freedom Ranger Chickens, freshly slaughtered Monday, great for a weekend meal, on the larger side this year, mostly 5, 6 and even 7 lbs., $6/lb
Red tomatoes are dwindling down, still some Rose de Beirne coming in, but Sungolds remain plentiful
Leeks, $1/each
Honeynut Squash, limited numbers, $2 each
Peter Davies, Dec 5, 1937 – Sept. 12, 2018 photo by Mark Scherzer
A Year in Review
Hello, my hunk-a-munk, he says.I can hear him call me that, one of his multiple terms of endearment, very clearly this week. I haven’t for a full year, but the voice is still deeply imprinted on my brain despite the long absence. I believe, perhaps contradictorily, that we have souls which somehow exist apart from our corporeal bodies, but I do not believe that these essences survive beyond death. This has been a source of great confusion, especially this week, as I find my brain increasingly engaged in conversations with Peter on his first yahrzeit (Yiddish for anniversary of his passing).Past communiqués have usually been brief and focused on specific disappointments. Why did you let those bittersweet vines overrun the lobelias? How the hell could you let the barn burn down?! The tone always calibrated to his degree of frustration. But his “hunk-a-munk” greeting signals that we’re doing something else now, something bigger, more like a classic end-of-term conference between professor and student. That was our dynamic, after all. He led, I followed. And now it’s time to let me know how in his view we have fared — his son, me and the farm – without his minute by minute guidance.First topic: Peter’s son, Perry, who inherited his huge collection of kilims, middle eastern flatweavings. Perry knew little about them at first, but he quickly figured out the markets. He shed the lower value pieces and maximized the value of the exceptional ones. I worried Perry would be flummoxed by this gift, Peter tells me, but I’m proud he has shown true discernment, decisiveness and dedication worthy of a son of mine. And I’m at peace knowing that the financial resources I left him will let him realize some long-deferred dreams. Perry would be pleased by the proud and satisfied tone of his father’s voice.But I had already anticipated that Peter would see Perry’s progress in an overwhelmingly positive light. I had a lot more trepidation about my own year-end review.Well, my huck-a-buck — (This was another variation. I never quite got the logic behind when I deserved “hunk-a-munk” versus “huck-a-buck,” and I still don’t.) — it’s about time you started living like an adult, not a graduate student. You’re finally putting your apartment in order, rather than just living out of paper bags. I can see you’ve re-decorated a bit, set up a music system, planted the terrace and started cooking civilized meals. See how nice it is? You could have been living this way all along!All right, I actually already knew, deep in my heart, I had aced Peter’s “living alone like an adult” test. His pointed dig that I should have done it all years earlier is fair. He could never resist an “I told you so!” But what about the social part of my life? I once spent my time almost exclusively with him, yet now I’ve become an unabashed social butterfly. Peter is gracious: Your old school chums and our mutual friends really came through. Nobody is ever going to be as loyal and supportive to you as I was, and I never much liked it when you sought out the company of others when I was there, but I expected you’d turn to them when I was gone and they’d be there to support and be with you, and I was, of course, completely right.I clear my throat uncomfortably. “What about my, uh, new… men friends?” I ask. Uh-oh, here we go! I brace myself, but Peter surprises me. Look, you’ll always be my flub-a-dub, and you’ll never be anybody else’s flub-a-dub. You had the good sense to stay with me for 40 years. And I’ve been watching you flounder around as a single man – more floundering than I’d like. But to be truthful, I expected you would. And when you’ve found a smart, kind, and sexy man and see him again and again? You’re proving you’ve still got excellent taste.Wow. I’m feeling pretty lucky so far. Having gotten past that difficult little hurdle, I very gingerly approach the one topic even more sensitive than my love life: the farm. Before his death, whenever we spoke about the farm’s future, what might happen if one of us should die, we pretty well agreed that what we barely held together as a couple couldn’t possibly be managed by either of us alone.But did that mean that if the farm was not our two-person project, I could not have any continued role? Would I have to sell it or let it dwindle to nothing? How could I, absent in the City more than half the time, make strategic decisions on the size of the sheep herd, or the vegetables to be planted, without Peter’s guidance? Who would keep daily tabs on work to be done? Who other than Peter could spend three or four hours a day on his kneeling bench, weeding the perennial beds? Wouldn’t my continuing the farm be a farce without him? That was the question immediately after his death. As you all know, my solution was inviting Troy and Victoria to move in and take the reins, with me ultimately serving as volunteer labor in their own hopefully successful agricultural venture.It was a decision made quickly, of necessity, without regard for Peter’s approval. But now comes the time for a reckoning.Lover Lips, he says, this looked to me like a whacko decision from the beginning. You know how I always resisted any arrangement that would involve other people living with us in our home. The life we built together on the farm was so exclusive, so insular and all-encompassing, that it was like we had somehow formed our own ethnic group, with the farm as our homeland. Yet you invited in a nephew you hadn’t seen since he became an adult and his partner whom you’d never even met — all based on your sister mentioning that they were interested in farming? What kind of boobo would do something like that?Your decision-making process was terrible. But, he continues, you somehow got really lucky. Troy and Victoria are clearly the ones to carry forward what we began. You had no idea they would be so smart; that they’d have scientific and practical skills and would so carefully educate themselves on what they didn’t know; or that they would have thought through the existential issues — the “why” of farming — that we had always struggled with And you certainly didn’t know they’d be so warm, loving and easy to live with. You bought a pig in a poke, and so did they, but it turned out to be a blue-ribbon choice for you and I think for them too.I’ve been listening and watching. I heard one of your friends refer to you as an “Anna Madrigal” figure from Tales of the City, a presiding spirit over an incipient commune of refugees and quirky, lovable creatives. He even hinted he’d one day like to join. I don’t know whether that’s where this project is going — and you know it’s not a way I could ever have lived — but young life has been injected into this place, and more is likely to come. There’s a new vitality, opposite of our gradual winding down. And I can see it has reinvigorated you.I take a deep breath. This all sounds so positive, it makes me worry I’m doing maybe just a little too well. Am I sure this is Peter? Or is it just me, telling myself what I desperately want to hear?You made an impulsive romantic decision without thinking it through. Kind of like when the 41 year old me told the 27 year old you I could love you, and you responded by moving right in. And as a believer in vitality and direction and romantic idealism, I like it that you really lucked out again.And I decide it doesn’t really matter. Even if this isn’t Peter’s soul communicating to me now, I am still after four decades together the leading authority on his thoughts and moods. I know what he’d say if he were here. He would justly take credit for Perry’s accomplishments and mine, for what he taught us both about what’s valuable and what’s worth taking a risk for. He’d be satisfied.It’s great. That’s what Peter would say.I’m relieved to know that now. “Honeybunch,” I reply, “your hunk-a-munk couldn’t agree more.”
WHAT’S AVAILABLE THIS WEEK Fish Peppers or Cubanelles, 2 for $1.00
Tiny hot matchbox peppers, $2.50/bag
Oasis turnips, $2/bunch
cherry bell radishes, $2/bunchWild Water Peppers, $2/bunch
Tomatoes, most red ones coming in are Rose de Beirne, $3/lb.
Sun Gold tomatoes $4/pint
Lots of Rainbow Chard – $3/bunch
Leeks, $1/each
Honey nut squash, limited, $2/each
Cucumbers, $2/lb
Mugwort, $1/bunch for infusions or tea
Beets, $3/bunch (mixed bunches Chiogga, Detroit Red, Golden, or tell us your preference),
Scallions, $2/bunch
Kale $3/bunch two different varieties, deep blue green straight leaf and curly leaf
Collards, $3/bunch
MINT: $.75 a bunch
parsley $.75
Greek globe basil, $3/bag
Genovese Basil, $3/bag
SHISO LEAVES green or red, $1.00 FOR 10
Turkish pole beans, haricots verts and wax beans $3/lb (limited)
Okra, $3/lb (limited)EGGS: $5/dozMEATS: We keep some on hand, but it helps to order ahead in case we need to retrieve from our stash in the big commercial freezerGEESE: One remaining, about 8.5 lbs. $10/lb.TURKEYS: A few small ones left over and frozen $11/lb .GUINEA FOWL, We are sold out!ROASTING CHICKENS – Nice fat Freedom Rangers, fresh slaughtered for Saturday cooking, frozen thereafter, largish (5 to 7 lbs, a few smaller), $6/lb.LAMB: shoulder roasts at $10/lb, riblets $8/lb, small and larger leg roasts $14/lb, lamb stew $7/lb, shanks, $10/lbPORK: Loin pork chops, $12/lb (2 to a pack, btwn 1 and 1.5 lbs), Jowl (roughly 2 to 3 lbs each), $12/lb,
Spare ribs and country ribs $7/lb
baby back ribs $8/lb
fresh ham roasts (2 to 3 lbs), $12/lb
picnic or Boston butt roasts (roughly 2 lbs) SOLD OUT
smoked bacon, $12/lb
Kielbasa $8/lbDUCKS: SOLD OUT


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