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Monday, May 16, 2011

#6 - A Farmer's Renaissance

Living in a Greater Metropolitan area means convenience is always at your fingertips. Once we finally get to make the move to our land on a full-time basis, this convenience won't be at our disposal. But for now, we are spoiled by Houston's high population density, which equals abundant commercial goods surrounding us from all angles.

Need a loaf of bread? There are several corner stores within one minute from your driveway with five different varieties of fresh bread.

Want fast food? You can find approximately 50 fast food restaurants within a 10 mile radius.

Want to pick up a prescription? Choose your pharmacy, it's only a quick five minute trip from the house.

You name it and the city has it close at hand. Even freaky things are readily available in "specialty stores" located relatively near our home. But, I am not freaky, so that doesn't apply to me...or to anyone in my family. We're the non-freaky kind of folks, as far as I know. Personally, I think it takes too much energy to be freaky. BUT, the point is...EVERYTHING is available within a short bike ride when you live in a Greater Metropolitan area.

Spending a lot of time on our land has meant that the spoiled city girl in me has received a LOUD and CLEAR country wake up call. From our future farm land, it is near 15 miles to even reach the nearest "stocked" city...that's almost 15 miles one way. After you've traveled a great deal on a two lane highway to reach town and have been stuck behind a few logging trucks along the way, you will eagerly plan these trips with precision so you can avoid Bubba in his Stephen-Kingish long hauler.

The most productive way to tackle this particular hurdle would be to change your pampered city mindset to a country mindset that embraces advanced planning, especially when it involves a grocery list. Country residents carefully record their grocery list and double-check it a few times before taking a mini-vacation to the grocery store.

Don't get me wrong, as a VERY long time resident of Greater Houston, I don't mind driving long distances to get from A to Z. Some of my family members live on the other side of Houston and it takes a good hour of driving time to get to the North side. That's one hour, one way. However, Houstonians usually do not mind driving, it's part of our culture. Regardless, we do have our limits and we do not like to be inconvenienced when it comes to daily necessities. Ingredients for tonight's dinner can be found around the corner at competitive prices. But, I've found that country people often make use of what they can from their own farm and garden to make their dinner, then they often swap home-grown goods with a few neighbors and they finally go the distance to town for the rest.
Clearing an area for new seeds.

The first goods of the garden this season.
City people have been known to turn their nose up to people living in the country with their wide open spaces, their pig pens and home-grown lettuce. Maybe I had once been this arrogant city girl in her master-planned community, which gave a false sense of security and promoted a lie about my so-called "independence." After the past ten years of partly living on our land and being around area farmers, I have my eyes wide open to new concepts.

There is not doubt that a part of our city culture has been to feel superior to that of an old-fashioned country culture as we enjoy being surrounded by high technology and industry. City people like their environment neat, orderly and under certain guidelines, which promote a controlled environment. We like our city amenities and easy living conditions. However, the winds are blowing and swirling and we are looking toward a changed horizon as a funny thing has happened the past few years. Due to well known international events of unpleasantness, our society is longing to have more control over their foods and their meat. The controversy over how to exert this "control" is a looming issue.

There is a sudden Renaissance for all things home-grown; organic foods are in demand; there is an increasing desire for our foods to have a reduced commercial presence. Educated city people with their upper socio-economic standing are suddenly becoming more aware of country folk's intelligence regarding tight control over what lands on their dinner table. This invaluable farming intelligence takes hands-on learning. There's only so much a text book can teach in matters that also require a large dose of common sense with some priceless generational knowledge.

Small farmers are becoming more valuable to people living among high-rises. Inner city gardens are popping up across the nation. Awareness about food production has gone farther than simply worrying about convenience.

The lifestyles of independent farmers are being re-evaluated and re-considered by their city counterparts. Respect has been resurrected for the farmer and for his long-standing knowledge of cultivating the earth for a bountiful, healthy harvest. The city is experiencing an awakening and this is largely due to scary events that remind city people of how dependent they are on commercial links for their sustenance.

Still, I've learned that a small town appreciates their Walmart more than anyone else. In fact, it is the local place to catch up with everyone else in town. You walk through the doors and it's a different atmosphere. Instead of being in a rush to get in and get out with your stuff for the day, you amble about and enjoy the shopping. Heck, it took you so long to get there and cost so much money in gas that you don't want to waste the trip. However, in the country, having to make a 30-mile round trip for your favorite crackers is not something you celebrate having to do.

Since we can't yet live on our land, we are still residents of the Greater Houston area. Yet, we have been small-time gardeners for many years. Our backyard produces a lot of what we eat...organically. Did you know that even MANURE comes in organic form? Who would've thought that poop wasn't intrinsically organic? I have been learning what old farmers have known for generations, you are what you eat, through and through, And, this includes the chicken you ate last week that had hormone injections so it would grow super fast for economical benefit. As for me, I'd rather my chickens grow nice and slow, without interference. Let them grow naturally; as an unaltered chicken!

So, to those small, independent farmers who take their job seriously and who do not wish to adapt to city speeds, I salute you and would like to come to dinner sometime.

7 comments:

LindaG said...

First, found you from your comment on Kentucky Farm Girl's blog, so I had to look.
From what I see on this post, we're a lot alike in some ways, so I'm going to follow along.

You're lucky you can raise chickens in Houston. I live in a small town outside a Marine base and we can't.
I'm trying my hand at gardening this year. I have a black thumb and usually kill anything that can't grow on it's own.

Happy Thursday! :)

Rae said...

Good post. Looking forward to reading more. I hear ya on being far from town. We've got a half hour drive minimum to get to a decent sized town. Wouldn't trade it for the city for anything. :)

Is that a buff orpington shoulder chicken? Our girls LOVED riding on shoulders when they were that size (and still try to hop up and perch on my hat).

Lana C. said...

Something happened with Blogspot's maintenance and all the comments disappeared!!!! Augh!!

Rae said...

Most of the recent comments on my blog disappeared too. As for the chickens, I think I had commented about your very cool shoulder chicken. :)

The golden chickens look like our Buff Orpingtons. Ours liked shoulder perches as well, and some still try to perch on my hat!

Lana C. said...

Rae,

Thank you so much for letting me know again!! I was on your blog looking at your chickens and thinking it had been you!! I am going to look them up - we've been trying to do research on the types of chickens and WOW...I am learning that there are a TON. Of course, we have all of these neighborhood chicken "experts" who are as clueless as we are. But, we're trying!! I do love my chickens!

Lana C.

Anonymous said...

Here is a post that blogspot deleted in their scheduled "maintenance" one evening. Luckily, I had it still on email!! I appreciate every comment, so here it is again, cut and pasted...
__________________
From LindaG

First, found you from your comment on Kentucky Farm Girl's blog, so I had to look.
From what I see on this post, we're a lot alike in some ways, so I'm going to follow along.

You're lucky you can raise chickens in Houston. I live in a small town outside a Marine base and we can't.
I'm trying my hand at gardening this year. I have a black thumb and usually kill anything that can't grow on it's own.

Happy Thursday! :)

Lana C. said...

From Lana C. at Farm Life Lessons to Linda G. ---

Technically, we aren't supposed to be raising chickens, but we are breaking all the rules and are thankfully great friends with all our neighbors who are also looking forward to fresh eggs!! I sure hope those girls will be able to lay a lot of eggs! I look forward to hearing from you again. I bet your town is pretty awesome. Not sure if you're a military wife, but I was one...once upon a time.

Lana C.