Month: July 2015

It Sure is Hot Out There

climate change

The summer has finally come, after a wet and strange spring. I’m afraid that my foraging plans will be cut short by the late frost this year. The apple, plum and cherry blossoms got hit hard. For some reason the beets that I planted as well as a great deal of the kale seeds did not even make it out of the ground. Bad seeds? I’m not sure. However, the tomatoes look good, the cucumbers and the hops are doing well. Cauliflower, cabbage and the asparagus are going gangbusters. The peppers are slow, but have fruited.

The herbs are going well, especially the established ones. A lot of rain this spring did a lot of good. There are still varroa problems with the bees, but I have hope that I can get them through September, and then through the winter. I’m hoping that they will do well on their own. It’s been pretty “hands off” this year. I planted new peach and cherry trees as well as a few berry bushes. We started mushrooms this year and they have taken to the logs that we inoculated.

The front door is sticking and I am hoping that the wood settles after I fixed the irrigation head that was allowing it to get soaked at night. I built a food dehydrator and installed new poles and wires for the hops. The weeding continues uninterrupted. Again, the cilantro was weak as was the salad. Who knows why as I planted both earlier this year. Maybe too early?

These are issues that most of us do not have to worry about, at least not directly. For most of us in the west we leave these worries to others; to the “industry” and to science. However, these are honest and necessary worries. That broad descriptive, “weather”, contains much of the above but the devil is in the details; most of the details that go unaware.

It seems that these days the details of the farmer, the gardener, the agrarian are making themselves known more and more by making the details of weather more and more known. The crumbs of climate changes are leaving a trail, but what we do with those crumbs is up to us. I’m not sure what I will do…

I will go out and see if there are apples, plums and cherries to be had off the trails. Perhaps the mushrooms in the mountains will be plentiful because of the rains. I’ll can the tomatoes with the great crop of basil, but will need to buy beets from the Farmer’s Market down the street. I hope to get a crop of fall kale and pickle a few cucumbers. I suppose all that we can do is to follow the trail of crumbs and wish for the best. It is only weather, after all.

Limits

limits

I recently completed a one thousand mile motorcycle ride (in one sitting) to visit my family. Nineteen hours later (fuel stops included) I was standing (not sitting) at their kitchen counter drinking a beer. I was thinking about limits. The ride had reminded me how important it is to know your own limits, and while riding through the Missouri hills I thought about how important limits are to all of us.

Right now most of us are not aware of limits, but a motorcycle (in my case) is a very bad place to first learn of them. I think I was at mine when I was singing loudly into my helmet a version of “Spiderman” that I called “Bobblehead”. Any athlete will know their limits, how to stretch them and when it is a good idea not to. Not to know your limits will sometimes cost you your life and other times just make things a bit uncomfortable; in the former you met your limits and in the latter you stretched your limits.

There are limits that we must all abide by, both our own and the ultimate limit that we all share: reality. Right now we do not seem to understand that the ultimate limit applies to all of us; no matter what, and no matter who we are. I once read that if a jet engine had a purpose, that purpose was to blow up. That struck me in an odd way. Evolution is a blind machine that, perhaps, has the same purpose. Watching a beehive, for example, is a brutal reminder of that “purpose”.

So, what do airplanes and Evolution have in common with this kinda-sorta preachy little bit about limits? Well, for one thing neither evolution nor airplanes have limits: extinction and explosion are not limits. Such things simply act as their nature (and nature itself) dictate. We humans are a bit different: we have the capacity for thought and the belief that we can act upon those thoughts. We have limits that we can stretch for these reasons. Or do we?

Is it the nature of human beings to destroy themselves, to not stretch but break the natural confines in which we live? Such a thought is disturbing to many and for many reasons. First, we are doomed if this is so. Secondly, we are not free if this is so. Third, the capacity for thought is an illusion. Perhaps we are just another blind alley that Evolution follows. I don’t like to think so, but I am wary of not doing so.

Destruction is part of nature, it is inevitable, but our own destruction at our own hands (I would like to think) is not; it cannot be. However, in order for us to learn how to stretch our limits, we must first know that we have limits. Perhaps it is time for us to find a way to define our limits before those inextricable and inescapable limits cost us the very thing that we are so fond of: living at any cost.

Beer Ramblings

beer ramblings

  • IPA’s

What delectably bitter libations!  liquid grass for some, but the freshness…ahhh!  Some like the hops on top, nosey, and some like the peppery undertones with citrusy implications.  One of the best moves of microbreweries these days is to make a delectable session IPA.  Keep the bigness, but have two (or three).  I love the anticipation of beer-thirty when I know I have a home-brewed IPA in the fridge.  It is a type of peace that is rarely found anywhere else.  Big grain bottom with the heaven of nature: all in one glass.  Try some of Great Divide’s offerings, but if you can find it, Hall’s Farmhouse IPA  is the way to go!

  • Pale Ales

These often looked to ales are the base for so many others.  The lowly Pale often plays second partner to the more speciality brews, but if one takes time, better yet: brew your own, the Pale is a patient partner.  Be picky here as these brews range from “meh…” to “Why!  WHY!?”  When that sweet taste of liquid gold is needed the Pale will come through.  Malty with numerous levels of moderate hops are the basis’ of many a fine glass.  Again, Hall’s makes a great Red Ale (a Pale of a different color).  Experiment with these, they are patient and often very satisfying basic beers.

  • ESB’s

While the Pale Ale is a basic beer, its grandfather is probably the ESB.  Ah, what malty goodness awaits anyone with an Extra Special Bitter in mind.  Beside the IPA, I would probably cozy up to one of our home-brewed ESB’s.  Not too cold!  Let the malty goodness speak volumes and it will, especially when shared with friends!

  • Porters and Stouts

Oh these black beauties… often mistaken for being heavy handed and alcoholic.  Not so!  Smoky characters they are, and perhaps they take time to get to know.  But once a true friend is made, you will have a friend for life.  I don’t cotton to the coffee varieties, pure malty black magic for me.  Also, keep the vanilla in the ice-cream.  Although these beautiful and mystical beers can hold up to the adjuncts that we often add, it is a shame to miss out on their simple goodness.  Equally good on a hot summer’s day or cold winter’s night.

  • Lagers

Cold-hearted as they may be, lagers are the fresh morning dew on the grass; early in the morning just as the birds are beginning to wake.  You might not want to drink one at that time, but the freshness of a good lager is bound to quench the thirst of anyone after a hard day of simple living.  Clear, with nothing to hide, sometimes wheat-natured and often abused by the industrial-aged beer magnates.  Don’t bother, there are much, much better beers to be found if you look around.  Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pilsner is a good one.  Better yet, brew your own, but make sure to have a cool place to let it get going. It’ll put a smile on your face and ideas in your head if you’re not careful!

  • Drinking beer?

In my humble opinion, beer is a nectar that is too often diluted by adjuncts: water, grain, yeast and hops are all that is needed.  Savor the taste of the beer you drink; like life, the bottom of the glass comes sooner than you think.  Don’t complicate things, keep your thoughts pure and your wants simple.  Take pleasure in picking the beer you will drink and drink the beer you pick with a conscious and deliberate state of mind.  Smile and nod, but don’t always listen.  This is your time, and your beer will draw those precious seconds out just a little longer!