Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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The hands of a gardener

Did you ever stop to think about how much of our food never touches a human hand?  To me, that's scary.  I have three beautiful Red Star chickens and each day they lay three beautiful brown eggs.  I enjoy those eggs, as do my closest friends.  My best friend said she had to buy eggs from the store last week and her husband made the comment to her one day that "those weren't Terry's eggs" and she asked how he could tell.  He said that they didn't have the flavor, the texture, or the color of the farm fresh eggs from my chickens.  That was a compliment!

While working in the garden today and moving the chickens around, it dawned on me that so much of our food is never touched by humans.  I have "gardening" friends that load seed into a machine, plant it in the soil, spray the veggies with a sprayer on a tractor, then use a "picker" to harvest the vegetables.  The only time the vegetable is touched seems like when it hits the kitchen sink to be washed and prepared.  That's sad.

I know there are a lot of people to feed in the world, and everyone can't belong to a CSA or even know where their food comes from, but being in the business really opens you up to just how much junk there is out there that can be done to our food that no one really realizes. 

It's so easy to get caught up in the "spray" for everything that I think today's farmers have just gotten lazy.  Sure, it takes more time and energy to spread manure over a bed rather than sprinkle some fertilizer on, but the manure is feeding the soil and not just the plant. 

It might take a little more time to soak a bag of manure in water to form "manure tea" to water with, but the solution has a lot more microorganisms in it than a solution of chemical fertilizer. 

As far as insect control, building and hanging birdhouses, attracting birds to the garden areas, taking care of toads, bats, and dragonflies might seem frivolous to some, but those are all important aspects of gardening with nature.  Sure, a sprinkle with poison would get rid of the bugs quicker, but what about the critters that eat those bugs?  We don't want rid of them too. 

Every time I see a toad in the garden, a dragonfly cruising overhead, the bluebirds in all the boxes I've built them, the salamanders, snakes, bats, and wood ducks who all call this place home, how can I poison anything?  It's all connected.  Too many gardeners are worried about the perfect plant.  A few bug holes don't hurt anything....hand picking works well, but healthy soil and healthy plants work best.  I think keeping poison out of the food chain is a great start to a happy ending!  It's still a lot of hard work, though :)

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