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Month: September, 2005

Farmgirl Tantrums

by Scott Smith

I just stumbled across this article and found it very comforting. While I don’t have the excuse of 1200 visitors to my farm or a blight on my beloved cherry trees (I don’t even have cherry trees… yet) it’s good to know that even Mary Jane Butters, can have a bad day or a bad reaction to a frustrating situation. Even Mary Jane, “queen of all things genuine and organic,” doesn’t always have everything she needs on hand to keep things running smoothly. So when I am in a tizzy because I can’t get shelves hung or the steering wheel falls off the tractor I can remember, just because things aren’t running smoothly doesn’t mean I’m a failure at the farmgirl thing. It just means I need to take a moment and regroup.

Robinson

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Tech farming

by Scott Smith


Wired has an article on high-tech farming in New Jersey. Some good ideas on producing food. In the article, they say farming is too inefficient and that manufacturing organic food is the way.

Perhaps I should consider building a skyscraper on the spot above.

One good bit of hard data: it costs $.50 per head of lettuce to ship from California (where 80% of U.S. lettuce is grown) to New Jersey.

In-laws Don’t Suck

by Scott Smith


My father-in-law fixed my closet. It’s a good feeling to have a closet to put stuff in.

The Political Rantings of a Farmgirl Wannabe

by Scott Smith

I read Mark Morford’s most recent article on the sad state of our cars’ average mpg ratings and I couldn’t agree more. Continuing the high mpg trend that started in the 1970’s would have done a lot to improve where we are right now. If car manufacturers had simply improved the mpg by 1 or 2 each year the cars we’d be driving today would be amazingly efficient. Jimmy Carter is an excellent resource for finding numbers on how just requiring manufacturers to improve their mpg ratings by 5 mpg would extend our oil reserves for years and help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

The fact that Mr. Morford just bought an import got me thinking though, and I’m not really judging him or his car choice here because I drive a Honda and have no idea where it was actually manufactured. The idea of importing cars in the context of fuel efficiency got me thinking about buying local which of course is a concept usually applied to food supplies. Many people are turning to it because of concern for the environment/conserving energy and because people are starting to see what corporate farming is doing to our food supply. With these ideas in mind I tried finding information on how much energy it actually takes to get a car (any car) to the point of sale and I couldn’t find any statistics but I’m betting that number is substantial and goes up exponentially the farther away you are from the point of manufacture. I did however find information on the amount of energy it takes to actually make a new car.

Did you know that it takes somewhere around 2,340 gallons of gasoline to manufacture a single new car? So say each and every American woke up one day and said to themselves, holy crap, I can’t believe how much gas my new, big, bad ass, fat Hummer guzzles just to drive little Suzie and Bobby to the school each day, I’d better ditch it and get a nifty, new, “green” car. Even if the nifty, new car was getting 100 mpg, what would be the impact of everyone buying a new, more efficient car? What is the real energy impact of importing the efficient cars, that don’t even exist yet, after they’ve each used up the initial 2,340 gallons of gasoline just to make them? What happens to all of the cars that we stop driving, not to mention the 4-5 tires per car that contain 7 gallons of oil each?

Even if we could get the car manufacturers (including American manufacturers) to make a truly efficient car, how long would it be before the impact was felt if we all do the sensible thing and keep our current cars running as well as possible for as long as possible before buying these elusive, new, efficient cars? How much energy will it use to update factories to make these efficient cars? How much fuel would it save if, instead of the dozens of children driven individually to my local school each day (including mine), we ALL actually put little Suzie and Bobby on the buses that run whether my family uses them or not so that fewer vehicles were being run, using less fuel and making for safer roads? What if we stopped making schools bigger and bigger and more centralized so that little Suzie and Bobby might actually (gasp) WALK to school instead of being driven? Would our schools be safer if they were smaller? Would I be less afraid to put my children on the bus if small class size enabled teachers to identify and attend to knife wielding children suffering from mental defect? What if the big box stores had never happened and I actually had a local market that supplied food from local sources that I could actually WALK to instead of driving 25 miles to go grocery shopping at a big, box store or driving all over the countryside to buy local directly or driving 40 miles to shop at the food co-op? What if I didn’t have to drive 50 miles to get to a job worth having? What if we could return to a truly local economy and start a chain reaction that reduced negative environmental impact by 20, 40, 60 percent? What if? What if? What if?

I do not think that our dependency on foreign oil starts or stops with the cars that we choose to drive. That is a small part of the bigger picture of what American culture has become. It’s the daily choices we make to drive 50 miles round trip to shop at a box store that will save us $20 on our grocery bill, to drive 30 miles round trip twice a day to feel that our children are out of harm’s way, to live far away from our jobs so that we can make a decent living and live in a nice neighborhood. In America we are all about bigger, bigger, bigger, centralize, centralize, centralize and no one wants to live next door to the smelly, awful, ugly result of that. THAT is why we are so very dependent on foreign oil.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/gate/archive/2005/09/16/notes091605.DTL&nl=fix
http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Research.html#anchor_72

Clearance for the Coach

by Scott Smith




My parents are visiting on Friday. They’ll have their coach with them, which means I had to clear some branches. The original plan was to use the chainsaw, but I couldn’t operate it with one hand while clinging to the ladder.

Yes, ladder. I believe pros do not use a ladder and for good reason. Large, heavy branches tend to fall where your ladder is. I hand-sawed the branches. The first branch somersaulted and banged into my ladder. The second and third branches were removed from a larger branch. Robinson mentioned something about that branch perhaps lifting up when I finished sawing off its smaller branches — this never occurred to me. No harm though. I was just pooped from all that sawing.

Robinson asked if I was done so she can go inside, and I said yes. Only, there was one last branch that could be in the coach’s path. It was a big one. I smoked a few more cigarettes and finished off another Diet Dr Pepper. It came crashing down. I wish she had the camera on me while I was sawing. I believe my expression would have defined fear. The man in the photo defines stupidity.

Scott

Homeownership Sucks

by Scott Smith


I’ve been trying for over a week now to put shelves in the front hall closet so that it can become a linen closet and maybe some pantry space in there too. For some reason there is only one stud in the closet so I haven’t been able to put up the second bracket. So yesterday, solution? I go and buy some anchors. I go this morning to put the anchors in, carefully measure it out, drill my hole, put the anchor in place, power up my drill to tighten the anchor. It crushes the drywall and pops through the other side. Get that problem taken care of, the screws are too short. This is all AFTER I put a million holes in the wall getting the old stuff out, patching the holes and painting. The gods of organization are against me. I would sacrifice a goat right now if I had one.

Robinson

Farmgirls do it in the Kitchen

by Scott Smith


Today’s farmgirl adventure: Plum Jam.

There’s a small plum tree surviving in a jungle of weeds in our side yard. It was covered with fruit and I decided that it was time to venture into the kitchen and make some jam. It turned out GREAT. I had some on a piece of bread after it cooled (mostly) and let me tell you, you can’t buy that in a store. I have eight jars of jam sitting all sealed and labeled looking pretty in my kitchen. I guess I’ll have to try to make it last longer than a week.

Someone down the road is selling grapes. I may have to give grape jam a try since I bought 3 dozen jelly jars. I may wait until my hands heal up from all the boiling water and molten sugar I exposed them to though.

Robinson