Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Sissy Farmer

Joel Salatin calls himself a sissy farmer because he is interested in healing the earth and getting back to working in harmony with the natural order of things. He says he is in the redemption business. That he is also something of a rabble rouser as well as a prognosticator is evidenced by the two statements (below) that he made in an interview published on line on The Tennessee Farmers and Freeholders site in 2008.
  1. An old law says, “Nobody’s thrown a ball so high it didn’t come down.” I don’t think anybody believes that an economy can just grow and grow and grow forever.
  2. It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I get so frustrated when I speak at a seminar and the first question is “But is it legal?” Who cares if it’s legal? If it’s right, do it.
My maternal grandmother, though not a farmer, knew something about working with the natural order of things. She raised nine children while her husband worked the railroad as a section crew foreman. After she was widowed she became mostly self sustaining. She put in a huge garden every spring, did all the hoeing and weeding and harvesting and put back, by canning, those vegetables that could not go into the root cellar for the winter. On the years she couldn't hire a man with a horse to break up the garden plot she did it herself, pushing her own smaller plow. She raised chickens, White Leghorns for eggs and for 'trading' for egg money on Saturday, for Sunday dinners and Bantum roosters because they amused her. She'd always made her own clothes, crocheted doilies and booties, embroidered pillowcases and used up the left-over supper gravy on the next morning's biscuits. But for all of that (and even with a small pension) she still needed additional income so she cooked lunch at school, worked in a nursing home, rented out rooms to subsist. She knew about subsisting and sustaining and living an optimistic, independent life.

Thinking about subsistence farming could lead us to crofting -in Scotland or Kentucky or Finland and then inevitably, when thinking of redemption and working in harmony with the natural order of things, when thinking of being self sustaining, to Wendell Berry (you may remember he will not buy a computer) and to his Mad Farmer poems. One of my favorite lines is from his poem The Man Born To Farming - " He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing."

Sustainable agriculture won't make anyone rich -that isn't the goal. Sustaining and subsisting so often go hand in hand.

Still, "He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Poem Of The Day for today (April 8th,2009) is called How To Read A Poem: Beginners Manual and it's by Pamela Spiro Wagner.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ukranian Pysanky - A Story

What is Psyanky anyway?

Well, Pysanky is derived from the Ukranian verb pysaty meaning "to write". Pysanky are a special type of easter eggs that have been decorated using beeswax and dye; it is a very old art form. Traditionally. eggs were decorated uncooked and only fertized eggs could be used. These eggs are decorated with a batik technique - a design is writtten on the eggs with a Kystka (or electric stylus) containing beeswax then the egg is dyed. Traditional dyes were made from dried plants or other vegetable matter by the women in each household who passed the dye 'recipes' on from mother to daughter as they did with the designs used and the accompanying forlklore. Successive layers of beeswax and dye are added until the artist achieves the desired result. Pysanka designs are usually geometric using traditional symbols such as triangles, circles, straight and curved lines to tell a story. Deirdre Le Blanc uses the term Sacred Geometry in describing the practice.

The process of making these beautiful and complex eggs (each egg may take from 3 to 11 hours to complete) is described many places but the most comprehensive site (over 400 pages ) on pysanky was built by Luba Petruska.

This wonderful, well organized site is just full of the most interesting pictures of all types of pysanky, it also contains a how to section, history, traditions, easter cards, post cards - you name it this site has it.
She also has a What's New page that is more 'blog like' if you are more comfortable with that format.
If you ever have whole afternoons or evenings to spend making exquiste easter eggs that will someday be heirlooms here's how.

Martha Stewart also has a very good how to page that includes a supply list as well.

Pysanka is the singular form of pysanky. The biggest non chocolate easter egg in the world, the Vegreville Pysanka , is a wonderful ode both to math and to art, achieving nine mathmatical, architectural and engineering firsts when it was completed in 1975. Sitting at a 30 degree angle, on a massive steel and concrete base, turning in the wind like a weather vane, it remains a testament to the vision of Ron Resch. and a tribute to the Canadian Mounties whose 100th anniversary it commemerates.

If you'd like to know more Dr. Myron Hlynka, has an extensive list of links here:

Pysanky - Hope and Change: A Tribute to Obama

Hope and Change: A Tribute to Obama
Originally uploaded by so_jeo

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Egg Group 3
Originally uploaded by bcompetent

Folk Art at it's best!

Pysanky - Group Picture

Group Pic
Originally uploaded by bcompetent


Pysanky by the carton

Originally uploaded by stu_spivack


Pasanka - Raven and Otter Egg

Raven and Otter Egg
Originally uploaded by dandylioneggs

An stunning outdoor motif.

Pasanka - Rainbow Rooster

Rainbow Rooster Angle 1a
Originally uploaded by so_jeo

How cheerful is this?

Pasanka - Hummingbird Honeysuckle - Turkey Egg

Hummingbird Honeysuckle Turkey 4a
Originally uploaded by so_jeo

What an intricate design! I wonder how many hours of work this represents.

Pasanka - Circus Egg

Circus Egg
Originally uploaded by dandylioneggs

Does this remind you of a circus or a carnival?