Thursday, July 4, 2013

Farming Makes You Stupid Addendum - The Muscadines

One of the smartest men I know, Lester, was relating a conversation he had with his good buddy Ry one Saturday afternoon concerning his struggles with keeping weeds out of his Muscadine  beds.

"Ry, I've tried everything. Can't get a lawn mower in between the plants. A hoe goes too deep and it cuts some of the roots; the weed-eater slices up the trunk of the vines, or I end up clipping some of them off. Don't want to spray weed killer because if I put too much or get too close it deadens the plant," bemoans Lester, "you've got muscadine vines, what do you do?"

In one of those eternal moments where actions communicate more fully than words ever could, Ry gets down on one knee next to one of the vines and within 10 seconds has pulled every weed from around the plant, by hand.

The fact that Lester let everyone know this happened is a testament to his humility and to his understanding that modernity, while sometimes extremely nice in its convenience, is not always the best way of doing things.

This is another illustration of how our dependence on machinery to do our farming for us has made us dumber. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I've been mowing and weed-eating all week - since another friend of mine fixed my Craftsman Lawnmower in exchange for two loaves of Patt's bread, and I finally figured out how to load string in the weed-eater.

I preach and preach on this blog to NOT use fossil fuels - or at least I encourage others to do as we have done and eliminate them wherever possible - in their small scale farming. From time to time, however, we find ourselves falling behind for various odd reasons and the only way to catch up is to crank up a gas powered machine. I guess that is the difference. In our case we use it only when necessary. In Lester's case, the machine has just always been there and, in a way, the machine trains us to use it to the point we sometimes forget the great joy and simplicity of simply stooping over and pulling the weed.

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