Monday, June 20, 2011

Bent knees ... Both ways

I was talking to a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago at a picnic, and he asked me how in the world I wound up in the place I am at today... he was referring to my BBQ ventures and the success I have been enjoying .

Most of my friends know me as a  former hard rock miner, a journalist or a government affairs specialist. Not many people knew my hobby and passion for grilling and BBQ -- let alone my passion for brewing beer. A little more than a year ago that changed when my brother Bobby asked me to share some BBQ secrets on a blog he wanted to start... until then, I pretty much kept that stuff to myself. Sure, I blogged about it occasionally over the past few tears, but it was nothing really.

Well, as some of you know, Bobby and I took it to the next level and decided to enter into a season of competitive BBQing, and then that led to a crazy winter of cooking for friends and friends of friends, which then led to me securing some equipment, commercial kitchen space, a catering and vending license and insurance in an effort to make a little money at this thing ... and now that has become a little uncomfortable because now I have an investment to maintain -- or, if you like -- this animal to tame ... but, however you choose to look at it... it's both exciting and terrifying.

So, I answered my friend with an explanation of how I was feeling about everything and the best way to explain it was to refer to the forward of one of my favorite books: "Illusions" by Richard Bach. (I think I told my friend the passage was in "One" another great Richard Bach book, but I was drinking beer... which is an allowable foul because it was a picnic and I was cooking for fun, but anyway)... the forward starts out with Bach explaining how he felt like the book illusions came through the wall like animal grabbing him by the throat and refusing to let go until he put the words to paper.

My new business is doing that to me...

Bach goes on with hand written notes -- presumably an outline for chapters the book -- that detail a process of giving in and letting go to the forces of *whatever* and riding the current with grace and ease to wherever it takes you. In this outline process Bach creates a character who masters the process of letting go and becomes the Messiah who tries desperately to explain to his followers the simplicity of the process ...  the Messiah speaking to crowd uses the analogy of life in a river...

To make a long story short: the life at the bottom of a river clings to rocks for survival. It's a tough life yet survival instinct will hold you back if you give it all the power you can muster, but eventually all creatures loosen their grip to the rocks and get swept away in the current -- some at the beginning of life and some at the end.

At first it looks painful as the creatures are swept downstream banging violently against the rocks, but they are soon pulled into the current and away from all that and then it's just a matter of riding it out and taking on each new thing as it comes your way... (well that's what I took away from that forward years ago.... I was going to re-read the passage tonight, but one of my kids probably has my copy, and amazon only let me read so far without buying a new copy).

So what does this have to do with Bent knees?

I can count the times I have ridden a horse on one hand, but every time I did, the horse always tried to get the best of me... one time my uncle Larry put me up on a pregnant horse who wasn't too happy about giving me a ride, when I got on her she took off across the pasture like a scalded ape. I was bouncing so bad I was terrified... then I heard my uncle cry out "Bend your knees to absorb the shock" and I managed to do just that. My whole ride changed at that moment... I was in heaven and gliding across a pasture at lightning speed...

Well, that was until I realized that mare had bloated her stomach when we tightened the saddle, then she relaxed at full gallop, the saddle slid down and I fell off that horse and rolled for about 50 yards... as that accident played itself out I went from Bent knees for shock to Bent knees in prayer...

That's kind of where I am at right now... full gallop, full prayer and knees fully Bent... BOTH ways ;-)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Community Root's growing update.

June has been a busy month at the Community Roots CSA. We started out by planting pumpkins with several first grade classes from Dalton Elementary School. The kids started their pumpkin seeds in their classroom and later transported the seedlings to the CSA. Albeit, many of the poor transplants did not survive the short trek to the garden but that was anticipated so we had extra seedlings on hand to cover for any pumpkin casualties. For the most part, the kids were excited to get out and play in the dirt but I could tell for some it was a foreign experience. One child found a worm while digging a hole for their seedling and thought it was "gross" when I picked it up and offered it to him to hold. Another child was thoroughly into the whole farming experience. He said he was going home to tell his mom that he wanted to be a farmer when he grows up...that totally made my day!

Then there was the annual Community Roots yard sale fundraiser which was a huge success. Thanks to all who supported our cause!

In other exciting news, yet another gracious community landowner in Dalton has agreed to let us use their property to grow even more vegetables. As many of you know,  there is a waiting list of 50 families who want to become shareholders at Community Roots and while we are not adding shares this year it certainly opens the door for future expansion. This year will be a trial run to see how successful we are (and it's been a challenging growing season to boot!). Currently, we are only growing several varieties of squash and potatoes on the new land but it certainly opens up  a lot of growing space for a diverse range of crops at the main CSA location. Below is a pic of volunteer Linda Michael and CSA crew member, Kara Carleton hard at work planting potatoes at our new space. With the new land, there was much to be accomplished as far as fencing and irrigation lines. Thanks to all the volunteers who spent countless hours helping make that happen. You are greatly appreciated!

Now some info and photos of what's growing...As you all know, the weather thus far has been a bit challenging for everyone. Nevertheless, we are anticipating a great season of wonderful veggies. To date (and I am estimating on my last formal count) we have over 100 tomato plants (several varieties, which include Roma, Amish Paste, Sungold, Early Girl, Cherokee Purple, Nyagous, Stupice, Siberian, Oregon Spring, Riesentribe Grape, Red Cherry, Yellow Pear, Trophy, Granadero, Beefsteak and Sweetpea Currant.) Next we transplanted peppers. Bell varieties include Orange Sun, Chocolate, Purple, Apple and Karma. For those that like hot peppers we have Serrano, Jalapeno, Thai, Cayenne, Georgia Flame and Red Habanero. (all great for spicing up your pickled vegetables). Other transplants include broccoli, cauliflower, red and green cabbage, celery, basil, lettuce, eggplant and cukes. Directly sown seed includes carrots, beets, kohlrabi, radish, lettuce, sugar peas, spinach, several bush bean varieties, onions, parsnips, kale, arugula, basil, corn, asian greens, swiss chard and many different herbs. I'm probably forgetting a few, but you get the idea....diversity is good!  As the weather warms up (and I'm sure it will) watch for weekly photo updates to see more of what's growing.