Reeling and Seedling

Well, yesterday the hammer dropped and every single republican told 30 million people like me to go and die quietly please so they could save some money for rich folks, OK?

Not farming stuff incoming. Feel free to scroll down to the bottom if you don’t like the uncomfortable reality that at least some of you probably voted in the people that voted to try to kill me today. I’m looking at you rural farming America. Thanks for that. (Or, you know, if you’re too overwhelmed by the awfulness of it to hear about it again or you might go shoot someone. That’s an OK reason to scroll down too.)

It sounds like some sort of bad black humor, or some sort of dramatic hyperbole, but the vote to dismantle the ACA (including popular programs like protection from denying healthcare based on pre-existing conditions, coverage for pregnant women, and allowing young adults to stay on parents insurance for a few extra years) was clear. 51-48, not a single democrat voting to dismantle. In case you’re wondering, the senate is 52% republican and 48% democrat. I’d love to have the ability to vote republican sometimes, I do believe that the democratic party is corrupt, but the concept that republicans care about my human rights or my wellbeing or the wellbeing of anyone but themselves at this point is unfortunately a joke. They would genuinely rather I just die instead of spending money.

I have a family (and personal) history of female reproductive problems. Case in point; my mother who died of uterine cancer. Preventable uterine cancer that she did not have treated until it was about to kill her because she was one of the 30 million people that couldn’t get insurance without the ACA. Preventable uterine cancer that the only reason she was able to receive any treatment at all for (extending her life for 5 years which were happy and filled with life and joy, and having end of like palliative care, IE: letting her have pain killers and a hospital bed) was because of the ACA being passed soon after her diagnosis, protecting my dad’s ability to put her on his insurance after he finally found employment.

My family is what even republicans usually think of as a “good family”. We’re about as far from the ultra-racist “welfare queen/baby daddy” stereotype as you can get.  We’re white. My family came from a southern catholic farming background on my moms side. My dad’s father ran a cardboard box factory that made him significantly wealthy. Mom raised seven kids, cleaned, couponed, cooked, and made sure her kids were well educated and raised with integrity. My dad currently is nearly 80 years old and works for NASA. He designs lithium batteries that can handle outer space and are charged by solar panels. He holds a patent for some of the first neurological interfaces to allow people with paralyzed limbs to move their arms. All of us kids got jobs at 15 years old. We’re not uneducated, unmotivated,  have poor parenting or even just plain stupid. My family is gritty working types. And my mom died because there was no program like ACA when she got sick and my father was unemployed due to the Bush-induced recession. We live in the rust belt. The economy here has been awful for decades.

Now we’re looking at facing that all over again.

My partner owns his own retail store. It’s extremely successful for a retail store, going on their 3rd year anniversary with profits in the black. Over 95% of retail stores close their doors in the first 5 years and almost none make profits. He’s a small business owner. He built that.
He’s about to fall into the medicare gap. And without the ACA, he will not be able to afford health insurance.

I run this tiny urban farm. I work hard at it, I love it, it helps massively with my depression and I think few people this will reach would be able to tell me that farming isn’t a respectable job. But I will laugh in your face if you even consider the possibility that it makes enough money for me to afford insurance outside of the ACA. My healthcare is about to be gone. And best of all, the medication that keeps me able to function and could save my life is probably not going to be covered by most insurance any more. People still think birth control is only so people can have lots of sex that offends their religion. Little do they know that it’s probably slowly saving my life, not just from cripplingly painful cycles that prevent me from working normal jobs… But also from the genetically-inherited uterine fibroids that nearly killed my oldest sister and were probably inherited from my mother. Did you know that, if left untreated, uterine fibroids can develop into uterine cancer? Did you know that birth control prevents uterine fibroids for 1/10th the cost of a single surgery to treat them even before the become cancerous? Two and two fit so nicely together here if you care to look at facts.

So yes, when I say that republicans voted to literally end peoples lives today, I was not being hyperbolic. I was being frank. My mom would be alive today if healthcare reform went through in the 90’s. I or my partner, hardworking Americans, may not be alive someday because of the vote that just took place. Sorry if that’s too much of a burden on your taxes. I’m sure you needed that fat holiday bonus more than I needed my life. It’s cool.

And if you voted republican this past year? Fuck you. If I (or any of the 30 million other people insured the the ACA) die in the next four years, it is probably your fault.

 

Ok, you can pull your head out of the sand now. We’re back to farming.

FARMING AHOY.

So instead I’m trying to immerse myself in the potential spring hold for my homestead… Despite the fear and the potential for my untimely demise, I want to try to look forward to spring. This year we’re placing a new seed order. We grow heirloom organics, which allows us to save seeds from each plant each year. Still, not everything grows correctly and genetic diversity is important in plants AND animals, so we like to bring in new seeds.
We buy from high Mowing Seeds, and we’re not paid to say nice things about them. I just happen to like their seeds, prices, and polite customer service.

Here’s a list of what we’re getting and why.

Thyme
Every year we try to grow a new herb. I used a lot of thyme this year as it’s great on, well, everything? So we thought we’d give it a shot.

Bellstar tomato
This year the tomatoes did great, but they had some problems. We grew amish paste and san marzino. The amish paste did not produce well. The san marzino were nice, but they came in haphazardly, only allowing me to put away several jars of tomato sauce despite huge numbers of tomatoes growing. They just all ripened at different times, so we’d have 10 tomatoes here and 15 there, all year. They were also surprisingly watery for paste tomatoes and the plants were VERY thin and spindly, they needed trellises badly. Hopefully this variety will provide what we need a bit better.

NuMex Joe Anaheim and Early Jalapeno Hot Pepper
We grew an anaheim and a jalapeno from plants we bought at the garden center this year and they did very well. I use a lot of hot peppers and if we get these to grow and the tomatoes, it means jars of salsa!

Purple Beauty Bell Pepper
I have never gotten a bell pepper to live in my lawn. So I am kind of just grasping at straws here and hoping that because this pepper looks so different it might grow. Eh?

Kentucky Wonder (green beans)
These did great for us this year, huge plants, 8′ tall. We’re getting them because we liked them so much we want more of them! We have seeds saved from this year and last, but we’d like to establish a little more diversity in our genetics and we’d also like to grow LOTS of them this year!

Red Russian Kale
This is another favorite. It grows very well in our cold climate and has a nice flavor. But saving seeds is tough and often the plant grows as a biennial. So we haven’t saved seeds from this yet. I still had seeds, but they were a couple years old and I gave them away as part of a Yule gift to a fellow gardener.

Painted Mountain Corn
We’ve tried growing corn for three years now to no success. We’ve been trying to grow Roy Calais flint corn, but since it hasn’t done well, we decided to try a new kind. Fingers crossed this does better. We want a flint corn for cornmeal, grits and animal feed.

Cascadia Peas
We’ve had sub-par results with out peas as well. Often they get really spindly and sometimes they grow too tall for our pea trellises. Cascadia are a dwarf variety where the pods stay big but the plants are small. I hope they do better than our other ones.

Costata Romanesco zucchini
I used the last of these seeds this year, to great success! The biggest of these reached 7lbs 10oz this year and wasn’t fully grown. Wow! But because they never grew all the way, we couldn’t save seeds. Since they did so well… Again! Again!

Table Queen Acorn Squash
Winter squash has consistently done great up here. We’ve had acorn squash seeds volunteer out of our compost in past years and this year we had great success with a desperate last-second planting of Buttercup squash that had germinated in their seed packet mid-summer. This year we’re trying acorn squash deliberately and we’re hoping for equally good results.

De Cicco Broccoli
This is the vegetable that’s new to our garden this year. We’ve had some half-hearted attempts to grow brassicas but never tried very hard and never had them grow more than a few leaves before being mowed down by plants. Every year we try to add a new vegetable to our garden, and this year broccoli is it!

Flowers
We’re gonna try to grow some flowers this year. Echinacea, butterfly mixes, chamomile, sunflowers. Maybe we’ll get some pretty (and useful) flower this year for… Our…

 

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEES

I received a cedar warre bee hive for my birthday this year from my extra-generous MIL! Which means BEEEEEEEEES! I am extremely excited to have bees! We’re looking for our nuc right now and I am just floored and thrilled.

Despite the world being pretty dark for me (and most everyone I love) right now, I’m excited for the weather breaking and it being spring. Lots of exciting things will be happening and I am looking forward to it.

Wish me luck!

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3 thoughts on “Reeling and Seedling

  1. I have been following your blog from the very beginning. I enjoyed your enthusiasm for starting an urban farm and was with you in spirit on your successes and failures. My heart ached when your Mom passed away and I continually sent your husband my “prayers” when he started his business.
    There have been times when I disagreed with you, times you have taught me something new, and times when you have brought new perspective to my thinking.
    Over time your post have become sparse and often filled with touches of anger and condescending to readers. I often wonder what happen to the person who started this blog and why she has become so bitter and judgmental.
    As for the ACA here is my personal experience.
    The affordable care act wanted $749.00 a month from me. I didn’t qualify for any assistance. My cousin applied for it and they wanted over 800 a month from him and he makes $13.00 an hour and works two jobs. They said he did not qualify for any assistance either. It was cheaper for me to pay the fine of not having insurance, my cousin choose to stop filing his tax return so he didn’t have to pay. We are not the exception, EVERYONE we know is stuck in our predicament. We are either paying a penalty or have stopped filing our taxes. One benefit of the ACA has been that my daughter has been able to stay on her fathers health insurance plan, for this we are truly grateful. I believe we should have a national health plan. The ACA was a beginning but needs some major work done on it. Maybe this administration can help make it better and the one after that even better. Before casting stones we should give them a chance. Under the best of circumstances it will take years to get all of the kinks worked out and get it up and running smoothly. If we continue to make progress, regardless of who is in office or what party is in control, then we are succeeding.
    That is MY OPINION, those that disagree with me are not ignorant, racist, stupid, etc. – they simply have a different opinion.

    • Janice,
      Unfortunately enthusiasm for life wanes when we encounter hardships beyond our control.
      I am poly, bi, pagan, female, and frustrated that those things are relevant to our government or my work. The longer I stay in this industry (a job I found I love) and this country (a nation I was raised to love) I become more frustrated daily. I reguarly have “fellow” farmers have tell me I am going to hell. You’d be horrified by how many have told me that women don’t belong in agriculture or laugh at my advice because I am female. It’s difficult knowing that my mother would still be alive if the war in Iraq hadn’t wrecked our economy. I spent years hearing doctors say repeatedly again and again that her condition was preventable. I’m regularly told the sexism and poverty I experience are just because I’m doing something wrong. I have recieved death threats and been told I should kill myself because I support my own rights and equality.

      Frankly, Janice, those things add up. They become overwhelming. And truth be told, I’m not that cheerful IRL. I suffer from high-functioning depression and anxiety. I hope you never, ever, have to feel as overwhelmed as I feel on a regular basis.

      But I’m really, really happy when I can talk about and focus on farming without having to give consideration to some other important part of my life that’s falling apart. I *love* farming. I love seeing the plants grow and the baby animals, and the fruits of my labor on the dinner table and the hard work. It’s SO rewarding. It’s something I genuinely, truly, love. And you can see that. You just told me so. It’s a time when everything else seems to melt away and I can live in the moment, genuinely happy.

      The last seven years things haven’t been perfect… But they have been moving in a good direction, albeit very slowly. I got health insurance for the first time. I felt like sexism and racism in any form were starting to be dismantled. Science was on the forefront of the world. Steps were being taken to right climate change and a lack of sustainability in our culture. My friends and I suddenly had marriage rights. I was seriously considering getting married because the policies surrounding union were starting to reflect government policy instead of a religion I’m not a part of.

      And of course it wasn’t perfect. I could write 100 essays on why things were still bad, for lots of people. I’m really sorry you were one of them. But it was getting better, slowly. Just a tiny bit. And that let me be happy enough to focus on farming. It gave me an emotional buffer to every dick who pulled into my drive and said BS like; “Oh! You’re a girl! You seemed so confident in your knowledge about rabbits that I was expecting a dude. I guess I should ask my buddies about how to raise rabbits instead.”. It let me be happy even when things were bad for me personally.

      In the last 12 months that buffer has come crashing down. Literally every single piece of my life that has been very slowly getting somewhat better in the previous 7 years (sexism, relationship equality, healthcare, the job market, my friends and family’s lives, investments in green technology, scientific literacy, my own mental state, etc.) is now fighting for it’s life. Each and every one of those things is something that our republican government has literally vowed to try to undo. Not because it’s genuinely good for America, but just… Because reasons. (Probably money and “God”.)

      I mean, I’m not idle. I’m not into armchair-only politics. For the first time in my life I am going out to protests. I am calling my government because I feel like they no longer care about this country, let alone me. I’m trying to live genuine resistance to the best of my ability. I’m writing emails and signing petitions. And I’m writing angry blog posts that if they reach even ONE gosh be danged person and change their minds about voting against the wellbeing of millions then they are worth writing. It’s not like I’m writing my blog to make other people happy. I’m writng it for me.

      But it’s not working and I am extremely scared to interact with the farming community, especially locally where it’s deep red outside the city. I know that a large percentage of them voted into office the people who are now trying to pass legislation that could literally kill me. At the very least, many thought “grab ’em by the pussy” Donny and “funerals for medically necissary abortions” Pence should sit in office and that’s awful. I think back to all the downright creepy and awful sexism and dogma and unsustainable practices that I’ve seen in the farming community (that’s been slowly getting better) and see how much worse it’s gotten in the last year and I realize that it’s officially not going to get better again for at least 2-4 years. Looking at farming DOES make me bitter. How could it not?

      Right now scared and angry doesn’t come close to how I feel. For the first time since I was 14 I feel suicidal and violent. Not because I want to be or I’m messed up somehow, but because I’m terrified. Bone-chilling sick to my stomach terror. Terror that absolutely, 100% leads me to lash out at people. It seems like a pretty natural response to me to the situation of “everything you care about is going to be controlled by people who openly want to destroy it”. And hey, soon I may not even have the health insurance to see someone about those problems… Mental health care is hardly a republican talking point.

      No, the ACA was hardly perfect. Every single person who put it in knew it wasn’t a sustainable program and it would need adjustments. But it was a damn sight better than nothing and it gave millions of people who were hard working but badly off healthcare. I was one of them. My partner was one of them. And my situation is hardly unique as well. I alone know dozens of people whose healthcare and future will be negatively effected by this dismantling, and frankly, every policy that our new government has promised to try to ennact. I also know lots of people who have started recieving threats lately. We’re scared for our lives.

      Given that the republican party seems obsessed, not with doing what’s best for this country I grieve for, but with itself… Given that the majority of them regularly vote against ANY reforms that favor disenfranchised populations…. And that they have been unable to articulate ANY replacement plan that doesn’t rely on elitist nonsense like HSAs and coverage going way up for women and people who have pre-existing or uncommon conditions…
      If they do replace it with something better? If they actully run a functional government? Great. I will be thankful. But their history tells me otherwise, so I will believe it the moment I see it and not one second before.

      And unfortunately, I think that’s the only appropriate, and sane, response to the situation.

      But hey. Genuinely? Sorry I can’t be optimistic for you. I know that hearing other people’s hapiness helps through tough times. I hope if you need optimisim you can find cheery and enthusiastic elsewhere.
      But on a saltier, more bitter note, maybe try looking for someone who is wealthy enough to put money into a republican proposed HSA. I bet they’ll be thrilled right now.

    • Incidentally, Janice, the whitehouse removed the pages on climate change, LGBTQ, healthcare, women’s rights, domestic violence and civil rights this morning from their website.

      I’m sure that means nothing bad though. They’re probably just, ya know, putting up nicer graphics to draw attention to those critical, life-saving, all-important issues that define whether or not millions of people (including our children and grandchildren) live or die. We should give them a chance.

      Besides, my mostly disenfranchised circle of friends and family will be thrilled to know I’m enthusiastic about gardening! 😛

      Oops. That’s my bitterness and anger showing again, huh? My bad.

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