Welcome Home!

Today we had some new arrivals on the farmy. About 300-400 of them. And thus far they seem to be content in their new location.


The new arrivals are, of course, honeybees. I have been heavily considering a hive for a long time. My MIL and Greg purchased one for me this year for Christmas and yesterday I finally got to go pick up my bees, a 3 frame nucleus.

Now, the problem with that is the frames for a standard hive (known as a Langstroth) don’t fit into my stacking top bar hive (called a Warre). Langstroth hives were sized to be the largest commercially accessible boxes bees would fill with straight combs. They were cheap and production focused hives. Warre hives were designed to the sizes that bees preferred to make their combs given a variety of options. As such they are smaller and the Langstroth frames don’t fit.

So we ended up following some instructions on a Youtube video online. We used cheap dollar-store clamp style hair clips like these;


Very 90’s!

And then tied them onto the top bars through the holes using twine. (The video suggested using zip ties but I didn’t have any.) Then we cut part of the frame out , just enough to fill a frame in the top bar hive, and used the hair clips to clamp onto them and hang them in the hive.

The bees seem happy enough on them, and they seem secure. As the bees work, they will seal the comb, hairclip and all, to the top bar until it’s secure. Then we can go back, snip the twine and cut the hairclip free. The bees will fill up the new gaps and it’ll be good as new.

The whole process was a little overwhelming for me. I have a somewhat irrational fear of bees. Getting stung doesn’t bother me that much, but the buzzing around my head or limbs, the potential for them to crawl up my clothes, etc. incites a panic in me. It’s not the pain, it’s all the anxiety leading up to the pain that causes my fear (which in turn fuels itself).

But I still managed to push forward and (three stings later) my friend (a semi-experienced beekeeper) and I got all the bees into the box. I did most of the installation and actual handling of the bees myself.


Me on the right, brushing the bees into their new home while my friend holds the nuc box.

We did the whole process except closing up the hive at the end without a smoker, only sugar water. The only stings were my own. They did NOT like me taking away the frames to cut them for the new hive, and I got a sting for each of the frames I cut into for my troubles.

Today, they seem comfortable in their new home and have been working hard to clean out the mess of the cut combs. The honey stores left in the comb edges were cut open and set next to the hives for the bees to finish eating at their leisure, and a feeder with 1:1 (by weight) sugar water was hung for them.

This is to give them plenty of nutrients and food while they repair their hive and wait for the fall nectar flow. We’ll get no honey from them this year. This year they need to build their hive, draw out comb,  and grow into a stronger unit. Next year we may be able to take the excess but for this year they will need the food to help them get through the winter.


And this is where they now live. Happy as a clam. A clam filled with hundreds of stinging death monsters. But it’s not so bad. They seem to like it here. And that’s good.


A quick update

Spring has been extremely busy for me, so I haven’t been able to update much. But I thought I’d stop and leave a quick update on how things are on the homestead.

We finally got our wood chips in. It only took nearly three months! The chickens will be glad. We will be moving the bulk of them this weekend. We have a group of friends and family coming in to help us move them. We will be feeding them with an excess of delicious food in exchange for their labor. It looks like most of the woodchips are fir, cherry and maple. They smell lovely!


The woodchip pile!

The garden itself is doing well. We completed the beds in time for everything to have a very late planting. As such things are a little behind, but the direct-sown seeds are growing strong! We’ve begun to harvest our lettuces, rashes and kale. The peas should be starting to pod soon and the summer plants will be going into the ground as soon as they finish hardening off.


A blurry shot of our first french breakfast radishes

The worst problem is the tomatoes. The lights I had on them were just too close to the crowded plants in their seed cups and something started to go wrong. The huge root systems they’d developed started to fail and break near the stem, the plants started to collapse and had no room to grow into the lights and leaves began to die rapidly. I just wasn’t doing enough for them.

The majority of them have no been repotted and a few of them have been cloned by planting trimmed branches, but a lot of them have died as well. Some of them are just about recovering… But they really should have gone into the ground ages ago. Now they need to time to recover from my mistakes. Next year I will start them two weeks later. Lesson learned.

I also purchased and tried to hatch out some new wheaten Ameraucana eggs but only ended up with one chick due to various mishaps including poor shipping and a thermometer I was not used to using. A lone chick doesn’t do so well, so we got some pheasant chicks to keep it company while we wait to see if it’s a boy or a girl. They’ve been getting along great in the brooder thus far. The plan is to raise them out for holiday dinners.

And that’s a summation of the homestead right now. We’re trying to get the plants in the ground for the summer now and get the potato towers up and running. Hopefully we’ll have great harvests this year!


Farming and homesteading is inspiring to me. I get so much joy at looking at things running smoothly and properly. I draw a lot of motivation from looking at other people’s goals, aspirations, and the extremely cool things that they do.

Sometimes down the line I loose track of that joy. I loose track of it amidst things like trying to manage animal pedigrees and planting row crops and producing enough to justify that I am a “real” farmer and balancing budgets. It can be easy to loose some of my inspiration in among all of the red tape.

So here’s a little compilation of some nifty things I plan to do this year that are inspiring for me!

Vertical Gardening and Plant Towers

I really like the idea of growing up instead of out. While some vertical gardening (such as hydroponics in a warehouse) strikes me as wildly impractical, a lot of vertical growing can be done in a back yard and drastically increase your growing space. Hanging pots, PVC planters, trellises and the like all make for an increase in growing space without an increase in growing ground. And this year, I intend to do more of that. As the strawberry plants recover, I will thin them and put the new plants in hanging pots. I will also be trying to get some herbs running in a hanging planter made out of re purposed two liters that will hang near my awning at the back of my garage. This year I will be growing UP!


PVC strawberry planter Photo credit: goodhomedesign

Natural Beekeeping and Honey

This is happening and it’s great! I have my bees on order and my hive is in the basement, just waiting to be assembled! We are going to be keeping bees in a Warre hive. This is a smaller beehive that’s designed with topbars and minimal inspection. Unlike the Langstroth, whose design is based around what bees will tolerate, the Warre hive is based around what bees make when left to their own devices. The size of the boxes are smaller, the empty boxes load onto the bottom of the hive, they build their own comb for the frames, there’s a lot more airflow as well. It mimics a hollow tree more effectively than a Langstroth but gives much lower yields. My hope is that the bees thrive in it!


Warre bee hive Photo Credit – Thebeespace

Pollinator and Bee Gardening

Pollinators are extremely important to our environment, growing crops, and plant life everywhere. If I’m going to have bees, I better be more aware about providing for these ever important critters. So I will be building bigger, better bee gardens this year with lots of flowers! The goal is going to be to trim up the Magnolia and put some flowers around it out front, as well as re-do some of the landscaping around the house and plant as may bee-friendly and pollinator friendly plants as possible in the next couple of years. It will even include safe water sources for local bees, one of the things they lack (and need) the most. The hope is to provide a pesticide-free buffet for all the local critters who will desperately need it in the coming months and years.


A bee garden! Photo Credit – helpabee

Purebred Wheaten Ameraucanas

This year, we are going to begin moving out of Easter Eggers and into a purebred flock. Our rooster is a purebred Wheaten Ameraucana and I now have a dozen hatching eggs of the same kind on order. Later in the year (possibly early next year) we will be ordering a dozen more and hatching some of our own. At that point, by next spring we will be running a flock of purebred blue egg laying chickens (possibly with a couple Australorps or Marans for eating-eggs and fun mixes). It will be exciting to finally have purebred birds!



Wheaten Ameraucana Hen (and rooster) Photo Credit – Paradisepoultryandwaterfowl



Quarteracrehome’s “Will” Wheaten Ameraucana rooster

Fully Pedigreed Rex Rabbits

Early this year we invested in a new buck to replace Cassanova, as we have kept two of his daughters (Lady and Sage) and would like to start filling out our pedigrees. So we now have a new buck that came to us through happenstance that is actually Bean’s grandson! We have nicknamed him Porter (as in a Porterhouse steak) and he will be our new herdsire for our rex rabbits, lending his lineage and traceable pedigree to our operation.


SkinnyAcres Rabitry’s Porter, our new Rex buck

Companion Planting and Interplanting

This year our garden has been planned, planned again, and then planned some more. We are going to have both companion planting and interplanting on the homestead this year. Companion planting is when you plant two plants next to each other (or in alternating rows) that compliment eachother’s growth or deter pests from one another. Interplanting is related and means to grow two plants in the same space that don’t interfere with one-another’s growth. An example of this is growing beans and corn in the same space. The beans fix nitrogen for the corn, and the corn stalk allows the beans to trellis up them. One example that will be in our garden this year is growing radishes pretty much anywhere a slow-growing plant is seeded. Since radishes grow so fast, they can be harvested before they start to compete with their too-close neighbors. We will be growing as many plants this way as possible this year. Gardening is still somewhat a struggle for us, but we’re always trying to get better at it!


Crops interplanted Photo Credit thrivefarms

And lastly;

Growing Trees!

Quarteracrehome is going to be working with Western Reserve Eco Network (a local grassroots environmental group seeking to promote sustainability, which I happen to be a part of) to grow a whole bunch of trees in empty lots in the city. These will all be either native northeast Ohio trees to help restore native forestland or fruit/nut trees to help feed the low-income urban communities around Cleveland. Some of those trees fruit trees may come tagging along back to the quarter acre. Additionally, I have several branches from my father’s Queen Anne cherry tree attempting to root in my living room. Not to mention that two of the plants that have been on this property for ages are also fruit trees and I just had no idea. So I am excited to be “branch”ing out this year! Ahahah, tree puns.

And that’s about it. Things that are inspiring me to do new stuff this year, and things I’ll be trying out. Fingers crossed that it all works out!


Today I went out and got some lovely photos of the early spring blossoms. Warning, this post contains many high-res photos.


Crocuses of some sort growing alongside our wild garlic

There’s not a whole lot blooming, but there’s some. We’re still a long while away from the violets, dandelions and asters that flood my lawn in late summer and fall.


One of less than ten dandelions currently in bloom in our lawn

It’s really nice to see all the life starting to creep back into the world, though. And these early flowers can be a lifesaver for bees, especially wild ones.


Daffodils are considered one of the best early flowers for pollinators.

I even took a few shots of the tree out front of my house. The same one you saw weighed down under snow in my last post. The lovely pink blossoms are just about on their way out. After much digging I have finally identified this mystery tree outside my house as am ornamental plum tree, either a cherry plum or purple leaf plum. Both have edible fruits in the late summer to early fall ideal for making jams. I had NO idea that this was the case, and perhaps I shall have the opportunity to taste them this year. I have my pectin and jelly jars all ready!


Beautiful pink flowers, already shedding their petals

Also on the list of “things I didn’t know” are these gorgeous pink flowers that produced for me one whole apple last year. I was shocked. When I saw it, I thought it was some sort of bug’s nest hanging on a branch. I have NEVER seen this plant do anything before, but I knew it was in the rose family and given that it never produced a fruit, I assumed it was a rose bush, not a fruit tree. But apparently it’s an APPLE shrub!

apple2Who knew!? Maybe we will get more apples from it some day. I would like to try to graft some branches onto it from other very-early blooming apple trees and see if I can get a real apple crop! I shall be trimming it down aggressively this year, along with the plum tree. They both need a serious pruning.


Even our Magnolia is in bloom, though it’s flowers aren’t quite so useful. They don’t even feed bees, and the tree is a mess. It’s my least favorite plant on my property.


It can be hard to photograph in the wind.

Pretty much all of these plants were put in by the people who owned this house before the people who owned this house before us. Apparently they were a couple of old retired ladies who loved to garden. I find myself in need of upping my game. The plants they chose are generally lovely, but I want to grow flowers too! Specifically bee flowers. You may recall some of my previous posts about gardening, especially for bees, wherein I attempted to grow some bee-friendly flowering plants to ultimately end in epic failure as they were dug up by my chickens escaping the confines of their chicken pen.

Well this year, I thought I’d try again. I invested $20 in a mixed shade perennial package from Costco, same as last time. It came with five hostas, five astibles and five crimson star columbines. These are all big bee attractant plants that bloom from early to late summer. And so far, things are going OK.


My initial investment on day 2

The plants came in plastic bags which I immediately opened, tried to sort them into generally upright positions, and then watered heavily. Recently I repotted them. Since then, the columbines have done squat nothing, they may indeed be dead completely on three of them.

But the astibles and hostas are doing MUCH better!


The hostas in their new pot this morning


Two of the astibles, separated and growing nicely.

In addition to these I also purchased a pair of lilac bushes that were similarly sad and pathetic upon arrival. Lilacs are good for butterflies, and sub-par for bees, but they are my favorite flowers, and all pollinators need food, including butterflies.


Sad lilacs, the day after arrival

They have since perked up significantly and nearly doubled in size.


Lilacs in their new kitchen-side window home!

And lastly, I also did some homesteading things while I was outside today. I started by pruning and separating some blackberry canes that were starting to overgrow.


New leaf growth on a blackberry cane

Then I weeded the strawberry bed. The weeds were then tossed right back into the bed, root side up, to produce mulch for the strawberries. It may not look like much but the nine plants we put in last year have multiplied into a couple dozen. Depending on how well they do, some of them might be dug up, washed, and repotted for some vertical gardening I would like to do.


And with the advent of freshly disturbed mulch, dirt and plant, the chickens attempted to lend a beak to the process.


Chickens, invading the strawberry bed. The string to designate the area off limits to the dogs means nothing to the chickens.

So they were given a handful of wheat berries that we use to grow fodder on occasion, away from the strawberries, which kept them distracted until nightfall.


Chickens love snacks

Making today a warm, beautiful, and otherwise rewarding day. I just still wish that the REST of my lawn wasn’t quite a swamp, so I could get right down to gardening. This weather would have been perfect for it!

Seedlings and Frosty Mornings

April 14th is our last average frost date for the year and May 1st our last extreme frost date. The weather has been wacky this year and has lead to several problems. I know that many people who farm tree-based commodities are running on panic mode right now. Our weather has been alternating between extremely warm spells (60’s and 70’s day and night) for two weeks and sudden, aggressive frosts, typically accompanied by several inches of snow. Sap season for maple syrup this year started and ended a month early, and we waved goodbye to most of the US peach crop as they bloomed with the heat and died in the frosts. Bees have been having trouble too. A lot of people are noticing the bees getting very active because of the heat, drawing out comb and eating winter stores to do so, and then when a frost hits they can’t reach their food (or don’t have enough left) and die. It’s a rough sort of spring.


This was the view outside my bay windows last Thursday. The trees had so much snow on them, they were being pulled to the ground. Normally these flowers are well above the windows. Now it’s in the 70’s.

For me, the effects of the weather have also been substantial. My back lawn is essentially a swamp of sorts. The vast majority of northeast Ohio used to be swampland and wetlands before it was colonized by the English, and the effects of that heavy watershed still holds fast to this area. The alternating weather patterns have also been accompanied by alternating precipitation patterns, and when the water hits the ground in this area, it doesn’t leave until it evaporates into the air. There’s nowhere for it to go. This area is where the water is SUPPOSED to drain off to. As a suburb, we’re trying to get it to drain off even further. It’s not easy.

So preparing the expansion for my garden bed has, all around, been going poorly. Not only is there several inches of mud, but on top of that is inches of standing water. I was trenching (double digging) a new area of my lawn for the garden bed expansion, but I’m afraid that all I did was create a small lagoon in my back yard. I really need to rebuild those irrigation ditches this year to help drain water away.

The massive amount of water, sitting on top of the clay slab that I refer to as my lawn, is a large part of the reason why we garden the way we do. We have to amend the soil if we want to grow our staple diet needs. Clay soil floods, roots have trouble penetrating, and nothing seems to grow well in it at all. The water simply pools and sits on top, and we rely on evaporation not waterflow or absorption to lower our water table. So we build raised beds. Do note, the finished raised bed area from last year (lagoon to the fence) has no standing water. It’s still wet, but not flooded. It works.

(Broccoli and lettuce that should be planted outdoors, but it’s been too wet to
work the soil)

Good soil management plays into this a lot. We rely on fresh/arborists woodchips to play a big part in our gardening. The woodchips serve several purposes. First, they help with water management. They will absorb water when it’s wet, release the water when it’s dry, and also create pathways through the soil for water to travel, unlike the clay which simply stops it. Next, they slowly gather and hold in nitrogen, an essential nutrient for growing plants. At first, fresh wood chips are so busy absorbing nitrogen that they will leech it out of the soil, but in later years they shed the nitrogen in a form that is usable by plants in large quantities. To help mitigate the nitrogen loss, we use the wood chips in our chicken yard first, allowing it to mingle with the nigh-nitrogen content of chicken poop and start to break down. The wood chips also add biomass to the soil, not only through their own organic matter, making the soil looser and more fibrous, but also by feeding tons of microbes, insects, fungi and other things that live in the soil and help plants grow. Using the woodchips in the chicken yard also gives us an extra benefit; our chickens do not smell because their poop is neutralized by the carbon in the wood chips. It’s an extremely natural, effective, and usually inexpensive way of managing an integrated agriculture system.

But this year, the service I used to use to get wood chips delivered ($20 delivery plus $1 a yard) changed hands and is no longer offering that service. so I’ve been struggling with other groups instead. I have tried websites like Chipdrop (which was awful), I have been calling local arborist companies, etc. I have heard a lot of promises that I will get wood chips, but no deliveries yet. It’s been VERY difficult and frustrating.

As a result, it’s frankly too wet to work in my lawn to build the rest of the garden bed. Every step means sinking 2″ into the mud, every push on a wheelbarrow sees it creating ruts 6″ deep, and every shovel full of dirt comes with a flood of water. There have been no woodchips to mitigate the problem and make it manageable. So right now, I’m stuck.

I managed to plant nearly all the seedlings I was planning on for the year, and they’re ready to start hardening off. But I have nowhere to put them yet as I have compost to spread and dirt to dig before they can move into soil.


My seed starting station in my basement, with tons of green plants, some of which can handle the light frosts outside until may, but not the flooding.

So I wait. And wait. And wait. And maybe someday my wood chips will show up. When they do, there will be a massive party at my house, both figuratively and literally as I invite lots of people over to help move some dozen of yards of wood chips and eat one of the meat chickens and some squash that I raised out last year.

But for now, there’s not much I can do. The wet and unstable weather has me unable to traverse my own lawn, and only time will tell if I get my plants in the ground in a reasonable time frame or not.

Meanwhile… Have some pictures of my chickens, being wonderful and enjoying not being penned in (since we have nothing growing).

Hey, Just a heads up, I may not be part of your bubble.

You’ll notice that this post has none of my normal tags. That’s because it’s mostly for some people who have been following this blog for sometime.

I’ve been going through some serious introspection about many things, including this blog, as of late. It’s been a pet project of mine, to help me chronicle my own life and ideas as I grow as a farmer and a person. I’ve learned a lot of things from this blog. I’ve seen how I’ve changed my perspectives over the years on everything from bees to politics. And it’s very interesting and useful to me to have this chronicle of my life. It’s a sort of public diary and also a platform for me to advocate for things I am passionate about. Mostly farming, homesteading, and a search for sustainability within those acts.

Recently I have been speaking about the immediate troubles that plague my life. Some of these problems are from my own mind, some from broader outside forces, some rather directly happen to me. But I have been writing about them. And I’ve had a few people who suddenly said they were strongly disagreeing with me, and wondered why I started writing about such gloomy, harsh, critical things, seemingly so suddenly. It seemed to them that the person who fit into their world wasn’t there anymore. Like I’d changed.

So I went back through my blog. And you know what I found? I have been using this blog like that the whole time, but I was writing about topics those people agreed with me on or otherwise did not care much about. I have written about things like why I oppose veganism, why I don’t support PETA-style animal rights, why I dislike children, why I feel frustration towards my aggressively suburban family, about social problems within the broader homesteading community, about farming myths, about “factory” style farming, about “chemicals” in our foods, about large agribusiness, about my Mom’s cancer battle and death, I have been writing about challenges, negative impacts on my life, and being critical of others for years… Just not very often my fellow farmers (especially small farmers and homesteaders) because frankly, their lives didn’t impact my life dramatically outside of my career. More recently, that’s changed, and I think it’s left some people concerned. The truth is, I might not be the farmer they thought I was.

Now one could be forgiven for thinking that I live within the sphere of a stereotypical viewpoint that people see as being a farmer. For starters, words have a lot of power and I identify myself as a “farmer”. When we think of a “farmer” there’s an image, portrayed to us be media akin to the Paul Harvey speech, “so God made a Farmer”. When asked to think “What is a farmer” we probably think of straw or cowboy hats, overalls, an older white man on a tractor or in a pickup truck. When we think of a community around that person, it focuses on a house wife, family, children playing near the small farmhouse, church on Sundays, horseback riding. When we think deeper about that person we may make certain assumptions about them, like how they are probably conservatives because they are religious or they support gun ownership (which can be essential in the countryside). Our cenus data supports this. Over 70% of farm owner/operators in the US are white Christian men.
(Citations; 123, 4)

You could also be forgiven because I support a large number of conservative policies. I’m passionate about the constitution, from free speech to freedom of/from religion, to gun rights and all the rest of the “no, you can’t house your armies in my homes nor can you enter without a warrant”, etc sort of stuff. I’m really big on states rights. I want to see a smaller, more effective government with more local jurisdiction and less red tape. I want to see businesses, and especially small farmers, supported in the USA. I want to see MUCH less foreign interference coming from the USA. Dear LORD do I want to see the FDA  and USDA dissolved and replaced with a better organization(s)! (They can even keep their old names, just make them work for the people again instead of companies, please!) And I want to see people pay more attention to the huge swaths of (primarily farm) land that are crumbling apart all across the midwest due to hairbrained policies that don’t support them very well. I support hunting and farming animals, and self-sustainability and fishing, hard (dirty) work, self-responsibility, and all those other great things. I love the land, the air, the peace and quiet, the beautiful moments of nature. In an ideal world, you’re right, I would probably vote conservative.

So yes, to some of you, I probably seem to fit inside of what’s being labeled as political bubbles these days. On the surface of this blog, I may strike you as tucked nicely into the typical farmer box (albeit somewhat on the liberal end). So when I blog about how repealing the ACA would ruin my life, how I think climate change is a big problem, or how I struggle with the broad conglomerate called “Christianity” it might seem to come out of nowhere. But I’m a complete person. I have a diverse set of experiences. This isn’t an ideal world, I can’t make the choices I’d like to because if I choose to support some policies I like, I must also choose to support programs that threaten my life. Life is messy. It makes us unique and imperfect and we are all part of that. So here’s some reasons why I probably don’t fit into that box and might make posts that you feel are critical of your own actions.

And hey, just as a heads up; Trigger warning! Liberal ideas from an otherwise conservative source ahead! 😛

  • Climate change, pollution, evolution and science in general are real.
    USDA hardiness zones are consistently moving north, early warming ruins fruit cropseffects bee behavioralternates droughts and floods, and the top 12 warmest years on record have been in the last 20 years. There’s no reasonable way to deny that the climate is changing (are the thermometers at your local weather station rigged or something?) and of COURSE that effects farming. Of course understanding genetics and evolution effects animal/plant breeding. And of COURSE oil spills, disrupted ecology and wildlife cycles, smog, water contamination, algae blooms, wild bee deaths, superweeds and other things that spawn from human intervention effect agriculture on ALL levels. Science matters, it’s desperately important for agriculture, and sticking our heads in the sand about it is SUCH a bad idea! These things punish poor farmers far more than rich city dwellers. Don’t shit where you eat. Farmers need to pay attention to it more than anyone else! Of COURSE it’s gonna get covered in this blog!
  • I’m one of the %14 woman farm owner/operators in the US.

    Unfortunately, being a lady isn’t always easy. Even if we move past the fact that I’ve experienced (sometimes violent) sexism on the streets semi regularly since I was 7, or all the other common lady-problems I face… There’s not very many women farmers, and they can be looked down upon. It’s very common for other people to dismiss my opinion on farming because I am female. In fact, I have had people commit complete 180’s on me, where they thought I was a great resource and a good farmer, right up until they found out I was female. Suddenly, everything I said was second guessed and overall tones went from enthusiastic to just generally rude. Some people have openly stated (only after discovering that I am female) that things I said would have to be confirmed by their male farming buddies before they could believe me. Some people have even told me that I shouldn’t be a farmer because I am a woman. Sexism effects me, it effects my farming and therefore belongs in this blog.

  • I’m polyamorous and bisexual
    Yeah, I have spoken about my partner, Greg, occasionally. He owns and runs a small business in a local neighborhood that he built himself. But I also have a second partner, Dan, who I have just recently started talking about. They’re friends, they know about eachother, and it’s all consensual. I’ve also dated girls before, would again, and have been consistently attracted to them. Not to mention my large number of LQBTQ+ friends. Why does this matter? Because the majority of farmers in the US are conservatives and would like to pass laws against my relationships, my friends, my family, or even me. Some refuse to do business with me. Some people have threatened violence against me. I’m never really comfortable sharing any details of my family life (which is supposed to be valued highly by farmers) with other farmers because of this stigma, and it’s hard to form good, trusting, relationships because of it. Not to even mention the violence and hate I sometimes face just for existing, nor national policies that effect me negatively like marriage equality, adoption rights, inheritance, etc. That’s not OK. It effects my life, it effects my farming, and therefore it belongs in this blog.
  • I’m Pagan
    I know. It shouldn’t be relevant. Neither should who I sleep with, or my gender. But, again, it DOES. There’s a HUGE swath of the population who think I’m so toxic because of it, that I shouldn’t exist. I don’t ask other people to be pagan, I do not try to get laws passed encouraging paganism, I don’t expect a teacher to tell kids that the reason they can write is because of Odin, I don’t expect special treatment on my holidays beyond what I make for myself, and I don’t expect people to like me for it. But the fact that people DO expect those things for THEIR religion (IE, Christianity in the US) is frustrating, and I can’t say I have ever faced it from a non-Christian. Now, we don’t take statistics on religion here in the US, but in Canada (who are generally considered less conservative/religious than us) only 17% of the farming population said they were non-religious, and of the ones that were religious, only 10% made up ALL non-christian religions including Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, ALL forms of Paganism, etc. I can’t imagine that number is any more diverse here in the US. The fact is, the majority of the people I interact with in this lifestyle are Christian. Which would be TOTALLY FINE, if they didn’t passionately believe some aspect of Exodus 22:18 (Thou shall not suffer a witch/sorceress to live, etc. etc.), or worse, try to get people to pass those personal beliefs into law. So when another farmer asks me why I’m not at church on Sunday, I have to weigh my answer carefully. This is a normal interaction in my job, it belongs on this blog.
  • Politics and policies effect me, republican ones usually negatively
    This should also be obvious, but my life is effected by national and local policy. When Lord Dampnut proposes a 20% tax on goods coming from Mexico, it effects farmers nation wide as Mexico is the biggest buyer of food from the USA. When climate change policies get cut and oil/coal/etc gets promoted, farmers suffer. When my healthcare gets cut, suffer. When policies are put into place that restrict marriage, my religion, my gender, my friends, my job, my existence… I suffer from it. So when you vote for those thing, you are literally voting against whether or not I should exist. You might as well be showing up at my door and threatening me with a weapon and telling me I should stay in my house and never come out, because that’s about the effect it’s going to have on me. How could I possibly be accepting of people who do that or treat it as if it doesn’t effect me?
    I could understand wanting that if I was doing something similarly threatening to conservatives, but I’m NOT. Nobody is. I would like to see Christian churches still exist, farmers have solid employment, straight people getting married, men on equal footing (not lesser). I want you to have all of the faith, family, farming, and heck, even guns that you want. I want you to wave the American flag and shoot bottle rockets into the air while screaming “FREEDOM” from the back of your pickup truck while bald eagles pass overhead, heck, NOBODY wants to stop that! (Except for maybe your deeply embarrassed children.) We just want that to not come at the expense of our own joy and freedom. And yes, that, too, effects every aspect of my life, including my job.
  • Racism and other bigotry Exists
    This may strike as a little bit tokenism, since it’s not about my farm much, but… I grew up in a neighborhood that’s 42% black, and those people matter to me. I think it’s important to emphasize that I’m not black, I’m Cis, I’m not a PoC, I can’t represent other minority struggles. But other people definitely have it even worse than me. I know what sort of struggles I go through every day and how infrequently my genuine suffering and needs are addressed by people who don’t experience them, so when I hear that there are even more problems for someone else, I can believe it with ease. For that matter, I’ve seen it often enough with my own eyes, especially now that I’m not a kid in that neighborhood anymore. I don’t think we can correct MY problems without fixing ALL the problems for EVERY group that experiences systemic disenfranchisement. So when I talk about fixing my problems, making life more just and equal for me, I also want to pay heed to other people around me who need those changes even more than I do. Their problems are real, and I’m going to support them in seeking changes.
    And lastly…
  • I have depression, and a body, so I might not post.
    What do farmers, war vets and LGBT people have in common? Abnormally high suicide rates! Average suicide rates in the US is 0.14%, but among vets it’s around 0.3%, 0.7% among LGB youth, 0.86% among farmers and a whopping 40% among transgender individuals. Lowering those numbers matters to me, because I know what it’s like to suffer from depression. Some people also asked why I post so infrequently sometimes, so here’s why; I’ve had depression and some health problems since I was a kid. This leads me to flake out on things that are not required for my well being when my well being is compromised. That includes this blog.

I think that about sums it up.
Are you one of the people who would like to see me post more often about happier subjects? Great! That’s a lot easier to do when my mental and physical health is secure. You can even fix it. Not just for me, but for millions of people across the country. There’s three simple things you can do.
The first is to push for a single-payer medicare-for-all health system that supports good mental health treatment. The same mental healthcare that will go towards lowering suicide rates among trans youths will lower suicide rates among vets and farmers. The healthcare system that will provide free birth control to poor families who can’t afford more children (including farmers) will provide birth control to people like me who take it for severe cycles and uterine fibroids. And the same system that paid for my mother’s cancer treatment may pay for your pastor’s daughter’s cancer treatment someday. Taking care of the sick and hungry is our moral obligation, double especially if you’re Christian. Support it. It helps everyone.
Second, embrace diversity. Make sure that a bisexual pagan girl like me can converse with you without being scared of your reaction to my mere existence. This has an added benefit; farm country is currently associated as hubs of bigotry and extremism. We can bridge the huge gap between city folks thinking that way about farmers if, well, they can interact with farmers that don’t act poorly toward people who are different than them. Until the idea that some people are seen as less human by the typical white Christian male farmer is gone, city people won’t care one whit about farmers needs. The divide deepens, and everyone is unhappy. Just let people be people without trashing them for it. They really don’t hate you for your faith, sexual orientation, gender, race, etc. So don’t make their lives worse for theirs.
Third, don’t just say it, do it. Call your congress critters and your representatives on both the state and national levels. Tell them you want them to support policies like national healthcare, laws that protect minorities, and our first amendment constitutional right to freedom of and FROM religion. Your calls matter. Your votes matter. Even if you vote for a republican because (like me) you support their fiscal/constitutional policies, you should put pressure on them to also support minority rights. They’re not mutually exclusive! We should get the option of having both sides win!

If my physical and mental being is secured, as well as my right to exist in this country I’m going to be able to be much more upbeat, much more capable of focusing on farming, much more productive, and much happier. And the best part? A lot of other people will be too, along with conservative farmers, war vets, and all sorts of minorities.

Be compassionate. Care about people. They’re a lot more likely to care about you.

And maybe you’ll get to see happier blog posts in your future.

And now for a snarky disclaimer.

I’ve rewritten this post several times now to be as unbiased as I can, but at a certain point I have to acknowledge to absurdity and unreasonable reality of my world. I’ve tried to make it non inflammatory thus far, but if I’ve failed and you’re upset, I’m sorry. (Genuinely.) This is my reality and it’s not pretty. But less genuinely; In the meantime, here’s some great advice I hear from conservatives a lot. I’m sure it’ll help you as much as it helps the rest of the people it’s told to;

“Calm down! Sorry, but I support free speech, not political correctness that panders your milk-white identity politics. But hey, I’m sorry that a blog post on the internet triggers you so much. So why don’t you run back to your safe space? Aw, does that upset you? It’s just a joke, snowflake. 😉 Yeesh.”

Victory gardens?

In the 1940s, during the Great depression and WWII, wages were similarly unequal to today’s current wage system. The war ended up reinvigorating our economy with military jobs being converted into infrastructure and manufacturing jobs. And while war is ALWAYS terrible, a scant few good programs come out of that war. The best one (to me) being the victory garden program. It helped stave off hunger and high food prices all across the nation, establishing a groundwork for self-sufficiency within cities and as a nation.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, right before the victory garden program was being pushed in cities and the nation suddenly found itself growing half of it’s food in cities, suburbs and people’s back yards, another problem had been brewing in the countryside for a decade. Farmers were going broke, unable to sell their crops for more than it cost to grow them. Overproduction was the new norm in much of America. Agriculture was crumbling. So bills were put into place to stop farmers from growing so much food and to regulate prices by taxing the food industry to provide money for the US to buy grain during over productive years and distribute it during lean times. The result helped to stifle the economic disaster occurring in the US, but was ultimately found unconstitutional and was replaced by a similar bill in 1938. The 1938 bill became today’s Farm Bill, and was designed to help farmers grow crops that we needed more of during the war. Farmers were suddenly being paid to grow crops that were in under production at the time (cotton, wheat, corn, peanuts, barley, etc.) so that the nation would not run short on these crops. But also came with stipulations that only so much could be grown and distributed, to avoid the over production problems of the 1930’s. When WWII ended, the nation’s agriculture stabilized and the economy improved.

Between 1970 and 2000, the farm bill slowly mutated. Regulations on how much could be grown and sold were cut massively while the people making the most money off of the farm bill (mostly corn growers) lobbied hard to keep their crops that have plenty of production in the US on the list of subsidized crops. The goal of encouraging farmers to grow under-grown crops to stabilize prices of certain good was lost to the æther. Now a days, despite huge gluts in the market driving corn prices ever lower and corn being the most grown crop in the US, nearly a THIRD of all farm subsidies go towards growing corn. Why? Because there’s where the money rolls into our government from.

So I have one tiny, selfish hope for this steaming tire fire of a presidency.

Among the nonsensical and unconstitutional policies Trump is proposing, in order to pay for his 25 billion dollar wall, is a 20% tax on goods from mexico that was originally endorsed as the probable plan to generate the funds. Now I will start by saying that this is actually a tax on the American public. Because what’s going to happen is producers of goods are just going to (very legally, mind you) pass that price down to consumers.
Because Joe who grows avocados must make $5 off of his avocados to break even and pay his bills, he sells his avocados to us for $5. If the US taxes Joe 20% to sell his avocados in the US, Joe will still need to make $5 off of his avocados BEFORE that tax to continue to pay his bills. So Joe will either A. Stop selling in the US, therefore generating no revenue for a wall. Or B. Will add the extra 20% onto his avocado prices and sell them for $6, because he can’t give 20% of his $5 to that tax, he needs it to pay his other bills. If he does the second, and you, a US citizen buy his more-expensive avocados, Joe still makes the $5 he needs to pay his bills. You, the avocado buyer, just paid the tax. Not Joe. Because Joe still has bills to pay, and needs his $5. It just LOOKS like it’s coming from Joe. This is a system of exploitation that’s been going on for a very long time and is inherent in our society.

Now that wouldn’t amount to much if it were, like, Tibet where our imports kind of don’t exist. But the US imports 10% of it’s food from Mexico, a large amount of which is fresh produce. Which means 10% of food imported to places without much fresh food (especially inner cities, suburbs and food deserts) is going to get 20% more expensive should this policy go through. Inner cities already struggle massively with problems relating to food scarcities, specifically good, local, fresh, healthy foods like lean meats, vegetables and fruits. It’s hard to spend $5 on a bag of apples that you may or may not get around to, when $5 will get you 5 sandwiches and feed your whole family something with enough calories to get them through the day. Since many people in our nation’s poor urban centers also don’t know how to cook and handle whole foods, since food prep is a skill that was cut from public schools because of budget cuts, and is only able to be taught at home by people who have generational wealth and knowledge, (something that contributes massively to classism and racism) there’s not many options available to them, and it’s not really a wonder that poor people end up fatter while still being hungry and starving. And it’s about to get 20% worse for those people, leading to even more stigma for being in that situation as options for low-priced high-nutrient value food dwindle away and most of America carries on as usual.

So somewhere buried in that big pile of poo is my desperate little hope. A hope that this will spark some agricultural reform, possibly in the amending of the Farm Bill to suddenly stop producing tons of excess corn (which is bad for the environment as corn is awful on soil to grow) that goes into animal feed and corn-based plastics, fuel, and any other market they can desperately dump our massive corn glut into… And instead, it will subsidize farmers to grow the vegetables we need to support inner cities and food deserts with our own American farms with a lower overall footprint. Or, it may spark the urban agriculture movement to work towards urban centers, Victory-Garden style, because with a little help and rising prices on behalf of tariffs on Mexican imports it makes both urban agriculture and victory gardens that much more feasible and financially viable.

And I would be very excited for one (or both) of those things to happen.

So hey, maybe if we don’t descend into a war because of this massivehorriblesoul-crushingunlawfulfear-mongering political bonfire… Maybe farmers in the US and the state of our nation’s food security will be a little bit better for it.

(Please feel free to generally fact check my post, don’t take anyone’s word for anything. I didn’t bother with citations for most of this, but you can always look it up in your own time. Don’t spread fake news.)