Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Survival Garden

There really are days when I want to round up all of the politicians and pundits and do whatever it took to get their full and undivided attention, then explain that just because Wall Street is doing just wonderfully these days ("Wow, it crashed, then it soared, then it did back-flips before flashing a come-hither gaze and gallumphing off stage. The economy must be booming!") doesn't mean that the rest of us peons are doing all right. My husband's hours have been cut, his employers have found clever little ways of stealing back the tiny raise that he did get, and all this while prices for everything have skyrocketed. My own personal dear god this is bad and it's only going to get worse moment was when I realized that my favorite brand of cheese had just gone to $5 a pound. I don't get gourmet brands, and this isn't a silly, expensive indulgence. It was one of the staples I depended on to feed a family with three children on the verge of adolescence. We don't buy cheese anymore. It's probably going to be better for our waistlines in the long run, but in the meantime I just stood there in the store in a bit of a cold panic, understanding for the first time that if I can't get paying work then I absolutely must make my backyard folly into a working garden. I have dreams of having enough to make it a market garden, but for now, for right now, it has to be simple and workable and enough to feed my family.

We have squirrels, rabbits, ravens, and gophers to contend with, not to mention fungus and insects and parasites. The biggest problem so far is that I really have been a dilettante, playing at something and not really worrying about results because the process was just so entertaining. There isn't a gardening book out there that really nails what I need to do when in my neck of the woods. These days the first thing I check for is the citrus section and I put the book back on the shelf when it extols the virtues of having your own orange trees. My section of high desert routinely runs freezing temperatures during the winter. Orange trees don't live through that without a lot of intervention. Apples, however, would probably do just fine.

I have cart and horse issues -- that is, I always put them together in the wrong order. I can't afford to do that anymore either. The infrastructure, no matter how tedious or backbreaking or time intensive, must be built before I do anything else. The back yard has to be weeded out, detritus removed, some of the decorative trees removed, and the garden area itself must be constructed to be resistant to our usual run of garden pests. The ducks and geese and chickens need to have properly built runs and coops; the feather-plucker needs to be finished come hell or high water. I can see the day when the only meat we have access to is the meat we raise ourselves. Butchering is not my favorite pastime, but it beats the hells out of being protein-deprived.

Dear Politicians and Pundits, what's more important to you: Demonizing and destroying anybody who doesn't think exactly the way you think they should, or figuring out that the working folks' economy has been destroyed and doing something constructive to fix it?

Yeah. I thought so.