Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Things Might Improve

FARM NEWS by Fred Owens

"Things might improve," said Andy Dunstan at Love House Dahlia Farm this morning. I had presented him with a problem while he was eating his cereal. He turned his head to me and said, "things might improve" and then he continued with his breakfast.

To Hell with Celery. Farmers in Ventura County grow over $150 million worth of celery every year, making it the celery capital of the world. So you would think I could easily find a celery farmer to interview, you know, ask him about his crop and his field and how he grows things. Nope. It's like pulling teeth to get these old boys to talk. They don't know me and they don't trust me. Well, to hell with them too.

I left a phone message with a local celery grower, but he won't call me back. They never do. I've been through this dance before. It's not really the farmer's fault. They're just not good at talking. They're out there in the field all day working with great skill to produce an abundance of good food for all of us to enjoy. But you tell them you're a reporter with a few questions, and they clam up tight. What did I ever do to them?

Maybe some other guy wrote a bad story about farming, I never did. I'm just trying to make a living.

Moo. Farming is a very interesting thing to think and read about. As you know, I have become an ardent straddler and fence riding moderate. So I don't take a pro or anti position about organic farming versus conventional, or agri-biz versus small farm, or GM food which is either a plot to control the world by Monsanto or a benefit to all mankind. No, I just hang out here with the cows. The cows go MOOOO, which is OM said backwards.

Dry Here in Ventura. It hasn't rained here in a month, and then we get those dry desert winds day after day -- wind sucking all the moisture out of the soil. Not a big problem except I have 12 50-foot rows of sweet peas trying to germinate, and then sticking up their cute little heads, breaking through a crust of soil and spreading out their tender baby leaves under December skies. Short days don't hurt the sweet peas, it just makes them grow slowly. And a hard frost at night doesn't hurt them either. But that dry wind is not good, so I water the sweet peas every day.

Digging Up Tubers. We have about 65 raised beds of dahlia tubers, beds being 25 to 35 feet in length, and full of dahlias, which have all finished their season, dying back to the ground and someone needs to dig them all up and get them to the greenhouse. Nate was a traveler and he dug tubers all last week, but this week it's my turn.

It's not such a bad job -- crispy cold in the morning so the boss said to pick a row in the sunshine. Isn't she nice to say that?

That's all for now. We're just "doing the kind of work that most Americans don't want to do." This is not really true, you just need to find a good farm to work at.

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