Saturday, August 15, 2009
Green and pleasant
Sometimes, when life is complicated, it's good to look back on a success or two.
These pictures show one of our farming successes: A junkyard becomes a green pasture.
When Aimee and I took over this Great Farm haven, this particular 1/2 acre wood-encircled field, part of our leased land, was filled with weeds, trash and junk. There were no less than three Ford truck cabs circa 1947, a couple of truck beds and chassis, a pile of trashed furniture, and mountains of regular household trash dating back to the 1800s.
Most of it got picked up, with some help from Friends Alysa and Anders. Some of the rest was covered by slash piles, which will eventually rot and become soil and bury it. The ground was seeded with red clover and Maine conservation mix.
And this is the result. As you can see these sheep have just been rotated onto this pasture which features the perfect 8-inch growth of clover and grasses. There are a few weeds, but not many. Some trees need to be taken out: a dead elm which may infect others, and several ash which will become firewood and when gone allow light into the field.
But even so, as a work-in-progress I have to say, it's looking pretty good.
The lambs vote yes, with mouths too full to baa.
There are also several apple trees, and one butternut, bearing this year in this field. As well as black cherry, bird cherry, hawthorne, and oak.
Lambs vote yes to apples too.
I'm not sure how they feel about butternut. Apparently it makes a good dye, if you're a rebel.
That maybe why there are not too many of them here in the north. I'm not a rebel, but I do want to see a better society.
I find in life that if you try hard enough long enough, you will make progress and make a difference. It's important not to give up too easily.
Sometimes you can't afford to give up at all: The lesson of 1940 Britain that all us Brits learned at our grandparents' feet and now carry genetically, stubborn so-and-sos that we are.
My favorite poem about green pastures, and lambs (of God), and about striving for improvement, is also a hymn, beloved of Yorkshire choirs: Blake's Jerusalem:
JERUSALEM (from 'Milton')
by William Blake (1757-1827)
AND did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.