November 2009

All me are standing on feed. The sky is shining.

All me have just been milked. Teats all tingling still
from that dry toothless sucking by the chilly mouths
that gasp loudly in in in, and never breathe out.

All me standing on feed, move the feed inside me.
One me smells of needing the bull, that heavy urgent me,
the back-climber, who leaves me humped, straining, but light
and peaceful again, with crystalline moving inside me.

Standing on wet rock, being milked, assuages the calf-sorrow in me.
Now the me who needs mounts on me, hopping, to signal the bull.

The tractor comes trotting in its grumble; the heifer human
bounces on top of it, and cud comes with the tractor,
big rolls of tight dry feed: lucerne, clovers, buttercup, grass,
that’s been bitten but never swallowed, yet is cud.
She walks up over the tractor and down it comes, roll on roll
and all me following, eating it, and dropping the good pats.

The heifer human smells of needing the bull human
and is angry. All me look nervously at her
as she chases the dog me dream of horning dead: our enemy
of the light loose tongue. Me’d jam him in his squeals.

Me, facing every way, spreading out over feed.

One me is still in the yard, the place skinned of feed.
Me, old and sore-boned, little milk in that me now,
licks at the wood. The oldest bull human is coming.

Me in the peed yard. A stick goes out from the human
and cracks, like the whip. Me shivers and falls down
with the terrible, the blood of me, coming out behind an ear.
Me, that other me, down and dreaming in the bare yard.

All me come running. It’s like the Hot Part of the sky
that’s hard to look at, this that now happens behind wood
in the raw yard. A shining leaf, like off the bitter gum tree
is with the human. It works in the neck of me
and the terrible floods out, swamped and frothy. All me make the Roar,
some leaping stiff-kneed, trying to horn that worst horror.
The wolf-at-the-calves is the bull human. Horn the bull human!

But the dog and the heifer human drive away all me.

Looking back, the glistening leaf is still moving.
All of dry old me is crumpled, like the hills of feed,
and a slick me like a huge calf is coming out of me.

The carrion-stinking dog, who is calf of human and wolf,
is chasing and eating little blood things the humans scatter,
and all me run away, over smells, toward the sky.


Check out this link, it is really far out, the guy has a system where he grows gardens up the vertical side of buildings.  Think carbon sequestration at minimum and wouldn’t temples look great with this on their sides!

Vertical Gardens.

Thanksgiving Day it snowed for the first time this year. We went to the temple for their Thanksgiving dinner — a fancy rice, beans, two different gluten preps in tomato sauce, one with cow milk curd, Dharmakula pumpkin pie with whipped cream, chocolate frosted donuts, mashed potatoes with a superb vegetarian gravy, some nectar drink I didn’t try.  Nobody was complaining about the food!

Black Friday Vidya did her daily routine of swimming a mile and a half at the Four Seasons pool in Moundsville. I went along and bought some sale priced stuff while she was swimming.

At the Southern States Marshall County Co-op I made an investment that will double in value in 4 months. They had potting soil that was normally $5.99 on sale for $2.50 a bag.  I bought up as much as I need yet this fall and enough for an optimistic appraisal of what our needs will be next spring.

Back when we used to start all the plants for the temple and Palace gardens we made our own mix but we are on such a small scale now it is easier to  buy potting soil.

The reason I need some this fall is because I have collected black walnuts from a tree that had exceptionally large nuts and want to sprout them. I don’t know if the large nuts are because of genetics or environment but other trees in the same basic place had smaller nuts.

In one sense that doesn’t matter because I am growing them for rootstock so Soma can try grafting some Carpathian Walnut scions on them in 2011.

Black walnuts need cold stratification to break dormancy so I need to plant them this fall and leave the pots outside.

Not much of a crowd at the Co-op but at Tractor Supply they had a big display of farm themed toys and the crowds were bigger than normal.  I wasn’t buying toys (so much cheaper to get toys at the flea market, if one is in the market for toys). They did have a sale on 6′ (1.8 m) t posts  I want for building deer cages around trees next spring.

I bought 60 of them which would be 15 trees. That should be the minimum amount I would personally be planting next spring. This year I used two t posts and two pieces of bamboo for each tree but I am not sure how long bamboo will last in the ground here. We need them to last about 5 years, or until the trees have outgrown the deer.

I can always buy more next spring or use bamboo I am harvesting this fall and leverage out the posts that way if I get more ambitious and/or can’t control my senses when ordering out of the catalogs this winter.

I will only make 13% return on investment on the posts over the next 4 months but I bet that still will beat the stock market.

Next we went over to Lowe’s and I bought a Bosch drill on sale, 18 volt cordless with lithium ion batteries.  Working on my trellis I was having to do some drilling on the recycled aluminum frames I have for the top part and the bit keep slipping in the chuck of the Hitachi drill I had and it was very frustrating.

I asked Vidya if she wanted another drill and she said she had been thinking about getting another  one because when she works on birdhouses she has to keep changing bits. I gave her the Hitachi which will be fine for her as  gourds  are soft and bought the Bosch.

I finished up some fabrication after bringing it home and I was very pleased with it, no slipping.

Today the sun is shining so I need to get out and work for the few hours I can. The trellis and planting black walnuts are the top priorities.

Personally, I have no problem with hunters who go into the woods and take a turkey for their table. It is much better than  eating beef.  The reality however is that most Americans will get their turkeys from concentration camplike factory farms.

40 million turkeys will be served on Thanksgiving

by Daelyn Fortney

Turkey is one of the most popular birds in North America – during the holiday season. This Thanksgiving, turkey will be served on an estimated 40 million Thanksgiving tables across the country.

We have come to recognize the bird in its cooked form, stuffed with bread crumbs and surrounded by mashed potatoes. Before the bird makes its way to the mouths of hungry holiday diners it was a sentient being. In the wild, turkeys are intelligent, playful, and social creatures. Regrettably the turkey is not known for its stellar personality but rather has become synonymous with terms like naïve, stupid, and inept.

There is a tendency for people to think animals they serve at mealtime lack intellect and feelings. This unfortunate view contributes to the slaughter of an estimated 250-300 million turkeys each year. Alas, the bird is not as dumb as people would like to think. Tom Savage, a nationally known poultry geneticist and scientist at Oregon State University, has said, “I’ve always viewed turkeys as smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings. The dumb tag simply doesn’t fit.”

Turkey sanctuaries across the US also take issue with the “dumb” turkey label and work to raise awareness regarding the cruelty that occurs at US factory farms. Turkeys raised on factory farms are packed into warehouses after removal of parts of their beaks and toes. The painful mutilation is performed without the use of anesthesia. Additionally, turkeys that are served on most tables across America have been genetically altered making them grow faster and larger. This unnatural growth creates health problems, such as organ failure and heart attacks, for the birds during their short lives.

Each Thanksgiving the President pardons one turkey from slaughter. Compassionate vegetarians and vegans do the same by opting for a turkey-free holiday. Meatless substitutes like Tofurky and Turk’y Roast will be served alongside mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and vegetarian gravy saving just one more turkey from deplorable conditions and slaughter.

From an article in the New York Times which at 8500+ words may not be for everyone but I found fascinating to read from start to finish.

“Which of the following people would you say is the most admirable: Mother Teresa, Bill Gates or Norman Borlaug? And which do you think is the least admirable? For most people, it’s an easy question. Mother Teresa, famous for ministering to the poor in Calcutta, has been beatified by the Vatican, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and ranked in an American poll as the most admired person of the 20th century. Bill Gates, infamous for giving us the Microsoft dancing paper clip and the blue screen of death, has been decapitated in effigy in “I Hate Gates” Web sites and hit with a pie in the face. As for Norman Borlaug . . . who the heck is Norman Borlaug?

“Yet a deeper look might lead you to rethink your answers. Borlaug, father of the “Green Revolution” that used agricultural science to reduce world hunger, has been credited with saving a billion lives, more than anyone else in history. Gates, in deciding what to do with his fortune, crunched the numbers and determined that he could alleviate the most misery by fighting everyday scourges in the developing world like malaria, diarrhea and parasites. Mother Teresa, for her part, extolled the virtue of suffering and ran her well-financed missions accordingly: their sick patrons were offered plenty of prayer but harsh conditions, few analgesics and dangerously primitive medical care.

“It’s not hard to see why the moral reputations of this trio should be so out of line with the good they have done. Mother Teresa was the very embodiment of saintliness: white-clad, sad-eyed, ascetic and often photographed with the wretched of the earth. Gates is a nerd’s nerd and the world’s richest man, as likely to enter heaven as the proverbial camel squeezing through the needle’s eye. And Borlaug, now 93, is an agronomist who has spent his life in labs and nonprofits, seldom walking onto the media stage, and hence into our consciousness, at all.

“I doubt these examples will persuade anyone to favor Bill Gates over Mother Teresa for sainthood. But they show that our heads can be turned by an aura of sanctity, distracting us from a more objective reckoning of the actions that make people suffer or flourish. It seems we may all be vulnerable to moral illusions the ethical equivalent of the bending lines that trick the eye on cereal boxes and in psychology textbooks. Illusions are a favorite tool of perception scientists for exposing the workings of the five senses, and of philosophers for shaking people out of the naïve belief that our minds give us a transparent window onto the world (since if our eyes can be fooled by an illusion, why should we trust them at other times?). Today, a new field is using illusions to unmask a sixth sense, the moral sense. Moral intuitions are being drawn out of people in the lab, on Web sites and in brain scanners, and are being explained with tools from game theory, neuroscience and evolutionary biology…”

“We all know what it feels like when the moralization switch flips inside us — the righteous glow, the burning dudgeon, the drive to recruit others to the cause…”

“Many of these moralizations, like the assault on smoking, may be understood as practical tactics to reduce some recently identified harm. But whether an activity flips our mental switches to the “moral” setting isn’t just a matter of how much harm it does. We don’t show contempt to the man who fails to change the batteries in his smoke alarms or takes his family on a driving vacation, both of which multiply the risk they will die in an accident. Driving a gas-guzzling Hummer is reprehensible, but driving a gas-guzzling old Volvo is not; eating a Big Mac is unconscionable, but not imported cheese or crème brûlée. The reason for these double standards is obvious: people tend to align their moralization with their own lifestyles…”

“People don’t generally engage in moral reasoning, Haidt argues, but moral rationalization: they begin with the conclusion, coughed up by an unconscious emotion, and then work backward to a plausible justification…”

“When psychologists say “most people” they usually mean “most of the two dozen sophomores who filled out a questionnaire for beer money.” But in this case it means…”

“The psychologist Philip Tetlock has shown that the mentality of taboo — a conviction that some thoughts are sinful to think — is not just a superstition of Polynesians but a mind-set that can easily be triggered in college-educated Americans…”

“According to Noam Chomsky, we are born with a “universal grammar” that forces us to analyze speech in terms of its grammatical structure, with no conscious awareness of the rules in play. By analogy, we are born with a universal moral grammar that forces us to analyze human action in terms of its moral structure, with just as little awareness…”

“Violations of purity repelled the people who judged the morality of consensual incest and prevented the moral vegetarians and nonsmokers from tolerating the slightest trace of a vile contaminant. At the other end of the scale, displays of extreme purity lead people to venerate religious leaders who dress in white and affect an aura of chastity and asceticism…”

” Last month a British woman teaching in a private school in Sudan allowed her class to name a teddy bear after the most popular boy in the class, who bore the name of the founder of Islam. She was jailed for blasphemy and threatened with a public flogging, while a mob outside the prison demanded her death. To the protesters, the woman’s life clearly had less value than maximizing the dignity of their religion, and their judgment on whether it is right to divert the hypothetical trolley would have differed from ours. Whatever grammar guides people’s moral judgments can’t be all that universal. Anyone who stayed awake through Anthropology 101 can offer many other examples…”

“All this brings us to a theory of how the moral sense can be universal and variable at the same time. The five moral spheres are universal, a legacy of evolution. But how they are ranked in importance, and which is brought in to moralize which area of social life — sex, government, commerce, religion, diet and so on — depends on the culture…”

“Evolutionary psychologists seem to want to unmask our noblest motives as ultimately self-interested — to show that our love for children, compassion for the unfortunate and sense of justice are just tactics in a Darwinian struggle to perpetuate our genes…”

“Morality, then, is still something larger than our inherited moral sense, and the new science of the moral sense does not make moral reasoning and conviction obsolete. At the same time, its implications for our moral universe are profound…”

“The science of the moral sense also alerts us to ways in which our psychological makeup can get in the way of our arriving at the most defensible moral conclusions. The moral sense, we are learning, is as vulnerable to illusions as the other senses. It is apt to confuse morality per se with purity, status and conformity. It tends to reframe practical problems as moral crusades and thus see their solution in punitive aggression. It imposes taboos that make certain ideas indiscussible. And it has the nasty habit of always putting the self on the side of the angels…”

“Far from debunking morality, then, the science of the moral sense can advance it, by allowing us to see through the illusions that evolution and culture have saddled us with and to focus on goals we can share and defend. As Anton Chekhov wrote, ‘Man will become better when you show him what he is like.’  “

It rained and was cloudy yesterday,with seasonal temperatures. It got below 60 degrees (15 C) in the house so we lit the first fire we have had all November.  It had been mostly sunny and mild so far so with a combination of passive solar gain and a wee bit of austerity we hadn’t had to burn any wood so far. The forecast was cooler weather for that next couple of days so although we might have abided a cooler temperature for a day if the prospect for warmer weather lay ahead  it didn’t so a fire was lit in the cook stove and she used that to cook our meals.

This long of a fire drought is unusual for November, as the average daily temperature at this date is high/low 52/34 (12/1 C) and that normally would require a fire from time to time.

We get the passive solar gain from opening the curtains and letting the sun shine in during the day and closing them at night to trap the heat. We also get heat off of our attached greenhouse. Not as much as a normal greenhouse might give, because the large amount of thermal mass in the form of 2 feet of stone in the floor absorbs some, but that benefits us later.

We also had a few days where it was warmer outside than inside and heated by opening the doors and windows, another form of passive solar gain.

We also use secondary passive solar devices, which is to say we wear hats and sweaters in the house which enables us to be comfortable down to 60 degrees (15 C).  Tolerating that temperature saves us a lot of wood. It isn’t really a question of tolerating, it is fine.

When it goes below that, Vidya’s fingers get cold when she paints so it hurts production and a fire is brought to bear.

The last fire we had was the last day in October when 3 devotees from New York City visited with 7 students from Columbia University for lunch.  Assuming they would prefer it a little warmer than we are accustomed to  she cooked on the wood stove for them, which we felt would also be of interest to them.

The meal was home grown potatoes, squash,  gathered nuts, including roast chestnuts, salad, carrots, peppers and imported organic brown rice and tempeh. Locally grown beet patties with imported cheese melted on them was a hit. They seemed to like it, simple but lots of natural flavor that commercially grown food tends to lack. Some store bought mix freshly baked cookies topped it off.

Having the fire is giving me opportunity to dispose of nut shells from nuts I have been eating.

As a large portion of them are black walnut shells, they aren’t really worth much as mulch because they contain a natural herbicide that suppresses growth in other trees and plants.  It isn’t worth keeping the other shells separate because they are quite sharp in any case and can cut tender feet.

So whenever I stoke or walk by the fire, I am throwing a handful of shells into it. They burn right up in a good fire, I am still playing around to see if they make good kindling.

When I went to the grafting seminar with Soma we met a guy who has a tree nursery in Kentucky. I got his card and threw it in my card pile. Yesterday someone stopped by to talk about flea markets because they are wanting to have an independent business.

They want to do bread and kabobs or some sort of food product, so I suggested going to the Strip District in Pittsburgh which is a wholesale produce/restaurant type area and lots of street vendors. I had checked it out once for maybe Vidya selling there (she has no interest) and had a card from a place that rented spots so I dug around and found it.

Doing so I came across the card from the tree nursery and went to the website which see here. I immediately had an ESP type sensation. Well, not exactly ESP, but I did see my future. And that future has persimmons, hazelnuts, American Persimmons, Asian Persimmons, Chinese Dates (Jujubes) (yes Virginia, they are hardy in West Virginia), and Asian Pears in it.

Here I am with 9 raspberries sitting in the root cellar waiting for me to plant them and I am already getting catalog fever for next year. Good thing I didn’t look at this catalog before  or I would have ordered some trees to plant this fall and I really didn’t have the energy to do so.  Next spring in Jerusalem, er, ah, I mean tree planting!

Last spring I did manage to get some trees planted but I was also still putting a lot of energy into the deer fence around my garden. Next spring that won’t be a pull on my energy so I feel confident I can plant a lot more trees.

My vision for New Vrindaban’s agriculture at this point is leaning heavily to nut trees especially and some fruit trees.  Once you get nut trees past the first 5 years they are pretty care free and low maintenance.  That means they have grown above the height where deer damage can affect them.  Then it is basically just keep the grass and weeds controlled around them and pick up the nuts timely before the worms bore into them or the critters eat them.

Nuts only need a little curing and then can be shipped easily. NV could become a supplier of nuts and/or trade them for other agricultural produce. West Virginia is by nature forested so I believe this is the most suitable crop to develop here.  If the community grows, the nuts could become a staple in the diet of its residents.  I would love to see a 1000 nut trees planted here over the next few years.

Anyway, I am smitten by these trees and who wouldn’t be when you can read a description like, “Chinese Date (Jujube): Trees are grown in pots Small 1 to 2 feet $20.00, Medium 2 to 3 feet $30.00, large 3 to 5 feet $35.00 GRAFTED Zone 5-9 Known as Dai Chu in Korean. A small tree and shrub up to thirty feet tall that bears edible fruit that are cherry to plum size and very sweet. Can be eaten fresh, dried or used in place of raisins. 2 to 5 feet tall at time of shipping. Limited quantities.”

Limited quantities? Yikes! I am placing my order first thing next rainy day!

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