Year’s End Mexico Style: a Little Late.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a farm update, so, I am very pleased to report we are 20 piglets more populated and—it was our best harvest ever! Our little plot produced four and a half tons of grain. I believe we own it all to pig poop… and Felipe’s herculean efforts.

What 4 1/2 tons looks like.

What 4 1/2 tons looks like.

We were astonished by the benchmark crop. We’d felt behind in its care all year, and we couldn’t find anyone to harvest (Felipe is working and I have retired from field work with its allergens, scorpions and wasps) so the pigs have been destroying and consuming it for over a month.  But Felipe, somewhere in the midst of the season managed to lug (on his back) 60, 80lb bags of rotted pig manure about a ¼ mile uphill, to a small field he reclaimed from the scrub this spring. I spread 20 bags on our small tortilla corn field, and even with him hauling the bags into the plot for me, it was still hot, heavy, hard labor. As usual, he never ceases amaze.

Here’s a bit of information about “do it yourself” organics that may surprise you. By substituting the manure we were able to use half the chemical fertilizer we have in the past, but—it took 2 tons of manure, rather than 150 kilos of fertilizer. And, a field that would generally take two hours to fertilize took two days of strenuous labor.  Not to mention the months of collecting and managing the manure. Of course, the benefit is less chemicals on our land, in our water and animals. Still, doing it the natural way is MUCH more difficult.

We’re trying a new tactic with the stored grain this year. We put bounce dryer sheets between the bags to keep the field mice at bay. We’re not certain it will work, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Rodents do a lot of damage, chewing holes in the bags, making a mess and leaving their droppings in the grain, which the sows do not appreciate.

Gorda and her brood.

Gorda and her brood.

Gorda and Minnie had total of twenty healthy piglets. They were very considerate, birthing on the weekend so Felipe could assist. Still, he was tired Monday morning after 12 hours of waiting, crouching, cleaning and acclimating piglets to the teat.

Felipe assists Minnie

Felipe assists Minnie

 

Finally— we have a new dog. After so many horrible deaths, I’d decided not to get another dog until I could afford to fence in our yard. But King was in such a terrible situation, I decided he was better off taking his chances with us than living as he was: on a chain so short he was forced to sleep, eat and shit in the same place. We’re taking every available measure to keep him safe. He’s assisting in this effort by never leaving Felipe’s side.

Dog in Love

We look forward to another prosperous year at the PDR; this year’s goal: by year’s end, Felipe will no longer need to work outside our farm. Wish us luck 🙂

King

King

 

Speak with Stones

The Amate. If you look closely you can see Felipe sitting in the crouch, just to give you an idea of its size.

The Amate. If you look closely you can see Felipe sitting in the crouch, just to give you an idea of its size.

It’s been a rough year: illness and death, and, the just damn hard existence it is farming, and living in rural Mexico. I was looking at the “signs”, wondering… is it possible it’s time to leave? I like to believe there are signs, that life has a purpose and meaning and that if I’m present I’ll see the patterns and find my way. I totally believed that when I arrived in Mexico, it’s easier to believe when mostly life goes well. It’s more difficult to see meaning when you’re sick, broke, you lose your joy, and the place you love most in the world threatens your life.

Felipe gave up on the philosophy years ago. When I suggest an occurrence has a deeper significance, he replies, “I’ll think about that when I’m consistently able to feed us without worry.”  But, being the wonderful partner he is, also says, “If we need to leave, Abby, then we’ll go. There is nothing more important than your health. I’m not attached to anything here.”

A week ago I went home for a visit, to prepare Felipe to spend another week without me as he works full time and takes care for our farm and animals, alone. Amid the cooking and cleaning, I found time for a walk, not the same walk where I lost Lilly; still, it was into the wilderness. There, I felt joy for the first time in a long time. I went home and sat under my tree, I was breathing deeply with the help of new, more effective treatment.  I thought of this poem I wrote a couple of years ago, about some of the wondrous experiences I’ve had, and I knew this was still my home, here, beneath the Amate.

Speak with Stones by Abby Smith, Hear it Here!

 

Speak with Stones

“Do all stones speak?”
“No, only the ones that breathe.”
Blackfoot Physics, F. David Peat

 

I too have gone to live
In the woods
Nothing novel in that

There, I’ve sat at the feet
Of a turtle with the Buddha
On its back

I have climbed
The layers of water that ladder
To the sky

I’ve echoed a chant
Till the devils in me
Conceded to vibrate high

I’ve marveled in tears
As an eagle swept away
With my charge

I’ve dance in the fire of devotion
Then sifted the ashes
Of my own heart

I’ve gathered together
Pieces of the greatest warrior
I’ve ever known

I have stepped from the threshold
Hundreds of times without knowing
The depths below

I have gone to the woods
And I’m not coming back
Until I can speak with stones

Morning at the Piedra R ahada

Morning at the Piedra R ahada

For those of you who’ve followed this story and have genuine concern for my well-being, many practical measures are being employed to ensure my healthy long term return to the Piedra Rahada, I’m not relying on metaphor, signs, potions…well not entirely : )  Thank you all for your support and kind comments. Paz, Abby 

And a very special thanks to my friend Larry Prater, without whom, I truly would have lost hope.