Equipment Failures vs. Policy Failures

Consistent equipment failures have been curtailing my productivity out at the Double Happiness as of late. The weed whacker is out of commission. I suspect either the spark plug or a clogged fuel filter. The lawn mower is at about half speed; depending on the weather, I can get it running—but it requires strategic positioning of duct tape. I did a “repair” on the carburetor about a year ago, and the duct tape restricts the amount of air flow through the odd little rubber fuel bubble that I press to prime the engine. Easy E also has carburetor issues—she starts up, but only runs for half a minute before conking out. If I can’t get it cleaned well enough from the outside, I may have to take the thing apart.

If it were springtime, all of this would be sending me into a panicked tailspin, but fortunately the dramatic heat of summer keeps the majority of the weeds and grasses in check. The only problem areas are where we are actively irrigating. Still, if I take the blinders off it sends a shudder down my spine. The beer helps to narrow the scope of vision.

Equipment issues aside, I’m generally pleased with the way things are shaping up. Nearly three years in, the earliest-planted trees are maturing and really starting to take shape. This morning I cut the suckers off of the cider apple trees we started from seed. The largest is nearly six feet high, though they are still spindly. I don’t expect them to fruit for another couple of years.

We’ve finally established a proper, semi-formal rose garden. I come from a long line of rosarians, so this is a satisfying endeavor that connects me with my ancestors.

The vegetable garden is in a shambles, but still producing a host of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, okra, tomatillos, and a variety of herbs. I am not at all pleased with my current irrigation system, but have some ideas for renovation before the next growing season.

Chico’s “War on Drinking”

There’s an odd battle being waged now in Chico. The council and police department seem to be contorting themselves to address the town’s so-called drinking problem. There have been several alcohol-related deaths over the past year, but to my mind this is a result of a policy based on making alcohol taboo. The further we drive drinking underground, into private residences, the more room there is for unregulated abuse. I mean, if I am out drinking on the town, I’ve got to spend a small fortune to drink the amount of liquor that would put my life in jeopardy—and there are stop-guards in place, in the form of servers and other patrons. On the other hand, if I’m drinking at home, I can go down to BevMo and buy a lethal dose of alcohol for under twenty bucks.

We know from history that prohibition doesn’t work. So the goal should then be to establish a culture of responsible drinking. We establish a culture of responsible drinking by providing sanctioned, regulated establishments where adults can congregate to imbibe. The city has systematically curtailed a number of traditional Chico events, and yet the problem seems to be growing. It’s time to adopt a different approach.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.