Gardening, farming, working the land—it’s a constant process of putting in and taking out. A couple of weeks ago we harvested the garlic crop. It was a good one, and we ended up with a big bucket of garlic. When I find the time I will sort the larger heads out, collect a number of the best from the several different varieties we harvested this year, and set them aside for seed to be planted in the fall. The quinoa that I sowed in January is closing in on maturity; the pink and orange clusters of grain bend the three-foot-high stalks down toward the ground. The larger cornstalks are putting off their first ears, and we are routinely collecting squash, cucumbers, and the first round of the cherry tomatoes. My potato crop was another abysmal failure, but still my best to date. I collected about a quarter of the amount of seed potatoes I originally planted. The small but delicious crop went immediately into a black bean stew. That bed has been turned, amended with manure, and planted with a host of different heirloom pepper plants and celery. I collected seed from the spinach, radish, pea and mustard crops, and need to get those emptied beds turned and amended.

This all puts me dramatically in touch with the land, the weather and the seasons. Some of the urgency of spring has been alleviated by the simple fact of more daylight hours. I used to be in quite a rush to get home from my day job and get to work on the land. Now I can take things at a slightly more leisurely pace.

It’s nice to be in close contact with the environment, but even growing on as small of a scale as I currently do, it reveals the relentless nature of time and life. Everything keeps turning, faster, faster and faster. There is always more to do than there is time in which to do it. I run myself ragged and collapse while the grass and the weeds and the work keep growing and growing. I start to appreciate where the concept of capital came from, and how acquiring capital can eventually free one from an otherwise endless—and severe—cycle of toil. Give me one catchy song, one mass-marketable piece of writing, one decent idea…

Beyond Isms

I hear people get into the debate about “socialism versus capitalism” a lot these days. Personally I have a hard time giving my mind over to one “ism” or the next. Certainly the “invisible hand” of the free-market economy seems to do plenty of useless and damaging jerking off, but that doesn’t make me any more comfortable with a state-planned economy. So far as I can tell, a system is only as good as the people involved in it—and, because they are unencumbered by morality or ethics, the psychotics and sociopaths inevitably gravitate to the top. A benign dictatorship is a good option. But who runs it? King David was the wisest mortal figure in the Bible—and yet, David sent his best friend to die so he could get into the man’s wife’s underpants.

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.