Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Art . . . and Farming

I have such a large extended family that we could probably start our own country and have a population big enough to supply emigrants to other countries . . . or maybe just invade. I've got five brothers, my mother had four siblings, and my father had over ten. They've all had many offspring, so the babies added up and grew into big folks with more babies. I don't even know them all, nor to whom many of my cousins are married. Occasionally, I'm surprised to hear from them and their families, an extensive network of kinfolk I've yet to meet.

When I was five years old, I spent about six months living in Kansas City with my Aunt Kathryn, her husband Odel Young, and their three kids: Larry, David, and Steve. I loved the time with them because the boys were great fun and loved to wrestle (which I seemed to enjoy more back then than I do now) even though all three of them were bigger than me. Also, I knew only the Ozarks and a little bit of Kansas City, but they'd lived in Washington state near the ocean and had great stories about playing on the beach and digging for clams. They convinced me that clam chowder would make me strong, but it never did.

Readers might recall my Cousin Bill, who sends out an often humorous email circular, "Weekly Ramblings," which I've occasionally cited here on Gypsy Scholar. Cousin Bill's tales of life's travails sometimes garners a response from my Uncle Cran, who doesn't ramble as much as Cousin Bill but tells just as many tales, often of life on his Ozark farm. At times, Uncle Cran laments the farmer's fate:
People who don't have livestock don't realize the expenses involved on a farm. There are continual repairs and upkeep, hay baling, feed purchased, gas & oil, utilities, veterinerian expenses, etc. I told someone that when you sell a $600.00 calf, you have fed the mother for 11 months between having calves, then another 8 months feeding and caring for the calf. In a good year you make a profit of between $50.00-$100,00 per calf. But you will lose at least one calf each year, and the cow just keeps on eating. I'm not complaining, and we love being on the farm. We have no desire for city life any more.
That recent email got a response from a certain Debbie Young:
As newbie farmers, David and I are also learning about the expenses involved. We tend to wonder if the time and money that we put into our gardens, goats, hogs and chickens really pays off. But we, like you, now know that we wouldn't have it any other way. As farmer/writer Gene Logsdon says, "A bad day on the farm is better than a good day in the office." His blog called "The Contrary Farmer" can be found at [this site] . . . . It's well written, funny and informative.
I had to reflect a moment to figure out who this "Debbie Young" was, then recalled those months in Kansas City playing with David Young and his two brothers. Debbie must be David's wife, I realized. She also maintains a blog, a farm blog titled Faith, Art and Farming, and seems to post blog entries regularly. Here's an especially nice one, with the heading "Love Story":
I love my husband David. He works hard everyday and brings home the bacon bits. I thank him for both, often. We get up a 5 a.m. I hit the snooze several times leaving just enough time to make a quick egg-toast breakfast. Then I shovel some rice, veggies and meat into Tupperware for my baby's favorite lunch.

We eat by candlelight, really. An especially nice candle was give to us by our daughter Sarah. It's the centerpiece, until it melts. This is serious romance I'm talking about. We pray, gobble and talk about how people are all basically knot heads and nothing, short of divine intervention, will ever change that. David says that he thinks my goat drawings will someday be in the Louvre Museum in Paris; I remind him that I'd have to be dead for that to happen. We play "Bible Bingo" and pick a random verse and have "Scripture Time". We rave and we rant about this and that, as much as can be tolerated this early in the morning.

The car is warm; it's time to go. With a kiss, David says he is going to skip work, fly to Vegas and gamble away our life savings. Then he reminds me not to slip on the ice on the way to the goat barn. We are living our dream.
That does sound nice. I could almost imagine the farming life for myself and Sun-Ae . . . till I recall Uncle Cran's lament. But I bet that even Uncle Cran would agree with Debbie and Gene Logsdon, that "A bad day on the farm is better than a good day in the office." Except for those days when a tornado blows your home away . . .

But that won't happen very often, especially in Washington state, where David and Debbie farm. So, go visit Debbie Young's farm blog, which also offers entries on her art and occasional poems. She even has her own art website, which you see above, but which you can also find by clicking here.

If I live long enough, I just might get to know all of my extended family . . .

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At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Debbie,

There's one thing about livestock and Cran - if you've any doubts whatsoever - all you need do is ask, Hey Cran! How's come you've a titanium hip?

The short answer is "bulldogging." (Coupled with age - but I guess that's too much.)

I'd suggest - based on what I heard from a [probably] common acquaintance, it'd probably be better to raise sheep. (That friend's Dad used to own the locker plant just north of the rodeo arena in Salem.)

I can personally attest I got a hankerin' for some lamb chili not too long ago - and a pound of lamb costs more than a gallon of gas.

Plus, I'd imagine - a sheep would be safer to get in the ring with than a bull.


At 6:34 AM, Blogger Debbie said...

Thank you for featuring my work. David has mentioned you to me. We've viewed your blog periodically over the years. Love the name, Gypsy Scholar. I might even attempt to read it more often...ADHD permitting. I'm interested in some of the theological items, though I have a hard time focusing on long, detailed articles and assimilating new info. You may have noticed that my posts are limited to around 250 words, portion controlled you might say. That also explains the haiku.
I have a good friend named Jyung Mee Park that lives in Seoul. We met doing an art installation in Seattle Wa and became fast friends and still stay in touch. David and I would love to visit Korea. We seem to have a couple good reasons... Nice to virtually meet!

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I reckon that you're addressing Debbie, but the mutual acquaintance of us all would likely be the infamous Uncle Cran.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Debbie, for responding to my blog entry. I like your art work, so I hope that you keep it up amidst your farming.

Yes, come to Korea sometime. We'd be happy to meet you, and I'd be glad to see David again.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:17 AM, Anonymous James said...

I hope you don't mind me commenting off topic, but I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your Cloud Atlas posts from last year, which I skimmed then, but at the time it had been a while since I'd read the book. I went back to reread them today since I've been listening to the audiobook version of Cloud Atlas on my commute and it is nearly as much a joy to hear as it is to read.

The readers are excellent, particularly for "Sloosha's Crossin'" which works especially well read aloud since that's the conceit of the story anyway (Zach'ry telling his story around the fire). Regarding the errors you noticed in that story, I also noticed those too on the 2nd reading (or rather listening), and wondered if I was missing something too. I guess not. I am willing, though, to excuse the radio telescope issue since several hundred years go by between now and the Fall so maybe there's a better way to do make radio telescopes...

Anyway, sorry for commenting off topic, but I wanted to recommend the audiobook since it's so well read and a joy to hear Mitchell's language(s).


At 11:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, James, for the comment and recommendation -- even on this blog entry, for all things are interrelated, so perhaps Debbie and David will be enticed to get the audio version of Cloud Atlas and listen while they work . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog, Jeffery:

Kathryn & Debbie wrote about things I wasn't aware of.

I'm glad you inserted the phrase of mine: "I'm not complaining."
It was not so much a lament, as a statement to people who like to come down, look around, then tell me a better way to run the farm.
This happens often. Usually I just thank them, but from now on, maybe the thing to do is say, "Come on down and show me how."
Do you ever notice that everyone knows more about how you or I should conduct our affairs, than we do?


At 7:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I have noticed that. Also, I knew that you weren't lamenting the expenses of farm life -- that was just my little joke.

Jeffery Hodges

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