(A slightly modified re-post from facebook)
If you get a chance some day: Take a gallon jar of water and drop a small, say 3mm x 3mm x 3mm cube, of pure, solid potassium into it. (Be sure to do so from around a corner of a wall made of something substantial, safety first). When your ears can hear again and the last of the glass shards have settled onto whatever flat surface is available, step in and take a look around. Look at what that single cube of potassium is capable of, and notice the collateral damage.
If you can’t arrange for that, take a trip to a foundry some time. Watch what happen when a little bit of 2700 degree molten iron lands on concrete. Just a tiny bit turns concrete into a small hydrogen bomb. The shrapnel is pretty impressive.
Those are rather blatant and sudden examples of small things making big changes. Of course we can see the immediate impacts of such events. It is obvious. What one needs to keep in mind about what is printed in this article is that the scale of our perception of time is somewhat faulty. We say ‘pffft’ to four degrees F in just short of forty years because it seem insignificant over such a long period of time. But recall that nature works at a completely different scale of time which utterly uninfluenced in the long term by what we goofy people do. In the relative short term however, we will be impacted by the changes in our environment whether we participate in them or not. And that is the point of this article for me. I see more and more studies and white papers showing changes all around the world. Most recently, the trip to Morocco emphasized this for me. And the trip to South Africa last year also supports my gut feeling.
Regardless of the cause, changes we have not seen in probably twelve thousand years are coming back around. And it looks like they might be here before we really want to acknowledge it.
It is one thing to ignore what appears to be an oncoming challenge laid out by nature. But to me, it is unforgivable to ignore the problems we are creating for ourselves. I do not understand people who not only tolerate, but encourage the habit of shitting in their own living quarters. The deregulation of environmental restrictions which protect our living quarters is not only ignorant, it is stupid. And this is what is happening right now. And guess who will have to pay for the cleanup, assuming we stop adding to the mess and actually start cleaning it up.
I will give you a real life, here-and-now example: Our farm has been farmed conventionally for at least 20 years. A couple of years ago I noticed that there were very few earthworms and no night-crawlers surfacing when it rained. My grandpa and I used to get them by the handfuls after a good rain. Even digging I could not find many, and we used to get lots of them that way too.
When I was diagnosed, we put our land in Conservation Reserve Program( aka CRP). So you the tax payer are paying me not to farm our land. Yes, you pay me, by the acre, X amount to let that land sit there. Oh, and you paid for half the cost of the seed, and half the cost of the expenses to plant it, including fuel, hours on equipment, custom work, etc…. And you will pay for 10 years of that land sitting there doing nothing but ostensibly providing ‘bird habitat’.
Want to know what your tax money is coming to us for? Worm and night crawlers. You see, I am starting to see them again after only two years. And I am seeing other changes around the farm too. Yeah, we of course of seeing plenty of birds and pollinators, and small game as well as large game. Other native plants are beginning to show up in the fields.
No more Roundup burn-downs each fall or spring. No more insecticides, no more herbicides(except applied by hand to control highly prolific non-native species like canadian thistle). No more petroleum based fertilizers(Yes, nitrogen/eurea is processed from natural gas).
Our soil is recovering. Our farm is getting back to healthy again, slowly from my perspective, but in the blink of natures eye. Yeah, we need to keep that temporal perspective in mind… it takes a bit of mind expanding to wrap ones head around that disparity. But it is worth the relative simple mental gymnastics. It really is.
So you are paying for worms. Or are you? As long as I am alive, we will not go back to conventional farming. It is poison, and that poison follows along a path through food processing, packaging, shipping, marketing, and sales….right to your fridge or cupboard. So what are you paying for? Is it birds, worms, some goofy assed tree-hugger shit? Yeah, that and a whole lot more….
Does this make a difference to you? I don’t know – depends on your perspective of time (and other perspectives too of course). You will not see fewer parts-per-billion of anything in your food this year just because prairie grasses grown on our land instead of corn, beans, and wheat. I can almost assure that the air you breath will not seem clearer to you just because we are not using much diesel for the next few years. You won’t give a damn if there are more birds, bees, worms or other fauna on our land due to the fact we are not mono-culture-ing our acres. Not now you won’t.
But if you come to our land and test our soil, test our well water, examine our flora/fauna mix…. you will see a difference even now from two years ago. And in another eight and a half years you will see drastic differences in all of those and more measurements. Our soil microbial colonies already have changed, and those changes will continue as time goes on. Research done by various Ag departments at universities like U of Wisconsin and U of Minnesota are just scratching the surface of what the microbial communities in soil do and how they do it. It is fascinating work! And as I read about such work and scan through some of the available white papers, I learn just how important what we are doing here on the farm is.
Yes, it is only 234 acres of millions and millions of acres of land in the US. Not even statistically relevant in our county, not to mention our country or the world. But one has to take the long view, both backward and forward. Our little farm might be the difference in …. something, Whatever that may be, we want it to be more than just a difference in today’s economy. We want it to be a positive difference in our community. If in this time domain, the best we can do is not contribute to the current problem, at least in the broader time domain we might just contribute in some small way to a better solution.
Time is strange. If having cancer has taught me one thing – it is that time matters a lot more when we allow ourselves to see it from the perspective of other frameworks. Time means something different to an insect as compared to a carnivore… an ecosystem as compared to a single tree… a quarterly statement as compared to the long term success of a company or other endeavor. To step into another domain is part of standing in another’s shoes…. it is important to do.
Note of Self-serving Horn Blowing: Incidentally, our own $$ goes into that farm too. It ain’t cheap, believe me. Just because a farm sits, does not mean it does not cost. After all, our land taxes pay for public schools, and apparently a bunch of private ones now too. Our land taxes are –not– cheap. Nor are the premiums we pay for insurance, nor maintenance on the equipment and building which will need to be in working order in ten years when that CRP contract ends….. just so you understand….