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EPISODE SIX: Time & Space Warp

The Legendary Yellow Midget Watermelons are REAL!

I've entered that parallel universe again: FARMLAND. According to the other blog entries I have followed my spouse to the rural kind of Catholic Worker CW community after she had followed me to the urban kind of CW community. Chelsea & I are farm apprentices again for a month while on sabbatical, but our bouncing back and forth between 'Burque and the FARMLAND is feeling different now. This place AWAY from Albuquerque is mysteriously NOT the same farm in which we were placed a few months ago! This place is called TOWNSIDE Farm (TSF), and it's run by a sole manager, (rather than a group of three anarchists), and the croplands take up about ten times as much gardening space, and the entire property space is ten times smaller than the size of Earth Abides in CA, and cars pass by the road here--a PAVED road--constantly, and there's no chickens to watch daily, and this place does not identify as a CW entity. "Toto, I don't think we are in California anymore!" We're definitely NOT in Albuquerque (i knew that was coming), but this TSF is just as idyllic as the 80 acre CW Farm in Calaveras County, in contrast to the rugged life of our urban CW experience of the past half-decade. Recognizing the differences between this TSF apprenticeship and the other one, on a different farm, in that OTHER parallel universe, is the point of our spiritual growth this week (the last week of August 2012).

While working ourselves out of a job as parents of the urban Trinity House for the next 4 months, we are bouncing back and forth between 'Burque and the farm(s). We intend to operating a new program called The Manger at Trinity House in October, so for now we are stuck in the TSF reality that is neither THCW nor the California CW farm. We are in southern New Mexico. The dichotomy of subsistence on the farm vs. urban CW subsistence has come into clear focus (whether or not the farm itself is CW-affiliated). I'm thrilled to have a spiritual partner (Chelsea) who understands our Catholic vocation of marriage as one of hospitality. As we transition from the urban CW to the rural CW, our hospitality shifts from open doors for desperate folks to open floors for thriving plants and their consumers. Both styles of hospitality are ways we follow Christ, but our shift to the land-based CW is one in which we deeply re-conceptualize our relationship to the earth and the natural environment. In the city, our subsistence was scavenger-oriented, and now we are gardener-oriented.

The little bungalow area in which we camp during this internship is cozy, awesome, simple, and like a 10th honeymoon!

As our role within the economy of the US society has shifted from hospitable scavenging to hospitable plant husbandry, we notice our inner emotional lives flipping into an alternate/opposite orientation. Chelsea tends towards introversion in the city while I tend towards extroversion. Now the farm life has balanced us, causing me to be more introverted, and Chels to be more extroverted. We generally work 7 hours per day, planting, harvesting, weeding, setting up food-box shares for the CSA members, working alongside other volunteers, surviving on solar power and other electrical sources to help us with the tasks at hand, and sleeping in an outdoor tent under a corrugated tin roof. This farm and its volunteers (my spouse and i included) are important pieces of this community of Silver City. Our TSF CSA is in its second season, and we believe it'll continue thriving in the third season after we are gone next Spring. School children come to work on this farm for a few hours per week, and each kid who comes here to plant or harvest or braid garlic (or whatever other tasks the kids do on their field trips here) gets a good experience in the basics of being human; we all eat food that came from the earth, and being in touch with that process is an essential part of humanity.

One week we the local Montessori school kids helped us harvest the garlic and make garlic braids.

Since i was raised in suburbia with the help of Catholic Sisters of St. Joseph, with almost no connection to gardening or farming, i understand the imbalance of being out-of-touch with the basics of survival. My Catholic Worker lifestyle of the past seven years is a good one in which i helped facilitate rescuing of food from the waste stream so that many could survive on such food, but it's obviously still removed from the simplicity of growing it and feeding others with it. The privilege to live in this way is a grand blessing for us, and a hidden, rarely noticed blessing for others in the region, because of the mainstream culture's individualistic values keeping us all removed from or in denial of our dependence upon the Creator's simple system of sunshine, soil, water, photosynthesis, growth, harvest, consumption, compost. The crops we produce here, the plants with edible parts, are harvested and cleaned and delivered to restaurants and markets so folks can eat them. Silver City is balanced, if not thriving in sustainability, and we are apprentices on the closest commercial-style farm producing hundreds of pounds of food each week for others to eat. Whether in the town of Silver City or in the hamlet of Sheep Ranch, our role as farmers is one that daily focuses our attention on the natural elements that mingle in love to create plants, whose body parts we humans will eat. Yet most folks in our society--even in the BLESSED haven Silver City--are drowning in the ideology of US culture (individualism, consumerism, domination/controlling others) rather than the spiritual values promoted by Jesus Christ (communitarian, interdependent liberation, egalitarian/sacrificial), to which all Christians allegedly ascribe.

See the FIRST excerpted portion
Chels & I pray the morning and noon prayers daily as they fit well with our 7-hour per day work schedule. We have made new friends among the folks who are in touch with this farm, and that's beautiful too! I'm grateful and thank God for the meaningfulness and beauty and sustenance of the soil-derived greenery which i smell, eat, and learn from in the stories i learn from my farming teachers (like Doug here in Grant County, NM and Chris in Calevaras County, CA). Chelsea and I practiced the biointensive methods in California at the CW farm there, and are practicing other mass-production methods here, but in both places, everyone understands that the plants have their own needs in order to thrive. As farmers we dance with the environment in order to help some plants get some needs met and stop other creatures (including some other plants we call weeds) from getting their needs/desires met all in the service of expedient prolific abundance of vegetables (including fruits) to meet the needs of other people. Both of these farms are ways for me to live my values, albeit under different conceptualizations of "farming" or "FARMLAND". Doug's the one who told me that in the USA, a "small farm" is anything under 500 acres! As far as i'm concerned, a "farm" is any land used for gardening to feed more than the folks living at the land.To help feed the local folks this good organic food, and to learn more about the growing of food, and to celebrate the goodness of being capable to contribute to this community while living a vibrant, healthy lifestyle here—that's why Chelsea and I are living here for a month. We are practicing what Christ preached—the message that we are creatures who can do Love's will and can do it better all the time through stepping out in faith. Because we all have access to God's power, and can do the miracles Christ did as long as we follow the precepts of LOVE Almighty (John 14:12), we can work at any farm for a short time and still identify as farmers. It's the same as our identity as Roman Catholics. We like the Roman Catholicism and recognize the supremacy of the conscience vs. the domination of the non-Christlike elements of the Vatican or the currently existing doctrines. Whenever doctrinal authority or papal decrees run counter to the Holy Spirit or to the teachings of Jesus Christ, then our consciences as Roman Catholics dictate that we obey Christ rather than men (Acts 5:29). One small farm may be labeled as a "farm" and not questioned by folks while another small farm may go unnoticed or unlabeled as a "farm". Either way, the importance of the lives of the vegetables there and their sacrificial giving of nutrients to animals is unquestioned. The relationship between water, soil, sun, plant, animal and Lover of them all is part of a wonderful story that can be told via symbolic communication such as the words you read now, or the words you hear now, or in other ways that defy symbolic conventions. May we honor the beautiful meaningfulness of the story and the lives at stake within the story as it progresses!

On Saturdays Doug the farmer shows us how to sell the TSF produce at the Silver City Farmers Market

As a "Roman" Catholic pacifist anarchist farmer (who can just as easily become an "Eastern Orthodox" Catholic pacifist anarchist farmer) i humbly accept the authority of the Word-Made-Flesh (that mystical ability to co-create with Love Almighty). I thank God for manifesting Godself in the flesh in a way that people could understand, and that is the example for all of his disciples (including me when i'm disciplined enough) to follow. Whether a Catholic Worker in the city, or a Catholic Worker on the farm, I am daily attempting to follow Christ as closely as i can. As an anarchist Catholic farmer, my sense of place allows me to serve on any farm which will accept my donated labor, whether or not the local farm considers me a "member," "friend," "associate," "apprentice," "teammate," or "supporter". I can hold all these realities in mind as real, even if they apparently exist as mutually exclusive incompatibilities. That's the non-dualistic ideology I embrace while following Christ on the farm where it may seem that some species are in conflict, or in symbiosis, or both, and folks may or may not notice what's happening under the microscope, and may or may not even care about the farm.

See the SECOND excerpted portion
There are many potential realities from which a child may choose. Each one of us adults seized something (some of us grabbed MANY things) and ran with it into the future. Prior to the juncture at which we plunged forward one way rather than the other, those potential realities were all equally likely to occur. I'm very grateful every time i catch a glimpse of the parallel reality in which i am NOT living, but where i might have been. Either way, it's still me, and in my non-dualistic consciousness, those other universes are nice places to visit.

Ella brought her Noah's Ark toy to this farm where the only animals are us people, two dogs, and millions of insects.

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PART TWO of the
Silver City Parallel Universe Story

The lovely free music fest called "PickAMania!" was the big shindig last weekend. Marcus & Chelsea & Wendy were on the cover
of the local newspaper, dancing as if we were at Albuquerque's Freilich Shabbat, since 'Burque's Goddess of Arno was playing.
Click on the pic to see the fuller version from Sunday's newspaper.

Chelsea & i talked about making a baby, so we made one, and then ate it. It was a conglomeration of cantaloupe head, tomato eyes, and cucumber arm, but it's clothes were Emily's funny hat, so we gave her the hat back, and then Farmer Doug taught us to plow the field with the tractor.

See the Townside Farm video including our tractor work.
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Silver-Gila Story

All around town are these odd signs warning us... drivers? families? toy-manufacturers?

To look more carefully at their signs, to look up close and see what we see...

...AND i just found out that when we were GOAT-walking, only one was a goat, the other was a ...