World! It is 2011! It is 2011 and there is so much to do, so much good to replace bad, so much healing of humans, wildlife, ecosystems, and communities. There is an ever evolving list of things to become more conscious of as we move into a future less connected to the land. It is 2011 and we are losing important habitats all over the world at an alarming rate, changing the world in ways we don't even realize will eventually change us. We are relying more and more on technological advances in medicine to keep up with our unhealthy lifestyles. We are less attuned to the natural forces of our planet and more of our time is spent inside focusing on realities that are entirely human inventions. The distractions of this modern age of people do well enough keeping our brains constantly stimulated, always something to worry about, always some way to progress, reach success. It gives us very little opportunity to search within ourselves for what truly brings us peace. When the forces of our economy and practices of waste are added up, it seems like a desperate time, but this is the year. This is the year to start over, to rethink the ideas sprouting from "how" and start asking ourselves "why?"
This year, the first official year of Sun Dog Farm, will be one of great hardship and tiny battles won. With every person who grabs a CSA share or purchases Kohlrabi at the Farmers Market, a person, a couple, an entire family may be fed clean food whose roots dug deep into a landscape nurtured and replenished. The hearts and minds of our nation are currently being redesigned as more individuals are becoming aware of our devastating food system. More people want to feed their children the best of what's around. More people bring their own bags to the supermarket or even teach themselves the skills to avoid utilizing the supermarket or drug store. The year 2011 should be embraced by all as the year to reclaim our world from the clutches of wasteful consumerism, malicious advertising, and fear mongering and start moving into an age of self reliance, community, and grace.
All of this change requires an immense amount of patience. Humans beings do not purposely cause harm to each other and their world around them, for the most part. Much of the change we have to muster within ourselves needs to be spread to others through vigorous education and empowerment. We are only as strong as our weakest links and we must do our part in picking up those who have fallen into despair due to the excess of others. This is made ever more complicated with the value system put in place by the highest rungs of the economic food chain. We need to take the time to educate individuals (without expecting an economic return) as to what is really important and necessary in a lifetime and guide all of us toward a more simple, responsible lifestyle. It won't be easy or fun and there will be failure and an awful lot of resistance along the way, but it will be the sort of challenge whose rewards are so sweet, they will slowly enrich the quality of all life on Planet Earth.
As for Sun Dog Farm, 2011 has already held several wins and losses. The epic ice storm that closed down the City of Atlanta for a week locked us within our little homestead on the farm and made for some pretty mentally exhausting planning and plotting. All the time spent nestled in the belly of our property gave us the opportunity to continue to explore our own self sufficiency and the weaknesses we feel we have as stewards of this landscape. Big plans hatched, re-hatched, erased, and blossomed into ideas that will either lead us to victory or teach us some serious lessons. The snow and ice keeping us from straying too far out of our county gave us the time to enjoy and learn from those in our wonderful community. The ice has prevented us from planting onions, turned our goats and sheep into ice skaters, and caused our chickens to eat some serious feed. Our lack of current income made it impossible for us to cover our greenhouse with plastic just before the ice hit, saving us from having to manage or replace plastic during the storm. I don't know that there is a real balance to it all, but there certainly is an enchanting rhythm to aligning your life with that of the natural world.
Times have been pretty tough at the farm as our anxiousness for spring grows and our vegetable plot gently hibernates. Driving home from Tagyerit Farm, owned and operated by the wonderful Michael and Mary Elizabeth Shoptaw (and their adorable son,) I distinctly remember feeling that inner peace that we all seem to be endlessly searching for. Something about being around so many good people who love all life on Earth and have made it their personal goal to defend and support it connects all the dots in my soul. The sun was setting over the white glazed pastures, brilliant pink reflecting from horizon to footstep. I remember squeezing Elliot's hand and recalling the amazing number of Meadowlarks I had seen earlier in the day. It's not perfect this life of ours, but my goodness is it beautiful.
"I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe." - His Holiness the Dalai Lama