Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Feeling a bit sluggish

So this blogging on the farm thing is not going exactly as planned - as in I am SO tired by the time the end of the day rolls around that I don't really feel like writing much. It's funny because it's not that we're toiling in the fields all day or anything like that - in fact I spent my first two "farming" days working at the local market (more on this later), and then we had a three day weekend because of a Bank Holiday. But still Daniel and I are both zonked everyday. Granted there is a jet lag factor that we didn't really deal with in Paris and we are coming off of moving madness and we're walking a ton. But really. (again excuse typos and misspelling - have to get to work soon)

Anyway, before I launch into some details about how we're spending our days, and where we're living, and what we're eating. I have a little something to confess. I'd been romanticizing this trip a bit, and what I've learned, very, very quickly, is that farming - even organic, even in a beautiful location in Country Galway, just is not romantic.

On our second morning here, after a breakfast that I whipped up of farm fresh eggs and Irish brown bread, I was sent out to pick some rocket for that day's market in Athenry. "What an incredible way to start the day!" thought I. And so I walked behind the house to the tunnel where food grows in the non-summer months.

I'd gotten to try some of the rocket the night before in a lovely salad (how I've missed salad!) and so I knew I'd feel proud selling it.

I was told to fill up a big box of containers to bring to the market, and this is where the problems started coming. First the anxiety hit. How exactly do you pick rocket? Do you pull it from the root? Or up at the stem? Or the leaf? Does it matter if I wipe out one big clump or should I try to move around the crop and distribute the destruction a bit? And exactly how full do these containers need to be? My head was spinning.

But then I looked down to pick my first clump, and this is what I saw:
A giant slug. This picture really doesn't do the thing justice. It was massive. And it had friends. Lots of them. Suddenly my anxiety had multiplied. I wasn't only worried doing a bad job, now I was also worried about sticking my hand onto the slimy creature that I had spent my childhood avoiding and that my mother relished killing with little pots of beer put around the garden. The slug fear slowed down my progress considerably as I checked each patch of leaves thoroughly before reaching in, so that I was now also worried about taking too much time. Then came the spiders. Loads of them seemed to be making their homes on the greens. Were they poisonous? Who could say for sure? And then the bees arrived. I've never been stung. Perhaps I'm allergic and would go into anaphylactic shock in this tunnel, only found when it was too late.

I started working more quickly, desperate to get out of the tunnel before the sting of a bee or the bite of a spider sent me into some sort of medical emergency.
I finished as quickly as I could and ran my box of containers to our hostess Sinead. She was pleased. Victory! I had not disappointed our generous new friend AND I'd survived the tunnel of death. But, she was so pleased that she sent me out to fill another box...
The rocket ended up selling quite well at the market and I was proud. But to hammer home the point that organic equals bugs, later that day in the celery that had been sitting in our fridge for several days, I found a very chilled slug clinging to one of the stalks.

The point is (and I think I'll have lots of time to think more about this) that Michael Pollan and Barbara what's her name and all the rest are right - it is good to be close to your food but you have to be prepared that being close to food also means being close to a lot of other less romantic things as well...

1 comment:

eric said...

I have MILLIONS of black ants in my garden. I'm not scared of them and they don't bite. But I am intimidated by their numbers. What's an organic solution? I've used chili powder and attempted to drown them. Maybe soapy water is next? I feel like I need something more potent...