An Ode to the Scuffle Hoe

posted July 5, 2018

scuffle hoe image
Image: An ode to the scuffle hoe

An Ode to the Scuffle Hoe

What weapon this?
In tool section A
I’d not known to miss
Your smoothly slicing foray

Through the barely there weeds
Conspiring today for the weeks coming hence
O! Not so! – those ignoble plants!
Your sharp ring with ease
Hardly turning the soil, so graceful your dance
And happ’ly no more is that threat’nd advance

So simple so sweet!
Scuffle hoe mine
Not once did I meet
a tool so humbly divine.

Without your wise counsel
I must surely admit
To many a day set bent o’er rows
Picking and pulling many an ounce
Losing my patience and wanting to quit
This project of feeding a few hungry maws

So thank you, yes, thank you
My dear scuffly friend.
But –
I’ve hustled and huffled past my wits’ bend…

And now I am thinking about going to a no-till, dense planting strategy with intensive cover cropping and mulch application. So I’m not really sure how much I’ll use you anymore. But thanks for all the help, you really saved my back from a lot of strain.


speaking your truth: in honor of every human being marching in the women’s march tomorrow

posted January 20, 2017

audre-lorde-in-front-of-a-007

I once had the great privilege of living for a while with a lovely and formidable witchy nature woman in Maine. She had the following passage from Audre Lorde‘s The Cancer Journals posted on the inside of her bathroom door, and I have since followed suit. I cannot tell you what good it does for the spirit, to read this first thing every morning! But tomorrow morning, oh on this morning of mornings, I wanted others to read this too as we take to the streets to speak our collective truths; may we also  listen as allies to women of color, and may we remember, may we be bolstered by the words of those who have marched before us. 

“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.

I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”




acequia poem

posted May 10, 2016

La_Canova_Acequia_North.jpg

Anyone who has farmed in New Mexico can tell you any myriad of stories about the acequia  culture that exists there. Acequias community-managed irrigation ditches that, when stopped up, flood fields along their length. This practice is centuries old and integral to the traditional ways of farming in the high desert of the region, and it closely dictates the yearly, weekly, and daily rhythms of agriculture.

First thing in the Spring, before they even think of planting, farmers across New Mexico go out with spades to participate in a ditch cleaning. They elect a majordomo (from the same root as mayor) to manage the flow of water to each farm, and they irrigate only on their allotted day. Sometimes, in the heat of noon, your majordomo will appear out of no where waving his arms frantically yelling that Ayy! There are gophers in the ditch, and you’ll grab your boots and a shovel, and drive out right quick to plug those holes up. It’s a beautiful, sometimes comical, and sometimes dramatic (seriously, they could write soap operas about this stuff) practice in which citizens co-manage their common resource of water.

In Taos County, NM, however, some believe the practice to be under threat from corporate and state infringement on water rights. The following poem was written in response to the Abeyta Settlement of 2012, which you can read more about here. You can see the original post of this poem and read the poet’s notes, on Robert Mirabal’s website.

Acequia Poem 
By Chris Pieper

I am water, I transport the light of the heavens into the earth into all
I am the transporter of delight, I am Acequia,
I am not owned or to be taken prisoner for foreign minds,lands,

Behind master-locks, concrete walls and the pegged barb-wire strands,
Beneath tall laws and secret negotiations,
you lock me up
is this your meaning of autonomy?
to me its a meaning of captivity, locked up tonight once again
You can explain to children’s, children how we lost our fight;
that is the cuento’s you will recite to-night

They’ll never know the shame that brands–
Dark-shame on mocking the gifts from the heavens,
One day maybe they’ll get those draggin’ days all right,
Sent from foreign commands from our future children,
to set me free once again and hopefully the men who turned the keys and sold me’s children will recognize me still. 

I am water i transport the light of the heavens into the earth into all
I am the transporter of delight, I am Acequia,
I am not owned or to be taken prisoner for foreign minds,lands,



a poem to start off your week

posted May 10, 2010

greenhorn Katy Giombolini sent us this letter and a beautiful poem that she wrote!  Thanks Katy, good luck in the fields this summer.

I was taking a poetry class this past semester and one of the prompts was to write a poem copying another poet. I chose Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” because in highschool I went through a Beatnik phase. The past years I have become passionate about building local food systems and farming particularly in the Willamette Valley in Western Oregon. I have worked briefly on farms, interviewed farmers, and have just completed a research paper on the process of transitioning from grass seed to grain and edible food crop production in the Area. I was inspired to write the poem one evening just thinking about food and farmers and our generation. I really just grabbed a scrap piece of paper and started writing it down. I’m headed off after graduation to work at a farm in Maine with the MOFGA program and after that…who knows. Thank you for this wonderful blog it is so exciting to see the energy behind this movement. – Katy

Crow

I saw the idealists of my generation graduating from college and saying no to the fast track business world, saying no to the system that fosters competition and getting ahead,

Who championed food over the dollar spending extra change on local beets not beer, (more…)