Wednesday, July 05, 2006

We're Pickin Blosser Tomatoes!

I picked my first ripe Blosser tomatoes around June 20 to the 22nd. On Saturday the 15th I had taken a watch to the dear lady who runs the jewelry store directly in front of my farmers' market stand to have the battery replaced. I couldn't get her to charge me for it. "Just bring me your first ripe tomato!" she insisted. So during the following week I picked around a half dozen of which we savored about three of them. Boy were they ever good! They were all sort of on the small side so I saved three of the nicer ones to take to the jewelry lady on my next market day on the 24th. Your should have seen her eyes when I handed them to her! "Why you weren't kidding were you!" she gushed. "I only wanted one. Give me your watch and I will put a nice new band on it for you!" Then she paraded up and down the line of venders holding them up for all to see, as proud as a 12 year old boy with a brand new fishing rod. You know I love those kind of deals.

The next Saturday, July 1, I had nearly a bread delivery tray full of them at the market and they were all snatched up in about a half hour priced at $3.00 per pound.
That added up to over $75 for the tray nearly full. So I came pretty close to my target date of June 20th for the first tomatoes to sell. It's this kind of fun that makes up for the days when you're sitting there at 12 noon on a hot day and there is still nearly a table full of unsold produce and you are racking your brain trying to figure out how to get rid of it over the weekend. Our church folks are usually the beneficiaries of these scenarios. And the chickens always eat exceedingly well come the month of August.

Remember the story about the renegade chicken I wrote about several weeks ago, the one that got my first ripening tomato around June 7th? The next day she was back up there around 9:00 and I took a crack at her with the 22 rifle and apparently missed though I think I saw feathers fly. She fled back to the pen and I didn't see her again for at least three weeks. I wondered if I might have hit her and she ran off and died somewhere, but I never found a carcass. I was a bit disappointed because I really was looking forward to some chicken potpie that evening.

Well guess what, she made the sojourn once again last Friday morning. I wasn't about to allow her another chance to sample the dozen or so of those half ripe love apples still left on the vines and I got her with one shot. Yay! I had no sooner than put the gun away and gone back out to the garage, to find three cats up on the table where I had spread out my tomatoes to finish ripening, having, you guessed it, a tomato tasting! The rouges scattered before I could start cussing! I immediately stormed back into the house and announced to my wife that I was going to start exterminating cats. I would've done it too if I hadn't have had at least five "gotta do it right now" jobs pushing at me, including butchering a chicken. Oh well, the chicken and corn soup tasted pretty good that evening. Such is the way of life on a farm. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Standing With Our Neighbors

On Monday June 26, 2006 I did something I have never done before, I participated in a protest demonstration. I grew up in the 1960's in a conservative agrarian culture that generally frowned upon the idea of supporting the protest rallies and marches that were a part of the civil rights movement of that era. So why did I take a day off of work that I really needed to stay home and get done, in order to go to Harrisonburg to stand with several hundred of my friends in protest of an event that we all felt was injustice towards some of us.

The occasion was the sentencing in federal district court of three Kurdish men who were being charged for violation of the Patriot Act when they sent money back to their homeland in northern Iraq Kurdistan with the intention of helping family and friends. Apparently they had been sending money to their homeland prior to 9/11 and were unaware that the passage of the Patriot Act shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks made it illegal to transfer money overseas without a license. They continued transferring money over the next several years and became the objects of intensive investigation by the FBI. In at least one incident the FBI agents came in the early morning with search warrents and confiscated personal property and money, talked abusingly to the men, and forced the frightened wives and children to wait in an adjoining room without breakfast while they conducted the several hour's search. Despite the fact that the FBI acknowledged that they uncovered no evidence that the transferred money was going to terrorist organizations and that they knew that the charged men were not willfully breaking the law, they pressed charges anyway. The potential penalties for these felonious convictions could have included imprisonment, heavy fines, and deportation. There begs the question, why didn't the initial investigators, once they knew that their charges had no evil intentions or awareness that they were engaging in illegal activity, simply help them get the necessary licensure?

We happened to know all of these men personally as they have been coming with their families out to our farm every summer for the past five years or so to buy "pick your own" produce. We have come to know them as people of good character and they have become our friends. One thing we have learned from Kurdish culture is that they believe in and practice the mandate to "be their brother's keeper" and to stand in support of each other when someone is in trouble. This is in fact what they were doing when they were sending money back to friends and family in Kurdistan and why several of the men were channeling relatively large sums of money from numerous families thru their personal bank accounts which attracted the attention of the FBI investigators. This was also the reason why Christine and myself went to Harrisonburg last Monday when we really needed to stay home and work, to stand with our Kurdish neighbors as their sentences were being imposed.

We were fortunate and honored to be permitted entry into the courtroom with mostly their families and a few American supporters to witness the trial. No one inside or outside carried signs, attempted to block access, or shouted angry slogans. A few sang songs of praise or petition. As the judge was about to begin imposing the sentences, He asked those in support of them to stand and acknowleged that the fact that they had this much community support spoke a lot about their character and would have some influence on the severity of their sentences. One of the defendents stated that he was unaware that he was doing wrong and that he was sorry and asked the judge for forgiveness. All three of the men were sentenced to varying lengths of probation and modest fines. None were sentenced to prison or deportation. The sense of relief could be felt by everyone in the crowd as we exited the courtroom and mingled with the crowd outside.

Nothing I have ever done felt so right and so good! Posted by Picasa