In memory of Mr. Wu (March 2015 – November 2017)
Thanks for visiting my Professor Asparagus of
Windy Mountain Road Farm website
It came to my attention that some folks didn’t understand what my blog is about. Yes it was initially created in order to assist me in my small fledgling farming biz way back in 2015 continuing in 2016. I then undertook some volunteer international development work for 2017 & part of 2018 and so my blog focused on reflecting on those experiences. The farming biz has taken a back seat but will still be operating for the coming years with my plantings of asparagus – it is a perennial vegetable after all so it keeps on producing; however, I have scaled back with my other production as I have realized growing food as a business is not my passion, rather it has had the exact opposite effect to the point where I really don’t enjoy growing any food at the moment. As I continue my journey through this stage of transition in my life, this blog provides me with a means of sharing some of my thoughts about the goings of the world and in my little corner of the woods/fields. I hope I can contribute some different perspectives on issues that are not found elsewhere, or rather thoughts I have yet to come across in my perusing of information online. Thanks for following me or for simply stumbling around and coming across my blog. I hope I can provide some food for thought.
We are now in a freeze thaw cycle that is typical of Nova Scotia winters. The ol’ timers recount stories of lots of continuous snow which is what I grew up with in QC, but thanks to climate collapse this doesn’t happen any more. It has been colder than usual and several folks have run out of wood for heating, especially since the winter set in in early November. Many folks are getting excited as they prepare for this year’s growing season. I have set aside the seeds I plan on planting but the excitement has not reached me and possibly won’t. I am still seeking out my next career, three times not being the charm as they say as I tried out farming, international development and retail. Here’s hoping that in 2019 something will come my way to reinvigorate me and to value my breadth & depth of experience, providing me with meaningful engagement and a decent livelihood.
We have been experiencing the type of winter I really dislike here in the Maritimes which alas has become the norm – freeze thaw and repeat. We get snow which turns to rain which melts the snow and then temperatures drop which results in lots of ice. Fun times…NOT! Thanks climate collapse or should I say thanks humans. If one isn’t angry at the goings on of the world, then tears flow as the destruction we humans are wreaking on the planet and to our fellow humans continues unabated. I have been raging about the situation in Venezuela – what new lows the Canadian government has stooped to by supporting a U.S. backed coup of a democratically elected leader and the CBC spouting propaganda. I didn’t think I would reach a time where I am done with the CBC but it is fast approaching. I hope you are able to prepare for what is coming. Much love and strength during this times.
Well another year is beginning. What is in store for us? Of course the future is an unknown but we can surmise some possibilities, most of which do not bode well for the planet let alone humans. The neighbours to the south continue to shock and awe – talk about volatility. Globally and locally, the violence of political and economic leadership continues unabated and is fearfully expanding (globally: take your pick – the ongoing conflict in the middle east, a ‘new’ cold war, extreme right wing dictatorships in south america; locally: clearcut logging, stopping reintroduction of fracking and the Pictou county pulp mill). I hope you can find some solace in some way either through connections with people you care about or in some activity that gives you pleasure and meaning. We are all going to need to support each other a lot in the coming year. Do take care of each other.
I have been away from the website for some time now even if it has been in the back of my mind on many occasions. I just didn’t realized until now how long I have been away since I thought I had at least posted a quick note here in July & August but obviously not. So I am back now. With the more or less full time hours at my job at the chocolate shop, and the never ending tasks associated with growing vegetables, besides all the domestic chores – I am a homesteading economist afterall (reclaiming the ol’ undervalued home economist), there is never enough time to do it all. I am now back at teaching, just 1 course this semester, which leaves me with even less time especially now that the harvesting has begun. So on that note I hope your harvest if fruitful – sorry but couldn’t resist the pun.
It is almost the end of June so I’m very late with this brief update blurb. Well things certainly have changed. You can ignore the info in the May update. Asparagus was not to be this year for a variety of reasons (see my ‘lament for my asparagus‘ post), and I have started a new job working at a chocolate shop. Now you certainly can’t beat that – I mean chocolate makes everyone happy!! You can read all about it at my latest post – boringly entitled ‘Update June 2018′. For those in the northern hemisphere, enjoy summer. For everyone Happy belated Solstice!
Asparagus season is upon us …. almost. It is late this year. I finally got to weeding of one of the beds, the oldest one and saw a few spears coming up. It won’t be long now for sure, and then it will be the mad scramble to harvest every 2-3 days. I am taking advance orders, $6/lb or $10 for 2 lbs. Contact me with your order at firstname.lastname@example.org. We cultivate using organic methods, permaculture, and low impact meaning we use hand tools and no machinery which uses non-renewable resources. I can arrange delivery in River John and surrounding areas. I will also be at the New Glasgow Farmers Market starting May 19th The rest of the garden is slowly but surely resembling a vegetable garden but there are still plenty of weeds! Soon enough the peppers can be planted in the greenhouses, and tomatoes out in the garden. Enjoy the spring.
Winter is still here in Nova Scotia despite the spring teasers. I have planted my seedling trays of peppers and tomatoes. My purple asparagus seeds have arrived and are planted although I will have to wait 12-14 weeks for germination – super slow buggers. I have lots of cauliflower & broccoli seedlings – the former were really old seeds, the latter were our seeds saved, in both case unsure of germination but had great success, so much success I had to cull so many little seedlings – something I hate doing. Spinach & basil are also growing. Thinking I had overcome this mild but lingering flu virus, I spent several hours doing some weed digging in the garden areas around our house which had not been tended to since 2016, and promptly got really sick the next day. As I forge ahead trying to figure out next steps, I am exploring the world of hemp and my other interest of a vape cafe – is Tatamagouche ready for this? Hmmm…
Well we are back at our farm in rural Nova Scotia, and in the midst of a winter wonderland. I am loving the snow since I had yet to experience any this winter being in the Caribbean. It is good to be back home surrounded by the familiar comfort of one’s home and of course all the critters. Soon enough planting of vegetable seeds will begin but on a more manageable scale. Otherwise job hunting it is. I’m sure there is something out there for me to combine my more recent experiences of owning and operating my own small farming business, engaging in capacity development in the small scale agricultural sector in developing nations, my sociology teaching and research, and my community engagement. You can find me on linkedin:
I plan on continuing writing blog posts probably just not weekly. Hope you continue to visit.
The countdown is on. We return to Nova Scotia end of the month. You can read what happened in my post Farmsitter Betrayal?. Not sure what the future will hold but wish me luck as I re-enter the job seeking world. How does one market oneself when your background combines sociology and farming which doesn’t exactly fit a neat job title or description. Suggestions are welcome!
Happy new year to all. Here’s hoping 2018 will be perhaps more calm than 2017? I know wishful thinking. The erratic weather patterns will continue to intensify. Global economic disorder will continue, with the gloves off of the corporate and wealthy, in their sociopathic ways having no shame or remorse or compassion, making life more miserable day by day for billions of people worldwide. On the personal side, my partner Mr. C5 has joined me in Barbados and we were looking forward to getting to know this island nation. But alas due to an unexpected decision of our farmsitters, it looks like we will be heading back to NS in a matter of months if not weeks. Certainly not the plan and this has caught us off guard. But you just have to go with it. Life continues to throw curve balls. Hope some of your dreams come true this year.
So I once again find myself in another part of the world, in a tropical paradise for many, a well off Canadian and Brit retiree local (the latter just reeks of colonialism), a major tax haven as published recently by the EU, a place that is very expensive to live since so much of its needs, in particular food, must be imported. I will be in Barbados for 9 months. Join me on my journey here as I experience the contrasts, the ups and downs, and as I witness the life of farmers, surrounded by whitish sand beaches and aquamarine ocean waters, and enveloped by heat.
The month of November is going by fast. Alas we came back to our farm in a state of disaster. As a friend aptly said our caretaker was an undercaretaker. I had never personally witnessed a pigsty in my own home or any other place I have lived. Shocking is an understatement. And so the cleaning job began and is still continuing, thankfully after several weeks the bulk of it is done. However, we still discover each new day other ridiculous things Mr. B.Z. did to our place and our things. What was especially heartbreaking was the condition of my asparagus beds which BZ did not keep weed free as the contract specified. So much of my hard work and future income depended on this. I estimate a 10% loss. Things were in such a bad state that I am considering taking him to small claims court because the work to repair and losses were so great. I don’t consider this a lesson learned but a warning to others. Email me for the person’s name if you know of others seeking a farm caretaker in the area. Otherwise the preparations for Barbados are on track. I had hoped for this time back at the farm to be recovering from the illnesses of Lima, and just some R&R. That will have to wait until I get to sunny Barbados. Of course, the wonderful thing about being back is that I am getting to visit with all my good friends of the North Shore of NS.
We are returning to Nova Scotia. After a short stint back on the farm recovering my asparagus beds which were not properly maintained by our caretaker, and general all around farm cleanup, I will be heading to Barbados towards the end of the year. Stay tuned for stories from this tropical island paradise.
Well it is official now. I am heading to Barbados end of the year for what will be my 2nd volunteer gig, this time with WUSC – World University Service of Canada. The title of the position is Agribusiness Information Management Advisor which sounds both creepy and impressive. I had started to apply for some positions since it can take 6 months from point of application to sitting on a plane, but things transpired far more quickly than I could ever have imagined, especially in light of the fact that we were being forced to leave Peru 3 months earlier than anticipated, thanks to visa issues. As our time comes to an end here, I am still seeking to support Cuso in their endeavours and will soon be doing the same for WUSC. Please visit my CUSO fundraising page ; any amount will be most appreciated. Notice to my network in NS: I plan on having a Peruvian food tasting evening upon my return, an opportunity for folks to sample some famous Peruvian fare and supporting Cuso & WUSC at the same time, so stay tuned.
Hard to believe it is August. And our last few months in Peru. My blog post “Chile … ” will explain the details but suffice it to say at the time of writing we are outta here end of October instead of end of January 2018. If Cuso is not able to change this, it turns out this works out fine with us as another posting is coming down the pipe (much sooner than I had anticipated) so stay tuned (but of course anything can happen in the next few weeks). Happy summer for those in the northern hemisphere!
NOTICE!! We are SEEKING FARM CARETAKERS 2018
Are you in a situation where you are wanting to live the rural farming (or similar) life but are unable to afford to purchase or lease land? We have an amazing opportunity for interested person(s), ideally suited to a couple or two single people. We are seeking caretakers for our farm so while we volunteer overseas. We are located between Pictou & Tatamagouche in Nova Scotia, Canada. We are offering a place to stay for free while we are away in exchange for taking care of our chickens, dogs, cats and our place. We have a modest 2 bedroom home, wood stove heat, solar power for most our electrical needs, several small greenhouses and other infrastructure. We have 2 asparagus beds that one person can maintain (hand weeding!!), with one bed that can be harvested and produce sold in order to garner some income, in exchange for maintaining the beds weed free. We are offering folks the chance to try their hand at market gardening/small scale farming (using non-agribusiness methods, non-certified organic methods) for the 20178season. We have the land & equipment that would be needed. You will need your own vehicle. The only costs to be covered by caretakers would be their food & utilities (phone & internet, electricity, some propane for cooking, some wood for woodstove). We are looking for folks who are seeking to live a self-sufficient, environmentally sustainable lifestyle. You must demonstrate your familiarity and thus interest in permaculture, transition town and preppers. Some experience with farm animals and simply a love of animals is required. Experience with woodstove heat is also necessary. References will be required. Unfortunately you can’t have your own pets as we are a full house with our own and this is non-negotiable. Only serious inquiries please. Contact Wilma at email@example.com and provide your email in order for me to contact you.
I recently stumbled across this, something I can relate to as I have always described myself as experiencing wanderlust (alas I don’t know who the M.M. stands for):
FERNWEH: Who am I that I ache for places I have never seen? Who yearns for destinations I have never known. That wanderlust plagues me and carries part of my spirit in its outstretched hand. She who dreams of places yet unseen, of moments not yet occurring, of feelings long since felt. She who feels homesickness for distant adventures. A far-sickness that gnaws on the core of who she is. She has a need to find the place, the time, the where that she is meant to be. Fernweh is stamped upon her soul. -M.M.
From wiktionary: Fernweh: German, fern (“far”) + Weh (“pain”). Literally “farsickness” or “longing for far-off places”, as contrasted with Heimweh (“homesickness, longing for home”).
Also, “do not be daunted by the world’s grief. do justly now. love mercy now. walk humbly now.
you are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it.” Rami Shaprio
Woohoo!! We have passed the 4 month mark which means we are just over 1/3 through our time in Lima. We do feel at home now. The winter weather does seem to have arrived so lots of grey & drizzle, on occasion the sun breaks through. So it does get gloomy although for the most part not cold so that’s good. I’m having challenges with my research which are making some days rather unpleasant but I just persevere, afterall this is a learning experience. Above you will my pics from a visit to salt ponds while on our vacation to Cusco and area. This was a highlight for me. Thoughts of gathering salt from the ocean nearby to our farm… hmmm….
We are going on our first big trip in Peru to Cusco and surrounding area. We are oh so looking forward to it. Stay tuned for a trip report upon our return. For those in the northern hemisphere hope you are enjoying spring. It does feel weird that I am not going to be planting/growing anything this year but I know I can use the break. We are still in fall here with swings of cooler then back to warmer weather. The illnesses are circulating, having had a flu & cold myself. I want to plug my partner’s newish blog, Dark Green Mountain Survival Research Centre, https://darkgreenmountainsurvivalresearchcentre.wordpress.com/. He recommends in one of his posts as I am doing here – a panel with what we call the four (or 5 on the panel in this case) horsemen of the apocalypse – Orlov, Kunstler, Martenson & Greer, a discussion as part of the Center for Progressive Urban Politics 2017 Summit, can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kthhSwyv2H0. My only issue with these guys and they are men is where are all the women in this world of SHTF scenarios analysis and advice for adapting to the crises we are in now, not sometime in the future. Perhaps this is something I should take on…
I have had a few folks ask about the mudslides and flooding in Peru and surrounding region. There were areas around the city, in the peri-urban areas that suffered – loss of homes, roads & bridges washed away. However the larger impact on the city itself was water shortages despite all the rain – the irony of mother nature. The intense rains caused debris to clog up dam reservoirs thus impacting the water supply to the city. I don’t know exactly why but we were not impacted much by temporary water cut off – only a few hours here and there and usually in the middle of the night – unlike some other areas which didn’t have water for 5 days straight. We didn’t have water at work for a day or two so they brought in bottled water for drinking. I’m not sure what folks did re: bathroom use. This latter issue is never discussed as per usual in almost all public areas. What is the big deal talking about peeing and pooing – completely normal and needed bodily functions. We were set up in our apartment to use black plastic bags for shit if need be but what were other folks doing? Many areas of the city had water stations set up where there were lineups of folks with every kind of container to haul water back to their homes. There is a satellite image you can find online showing the extent of the flooding/mudslides. A huge area of the country was impacted. Things seem to have calmed down now but of course the impact on folks whose homes were whisked away by rivers overflowing their banls will be long lasting. And now we have our first winter storm in the Andes which is not a normal occurence at this time of year – too early for it. We are heading to Cusco 3rd week of May so we hope we won’t be walking in deep snow to get around. Climate change is being felt forcefully in this part of the world. An interesting place to be.
You might have noticed a new “look” for the website. Yeah right – not exactly. I had a bit of a meltdown a while ago when I found a potential virus in the code of the theme of the website – the theme being the style of the site, i.e. how the info is presented. When I tried to fix the problem I eventually promptly got kicked off the site and couldn’t get access to it. Fortunately thanks to all the good support tech folks at wordpress (the software behind this website which is one of the most widely used and thus subject to incessant hacks/viruses/etc… ), inmotion which hosts my site, and ithemes from where I get backup software, and a few others in between, I have my site back but in a default theme. I will eventually change the theme but am pressed to do other work at the moment. Heck I could write a blog post about what transpired but I have spent enough energy on this for now. Onto posting some new blog entries.
We have been in Lima, Peru for just about one month. Check out the posts to your right. Happy reading.
November 2016 update
As we come to the end of season 2016, see what’s in store for Professor Asparagus of Windy Mountain Road Farm in 2017: Lima, Peru here we come thanks to CUSO International. Follow the adventures of Professor Asparagus in Lima by reading posts starting end of January as I begin my posting as a Capacity Development Advisor: Strengthening Lima’s Urban Farmers Markets! Please visit my CUSO fundraising page and support my CUSO fundraising goal. Any amount will be most appreciated.
A bit about me….before my arrival in Lima, Peru in January 2017
I am Professor Asparagus – a fledgling farmer – operating a small scale farming enterprise, specializing in raw and value added products in asparagus (spring crop), but also tomatoes and hot & sweet peppers (fall crops). I have been growing food for over a decade but never as a means of earning a livelihood until now. I’m not sure I will succeed at Windy Mountain Road Farm but it won’t be for lack of hard work and trying my best.
So why do I call myself Professor Asparagus? Well I have a fellow small business owner to thank for her suggestion as we undertook a training together. You see I was a professor of sociology, now referring to myself as a recovering academic. I will soon have my Professor Asparagus costume – can you see a super hero somewhere: Professor Asparagus – Eat your asparagus!!
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