Weird things I think about late on a Friday night…

…when I’m missing Galactibash at the Sci-Fi Museum. (Sigh, just too far away.) So, here goes:

  • When rural folk put up the harvest, they are preparing for a hard winter or a possible power outage. When geek rural folk put up the harvest, they are preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
  • Rural folk trim their hedges into fence lines or, sometimes, animals. Rural geeks trim their hedges into cubes or spheres and call them “the collective”.
  • Rural folk like to get together, have a BBQ and play some card games. Rural geeks like to get together, have a BBQ and play some LAN video games until they realize it’s dawn and they need to go milk the cows.

Just some food for thought…

Winter Wonders

On the farm, there is never a dull season. Winter, especially, serves up unexpected delights on the dorment land. You just have to watch and wait.

Snow Geese flock to our fields by the tens of thousands, flying in strings and waves across the sky. Swans, be they tundra, mute, or the rare and impressive trumpeter, stream into the flatlands, covering the green fields in a startling white. As I work on the farm, I can look up to see these huge white birds fill the sky as they move from the Sound inland each morning and back out to sea each night. It is an amazing site every single time.

The bald eagles, on the other hand, sit in the tops of tree and squabble with each other… extremely loudly. The Sister had to go outside, one afternoon, to yell at a pair who were disturbing her work. It didn’t really help.

The eagles move south from their Alaskan home to take advantage of the leftovers from the fall salmon runs. I once counted 202 white-headed raptors on a day trip up the Skagit Valley. Yes, that’s 202 American Bald Eagles in an 8-hour time span. One 90-foot tree alone held nearly 75 of them, just hanging out.

By spring, they have almost all but disappeared. A few straggling Snow Geese flocks grace our tulip fields, showing off for the tourists, but they are soon gone, travelling back to Wrangell Island in Alaska. Next winter, they’ll be back, gracing our skies and fields once more.

…and people wonder why I live out here.

Is it Organic?

I have a strange, yet severe, reaction to milk. It’s not just any milk, however, only milk produced conventionally in the United States. When I went to Australia in 2008, I ate a lot of yogurt in the mornings as that is the common type of protein they have there. No problems! I can have double cream in my coffee in London (yum!) with no affect whatsoever. Milk in the United States is a completely different experience. If I add the smallest pat of butter to a whole pot of rice and eat a few spoonfuls of it, the muscles in my hands and feet start to ossify. They turn to stone and all the tissues around them swell. It is incredibly painful and quite disabling.

After I returned from Australia, I decided to try adding yogurt to my diet here in the states, to disastrous effect. I became disabled and could not work for 6 weeks. It took my doctors and I months to figure out that milk was causing the problem. Once I removed all dairy from my diet, the swelling and pain slowly went away, leaving, unfortunately, scar tissue in the muscles.

Since that time, I’ve been trying to determine what in the milk could be causing this. I started by testing a bite of conventional cheese and noting my reaction to it over the next two weeks. (Yikes! That was all I could say.) Next, I added a raw-milk cheese to one serving of dinner and had no reaction over the next two weeks. I added an organic cheese and again nothing happened. I then repeated the organic cheese and I had a huge reaction. (What the heck?) It didn’t make any sense. Why would I react differently to the same organic cheese?

Then I read this article:

According to a USDA study, organic milk can, at times, be contaminated by conventionally produced milk in transportation or processing. They are recommending better controls and more stringent inspections to assure consumers that organic really means organic. For some of us, this can’t come soon enough. One way to circumvent cross-contamination is to find an organic dairy that pasturizes their milk on the farm and sells to consumers directly.

In the meantime, I can use some raw and my organic coconut milk to ensure that I don’t get anything that can cause these problems to recur.