We can all use a little wiggle room. Joel Salatin has preached about the need for resiliency in our lives and operations for many years. Resiliency, wiggle room, same stuff. Society’s move from a biological world to a more industrial world has made us as a whole, pretty agriculturally and nature illiterate. It can come as a shock to many new to gardening and farming that we are just wee part of the big picture. There is a whole lot of life going on around us, and due to our convenient world we don’t really have to see too much of the ugly. No wormy apples, no gnaw marks on the winter squash or carrots, perfect fence lines, no weeds, no bad weather.
We are a pretty self-absorbed lot, us humans. Pretty much I feel like an interloper in the big scheme. If you look at the larger picture of our farm as an organism, I am the one who exerts my strength over the landscape by planting a garden, building fencing and buildings, harvesting water, and taking from the forest. Maybe the vole could write this post from a different perspective. “Wow, these carrots are sure good, they give me more strength to run for cover when the hawk spies me and tries to get me in one fell swoop.”
Wiggle room can mean many things, instead of having the neat and tidy park like setting, leaving a dead tree for a vantage point may pay innumerable dividends. If I leave the dead tree, the hawk has a vantage point for hunting the vole that eats the carrot. I also get to see the hawk everyday… . If I plan for abundance and plant enough carrots, there are enough for me, and the vole. That’s wiggle room. Counting my eggs before they are hatched as far as the carrots go would be foolish. We plant our main crop carrots thick, and then we thin. Pelleted Napoli carrots are the bane of my existence sometimes. Expensive seed, so I painstakingly plant each seed, and then await the first hair like leaves and then worry and fret over each one until they finally attain enough size to fend for themselves. Poor old Chantenay gets no such treatment from me, the chosen sturdy workhorse of a carrot, Red Core is shown no quarter. Survive all that is thrown at you over the long season and then we will eat you. I’m sure the carrot doesn’t care who is dining, the voles, dogs, Jane or us. Carrot wiggle room in my garden is plant a few specialties, and lots of mainstays, and hopefully there will be enough to weather all the storms and feed us through the winter.
It’s the same with other food in the garden too, our cabbage from the garden is just about finished. We are still eating lots of Rotkohl (braised red cabbage) since the Ruby Ball cabbage is holding very well, but the end is near. We are entering the hungry months where a variety of methods of growing, preserving and eating come in real handy. Sauerkraut is a staple in the winter months along with the fresh cabbage or kales we can glean from the garden. Wiggle room comes in the form of eating what we can from the plants in the garden and saving foodstuffs from the preserving season for the hungry months.
We laid in quite a bit kale and chard in the freezer during the summer and then harvested fresh from late plantings until we were left with the palm tree like stalks of kale. Now with the days getting a little longer the kale is commencing to grow at the leaf axils, providing a second crop from the same plants. It always pays to plant extra, harvest extra and hope to have some leftover. Wiggle room.