Drove home from Hogle’s pond with the first load bundled on the roof of my car. What a hoot. When I got to the stop sign at the bottom of the hill I heard a strange keening warble coming from outside the car. Upon scanning my immediate environment, I discovered 3 young children in the front yard of the home to my left, a girl, 8-ish, and 2 boys, maybe 5 y/o. One of the boys way pointing and laughing at the top of his lungs. Great peals of laughter that came across as shrieking for just a moment. A sight to behold was I. And so I was. This load took about 2 hours to cut working alone in a far less than optimal stand of Phragmites. None of the bundles, and I think there were 7 or 8, had been cleaned so another 2 hours was spent rebundling them and filling the air with Phrag seeds. From what I’ve heard, the seeds are terrible when it comes to germination. They mostly spread by rhizome. But to say they are terrible includes space for them to be at least successful enough to spread around the entire planet in nearly every ecosystem that includes at least some liquid fresh water. Which means that they will be fighting it out with the mugwort growing around the greenhouse in 50 or 100 years or at least until the canopy covered the entire area and shades them out. That is only if no one is here to cut any of them back. I won’t be here by then, so it’s someone else’s problem. As much as I love bamboo, that is one plant I’m simply unwilling to bring anywhere near here. It would stomp through our wetland and own it inside of 2 weeks. And likely be at the shores of Lake Erie before years end.
Last night I took my re-bundled phrag and attached some of them to the inside wall of the coop and let me tell you, it looks real good. This will work. The bundles are attached at 4 points. It looks like I imagined it would and I think it will work quite well. With all those hollow tubes and the air spaces around them trapped between 2 hard/dense but breathable layers, heat should move only very slowly thru it.
In the processes described here, I discovered about 85 ways I could save myself time, effort, and exposure. There is a reason that in every picture I’ve seen of “hand cutting thatch”, the people are pictured processing the reeds WHERE THEY ARE CUT. Not in their driveways in front of their houses. Let the waste say in the field. The fields of Phrag are all very tidy and even and there seems to be nothing but fresh reeds standing. Not 2″ of dead reeds laid semi-horizontal among the base of the live reeds. And ONLY fresh reeds. No dead from last year or 2 years ago. I’m working from sub-optimal conditions here. Conditions that will improve over the years though as I return to the same fields and harvest the reeds repeatedly. Even a single good mowing would take care of things. Only problem with that is that the reeds are standing in 6-8″ of water. I’ve never seen a farmer around here with a tractor capable of cutting Phrag and chopping it up, that also floats. Brush-hogs generally follow the tractor. Only Public works and Dept of Transportation have the side mount and arm mounted mower decks. Dave didn’t mow down the old frag because he didn’t want to burry his non floating tractor to the axles to cut a useless (to him) grass that is growing in a place where nothing else would grow. He laughs at me when I tell him we would all should use Phrag for insulation and roofing. “They said that switch grass was the bee’s knees, too. Gunna make ENERGY from it. Ethanol. Huh. Paper plates maybe.” That stuff is everywhere around here.
In my world view, only me, Charles, not anyone else affiliated with me, feel, that things that are designed to save time or make things easier or more productive and efficient, often involve some form of loss of autonomy. Convenience is death in other words. Cutting and bundling the Phrag by hand, and using it instead of a $4.00 bale of straw isn’t really efficient. But it keeps me outside and moving. If I had a good job with a decent wage, I could make enough to insulate every building on these 2 properties inside and out with not a lot of effort if I were so inclined. Most likely I would be inside all day and no where near the farm. Exactly when I would be able to do such a task is hard to say. Grabbed moments and weekends most likely. Or I can do like I am and find a way to do it for next to nothing. Takes longer. I might get leaches on my ankles if I don’t wear boots, but I’m there doing it and it really feels good opening jars and bottles and being able to best the tightest of them. (Mostly that comes from milking every morning)
Another things Dave laughs about is how “kids these days” are going back to the way his great grandparents used to do thing, simply because no one can afford to get started with all the crazy expensive machines needed to do anything on a scale that is any sort of “efficient.” A dairy is only a hobby until it passes the 500 cow mark. Most contemporary diaries in this area would be cost prohibitive to build new. Like any long standing business, they are built upon the bones of their ancestors. As often as not, the tales of parent handing off the farm to their kids is not happening. A lot of “parents” (eg. property owners), in this area anyway, have been clutching on to their property with Scrouge’s grip. They seem to think that the land has a greater value as an idea, “MY LAND,” than it actually has. To my mind, land really only has the value someone is willing to put into it. Above and beyond the value of it’s actual existence as land as apposed to ocean which is only fine if you are a fish.
What does any of this have to do with the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair and the birdsong in my ear? Not even a little bit.
It’s a beautiful day. We are alive. You and I. Make it count.