Monday, July 16, 2012

A Red Rockin' Good Time!

photo: Kevin Molyneaux  RRnRD's blockers-Mosie O'Pummel and Magic Pony keeping the Riptide jammer at bay.

Sometimes I say that this entry has little to do with farming and then it ends up coming back to the farm in the end, but this time, I really mean it.  This entry has NOTHING to do with farming, family or even politics.  This is still a farm blog and I promise not to veer often, but I feel so strongly about this that I can't just leave it all in my head. That said, much of it will likely not make sense to many outside of the league.

I have never been a team player.  I always hated 'group projects' and I don't share well.  I like being in control of things and I fancy myself more of a leader than a follower.  The only team sport I ever played was rugby, and my teammates could attest that I was really in it for the social aspect, rather than the teamwork and sport of it. 
I am a changed woman.

This past weekend I left Freetown with a van load of ladies headed to Moncton for a two day roller derby training camp and tournament called the Muddy River Jamboree, organized by Moncton's league, the Muddy River Rollers.  Admittedly I was pretty anxious going in.  I was firstly feeling a lot of self-induced guilt about being away for two nights, from the farm and from the fam. and I was worried that I would be derbied-out before it was over. 
While I WAS glad to see that big bridge on Sunday night, I had such an amazing experience that I am still overwhelmed with how much more I love this sport.

One of my favorite moments of the whole weekend was actually completely unexpected, when I was putting in my time as an NSO (non-skating official) (players were required to be NSO's for other teams' games, since many are needed to run a bout).  I was standing there, clipboard in hand in the centre of the track, keeping a record of penalties (who got 'em, minor/major, what for, which jam, etc.) and it was the first time that I got to appreciate the game from an 'observer-only' perspective. I didn't have time to watch the game and evaluate the play/players and consider strategy, etc. and my focus was on the referees and other NSO's.  It occured to me just how collaborative a sport this truly is.  The refs were skating around, doing their absolute best to keep the game fair and safe and communicated so effectively and respectively to everyone involved.  The NSO's were focused and serious, doing their very best to do their task as well as they possibly could.  There were moments of confusion and questions, but in the end, everyone worked it out together and a resolution was reached through communication and thoughtful sharing of information. 

I am not a touchy feel person and I often get frustrated when time is eaten up discussing HOW we're going to discuss something.  I often roll my eyes at how serious a group of adults can get when it comes down to the details of something.  But it seems the word 'collaborative' is often applied to roller derby and I have to say that this weekend, that word really rang true for me.
It is a group of women who put aside all of their alpha-tendancies and embrace their own abilities to be a rough and tumble female as part of a larger group of the same.  Whether it is within sight of your everyday self, or whether your alter ego is truly very alter to who you usually are, roller derby is a venue of creative, active collaboration and positive-energy-for-a-single-purpose personified.  It is a labour of love for everyone involved.  Truly.  I am so influenced by things that were said and done this weekend that there is a chunk of my heart, wrapped up in sparkly tights, smelling to high heaven, sitting in my derby bag, revelling in the high of being a part of it all and it will be there LONG after the helmet stickers wear off and the skates are hung up.

On a more personal note, I re-injured my shoulder in our first game, but our team won the other three games and I have some serious notes of admiration for my teammates.  I honestly feel strongly that every single one of them brought their VERY top game to the track and played their absolute best. I feel especially strongly about Annie Biotix, who I think finally has the confidence that she deserved to have all along.  It was as if she burst out of a firework and saw herself for just how awesome she truly is and met that potential head-on.  DiSciple always brings her A-game and is one of the strongest (yes, I'm using that language) players we have, but needs to start feeding her puppy better so that she can see herself as amazing as the rest of us see her.  It was especially pleasing to me to have Elle Liberator running lines on the bench, being that calming, levelled energy in the frenzied moments of a game.  An eye for keeping it fair and balanced, but also effective is a talent not many are blessed with. Viv the Shiv knows her stuff and it is no surprise to me that she saw that in TARDIS Queen as well.  I could watch Bonnie N' Collide block jammers forever.  She's a killer jammer, but there is something about the focus and determination of her blocking that really catches my admiration.  The Most Unexpected Effer Award goes to Hell'N' Hurtley who is the most consistent tiny tank on the track.   CommandOH earned the respect of the top coaches in North America and every bit of that is hard-earned and well deserved.   My personal MVP award went to Mosie O'Pummel who completely blew my mind EVERY game with her unfailing ability to hold a jammer back, lead a strong-willed line and keep an eye on the entire track and penalty box.  She is my aspiration and a true derby mentor. (It didn't hurt that she scored her sister wives the executive suite to boot....:) I had a brief, tearful moment of self-pity in the middle of the last game, when I realized that I had only played the one game and desperately wanted on the track to play, so my last acknowledgement goes to Foxxy Velocity who is one of the most competitive people I know and who, despite having injured herself in training and was forced to sit out of the games, remained that unwavering pillar of support and positive energy in every game.  She had a hug and well-wish for every single player, every game, and never once brought her dissapointment or frustration to the team.  Here's to healing vibes and amazing physio skills.

The love-in is nearly over, but I had to share my appreciation for a sport that incorporates every body shape, athletic ability, attitude and brings together women from EVERY background, who would never have otherwise met, let alone, shared food, or a bed or deodorant or tears or laughter.  Here's to a sport of social, emotional and physical collaboration.

Thanks to my family for being so encouraging of my derby obsession and for being so willing to let Vandana Shove'her spirit Sally away to the magic world of oval tracks and booty shorts.  And thanks to Red Rock N Roller Derby for making this lowly farm girl feel welcome enough to lace up to start with.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Wet Hen!

Since moving to PEI, from the backwoods of NB, I have developed a theory about lawn care.  It seems to me that there is some genetic, historical tie to the land and when men (yes, I'm being gender-specific with this one) have moved generations away from agriculture, their silent DNA still tells them to take care of land and produce something.  So they throw themselves wholeheartedly into the only land they have; their massive lawn.  Now that I've come up with this theory I have noticed little things that confirm it for me; like how 97% of the time, PEI men mow their lawns with their shirts off, no matter what the weather-it's like they're channelling their inner caveman, strutting their (out of shape) manly-ness through their perfect lawns.  Barf.
Family who come to PEI always comment on how tidy everyone's property is. The roads are tidy, the ditches are mowed (by the people who live near them!), lawns are immaculate and many people have a critical eye for those infrequent unkempt properties.  It's true. Compared to the 'wildwood' of West Branch, and most parts of NB, this province is a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to lawn care. 
So back to my theory- the desire to cultivate something from the soil and end up devoting too much time and money to a frigging lawn.  I am going to get some backs up with this one, but I'm officially cranky after this morning when, on my way to town with the kids, I drove by a farm house and got a big cloud of very very smelly pesticide in my window since the owner was out front with what seemed like a malfunctioning lawn sprayer, spraying what looked to me like an already over-manicured lawn. 
Seriously, most agricultural chemicals are a mystery to me that I am too ignorant to comment on, but cosmetic pesticides are just STUPID.  Plain and simple.  Stupid.
Did I mention it was raining while he was spraying, and they're calling for a thunder shower later today?  Did I mention that there was a massive fish kill in a PEI river this week?  Did I mention that COSMETIC PESTICIDES ARE STUPID!!

I married into a family who cares very much for their property and takes great strides to keep it looking its best at all times and I've really developed a sincere admiration for that.  That is not to say that where I grew up was all wild and crazy, but those who have been to both places might note some general differences.  My admiration doesn't mean that it's been contagious.  I much prefer the more unkept look of what nature would do if left to her own devices.  I actually got annoyed at Mark last night who cut all that tall sweet clover that grows on the side of the roads time of year with his bush cutter on his way home from the field, because I love the smell of it when I go for a run and I like how it closes in the back roads.  He just shakes his head at me.

So the point of this rant is that I'm annoyed at the stupidity of people who put themselves, their neighbours and the ecosystem at risk by spraying poisons, and unnecessary fertilizers (which contribute to the nitrates in my water!) for a %$^&***#$&^% LAWN!  Get over yourself and if you're just bored, I'm sure they could use your help picking up dead fish from the banks of the Trout River.



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teeter Totter Day

I first called this entry RollerCoaster Day, but that's far too dramatic for the kind of day it was.  It was actually more up than down, but to make it fun, I am going to write this entry in the form of a game I learned a couple years ago called "Fortunately/Unfortunately".  Usually played by a group of people taking turns creating a fictional and ridiculous storyline, this version is less dramatic and more truthful.
Fortunately our summer student, Dylan, started work today.  He is a good kid with just the right balance of cautious and curious.  He and Wendell will be a great duo.
Unfortunately Mark's Mom is still not feeling her best after a small health scare with her heart that does not seem to be improving with time and rest.
Fortunately, the hay we cut yesterday is drying wonderfully and we didn't get the thunderstorms called for last night/this morning.
Unfortunately, it is very very dry again and we need some rain.
Fortunately it is calling for rain this week and hopefully we will have the hay up tomorrow so 'let 'er come!' as they say.
Unfortunately the hay crop is very thin and we will have to make second cut at some point, or source it elsewhere.  We will know better after tomorrow.
Fortunately, our chickens are doing well and the first batch is ready for market.  The fox lights that we invested in seem to doing the trick.  Knock on wood as you read that. 
Unfortunately we do not have a secure time/date booked with the abbattoir for the next week or so.
Fortunately we won't need to worry about booking times and dates much longer as we are planning an on-farm chicken processing line very soon!!!
Unfortunately the health dept. keeps trying to send the provincial 'guidelines' to our house phone rather than the fax line, so we have yet to read those.
Fortunately they're only 'guidelines'! hahahah!  just joking. (kind of). :)
Unfortunately, Mark is still waiting on his new cultivator.  It is coming from Holland and was apparently in Montreal last Monday, but is yet to arrive. It is already about three months late and Mark has had to cultivate (and is currently, as I write this cultivating) the beans with the old one, in which he must go 2 mph in a tractor whose air conditioning went last week. 
Fortunately, the beans are looking great and we're already one cultivation ahead of where we were last year!
Unfortunately, our barley crop is a sad story.  One of Mark's tasks this morning was to call the Crop Insurance agent and have a look at our barley fields which are a very pretty, but nauseating shade of yellow, from a sea of mustard plants. 
Fortunately, we've never had a mustard problem before.
Unfortunately, the manure that we were so excited to be sourcing from the hog farmer was FULL of mustard.  Apparently, our dream of coming full circle and getting the manure from the animals who ate our feed and bedded on our straw was about a year out of balance and we received bed pack from a mustard-heavy crop of straw. 
Fortunately, the crop insurance guy was accommodating and was able to figure out some compensation if we destroy it now.
Unfortunately, it was certified seed and not just common stuff, so is a bit of a hit to the books, but
fortunately we will be taking care of the mustard now and not fighting it for years to come.
Unfortunately, it means losing the barley and more importantly, the field peas.
Fortunately, it means planting buckwheat and having buckwheat seed for future green manure crops since our fertility sources are a bit in flux at this point.
Unfortunately, the wonderful organic manure was not exactly the dream we thought it was.
Fortunately, the crop insurance guy was very complimentary about our other fields and commended Mark on his management skills.
Unfortunately I am daily bothered by our federal government and the absolutely insane things they do, including but not limited to always putting supply management on the negotiating table and slowly killing the environment in favour of dirty oil.
Fortunately, silly Bev Oda stepped down today which is just one less Harper minion in the House.  yay!

So it was a bit of an up and downer, but overall, not terrible.  Could have been worse for sure.  Duncan seems to be recovered and will be hitting the pasture this week.  That means I have to separate the lambs left and two old ladies I do not want to get bred as we will be shipping/killing them soon.  I have worked out the details of that yet, but hopefully Duncan will get busy right away and it won't have to be for long.  After his scare last week, I'm sure he's eager to put some mileage under his belt before something else happens. 

The kids have been exhausted since last week and only today did we manage to get a nap in.  By the sounds of it though, the nap may have ruined bedtime, so I'd best to wrangle 'em.

Hope this finds you enjoying summer however you like best.