Jackson, Catching up on the farm during a long Internet disconnect (2 of 3)

Shaolin Temple approved
Inspection of a cleared fence line. See how, to the left of the photo, I have thrown down palm fronds and other dead vegetation around the chaya bushes and decorative palms to decay into compost? Part of the day’s machete work was to deposit the choppings along that part of the front fence to the right of the gate, and sowing seeds in the resulting brush pile.

After a peasant day

by Eric Jackson

Usually at this hour I would be issuing a black on yellow warning strip, recounting the day’s COVID-19 death toll (if any) and in one way or another reminding people that this epidemic is not yet over. I have been doing this since March of 2020. At first it was white on black, to advise of a deadly peril. As the big lockdown was ending, I changed it to the yellow caution light.

On this night it isn’t happening because both laptops are down and I can’t see the news. I went into Anton briefly and could have bought a hard copy of one of the morning papers but a bread ration for myself and the animals took priority. It’s the first day since a brief interlude after last June’s home invasion that I have not seen the news.

I spent part of the day, in brief sessions, working to get back online. The longest was trying to log on using the Anton bus piquera’s free WiFi, which wasn’t connecting to the Internet. Best I can tell, the old Lenovo needs a new video board and perhaps the HP just needs adjustments. Perhaps it’s worse on either or both counts.

Most of the day, however, was spent in farmer mode. A lot of machete chops, not all at once. Like taking down a blighted coffee bush that had been growing in a big plastic pot. Like chopping away an ornamental palm clump both to adjust the shade and sun mix and to deny an assist to those who would want to scale my front fence. Cutting away a tropical evergreen and a variety of sunflower bush, to keep them from crowding out a couple of adjacent chaya bushes just in side the side fence. Carrying all of this cut vegetation out front of the fence, to lay down the beginnings of some new compost. Cutting down some saril and distributing the seed pods among the long brush pile I was creating.

The some lifting and dragging. The pot that had the coffee plant, to a sunnier spot where I think I will plant the long green beans – but from last year’s produce, with no telling just how and with what it has hybridized. Pulling up ferns that had rooted outside the pot and throwing them on the new compost. Pulling out new aloe vera plants that had spread from the little pot, and moving that pot onto the porch. Moving the trimmed back fern pot onto the porch. Weeding and relocating more pots in which I had grown beans this year, with thoughts of growing turmeric and ginger in them this coming agricultural season.

Water carrying as usual – gotta bathe, gotta do laundry and dishes — and the watering that will need to be a daily dry season chore. The irrigation calculus is a balance of water supplies that are going to run down as the season advances and the food I want to grow for myself in these months. Drought resistant stuff, for sure – the chaya will not need to be watered, the oregano, basil, turmeric and ginger will need a little bit and the bigger questions are how much in the way of beans, spinach and peppers will my water economy will be able to afford. Let’s see what bananas and star apples will be forthcoming from the unwatered back yard this dry season.

And let’s see how long this interruption in production of The Panama News lasts.

A day’s peasant progress in any case, and is my old body sore! The hips, the lower back, the knees and the arms ache. The blisters on my right hand are tiny, but reminders of certain limits. I wouldn’t have any had I worn my gloves, but my right arm and shoulder would still ache. Give me a few days before more machete work and those tender spots will have hardened into calluses and the muscle aches will have subsided.

This old hippie is conking out. Let’s hope for more progress tomorrow.

The four siblings inspect this dude with a camera. Or at least two of them do.



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night oil