An Impressive Smattering of Shit


I stared into the center of the vortex; perplexed and transfixed by the impressive choreography of fluid in motion, searching for the answer to a question yet unformulated. Lingering there for a moment more, I plunged my three elderberry stir sticks into the water once again. I stirred aggressively in direct contradiction to the motion of the vortex; shattering the choreography to a fragmented collection of reflection and bubbles, eventually working into a coordinated counterclockwise vortex. I gazed again into the center and lingered, before breaking the chain of thought and water once more, clockwise. Again, I stared and sought. Having repeated this procedure no less than 25 times by this point, I resigned myself to the possibility that the birth of my daughter has made me slightly oversentimental; slightly overphilosophical.

It was, after all, just nine gallons of poop water in a trash can. I drew regretfully away from my transfixation and took a deep breath, enjoying the sunshine and breeze of the beautiful Sunday morning. Under the trailer, Lotus the Dog did Lotus the Dog things, and on the hill, Polly Dalton did Polly Dalton things – chewing on a stick and beasting on a broadfork, respectively. It was a perfect day.


Eventually, Polly finished her bed and took over her shift on the stir stick, and I the fork. We were preparing a biodynamic soil mixture to spray over our fields and inoculate our environment with microorganisms, to add to the symbiotic ecology of our soil. As I forked, I thought about all of the symbiotic systems working on our land and in ourselves; reflected upon the addition of life to the system, from the microbiological to the macro-level, and our daughter Ella meeting the rest of the crew for the first time on Saturday morning. I thought about Logan fixing fence on the back paddocks for our eventual piglets, and all of the life they would add to our land. I thought about my own body, still powered on food we grew last year, pumping energy into the land for next year’s food. It was a perfectly sentimental, warm and fuzzy farming experience.

As I progressed through my plot, Polly finished mixing our biodynamic soil prep, and began spraying. Tank and spray nozzle in-hand, she looked pretty badass as she marched up and down the beds. After finishing about half of the plots, however, she became so frustrated with the sprayer that she switched over to a small bucket; simply splashing out the liquid with her hands and she strode through the upper field. Determined as usual, she did not stop, and though the process looked a little ridiculous, I had to admit: it was an impressive smattering of shit.



Asher and I stepped out of my car into the drizzly, cold Monday morning gray. He systematically started gathering tools into a wheelbarrow, as I marched aimlessly back and forth outside; hands freezing.

Fuck this.

After a couple more pacing half-trips between the vans and the granary, I decided we needed to change our plans.

“Dude, I’m not going to build sidewalls in this weather. The tools will get all wet, and my hands are already freezing. Wanna unload the vans and grab more stuff from Oak instead?”

“Sure,” agreed the generally agreeable Asher. With that, we unloaded the rest of the stuff from the Shadow, and hit the road for the old Field Notes Farm, where we’re gathering the last remnants of infrastructure from the 4 years past. Outside once more, I marched up and down the hill with loads of scrap metal, boards, and various plastics. Accompanied by an endless mental string of expletives, I finally resigned myself to the possibility that the nights of baby-interrupted sleep were finally catching up to me. I approached another pile of pointlessness. Goddammit, what the hell is all this shit?”


Down the hill we progressed, from pile of garbage to pile of garbage. Every 20 feet, it seemed, was another tangled mess of metal, wood and plastic tucked away just out of site. Cold, muddy and cranky, I’d work with Asher to pull it out, untangle, roll up the stinky, soaked plastic and lug the awkward, bent metal poles up the hill towards the Shadow. Hanging annoyingly off of every single piece, it seemed, was a bit of wiggle wire – eager to catch on whatever was catchable, and generally inconvenience any load, great or small.

Many trips later, we had some semblance of a load in the Shadow, and sizable junk pile besidesOne more trip down the hill revealed another pile of inconvenience, graced, of course, with wiggle wire. How it got there, I had no idea, but we sorted through, rolled up the plastic, and lugged the hardware up the hill. We stuffed a couple more nasty plastics into the back of the van, and I began closing the back doors. Asher interrupted me with a sly smile, holding out a tangled roll of wiggle wire. “Should we throw these in too? Gotta have a little wiggle wire…” I sighed; we stuffed it in and slammed the doors once and for all. With that, I turned and gazed down the hill, taking in the befuddled scene. Partially rolled up plastics were strewn about everywhere; interspersed with bricks, boards, busted poles and tangles of leftover irrigation. Irritated and overtired though I was, I simply had to admit: it was an impressive smattering of shit.