Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the grass is always greener...

I’ve heard people say, “the good is the enemy of the best” as an encouragement not to compromise standards for the sake of what is easy or convenient. While this may be helpful in making big life choices, I’m finding the opposite to be true in the more mundane decisions. Sometimes the idea of perfection can be the enemy of the good. Our inability to get things just right in our lifestyle choices can prevent us from the “good” of the slow turning towards something more whole.

So lest you think we are living in a perfect carbon-neutral-free-range-fair-trade-dolphin-safe bubble...the dubious beginnings of our backyard garden:

Lawns are bad. They suck up a lot of water and take up space that could be used more productively for oh, say, growing plants or something. The Farmhouse backyard has one such lawn behind it, and we decided to turn it into a great space for doing backyard gardening workshops and experimenting with different seed varieties for Farmhouse consumption.

There is only one problem. The lawn. It is kikuya grass, which is particularly difficult to get rid of. Suggestions for removing it included taking out several inches of the backyard with a Bobcat, or covering the lawn with a layer of cardboard followed by a layer of compost and continuing to fight against the pernicious grass for years.

In the end, we chose Roundup. Yes, Roundup, made by Monsanto (the Big Bad Wolf of all things agricultural, or at least one of them). We did our homework and learned that Roundup only affects things with chlorophyll in them and becomes inert when it hits any non-chlorophyll substance. So it won’t be seeping into the groundwater or poisoning Oliver or the chickens. But still – there’s nothing organic about Roundup.

And we’re finding there’s nothing simple about trying to live in a way that is conscious of the wellbeing of the earth and other people. There are trade-offs on our grocery list – paying twice as much for organic milk isn’t worth it, but maybe a few extra dollars for a bag of local onions rather than a sack shipped from Peru, is. We got nine chicks to lay eggs and eat food scraps and bugs in the back yard, but having a 90% guarantee that they are hens meant that their brothers were likely ground up alive. The salads we eat for lunch have almost no carbon footprint, but two of us are flying to Chicago tomorrow to spend a long weekend with friends.

I share these things both for the sake of transparency and as an encouragement. Even living on a farm with like-minded people and the support of a close community committed to living simply and sustainably we don’t get it all perfect. Not even close. We’re making tough calls, but there is a sense of excitement and hope as well, because we are committed to the slow turning towards something more whole.

1 comment:

  1. Miss you Sarah - it's always a joy to get your perspective on life!
    Hannah J.