I am one of those few people who had never purchased a lottery ticket. That is until recently so I would have an actual ticket to photograph and use with this article. I have no hope of winning anything but at least now I can say I’ve purchased a lottery ticket. Like most people I sometimes dream of having an abundance of money and what I would do with it. While dreaming is fun actually I am already happy and cherish what I have and my lifestyle. A large chunk of money would not tempt me to change anything as I feel I am already rich in those things I experience every day. Sometimes riches come in forms that do not have dollar signs attached to them. Before readers think that I am crazy, let me explain.
Living on a mountain where the air is clean, the water is pure and the sights are spectacular we are already surrounded by riches. We are visited frequently by assorted species of wildlife from the predator size to the small type that scamper around. Our well water is abundant and delicious. We don’t filter or treat our water since it comes from a depth of 215’ below the surface of the ground and has already gone through a natural filtration system. It has no impurities in it and tastes like pure water should. Our well driller, a geologist, informed us he could have provided us water at 145 feet but instead went deeper to tap into an aquifer that runs the length of our mountain where truly pure water comes from. We are extremely glad he made the extra effort to seek the best water for us. Having lived in places in the past where our water was cloudy, had a smell, or sometimes had sediment in it we really appreciate crystal clear non odoriferous water directly from the depths of the earth.
We have clean air to breathe which seems to be getting more and more rare now days. At 9,750 feet elevation we enjoy fresh air all the time. When we go outside and take a deep breath we are not inhaling vehicle exhaust, factory smells, street smells or the other various smells usually associated with city living. Having grown up a few blocks from a drop forge I am well acquainted with the noise and smells associated with industrial endeavors. Having previously lived in other cities across the country I vividly recall the smells and noises that I once wrongfully assumed were normal. It took significant adjustment when we moved to the mountains because when the birds stop singing and go to roost at night it is SILENT. I certainly don’t want to offend those who live in cities either by choice or by chance but there is a certain pureness to living in the mountains that can’t quite be equaled. Of course living in the mountains means we lack the amenities found in a city however we are willing to for go those for quiet peaceful living. It has been our observation that people like to visit the mountains on weekends for the freshness of the air and the primitive desire to get back to nature. Here in Colorado we have plenty of National and State parks that facilitate frequent visits and rejuvenate yourself.
Unfortunately we have found that mountain living can’t last forever due to aging and the strenuous lifestyle required living full time in a semi remote area. Living as we do is clearly not an easy lifestyle. Cutting, splitting 9-11 cords of firewood a year, shoveling snow throughout the winter, always walking on an incline, heating with a wood stove and a host of other tasks that keep us healthy and fit also ultimately take a toll on feet, knees and hips. We are therefore presently going through the 10 step process to sell our homestead and move to a less demanding area. When we built our home and moved here we failed to take into account the aging process and joints slowly wearing out. We are presently cleaning out ‘stuff’ that we have accumulated in the last 16 years to throw away or give away. We believe that it is time for someone else to enjoy our paradise and we will take fond and happy memories with us where ever we go as we seek to establish a new homestead.
So would winning the lottery and having an abundance of money make us more happy? I actually don’t think so. Instead I believe that would require that we change our lifestyle and give us an additional burden of using it wisely. So like millions of other American’s we can derive some happiness from dreaming of riches but still knowing all the while we have an excellent lifestyle and wealth beyond measure. Happiness can’t always be measured with financial wealth. Those who live similar to our lifestyle know exactly what I am talking about. So I may buy a lottery ticket again just to dream of riches but knowing all the time that I have true wealth that can‘t be measured in dollars. I have to admit that dreaming of mega bucks is a lot of fun though and I’m sure most non winners like myself would agree.
It was me versus the greasy white lump at the bottom of the jar, and the greasy white lump was winning. Armed with only a spoon, I hacked away at the coconut oil, carving shreds off of its stubborn surface. If an intruder had broken into the house at that moment and grabbed me, I would have slid out of their grip like an eel.
Despite that, making your own skincare products has its perks, like comfort in your self-sufficiency, the knowledge that no evil things like sulfates or dimethicone have sneaked into the things you’re putting on your face, and the freedom to customize.
Grandmothers, read no further: Like I wrote about a few months ago, I’m making skincare products for my grandmothers — this time for Mother’s Day. Instead of hard lotion bars, I made “Key Lime” body cream, although this was a less original idea: I didn’t make up the recipe as I went along, but took it from elsewhere, the only difference being that I quadrupled the recipe.
Into our mixer went not only two whopping cups of hard-won coconut oil, but olive oil, aloe vera gel (which was extremely hard to find), and lemon and lime essential oils. Then I attached the wire whisk and set the mixer on its highest setting.
I took a moment to clean the kitchen, and when I returned to check on my concoction, it already looked different. Instead of being disparate lumps of this and that, it resembled whipped cream (the edible kind), with a slight greenish tinge. Fascinated, I pressed my face up close to the mixer, watching as the whisk beat air outward like a fan. When I had added the essential oils they had smelled like — well — lemon and lime essential oil, but they blended into a mild, pleasing scent that did remind me of Key lime pie.
According to the recipe, I was supposed to whip my body cream for three to seven minutes. I found about five to be enough. When the cream was suitably fluffy, I then had the challenge of manhandling it into the glass jars we had bought for the occasion. This proved somewhat catastrophic — I was greased almost up to my elbows — but it was worth it to know that I had made the contents of the six slippery glass jars sitting on the counter.
Now I am the proud creator of six glass jars of fluffy Key Lime body cream, five of which shall be given away around Mother’s Day. If you’d like to give body cream to your loved ones for a holiday, here is the recipe.
Key Lime Pie Body Cream
Please note: my mother stored this recipe away on her computer but does not remember where she originally got it from. We don’t know where she got it from, but please understand that we don’t own this recipe. Makes about 1 cup of cream.
1 cup coconut oil
1 T olive oil
2 T aloe vera gel
20 drops lime essential oil
20 drops lemon essential oil
Place all ingredients in a mixer, using a wire attachment. Don’t melt the coconut oil or it won’t whip properly. Any other kitchen tool, such as a blender, will not whip the mixture.
Turn the mixer on its highest setting for 3-7 minutes. When the cream is fluffy enough, store it in glass jars.
The term, egg miles, is simply how far an egg has to travel from a laying hen to your table. Another way of expressing egg miles is from “point of lay” to “point of consumption”.
Knowing how far your eggs travel is a useful and environmentally meaningful indicator. You could think of this distance as indicitative of an egg’s carbon footprint. Egg miles help you estimate the associated energy requirements needed for production, packaging, refrigeration and transport of the eggs you eat. The attached diagram helps visualize egg miles in various egg sheds systems.
Egg miles are easy to calculate.
• Family flocks are the easiest egg miles to calculate. Just measure the distance from your coop —to your kitchen — usually in yards (excuse the pun).
• Local producers put their address, and phone number, are on a label attached to an egg carton (often recycled). Use your GPS or Google maps to estimate the distance from the producer’s address to your point of purchase, and then add on the distance from your purchase site to your home.
Click here to see an enlarged version of this chart.
• Commercial egg producers rarely print an address or phone number on their egg cartons. Commercial egg cartons usually have: ”Produced and distributed by XYZ Egg Farm(s)” with the city and state listed. Go on the Internet to find their street address. Calculate the distance from the egg farm to your point of purchase, and then to your home. This will give you a semi-accurate egg miles estimate.
• Factory egg farms are more challenging to estimate the egg miles. Their (always new) egg cartons list the location of the distribution/packing facility, not necessarily the producer. What will be listed are one, or more, packing license numbers, often for multiple states. For example, Simple Truth™ eggs are distributed by a major grocery chain and lists packers/distributors from Texas and Indiana.
To estimate the egg miles for factory farm eggs, get the packer/distributor’s phone number by contacting the state licensing board. Once you have this number, call the packer/distributor and give them the code printed on the carton end (usually aligned with the “best used by” date). The packer/distributor might tell you the location of where the hens laid the eggs. But chances are high they will tell you this is proprietary information — so the closest address you end up with is the packer/distributor, and not the point of lay.
Now do the math. Starting at the laying hen location, go to Google Maps, or your GPS and plug in the addresses and get the mileages from and to:
• The producers (point of lay) to the packers (point of carton),
• The packers to the distributors (point of filling cartons)
• The distributors to your grocery (point of purchase), and
• Your grocery (point of purchase) to your home (point of consumption).
That total mileage will give you the factory farm egg shed miles to your table.
Knowing the egg miles, and the source of the eggs you consume, gives you (and us as a culture) insights about the sources, distances, production models and energy requirements in bringing eggs to your table.
It’s possible to do a similar exercise for other food sheds, for example a pork shed or tomato shed. All food has carbon footprints. An Egg’s carbon footprint is especially useful to know because it contains some of the most highly nutritious, easily digestible forms of protein in the world. The less distance eggs travel in your egg shed, the lower is both your — and the egg’s — carbon footprint. Eggs, especially local ones, can be environmentally friendly protein.
Eggs and hope spring eternal!
May the flock be with you!
There are as many books about gardening as anyone could ever want, still I have yet to read one on how to deal with the homesteaders' weak nerves. There's no hiding it anymore – I'm a nervous-souled gardener. Some days I even find myself wishing, in secrecy, that the whole season would be over only so I'd know everything went all right. The spring is so full of promises – promises about sun ripe tomatoes, juicy strawberries, wonderful flower arrangements and sweet, sweet carrots. But so many obstacles lies between now and then – not until the harvest is secure in our cellar, in jars, boxes and on shelves will I know I outsmarted the slugs, kept ahead of the weeds and timed my actions with the sun, the rain and the frosts. If I take it too seriously? Oh, yes, but I believe I have reasons to. Our organic gardens grow our food for the whole year, saving us from having to earn the food money elsewhere. Our economy, and our life, is closely tided to a successful garden.
My lack of experience is definitely a key factor for my fretting. A while back I planted several beds of carrots and it took almost a month for them to sprout – meanwhile I went from hope to despair to hope. Could it really be that all the seeds were bad? The cold April? Was it too dry, had I planted the seeds to deep, fried them in my generous doling of compost? Anyone with more than 4 years of doing this would know to wait patiently and it would all be all right.
My high ambitions might be what keeps me going – I want every garden year to be the best, across the whole range of crops – but they certainly also keep me on my toes. Sometimes people say things like “Oh my God, look at your Brussels Sprouts!” and I'm thinking “of course they look like that since I spent a full day hauling manure and turn it in, another day spreading seaweed, several mornings of being up at 4:30 am picking slugs and at least three nights awake wondering when to cut the tops.”
There are so many decisions to make – when to start the tomato seeds, how many plants to grow, when to plant them outside and where to put them. And why do they have to wrinkled leaves, don't they seem a bit yellow, what if it rains the whole last part of May and did we really have a cold enough winter to kill off the bugs? The thoughts are rolling in my mind, over and over. In my mind I see my old neighbor at our summer house in Sweden, the only farmer left in the village. How he walked the fields just as like generations before him walked the fields, looking at the sky and the hay drying on the racks. Isn't that what they say; that for a farmer it's always too warm or too cold, too wet or too dry?
But maybe, at the end of the day, I am just a person with weak nerves doing something that depends on so many unknown factors – the weather, the bug population, the quality of seeds and some plain ol' luck. Perhaps I can settle one day; I'll have the experience, I can better balance my ambitions and I'll have grown stronger nerves. Perhaps I'll have to eat lfewer carrots that year but still might get as many beets. I know you can have a wonderful garden with half the ambitions, none of the worries and all of the sleep. I just need to learn how to cultivate that.
Anneli blogs for MOTHER EARTH NEWS about her insights and ideas from a handmade, DIY-everything homestead and hostel on Deer Isle, Maine.
Photo by Fotolia/Xalanx
It’s been a one-step forward, two-steps back, kind of week here on the farm. The electric poultry fence gave us fits for most of the week. Actually, it gave me fits; everyone else handled the shorts, shocks, and the process of working out the bugs just fine. So far, Will’s been shocked by the fence, our neighbor has been shocked by it, our dog Sirius has been shocked by it twice, and I’ve been shocked four times, though it was only the last one that was strong enough to make me yell out loud. But the fence works at last. Good, time to move on.
But not so fast. A hawk started hanging around within two days of our free-ranging the chickens in the pasture. I was looking out our second floor back window, wondering why all the chickens were in their tractors — save Little Red Hen, who is a bit of a loner anyway — when the phone rang. It was my neighbor, who was shocked by our shorted-out fence just the day before. “Do you see the hawk in the tree back there?” I couldn’t. “Walk back behind the fence where the chickens are, on the path. You’ll scare him away if you get close enough.”
I carried the phone with me as I walked. “He’s really beautiful,” my neighbor said, with admiration in his voice. Suddenly, big black wings appeared before me as the hawk took off from the top of a tree about 20 feet ahead. “That’s him!” my neighbor confirmed through the phone. The hawk flew a fair distance and settled in the branches of one of our towering Douglass Firs. It really was a magnificent bird.
Back at the chicken ranch, three hens braved the outdoors and were happily dust bathing in the dirt when I returned. These, too, are magnificent birds, so full of energy, spunk, and personality.
Sweet Pea, the Buff Orphington with very little neck, who has always been the hen to greet me, allow me to pet her, and makes a special “heeeellllllloooooo” sound in my presence, now attempts to follow my every step as I get fresh water and feed for the chickens. She wants to follow me right out of the fence and into the house, it seems, so she can be with her flock, the people.
There’s Little Roo, our rooster without tail feathers thanks to the larger rooster, Cecil. Both the same age, it’s a blessing that Little Roo is smaller, and thus less inclined to fight to the death for dominance in this small flock of fifteen chickens. He struts about, a truncated version of his former self, but is still very much alive and seemingly happy about it.
Then there’s Miss Peggie, the Light Brahma, who sports a black ring of plumage around her neck on an otherwise white body, with white feathers on her feet. She’s our fanciest chicken, named after my fancy friend, Miss Peggie, who was the Pecan Queen of Brenham, Texas, or “the Queen of the nuts,” as her father affectionately called her. Ironically enough, Miss Peggie the chicken may end up eating her fair share of acorns from our White Oaks (see my post on acorns), which would make her a "Queen of the nuts" in her own right.
I could go on, as could any small-scale chicken-keeper about her birds. But the point is this: no matter how magnificent the hawk, we had no choice but to commence with Operation Save Our Chickens.
The chickens did not like being on lock down one bit after the appearance of the hawk, now that they had a taste of the great outdoors. Sweet Pea rushed me at the door of the chicken tractor not one, not two, but three times yesterday as I tried to change their feed. The last time I caught her by the feet, cutting my left index finger on her sharp toenail and leaving blood all about me. And while it could be my imagination, the tone of the chickens seemed angry -- squawky, accusing, hemmed in -- whenever the sun peeked out between Oregon downpours and yet they remained inside.
One week after moving our chickens, there now stands a chicken “duck and cover” shelter for them to dive under in the event of a hawk attack. It’s not perfect as a strategy, and the hawk may still get a chicken or two. But these magnificent birds crave a greater measure of freedom than they have in their chicken tractors, and I aim to see that they get it.
Happiness and quality of life mean so much more than longevity, not only for chickens, but for us people as well. One of my favorite authors, Byron Katie, has a saying, "Don't be careful, you might get hurt." That's not to say that I don't have my moments of wanting to keep these chickens, and all my loved ones, tucked away inside somewhere, under lock and key. In the end, though, we are to choose sunshine, freedom, and the way of things for all the magnificent birds in our lives, including ourselves.
With so many people preparing to survive economic depression as previous generations did in the 1930s, I wonder about our “advancement” since that humble time.
Over the years, I’ve talked to many elderly, country folks who gave little thought to the Great Depression. Perhaps it was because they were children at the time. But, I think their contentment during those hard times was because of their families’ self-reliance. Their root cellars were full, water was free and trading among neighbors was a way of life.
Another vast difference is that most rural areas didn’t have electricity in the 1930s. In fact, many areas were not electrified until the mid-1950s. As such, country folks did much of their work by hand, grew and preserved their own food, and relied heavily on horsepower and each other. Their skills were not limited to one trade. On any given day, a farmer could find himself as a carpenter, veterinarian, plumber and mechanic – using mainly human-powered tools.
When electricity, inexpensive fuel and motorized equipment reached everyone, those old treadle sewing machines, galvanized wash tubs, hand-operated push mowers, kerosene lamps, hand pumps and all manner of non-electric tools and appliances were tossed in the city dump. Horse-drawn farm equipment was left to rust behind barns or, worse yet, hauled to the front yard to be adorned with petunias.
Americans migrated by the millions to the suburbs where they could mow 3 acres of grass every Saturday before driving 30 miles to the supermarket for some corn dogs, potato chips and year-round watermelon.
Compared to many nations, we Yankees are ridiculous – turning up the heat in winter so we can take off our sweaters, and then turning down the air-conditioner in summer so we have to wear jackets indoors in July. We had enjoyed decades of a seemingly unending supply of cheap fuel, plentiful food and clean water, and many of us simply never practiced conservation.
Of the two dairy farms I grew up between in the 1960s, the family to the north had 9 kids; the other to the south had 12. My friend, Janet, was second youngest among her clan, behind five brothers and two sisters. I remember only once seeing Janet in new clothes – two cotton summer suits her sister made in home economics class. The chest freezer in Janet’s huge kitchen was as big as a ’69 Beetle Bug and packed to the top with homegrown veggies and bread.
To the south, Rosemary was the baby in her family of mostly girls. She never had a new dress or shoes. Our parents did not have air-conditioners, leaf blowers or jet skis. The funny thing is, looking back, none of us considered ourselves poor. Money was scarce, but food was not.
I especially loved eating supper at Rosemary’s house in summertime. After helping bring in the cows for milking, we’d devour plates of homemade bread smothered in warm applesauce, pitchers of fresh-from-the-cow milk and strawberries. The kids lined long benches on both sides of a 10-foot table, but there was always room for one more.
Our parents never paid any heed to a food pyramid. We simply ate an abundance of whatever was in season. Many August meals were only of corn on the cob as big as our forearms. Butter dripped from our elbows, and we thought there could be no better dinner anywhere.
My mother made raspberry jam in a kettle big enough to boil half a hog. At other times, the same kettle held squirrel stew, pickle brine, tomatoes to can or wild hickory nuts to shell. I could not say so then, but admit now that I do not care to eat raccoon, our main winter meat back then. But, because big, fat Wisconsin coon hides brought $35-$40 each in the 1970s, we scoured the woods for them nightly. The greasy meat was merely a byproduct we did not waste.
Still, although many of us ate from the land and lived by the motto “waste not, want not,” most of our tools and household items functioned on electricity and that cheap fuel I mentioned. Reversing that way of living will not be so easy. Our lives have been built around power and mobility. Who among us can sharpen (or even use) a crosscut saw, make lye soap (without store-bought ingredients), build a cistern or cut grain with a scythe? Only those who are 60+ seem to recognize what a well bucket is or have experience hand-pumping water.
While we are growing as much food here as possible in every season with our saved seeds, heating with wood we cut, and can get water without electricity, we still are on the grid – although working steadily at pulling the plug.
I have seen others, however, invest tremendous energy (and much money) converting to wind or solar systems in an attempt to keep their same comfort level off grid. That is rarely possible. Many, too, are building stills to keep their chainsaws, lawnmowers and roto-tillers going. While I admire their ingenuity, I believe we need to also teach our children not to rely on alternative energy, but to do things by hand. Long before the Industrial Revolution, societies flourished worldwide, built by human muscle.
I am thankful now for the experience of living from the land as a youngster, which has proven useful as we relearn to live frugally and without power. I’m not cooking any coon, though, and have a long way to go before I can run a household as efficiently as Great-grandma did.
Photos from Linda Holliday collection
Linda Holliday lives in the Missouri Ozarks where she and her husband formed Well WaterBoy Products, a company devoted to helping people live more self-sufficiently off grid, and invented the WaterBuck Pump.
When the wind is blowing in your direction and you observe chemical ground rigs or aerial pilots spraying pesticides next to your property, you now know what actions you should be taking if you suspect spray drift has happened to you. As previously explained in Part I, and II, you have documented your incident and taken photos and or videos. You then reported your incident to the proper enforcement agency. After you reported your incident to your state’s regulatory agency, they sent out an inspector to observe and document the damage. (Part III: The Inspection).
During this time you’ve likely engaged in talks with the sprayer or the owner of the property which may be on-going, or have ended abruptly.
Waiting for the “verdict” after your inspection by the state regulatory agency usually takes about 3-4 weeks - at least that is what we are told here in Illinois. As you wait, you might be eating from your sprayed garden, sending your produce to a weekly Farmer’s Market, or selling your produce through your CSA. If you are organic you are selling produce supposedly with no pesticides on them. Not knowing the outcome of your pesticide drift incident is upsetting and draining on you and your family.
Here in Illinois we have found that in many cases “The Wait “ can easily stretch to 3 months and even to almost 5 months, before you hear if there is a violation of the Illinois Pesticide Act.
As organic farmer, Randy Hoovey from Geneseo, Ill., told me last fall, “We have an 8 ½ acre Certified Naturally Grown Organic farm with a couple thousand square feet of hoop house space and a grant from NRCS. We have 10,000 lettuce plants. We are still selling lettuce and don’t know what the result is from our complaint.” At that time, Randy was still waiting for the verdict after the incident where his farm, wife, and worker were spray drifted on May 18th by a local agriculture company, and again sprayed June 12th by a neighboring farmer. Later, Randy was verbally accosted by his neighbor while standing on his property’s edge. Randy had to call the sheriff. At this contentious encounter, Randy told the neighboring farmer who sprayed herbicide on the adjoining farm, “With the stuff you sprayed you have to have a 50-foot setback.” The neighboring farmer replied, “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ LABELS!”
It’s always good to know your neighbor is so conscientious and knowledgeable about following label directions while he sprays chemicals next to you!
Randy could tell he was going to need some legal back up on his pesticide complaints. Lawyers in the area didn’t get back to him. His wife, Lee, began looking on the Internet for some kind of help. Not realizing what the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund was, she called the Fund’s President (Pete Kennedy) looking for a referral for an attorney. And that’s how the Hoovey’s connected with the Fund. For those of you who haven’t heard of them, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to “defending the rights and broadening the freedom of family farms and protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense food.”
Randy says, “We would be lost without them. They are like angels.”
After the Fund approved the Hoovey’s case for representation, Gary Cox, General Counsel for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund stepped in to represent Randy’s family and farm. Meanwhile The Wait continued. And continued. And it became complicated…really complicated. After recently interviewing Randy Hoovey and Gary Cox, here is a time line of Randy’s pesticide incident:
1. Randy lodged a complaint for one overspray incident on May 18th and for a second overspray incident on June 12th, 2012.
The State Department of Agriculture investigated both complaints, separately, and issued two notices of Violation letters to two different entities: the herbicide spraying company for the first violation; and the neighboring farmer for the second violation.
2. The second violation letter was addressed to Mr. Hoovey’s neighbor. The neighbor sent a letter to the State challenging the violation. The Illinois Department of Agriculture rescinded the violation letter sent to the neighbor: “based on further information we are going to rescind our earlier violation letter to you.”
The chemical in question is Round-Up which is SUPPOSED to break down almost instantly, if you believe what Monsanto says about this chemical. We are left to wonder why the State would rescind its letter to the neighbor when almost a month later that chemical was still present from the first application. If the neighbor had not caused an overspray with the second application, why was the chemical still there?
3. Gary Cox through the Freedom of Information Act, obtained files from both incidents. Regarding the second incident, Gary spoke to one of the managers at Illinois Department of Agriculture, Environmental Programs, and asked him, “Why did you change your mind?” The manager replied, “Because we found out about the prior complaint. Based on that information we don’t think the neighboring farmer over-sprayed onto Hoovey’s property.” Even though, as Randy points out, “There is a positive test from the State of Illinois Department of Agriculture that was collected from our property right after the neighbor sprayed.”
4. In the meantime Gary Cox explains, “We settled with the sprayer on the first incident, and now we are trying to reach a settlement with the neighboring farmer. Although Randy and Gary do not talk in great detail about the specifics of the settlement, the insurance company for the local agriculture company “compensated the Hoovey’s for lost income and they agreed to not allow any of their operators to spray within 50 feet of the Hoovey’s property.”
Randy is presently pursuing a legal and financial settlement with the neighboring farmer.
Randy’s case may seem extreme but from what we have observed in Illinois, a 3-month wait is not all that uncommon.
I cannot sum up with a few words the anguish the Hoovey’s endured as they waited for the violation results from the State. The first incident on May 18th took until October 5th before the Hooveys received word that there was a pesticide violation by the spraying company. Nearly 5 months!
In the meantime, the Hoovey’s are selling their produce to their customers and wondering if the State lab would find it contaminated. Randy also wondered if they would lose their certification. (Their certification was downgraded to transitional and it will be another two years before they will be fully Certified Naturally Grown again.) Such was the state of Randy and his wife’s life throughout the entire summer.
Regarding The Wait for inspection results, the following reasons were given to Randy throughout the summer. On July 16th, when Randy called the State to ask when he might hear about the results of the tests on the samples taken from May and June, the manager of Environmental Affairs told Randy he’d look into it. Then another employee called back on August 6th stating, “It’ll be another week or so.”
After another week went by, Randy still heard nothing. Randy received the same response from the State a month later. The State also told Randy: “I know they lost someone in the lab.”
If this were the only case like this, it could be discounted. However, many of the cases we hear about at Spray Drift Education Network have waited a good three months - the entire summer - as they sell what’s left of their produce, or try to save their grapes and grapevines, or as they realize the garden that sustains them through the winter may be non-touchable.
Other complainants calling Spray Drift Education Network have shared the explanations or excuses they received from the State. Here are some of them:
“Our machine is broken down.”
“We lost a chemist.”
“I’ll get back to you…I’m so busy now with complaints.”
"It’ll be another week or so.”
“The instrument that is used to analyze the samples was down and just got repaired.”
“We do not have the lab results yet.”
The State of Illinois plants approximately 12.1 million acres of corn and 9.4 million acres of soybeans a year. A huge percentage of these acres are sprayed with pesticides including herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Could the State be better prepared for pesticide lab testing? How prepared is your state?
My purpose with this blog entry is to prepare you for what could happen if you have reported a pesticide incident. Hopefully, you will not experience the bumpy ride the Hoovey’s have had to endure.
It’s also important to note - even if the wait for a verdict is extremely long, or the enforcement agency comes up with a no violation you can still pursue legal action or a settlement with the sprayer’s insurance company, as Betty Gahm did. (How to Prepare For The Pesticide Spray Season: Part I). We’ll cover that in the next blog. Talk with your local lawyers, and definitely check out the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. For $125.00 a year, as a farmer (and $50 a year for a consumer), Randy explains, “You have access to their lawyers in an emergency 24/7. If you want to see how all this works, buy the video Farmageddon, watch it and show it to others. “
What is it like in your state? Does your state have their inspector visit the suspected pesticide drift site in a timely manner? Are you happy with the process of waiting for results? Are you happy with the results of the inspection and the determination of pesticide finding (or not) by your state enforcement agency?
Stay tuned. We will examine “The Pesticide Complaint Result” in PART V of this series.
Please share your stories with us at Spray Drift Education Network. I welcome any comments you may have. You can also call Spray Drift Education Network at 815-988-2628. I look forward to hearing from you.
Jane Heim, in 2011, co-founded Spray Drift Education Network (SDEN); a grass roots organization dedicated to helping Illinois citizens report and prevent pesticide drift. She presently lives near Paw Paw, Illinois on 19 organic acres which she is transitioning to a Permaculture Restoration Farm.
Photo by Fotolia/Africa Studio