Three days of downpours. Below 10C temperatures. Woodfire stove our only hope… except it smokes us out, causing us to open the windows and door, canceling out the warmth.
Welcome to Hibernia, the Land of Winter.
That’s what the Romans called this place, commonly enshrined as the Emerald Isle. Indeed, without all the moisture, this island probably wouldn’t have such a unique, cold-ass hardly-bearing-the-class “temperate” climate. And I doubt this place would be so lush were it not so wet.
I find myself volunteering at Kilruddery House, one of Ireland’s largest estates, and site of the island’s largest gardens.
Home to the Earls of Meath since 1618, the estate is more like a village, with at least 20 people living on the premises. The staff of 30, including a groundskeeper, “Livestock Manager” (more sanely referred to as shepherd by yours truly), and the head gardener. HeritageIsland.com lauds the place as “the most significant revival Elizabethan mansion in Ireland.” The site goes on: “Killruddery is unique in having one of the most extensive early formal gardens, in their original style, surviving in Ireland today.”
I haven’t taken fotos of the gardens or grounds themselves because nothing would do them justice save seeing them in person. If you really wanna take a gander, I recommend looking up “Kilruddery gardens” in Google images.
However, I have taken other photos and uploaded them onto Flickr! If you wanna see ’em, just let me know and I’ll invite you to the fotostream.
Also, we filmed an Apple Extraction Process. It’s on Youtube. Do check it out (and watch my senior recital if you haven’t already :-). Click here to watch the 1-minute vid.
1) Agriculture, whether small-scale gardening or large-scale schemes, is rather violent. As a member of the food movement, I notice folks romanticizing “going back to the land” and “tending the land.” Though I think these activities are very important for breaking the cultural trance of consumerist-capitalism, and for reconnecting with nature, it’s important to maintain perspective, folks.
For example, in my work here on the farm, I’ve noticed violence in every process. As I break up wood mulch, I disturb millions of organisms living there. I give veritable heart attacks to centipedes, roly-polies, and other small animals, destroying their homes. I shock earthworms unintentionally, often severing their bodies. I watch them writhe and squirm.
Essentially, I think vegans are somewhat jaded. Their thinking epitomizes a kind of romantic, highly-unrealistic and frankly distorted idea of the Earth: that we humans can endure long without doing harm to other organisms. In their attempt to respect all living things, they perpetuate a romanticized idea of the planet as a benevolent metaorganism, when in fact it would wipe us off the face of the Earth, if it had a chance, for what we’ve done to it. Vegan ideology violates a fundamental rule of nature: human beings need food from animals to thrive, let alone survive.
Which brings us to my point: long-term human survival relies upon the slaughter of low- and higher-order organisms both plant and animal for nourishment. We need to directly kill animals to harvest their nutritious flesh, and we need to indirectly kill animals to farm in an ecologically-sound manner.
That is the reality of the human condition on Earth. All peoples through time knew this, and those who rejected the circle of life — if there were any vegan societies ever — obviously perished. In fact, I’d say our hunter-gatherer cousins, many of which subsisted mainly on flesh, lived far more sustainably than your average hemp-gorging Amazonian soy milk-downing vegan of the 21st Century. There is not one single traditional culture on the planet that eschews animal foods entirely. From my learning, those that do not consume much dairy, eggs, seafood or meat only do so out of poverty (excepting Hindus, Jainists, and other veg-head groups).
(The largest traditionally vegetarian group, the Hindus, could not have survived without fat-soluble vitamins and calcium in ghee, whole raw milk, yogurt, cheese, and in some cases eggs. But how can you practice ahimsa as a Hindu vegetarian having to purchase tainted milk extracted from diseased, stressed out, and confined cows fed on Who Knows What? Such is our broken food system in the States.)
End pro-Circle of Life diatribe.
Thanks for reading! Also, if you have a moment, stop by the other blog I contribute to, Nutrition by Tradition.