Monday, April 29, 2013

Getting to Know You. And the Leibster Award!

An amazing and inspiring blogger friend passed on to me a Leibster Award!  Thanks Caitlyn of  This is an award given by bloggers to bloggers, all with less than 200 followers.  I definitely qualified!  As honored as I am, the rules are that if you receive this prestigious award, you must then pass it on to eleven more bloggers.  Kind of a blogger chain letter that makes everyone feel good.  The problem is that I don't really read blogs.  Kind of hypocritical to want you all to read my blog, but not make the effort to read other's.  But I write this blog because it's my therapy.  And I'm a bit of an over-sharer.  And I like talking about myself.  And if I have time to read, it will probably be The Small Farming Journal, or The Beekeeper's Bible, or anything written by Joel Salatin.  Or it will be Angelina Ballerina.  

So I have decided to pass on the award but accept the questions, because I think they're fun.  And when I'm done I would like to try something.  I would like to ask YOU questions!  I'll make up some questions and number them.  Then, in the comments section, put down the question number (or numbers) you're answering and answer away!  No judgement people.  I'm not looking for the wittiest or hippest answer, just an honest one.  It's time for me to indulge myself a little less by going off on one of my tangents and learn about YOU!  I've seen from my stats that people in Germany, Mexico, UK, Australia, United Arab Emirates and more have all visited my page.  I want to meet YOU.  And all you Americans, Canadians and Israelis... Speak up!  You have a voice and I want to hear it. 

But without further ado, I will now answer the questions that were put to me. 

1. Where on earth do you feel the most yourself?
    It's not a place so much as anywhere where my family is.  I feel disoriented if I haven't seen      my children for 24 hours.  
2. What is your favorite quality in a friend?
    It's definitely security.  The more they are secure in who they are, the less I feel I have to be anyone but me. 
3. Best sandwich you ever ate.
   When I was pregnant I used to eat a fried egg with two strips of soy bacon inside two berry buckwheat waffles smothered in cream cheese.  It's probably not the most high class, or best sandwich I ever ate, but it seemed like it at the time.  (And I ate it almost every morning!)
4. Window or aisle?
5. Favorite mistake.
    So easy.  Getting pregnant the third time. 
6. What is your dream date night?
    Oh man.  I don't know the last time I went out on a date.  At this point I imagine it would be something like not having to cook one night.  But honestly, a dream date right now would be more about not having to worry about anything for one night so I could really just put my focus on connecting to my husband, without all the noise.
7. What did you want to be when you grew up?  
   A marine biologist.  A zookeeper.  A vet.  Anything that had to do with animals.
8. What do you want to be when you grow up? 
9. Best advice ever given to you.
    Judge others favorably.  It completely changes your entire outlook and how you approach life, and even helps with self judgement and forgiveness.  
10. Worst advice ever given to you.
     "Listen to me..." Anything that started with someone else knowing what's best for me, it generally didn't help at all.
11. Best advice you can give.
     You are ok.  Who you are.  What you are.  YOU.  

Okay, that was fun!  Thanks Caitlyn!

Now, it's my turn to ask YOU questions.  Please take the time to answer AT LEAST one question.  And if you want, (totally up to you) tell us where you're from.

1. What is your favorite season?
2. What makes you laugh the hardest? (like maybe you pee a little)
3. What noises can you hear right now?
3a. What do you see when you look away from the screen and over your left shoulder?
4. What do you feel when you make eye contact?
5. What age in your life would you relive?
6. At what age, if any, did you feel you were actually an adult?
7. What drives you in life to keep going when it's hard?
8. Who has most inspired you?
9. What is one thing you have always wanted to do, but were too afraid to?
10. Most intimate moment.
11. Most embarrassing moment.
12. What do you fear people will think of you?
13. What do you hope people will think of you?
14. What do you think G-d (Divine, Great Spirit, Whatever name you have) thinks about you?
15. Song that makes you smile every time you hear it.
16. Child's name you love, but wouldn't name your child.
17. One to three words that describe your feelings about being alive.
18. Who do you most want to meet (alive or dead).
19. Does life surprise, bore, excite, bewilder, inspire or depress you?
20. One thing in your life you would do differently if you had a redo.
21. Do we each have soul mates?  Or do we make them?
22. Is the world getting better or worse?
23. Favorite part of your body.
24. What is one thing you would change about humanity?
25. If you could put out your message to a lot of people, what would it be?
26. What holds you back from doing what you want to be doing in life?
27. What is something that makes you special?
28. What is something you are thankful for right now?
29. What do you want to be able to say on your deathbed?
30. If you could teleport, where would you go?
31. Do you let shame stop you?
32. What motivates you?
33. What is the recipe for happiness?
34. What is wisdom?
35. Where are you sitting as you're reading this?
36. What's on your feet right now?
37. If you could walk into the kitchen and find anything there to eat, what would it be?
38. What is attractive in others?
39. Are you ok?
40. Can we, as your GoodList Community, help you in anyway, right now?

Okay folks!  Pick one, two, ten or all forty and let us get to know you!

And here's my Good List for the night:

1. My cold isn't too bad
2. The chicks are finally out of my bathtub and I took a bath last night
3. Cheesy spinach quinoa for dinner
4. 2 out of 3 kids in bed
6. I'm 31 and that's OK
7. Getting the Leibster award!
8. Knowing you're all out there

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Am I a Gas Whore?

Hi.  My name is Tovah.  I am a Jewish, holistic, natural mothering, teaching, farming, earth loving, humanity connecting pioneer.  And I am leasing my land to a large gas corporation.

I gave you some space to inhale sharply, feel your feelings of shock, repugnance and horror, and to judge me harshly.  Go ahead, let it out.

When you're finished, please continue reading.

The decision to lease was at once horribly difficult, conflicting and a no-brainer.

But how, you ask, can you come from generations of hardcore leftist liberals and call yourself a sustainable farmer and STILL sell your soul for a dollar sign?

Well, more than once my father has joked about leaving me out of his will due to a difference of political leanings, so consider this my insurance.

On a more serious note, this is  a big deal.  I do believe in making this world a better place when I leave it than it is now.  I do believe that we are going in the wrong direction with our modern day progression.  If you asked me what it would take to save the world from itself, I would give you a very simple answer:  Go back to community, go back to the earth.  What does this look like?  Small farming communities.  Why?  Because it solves world hunger, depression, wealth distribution and greed.  I could go on about why that is, but this article isn't really about that.  It's about gas.

We hear the words, fracking, gas, oil, and we think, corporate greed, environmental damage, pollution. And it's all true.  And yet, this is the world we live in.

But surely to be a part of it, to accept their money, is like whoring your soul.  You are condoning what they do.
And to that I say, So are you.
Let me explain:  The world runs on fossil fuels.  Whether it be dirty coal, imported oil or native natural gas, we all use it.  You can ride your bike, use cloth bags and be vegan, but you are still using products made from fossil fuels everyday.  Here are some examples from the website

Eye glasses
Flip flops
Panty hose
Polar fleece 
Rubber boots
Shoe polish
Contact lenses
Hair colour
Hearing aids
Lip balm

Nail polish
Petroleum jelly (Vasoline®)
Rubbing alcohol
Shaving cream
Shower curtains and stalls
Toilet seats
Vitamin capsules

Clock radios
DVD and CD cases
DVDs and players
GPS devices
MP3 players

Power bars
Toner cartridges
Two-way radios
Video games
Waterproof cases

Lunch Boxes
Measuring cups
Plastic containers
Plastic pipes
Plastic wrap
Polystyrene (Styrofoam™)
Pop and juice bottles
Sandwich bags
Synthetic fibres
Venetian blinds
Window cleaner
Wiring insulation

Artificial limbs

Heart valves
IV bags
Oxygen masks
Pill bottles
Safety seals
Surgical and lab equipment

Artificial turf
Bicycle tires
Bike seats
Boxing gloves
Face masks
Fishing line
Fishing lures
Fishing rods
Golf bags
Gym mats
Handlebar grips
Hockey pucks

Inner tubes
Knee, shin, elbow and shoulder pads
Life jackets
Ski jackets
Sleeping bags
Soccer balls
Speed boats
Tennis balls
Tennis racquets
Water skis

Okay, obviously this list could go on forever, but I am trying to make a point.  Am I condoning evil gas corporations by leasing my land, anymore than you are by using their products everyday?  If you're answer is still yes, than let's continue.

Fracking happens.  Could I protest it?  Sure, but where would that get me?  Most of my county is already signing up to lease their land, happy that they will maybe, just maybe get to pay off their mortgage and not have to wait until they are 85 to retire from farming.  Another interesting point: Law of capture.  Look it up.  But basically it is the law that whatever was captured on your land, whether or not is originated from your land, if it is feral in nature, belongs to you.  Simplified, this means that if a deer is on your land, even if it came through your neighbors, if you catch it, it is yours.  (Providing it's hunting season and you have your permit, of course.  Something that is taken quite seriously out here.)  What it means for gas is that if they put a well anywhere within 2000 acres of you and drill down, then spread out 5000 feet below the surface and take gas that runs under your land, well, it was captured on your neighbors land and they don't have to pay you a dime.  

But still, once you take their money, you're telling them you're fine with the rape of American land!  

Well, I could not take their money, and they'll rape it anyway, but better to be a rape victim than a whore, right?
Sorry to be so vulgar, but these were the questions I was asking myself.  Does it just boil down to 'Everyone has a price?'

But there is yet more that needed to be considered.  If we didn't sign a lease we would have no say in what happened.  By working with a lawyer who represents the majority of landowners signing leases, we actually have bargaining leverage.  We can insist on certain water conservation procedures and land reparation.  We can have a say in which company buys up the leases, one with maybe a more moral operation (I do believe such a thing exists, even among evil corporate empires) and a smaller accident rate.  We can ask for better compensation.  But only as a large group of landowners.  By ourselves we are powerless.  And against the human desire for more money, especially amidst poor, rural farmers, we are equally powerless.  But when it comes to these mega-corporate giants, if we, the farmers, ask for $3,500 an acre for a signing bonus and %18 royalties (the gas companies have been known to offer $10 an acre and little royalties), the corporations may lose $10,000,000, but stand to gain billions.  They can do the math.  Again, alone we are powerless.  In a group we have choices.  

When Hilary Clinton was running against Obama, something Obama supporters liked to bring up was that Ms. Clinton was on the board of Wal-Mart.  Yeah, sure that looks bad.  But when asked about it, Ms. Clinton explained that the only reason she joined was to help sway the corporation to act in a more moral way.  That makes sense.  There are two ways to change something: grassroots or within the system.  I believe I am doing both.

I am going into the system, in my own small way, to hopefully have some kind of influence on how it runs.  At least in my small part of the world.  And as a consumer I am working the grassroots end of things.  I am very conscience of what I consume.  One of the reasons I became a farmer (besides the fact that I love dirt) is because it was the only way I could see to become a true environmentalist.  I want to produce and share my food locally.  That way I can grow sustainably and actually make the land I own healthier and richer than when I bought it.  I can influence others to eat local, organic, non-gmo foods by offering them mine.  And educating them.  And letting them be a part of the whole experience of what they eat.  I can reduce carbon emissions by not having my food shipped to me from halfway across the world.  Anything you buy in a store took more fossil fuel than you can imagine to get there.  And I don't drive to work!  As consumers we have more power than any corporation in the world.  Corporations exist because we support them.  

So if you still feel I am a hypocrite for leasing my land, then I suggest you go out and build an off the grid, energy independent homestead where you produce %100 of everything you consume, and saddle up to get to work.  Or perhaps we can all stop judging each other and do our best to make the best choices we can.  Because sometimes, (as my wise father told me) there aren't any right choices.  There are just better and worse ones.  

Choose wisely. 

Today I am grateful for SPRING!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I'm Back!

I am sitting on my porch with bright green grass, heavenly sunshine and nature’s chatter all around me.  Life is moving, at such a fast  pace I can hardly keep up.  And yet, this moment… This moment is so perfect. 

I came home from a week long vacation in Boulder, CO Monday night.  It was a vacation from life as mama, wife and farmer.  It was a week to remember I am also Tovah.  I thought I would meditate, daven, go shopping, go hiking.  And I did.  A bit.  But mostly I found myself experiencing really beautiful heart connections with people I love so much, but rarely see.  And it occurs to me that that is a big part of knowing myself.  At my core I am me and also I am one connection in a vast network of human connection.  Sometimes it can feel so isolated out here, on Farm Shmarm.  It was amazing to experience how connected I really am. 

Being away from my children was its own experience.  I missed them like crazy.  I knew I would, but I couldn't predict exactly how it would feel.  I've never been apart from them.  The best way I could describe it was that it felt like a piece of me was missing.  When I would go inside to check in, my internal compass couldn't find North.  I didn't know how to orient myself, because I have spent the last seven years orbiting my children.  Without their center of gravity I was in kind of a free fall, and at the same time, I was kind of soaring.  

But now I'm back.  And things need to be done.  And not just dishes and laundry; I need to figure out what direction Matovu Farm is moving in.   We're talking poultry, honey, eggs, mushrooms, produce, orchards, goat dairy, lamb, wool and who knows what else!  Overwhelmed?  Me too.  Each endeavor takes labor, startup investment, maintenance, and a lot of research and planning.  Not to mention, we have to figure out exactly who and what our market will be.  Say it with me now:  Oy vey!

To try and get a handle on our finances we are looking at leasing rights to the natural gas under our land.  Now, my first instinct is to tell the gas companies to kiss my fat mama fanny!  But it turns out that whether or not we give permission, gas can be taken from under our land.  The question is, who takes it, and do we get a cut.  If we are involved in the process we have a lot more say in terms of picking a responsible company (yes, there actually are decent companies out there, you just have to do your research) and how it all goes down.  If we protest, not much will happen except the gas pockets 5000 feet down will be sucked dry and we won't even know.  The only other option is to get everyone in the county to protest and then maybe it can be avoided.  But it seems it's already too late for that.  The good news is that this isn't a Marcellus Shale region.  So the drilling is as aggressive, shallow or corrupted as in other parts of the country.  No decisions are being made, but we have A LOT of food for thought.

And all that is separate from trying to start the Farm Shmarm community that is so important to the success of this adventure.  As much as I am filled with love of farming and all things dirt, for myself and my children, we need community.  So I am trying to figure out the best way to advertise what we are doing out here. article, Facebook page, website... All these things need to be done.  And I am wondering where the heck I am going to find the time to do all this and not go crazy!  (Have you noticed my clean language?  I am doing a six month cleanse of my mouth.  All things going out need to be as kosher and organic as the things going in.  I can't say I've held perfectly to this new word diet, but I'm trying.)

And so with that, if any of you want to be a part of building up this beautiful little corner of the world, with time, labor, financing or anything else, let me know!  We may not know exactly what to do with help right now, but if we have a list of names, come potato digging day, we'll know who to call!

1. This amazingly beautiful day
2. My children's hearts
3. The fill of love I just received 
4. My CO family (blood and heart)
5. The geese fishing in my pond