Thursday, April 16, 2020

March - Pandemic 2020: When the World Started to Almost End (Again)

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered: "Man.  Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” - Dalai Lama

Honey Bee on Purple Crocus
Honey bee going to gather pollen from a purple crocus in the wildflower yard!

March of 2020 was really just when the U.S. started catching up to the rest of the world with the Coronavirus Pandemic and in true American fashion we took it upon ourselves to show the rest of the world up and be #1 with this pandemic by having more cases than any other country.  America is always trying to be #1, except for things that really matter such as education and healthcare.  We went from seeing Coronavirus as being a far off threat, to watching it slowly creep across the globe, to it hammering normal lives everywhere and bringing the economy to a screeching halt.  By the end of March schools were closed, unemployment skyrocketed to record high levels seemingly overnight, small business owners are left wondering how they're going to keep their businesses afloat, non-essential businesses were ordered to close, states were starting to impose "Stay at Home Orders", meaning you are not to leave home aside from "essential" services or needs, sports were cancelled, churches closed, grocery store shelves were empty, you felt like you won the powerball if you were able to snag any toilet paper or cleaning supplies, hospitals were starting to fill up, shortages of masks and gowns, doctors and nurses were and still are working around the clock and don't have the supplies they need to treat people, morgues are running out of space, panic buying ensues, roads were more or less empty, Tiger King was the talk of the town.  Basically people were freaking out and not sure how to respond to something like this.  It's way too easy to focus on all the negative aspects of what has happened and what is continuing to happen in the world currently, but it's more important than ever to point out all of the good that is happening.

On the flip side of all of this, people are riding their bikes and walking more, spending actual quality time with their families, cooking good food, coming up with fun games and activities to pass the time, howling at 8 p.m. to cheer on health care workers (I wish this was something a bit more elegant but what can you do), and my personal favorite: people are starting gardens, not just any old gardens but VEGETABLE GARDENS!!!

Two neighbors of mine started their own vegetable gardens and as one of them put it, "I'm out of a job, I don't have anything else to do, I'm sick of spending money to water grass that my family never uses, I might as well try and grow some vegetables and spend my money watering something that my family can eat."  This makes me oh so happy to hear and see.  Both of these neighbors have been asking me all sorts of questions about what I do at my house to grow my own food, tips and tricks, where do I buy seeds at, etc.  I can talk about all of this for hours, I absolutely love talking about this sort of stuff and it just makes me plain happy to see someone else realizing all of the benefits of growing vegetables that you can eat!

I've never ever thought of growing my own food from an apocalyptic or pandemic standpoint until coronavirus came to the US and started ravaging our economy.  I'm not a doomsday prepper, I don't have any underground bunkers, and the only two guns I own are attached to my shoulders.  Unfortunately for me, I ran out of my frozen food that I grew from the previous year at the beginning of February (aside from peppers, don't try sustaining yourself on just peppers, take my word on this one, your body will not be happy).  So this pandemic started at quite an inconvenient time for me since I've been having to go to the grocery store to obtain my vegetables since I ran out of my preserved food.  The 2020 growing season hasn't quite yet gotten into high gear and the local farms were just starting to get a few things ready to sell by the end of March so I haven't been able to buy too much from local farms just yet.  However this pandemic did instantly re-affirm everything I've been working towards over the past 3 years:  gaining as much independence as possible from the normal food system!

By the end of March I had 198 vegetable seedlings growing in my laundry room, the vast majority of which are doing quite well and I replanted the seeds that didn't germinate initially.  Outside in the actual urban farm, the roughly 400 garlic plants have started rocketing upwards and the orach, spinach, and lettuces that I planted with the garlic are slowly starting to grow.  In separate rows I planted radishes and turnips which are off to a slow start but they're growing more and more each day, just slower than I had hoped.  If this pandemic just so happens to be the end of the world (I highly doubt it is), I'll be just fine as I will soon, once again, have a plentiful bounty of vegetables that I grew myself, are beyond organic, and will be EXPLODING with flavor.  Friends of mine have dubbed my urban farm the "doomsday crops" and they have let me know that they're coming over to my house if things really do hit the fan.  Over the past 3 years I have gained an immense amount of knowledge about growing food and this year, 2020, will hopefully be the first of many years that I'm able to sustain myself year round on the vegetables that I grew myself at my typical American house.  This pandemic has just re-affirmed everything that I'm doing and honestly has made everyone go from looking at me like I'm absolutely out of my gourd to "maybe this guy is actually on to something and perhaps he's even a wee bit smart."

It amazes me at how it takes a pandemic, such as Coronavirus, for the vast majority of people to start thinking about exercising more, eating healthy, spending time with family, having meaningful conversations with one another, and above all just being kind and cordial to your fellow human beings who inhabit this planet with you.  My favorite comment that I heard multiple people say at the beginning of March was along the lines of, "well Coronavirus is coming for all of us, I better go eat a salad to boost my immune system."  I love how in someone's mind they think that eating a single salad will make this invincible protective shield suddenly appear around them and will keep anything and everything bad away from them and their immune system will be as strong as ever.  If you know that salads and vegetables are good for you, then just eat them consistently and make them a part of your normal, everyday diet dammit!!  Then your immune system will always be in tip-top shape and while you can most certainly still get sick, you're giving yourself a fighting chance and if you do get sick, you'll likely recover much faster.  It's like training for the Olympics.  If you want to be an Olympian you're not just going to sit around, binge-watching Tiger King and eating bonbons all day, you're going to train for your sport consistently, each and every day.  Then when the time comes for you to go to the Olympics, you're competing at the same level as everyone else.  If you put your average binge-watching, bonbon eating American in the Olympics, they don't stand a chance, they're going to get blown out of the water.  So why not just train your body to be healthy and eat what you know is good for you, all the time?  Then when a pandemic such as coronavirus comes around, you are already giving yourself the best shot at getting through it unscathed.  This isn't the first time a pandemic such as this has hit the world and it certainly won't be the last.

We all know that history repeats itself and I tend to be fascinated by the Roman Empire.  It turns out that the Romans had their own, 15 year long pandemic, that ravaged their economy to the core and made them question everything that they knew, this was called the Antonine Plague.  This disease even killed the emperor at the time, Marcus Aurelius.  The important thing to note with this is that the Romans made it through that hard time and while it rocked their world and changed how they lived, people still exist today.  The coronavirus pandemic is likely not the end of the world, but it will likely change how we live and operate in our everyday lives.  History will repeat itself again and pandemics like this may start happening more often.  Even if this is a once every hundred year occurrence, travel is becoming cheaper and faster.  Low orbit space travel around the earth is likely just around the corner which would allow you to go from Denver to Tokyo in about 45 minutes.  What people fail to realize is that while international travel under an hour would be insanely amazing and convenient, it also allows diseases to spread around the globe faster than ever before.  Instead of taking weeks and months for a pandemic to spread around the globe, it would be able to spread globally within a matter of days and become a global pandemic that exists in every country before people even realize there is a pandemic.  With a little bit of luck coronavirus will make people realize that they should be exercising and eating vegetables regularly and maybe more people will even start their own vegetable gardens at their house to have access to fresh, locally grown food that is exploding with flavor while also lowering their grocery bills and food costs.

All I really know for certain though is that I can grow my own food and I'll likely be just fine through this and future pandemics as long as a hail storm doesn't destroy my urban farm.

Happenings on the Urban Farm in March of 2020:

Man with Winter Luxury Pumpkin
The last winter luxury pumpkin was eaten (it was delicious)

Vegetable Seedlings
Seedlings are growing and are doing great

Worms in Soil
Came across a bunch of worms while weeding the wildflower yard
Handful of Soil Full of Mycelium
The soil in the wildflower yard is looking great and has lots of mycelium!
Worm in Hand
There are worms everywhere!
Glory of the Snow Flower
Glory of the Snow Flower in the wildflower yard
Puschkinia - Striped Squill Flower
Puschkinia - Striped Squill Flower in the wildflower yard
Hyacinth Blooming
Hyacinth's starting to bloom in the wildflower yard
Man at Farm Stand
Visited Aspen Moon Farm in Longmont to pickup some locally grown produce!

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