This is our farm column from farmer Casey O’Neill. O’Neill is the owner operator of HappyDay Farms north of Laytonville, and a long time advocate for the cannabis community in Mendocino Co; more of his writing can be found here. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor feel free to write to [email protected].
It takes a lot to stay hydrated during these hot August days. My strategies have evolved over the years, but cucumber is the biggest key to my success, and I realized the other day that it has come to occupy a place as my favorite summer vegetable. We eat them sliced with hummus or nut butter, diced on salads, and I put them into all of my water.
First thing in the morning I slice a cucumber into thin slices and put half of the slices in each of my two water bottles. I add lemon juice and ice cubes and that will get me through at least part of the day, usually with a refill after lunch. Last thing before bed, I do the same thing with two quart jars, drinking one during the night and early morning, and putting the second one in the fridge to drink first thing before coffee.
While I make coffee I also heat up broth, and that goes into a thermos that I drink over the course of the day, providing salt and nutrients to keep adding in the things my body needs so that I don’t leach myself with too much water. It’s funny to me to have become a guy who goes about his day with an insulated cup of broth, one of coffee and two bottles of water, but it makes all the difference during these hot summer months.
I try to make bone broth once a week, either a small batch for home use or a large one that I split between home and freezing in packages for the farmstand. The big batches are made in a 40 quart pot from turkey carcasses that we save after de-boning and grinding, along with the packages of necks and feet that add a lovely gelatinous nature to the broth. On days when I get a headache from the heat, a quart of cold broth in the late afternoon goes a helluva long way to setting me right.
Yesterday we had thunder and lightning just to the northeast of us on Island Mountain, and it happened to be on the same day as our Bell Springs Fire Department annual fundraiser. The storm was close enough to make us nervous so several volunteers stayed up on the hill to prepare for potential lightning fires. It was an odd feeling to be pulled in two directions at once by the needs of the fire department, one as a firefighter and one as a board member helping to fundraise. All’s well that ends well, the storm passed us by and brother Ben stayed up on the hill to make sure there weren’t any late arriving lightning strikes and I got to go down to the party.
It always feels good to see community come together, and the shared effort of creating a volunteer fire department makes me reflect on the nature of human gathering. Fire is one of the scariest things we face, both collectively and individually. I’ll never forget the folks who rallied with us last year when the fire burned our neighborhood, and it feels good to know that we’re working together because fire isn’t an “if”, it’s a “when”.
We had the fire department benefit down at Tan Oak Park, which is such a sweet venue, cool and shady and welcoming. Big shout out to everyone who works to make the event happen, it has become quite an undertaking over the years and it takes everyone pulling together to make it go. I get to emcee the raffle every year, and few things bring me more joy than the process of pulling the names from the hat and bantering through the prizes.
Community is what we make it, a shared effort to show up for each other. It’s often difficult and requires us to give of ourselves, of our precious time during lives that are too busy with the myriad demands of this modern world. I often feel weighed down in the lead up to events, churning the monkey mind in my head about work I need to get done on the farm, but I’m so happy to see everyone when I arrive that I’m reminded of the importance of gathering.
We share this journey of life with the people around us, and the interactions shape who we are and how we go about in the world. I’m glad to live in this place, and I’m glad for the folks I get to encounter both in my day-to-day and in the special times of gatherings, celebrations, work parties and benefits. To all y’all with whom I cross paths, thanks for brightening my day! As always, much love and great success to you on your journey!