Go, Henry, GO!!!

Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

Henry Lowrider was born in a little town in Southern Oregon, where the weather dips to minus 10 degrees in winter, sometimes colder. He was a beautiful baby. But Henry was not very aggressive. His peers kicked him around and didn’t let him hang with them. In fact, his brothers and sisters made sure that Henry slept on the floor, while they took the higher, warmer bunks. Henry just dug in and curled up in the corner where the others couldn’t fit.

One evening, Henry approached me. He was walking funny. It looked like there was something wrong with one of his feet. I took him in the house to care for him and heat his almost frozen tootsies. He got better, then resumed his day to day life. A little while later, I noticed that Henry was limping again. Except this time when I brought him in, he refused to eat or drink. Evidently, death with his family was better than life in a cage for Henry, so I reluctantly let him go, hoping for the best. At this point, I should mention that Henry is a chicken… rooster to be exact. 

When I saw Henry again, he seemed fine. He was walking around, eating, drinking, and getting along with his siblings. But he was short. Very short. I took a good look…….. Henry had no feet. They had evidently frozen again and simply fallen off. All that he had left were stubs.

I was concerned. After all, how does a chicken with no feet survive? Well, don’t tell Henry that he’s handicapped, because he doesn’t know it. He has adapted to his condition, and can keep up with the best of them now. This morning I took rice out to feed the chickens and geese. They meet me at the door and follow me to the barn area and I spread it out for them. All the chickens had gathered at my feet. When I hurled the first clump of rice, Henry darted through them, dashed to the front, grabbed the clump and took off with it, leaving the others behind. When he had outdistanced them, he put it down and ate it. I thought that maybe he just got lucky until I saw him do it again….. and again. He has turned his handicap into a strength because he never knew that he couldn’t. He just adapted and survived, and excels at what he does.

So what does that have to do with our survival? Plenty. If we had the brains of a chicken named Henry Lowrider, we would be turning our handicaps into strengths and taking our country back from those that would enslave us. Henry persevered in the face of extreme opposition and physical stress to emerge triumphant. If a small chicken by the name of Henry Lowrider can do it, so can we.

How? How about a million gardens?

I want to propose we build a million food gardens. Two million. However many. However many conditions. However many designs. There is the strategic direction: make food, and not just for the same reasons Gandhi made salt. Make food because it puts that much of our lives back into our own hands, and the hands of our communities. Into the hands of our friends, our families, our covenantal relations. We can meet one of our own needs without any bureaucratic apparatus.  (Club Orlov)

Mega-corporations want to control all food so that we have no other option than to eat pesticide-laden produce and genetically modified garbage. Get sick of it. Get really sick of it, then get busy and grow food. Turn the handicap of not being able to control what others put in your food into a strength.

In the town where I live, with around 20,000 souls, we built a garden this year. A group of people built the first of several food donation gardens on what the city has called “orphaned properties.” The city owns them, but they have no particular use for them during this devolutionary contraction. Next Spring, we want to make two more gardens. A friend from church just offered the use of a portion of her country property for garden cultivation. We have around a million maples worth of leaf mulch and compost, mountains of chipped wood (from ice storm damage last year), and those long Northern summer days of sun. We have barely begun to learn how much food we can grow here… off the commercial food Grid.

I, for one, do not intend this to be some strategy to force new policies into the commercial food grid. Speaking for me, I see this as a way of serving divorce papers on the commercial food grid. (Club Orlov)

Let’s do the unexpected and rely on our own strength to feed ourselves and our loved ones, not Big Box USA. Let’s get rid of the chains and learn how to take back control of our food supply. Run through the crowd and grab your clump of rice. Go Henry, GO!!!

© 2011 Barbara H. Peterson