So I had a whirling dervish sort of conversation with Farmer D the other day (I was the whirling dervish--Farmer D is always completely calm). We were chatting away when we got on the topic of pelletized chicken manure, which can be sold under the USDA certified organic label even though it is made from the waste stream of industrial, factory-farmed, caged, debeaked, hormone-laden, GMO corn-fed chickens right here in the lovely state of Georgia (the chicken capital of the world).
Me: The family with the plot at our community garden with your compost and fertilizer is outperforming all the others.
D: So I hear.
Me: But I can't use the fertilizer, D, because of the whole industrial chicken thing.
D: Yeah, I know. That's an issue.
Me: But what else can I use to boost my yields? I'm taking care of six charity beds and the goal is growing the greatest quantity to donate to the food pantry. What do you think of fish emulsion or worm castings in comparison to chicken manure?
D: Good, very good, but not as good as the chicken manure.
Me: I hear rabbit manure is perfectly balanced and doesn't even need to be composted.
D: Yeah, you're right. But I would compost it anyway. Because of pathogens.
Me: But can't you do that in a symbiotic relationship? Don't folks do that with fish underneath or something?
D: Worms. They do worms.
Me: Yeah, that would work. That would be a perfect situation, don't you think?
D: But then you're raising rabbits, Pattie.
But then you're raising rabbits. My goodness, that made me burst out laughing. In fact, I've been thinking of that line all week (and laughing out loud each time), how I start on one path and end up knee-deep in something I never intended. Mostly, this is good. I completely, totally and unequivocably trust the journey. I don't question it, as long as it feels right to me, and I have an increasingly sensitive internal meter for determining this. But sometimes things do start to feel as if they are spinning out of control and that I'm veering into waters where I don't need to be.
Riasing rabbits? No, I don't need to be raising rabbits. Or fighting uphill at school. Or showing up for every single "green event" every single weekend. Or joining this task force and that committee. Or twirling out of control each day like a whirling dervish. I just need to be fully present 100% in order to hear where I am needed.
Last week, as usual, we had a constant flurry of activity at the community garden. A troop of girl scouts spread piles of mulch. High school kids planted their bed. And a steady stream of people came and went, pounding, planting, planning. My friend Jim met me there one morning, with the intention of doing some targeted work together, but I asked him if we could walk the land instead. The floods Atlanta experienced just prior had mostly spared the garden, but the remnants of the natural water flows were particularly clear and I realized I simply didn't know this land yet. I didn't know the way the water moves across it, or the way the light dances in every nook and cranny, or the specific topography under our feet in the area where we hope to create an orchard, or the very essence, its history, its specific energy, that can only be felt in the quiet stillness of early morning. And so we did. For two solid hours.
When we were done, with no sweat or physical manifestation of hard work to show for our labor, I knew that I had turned a corner on this garden. I had made it part of me, in a way that it had not yet been. And when I start to feel as if I should be building rabbit hutches, I have to go back to that feeling. That simple, really basic feeling of just being. And listening. And trusting.
I often tell people to be careful when they start getting involved with all this organic, urban agriculture stuff, that they will fall down the rabbit hole and it just gets deeper and deeper. And even though each day I feel like I am (happily) digging in even more, I am pretty certain that no, I should not be raising rabbits.