The Mystery in Agriculture
My friend Donald, a pagan witch, oft refers to “the mysterious ones”; in my paradigm, the reference is to the spirits or gods/goddesses that are in nature and daily life. Although I can’t see them, I sense their presences around me. I like the “mysterious” part because that is how I experience various non physical forces/energies.
So what does this have to do with agriculture? When I plant a seed, I have a picture of what the plant will look like – BUT no idea if it will be sickly or vigorous, whether the return/yield will be zero or a hundredfold. It depends on weather, genetics, soil fertility, care, etc – and yet, to me, the sum of these factors does not account for the variation in the vigor of plants and their yield. I prefer to ascribe the difference to – the “mysterious ones”.
Example: our maple harvest. We have been tapping maple trees at Sandhill for 21 years now. During 2002 – 08, the number of trees we tapped/harvested remained constant and everything that we earthlings did was the same. The return/yield varied from 30 to 115 quarts of syrup. Why the difference? Supposedly, it all depends on the weather: ideal weather is when the nights are below freezing and the days are above freezing. I have not attempted to correlate the ideal temperature factor with maple yields – but my impression is that there is NOT a direct correlation – leaving certain amount of variation as: mysterious.
This year’s maple seasson broke all records and most everything I thought I knew. I grew up on a farm and am used to being surprized at yields – but this one took my breath away. The season began as usual: 2 weeks later, we had 3 days of 60+ temperatures and nights that did not go below freezing. DANG! I feared the season was finished – before it really began (ok, we had maybe 20 gallons of sap). Then the temperatures went up & down, the sap flowed – but it seemed different; it was slower to start when it warmed and then ran longer when it stayed warm. In the end, we had an all time record harvest by far: 168 quarts – almost 50% higher than our previous record! I’m ecstatic – and totally in awe: how did this happen? How to explain?
The Mysterious Ones strike again. Thank you for keeping me humble…