This morning the rain came. It’s been a time since we’ve had a drop like this. I’ve missed it. Rain has a remarkable way of rewinding things. Of washing away the dust, leaving everything clean and refreshed.
Obstacles or challenges, what ever you wish to call them, they’ve been haunting me in recent times. Niggling there in the back of my mind, eating away at my resolve until there is no more. I don’t know how words can explain, what words would do justice to describe what the mind attempts to calculate, what it attempts to figure out and deal with. Sometimes it’s all light and fluffy and sometimes it’s as dark as the heart of a storm.
A dear friend reminded me today that if I am to put my thoughts and opinions out for someone else to read, then I should expect to hear the loud roar of response, be it a somewhat unpleasant sound. It’s a double edged sword, for that I will not argue. But if no voice was heard, if no hand waved, no fist clenched in anger, then would anything change?
I speak over and over again about rampant consumerism. You know it exists. It’s everywhere around us. On trains, buses, trams and taxis our eyes fix on what marketing and advertising tells us what we need to spend our money on. Our society is based on behaviour that defines us as individuals, or so we like to think. These things do not define us in the way we would like, instead the define us as fools. I know this because I was a fool. I admit to my shallow past. I am ashamed but also very relieved to woken up from my slumber.
What we do as individuals in our lifetime, that is what defines us. What difference we make, how lightly or heavily we tread, these are the things of which we will be remembered by, not what we wore, who we hung with or how much we ‘owned’. We have a chance to be enlightened. To think past the barriers of society, only there will we find sense, maybe even peace.
We sure have some problems in the western world, be it with food production or consumerism. If you can see the problems you surely must be able to see some solutions for your own little world. No one else will have those answers for you, I sure as hell don’t have the answers for you. I have some answers for me, they may not be right, but their mine and I’m happy to accept that I often get it wrong. The greatest thing we can do is allow each other to get through it in our way. To find the solutions for a better way of living. We have the chance, right now to make a difference. I can no longer say what is good or bad. All I can do is live the way I believe to be right for me. I’ll continue to live in a manner that I see has a reduced impact, a lighter print. It’s not perfect, but it’s my way.
That rain is always welcome here. I can hear it drop this very second. On my roof and down the gutters. It’s reaching my soil, wetting my plants and preparing the garden for the next round of plants that will feed us. It’s a very obvious cycle. It’s a train we all ride, whether we want to or not.
Eventually the rain will reach us as we return to the earth, finished as beings, reborn in soil.
My hands and shirt, bloodied and dirty. My heart racing like a rampant stop watch. At my feet sits a buck, shaking the final electricity remaining in its nervous system. I knelt beside it, my hand on its hide. It was already dead. The moment was so surreal that I’d reached out to touch it, to see how real it was. My 308 had found its target, the large animal had dropped in a flat second. Before I was joined by my spotter, I uttered a thank you to the beast, alone. We’d spent the morning following a myriad of deer prints on muddy tracks. We stalked our way to a pair of fighting stags, their antlers crashing as they pounded each other. They were too far from our position and I couldn’t take a clean shot, so they lived to see another day. The stag however had not been so fortunate. Our meat freezer would now be well stocked for the oncoming winter. Filled with deer meat from an animal that lived wild and free. The only human interaction this animal probably had was the sound of distant 4WD’s and finally the crack of my rifle. I’m omnivorous, I eat a balance of vegetables and meat. Sometime ago I decided to acquire most of my meat from the wild. I have my reasons. Most of which I think are obvious now. I’m not happy with how most meat is produced for human consumption. So I took matters into my own hands in the knowledge that parts of it would be plain ugly. A fact I had to accept. Or become vegetarian. And for me, that is not an option I believe is right. For me.Many years in transition, and I’m finally at a point where a deer sits at my feet. I started small with rabbits, ducks, quail and hare. Now a large deer is dead by my hand. I truly no longer outsource my killing. I know that under that hide lies valuable rich meat, that when butchered will feed us many meals through winter into spring. I know how this animal died. I’m comforted in the knowledge that it lived free and wild. It may sound like an oxymoron as I’ve just killed the beast. It’s difficult to verbalise effectively the feeling and knowledge that I’m no longer cheating myself as a meat eater. I don’t care what any other meat eater does or how they choose to acquire their meat. This is my journey. Right or wrong it’s my choice. I’m doing what I believe to make the most sense to me. I’m doing what feels the most natural.I can say that I’ve seen the brutal reality of being a meat eater. I have seen it for years now. I accept that I am a meat eating animal. A meat eating mammal beast. We all are. I know many people choose to be vegetarian, and I wish there where more of these people. Although there are some farms doing it right, doing it ethically, the majority of the meat ‘industry’ is flawed. It’s 2014, if you haven’t heard about factory farming, if you haven’t heard about the chemicals and antibiotics applied to stock then you must be living under a rock of ignorant bliss. Last night on the radio was a feature story about the correlation of human diseases and the introduction of agricultural chemicals and antibiotics over the last 50-70 years. What impacts will this nature tampering have on us humans and our future generations? We don’t know. We may never know. But I’m prepared to do what I need to do to remove myself and my family from that system. Where food has been tampered with, where no definitive science exists to assure us of the potential health impacts. Where the industry is regulated by the very companies that produce the food. I’m more comfortable eating wild beasts than tampered meat.Consider this. Could any one person walk into a shop, look at a slab of meat and honestly state what is in that meat. Could they state how the animal was treated? What conditions it lived in? How far the animal was transported in its lifetime? The method in which the animal was killed?What chemicals or antibiotics where given to the animal? What health impacts may result from the tampering of natures way? No one can answer that. I surely can’t. Frustrated, I simply walked out of that shop and started hunting for meat.It’s difficult to explain this feeling of truly providing for my family. I don’t provide like I did in the past. When I once earned tonnes of cash, where I used to buy lots of ‘stuff’. I’ve transformed like Optimus Prime. I looked to the past, to a time when people survived with nature, when people had a true understanding of seasonality. Not in a wanky foodie gour-met way, but a real surviving, by using your brain, your muscles, your determination and a strong work ethic. Like I’ve said, I don’t care for what any other man chooses to do. I’m not sharing my story to shame anyone, nor to make anyone feel guilt for buying a farmed chicken, far from it. I’m sharing it because it’s one hell of a journey. One I think some people may benefit from hearing. I understand that I’m, in many ways considered backwards in what I do. I know in some circles I’m considered barbaric because I hunt. That holds no water with me. What frustrates me is when people express a distaste for hunting wild beasts, yet happily eat a chicken sub made with from intensively farmed animals. How can one value an opinion shadowed by contradiction. We have a plentiful supply of contradiction in this world. Yet out here, where nature gives and takes, contradiction is absent. We live in a time of senselessness. Where so much does not make any sense. Living this way though, I’m comforted by the realness of what is around me, and how I choose to live. No matter how much it may at times, offend me. I accept the reality, and that allows me to see past the bullshit. I’ll forever be cynical of it, criticise it and discuss how it’s toxic of us. This age will not be known as one of enlightenment, one of inner reflection. Instead, it will be known as a time of extreme inequality, rampant consumerism and an unquenchable thirst for natural resources.Lets face it. Sometimes you just have to say, fuck everyone else. Fuck what anyone else thinks. Just do what feels right for you. You know you’ve said it to yourself. Thanks for the photos: Kate Berry
As soon as that break in the weather came, my mind wandered to where mushrooms huddled en masse, patiently waiting for the sharp side of my knife. The excitement builds inside me, just as it did when I was a wee laddie, sporadically searching for field mushrooms all over our farm paddocks. Excitement for that moment when you’re fortunate enough to spot a specimen lurking under grass, weeds or pine needles. They hide so well, and ever vigilant eyes are a mandatory for a successful picker.
It’s a similar high to what I used to get as a kid, clambering under the supermarket registers looking for small change. I guess I’ve always been looking down at the ground for some kind of treasure. Once it was coins, now it’s wild mushrooms. The buzz equally exhilarating.
The season has definitely started. How long it will stick around for is anyones guess. It’s never dependable, it’s not open for calculation. It just is what it is. Like most everything else in nature. No straight lines. No certainty.
I don’t know what I’m doing when I cook. I just do it. Here there is also no certainty. The outcomes are never predictable. But I just do it. It’s not like I’m throwing caution to the wind. I just do what feels right at the time. Most times it works, sometimes not so much. I’m no expert. I’m far from being able to say “this is the correct and only way” to do any particular thing. But at least I try. That’s all we can do.
In culinary terms, if someone tells me I can’t to it, or I’m doing it all wrong, well it just makes me want to do it even more. Not only because I want to prove them wrong, hell I just don’t like being told. Why? Because if you’re told you can’t do something, then chances are you’ll stop having a go. And then, what do we become? All the same. Boring and void of imagination.
I keep telling myself that I need to retreat. I need to get away from the noise and visual pollution of 2014. I find myself walking forests looking for food, facing my fears and talking to myself…a lot. My time alone in the bush is when I feel most real. With a basket of found mushrooms and a mind of new ideas, I’m a complete man. When I cook a meal, I take pleasure in the possibility of it succeeding. When I consume said meal, I experience what I’ve just worked for. I feel contentment in a job done, done all the way to the end. When I look at my food, I can see truth and beauty, I see no bullshit manufacture, I see real. I cannot communicate well enough, how much this has altered my life. Let me assure you though, it’s totally rad.
Pizza with wild picked saffron milk cap mushroom, home made chorizo, home made passata, home grown garlic, jalapeño, sage and thyme.