Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Cobbler

Today's picture was taken in 1903, and shows an old Cobbler in his Shoe Making shop. As we look at all these old pictures, I am struck by the profound change in the nature of our jobs over the last hundred years. I notice that in these old pictures, there is a very tangible nature to the work people did. If you asked this man what he did for a living, he would say, "I am a cobbler. I make shoes, and I repair shoes". Someone else might say, "I am a farmer, and I grow corn", or "I am a blacksmith, and I shoe horses". Very clear, concise, and important work. Today, it is hard for most people to describe what they do . . . "I restructure debt settlements in reverse mortgage arbitrage cases", or other obscure things. When you try and unravel what we are all doing, almost no one actually Builds, Grows, or Fixes things. It is like we are a nation of people sorting paper into different piles.

Domestic Update:

Things continue to go well out at the Bean Barn. Over Thanksgiving, I got my raised beds built. I have planted onions and garlic in them (two in onions, two in garlic).

The Kubota tractor made quick work out of getting the dirt into the beds. When the garlic and onions start producing, I will have achieved my life-long dream of having a Salsa Garden. Inside the Bean Barn I am growing Tomatoes, JalapeƱos, Cilantro, and other spices. So, once I have onions and garlic, I will be able to walk out to the bean barn, gather the fresh ingredients, and make my salsa. If you have never tried making fresh salsa, here is my daughters recipe. It is REALLY good . . . Roasted Salsa. I hope some of you will try it and let me know what you think.

Everything else in the Bean Barn continues to do well. The cucumbers have grown all the way to the top of the greenhouse, and are now forming a canopy along the roof.

If you zoom in on the picture, you can see we are getting cucumbers over two feet long, yet still as tender and sweet as can be. As I mentioned earlier, Mrs. PJM takes cucumbers to work everyday, and sells them to people in the airport. She sells out each day, and there is always a waiting list. The little oriental restaurant many times buys all she has. The Chinese woman that owns the place calls Mrs. PJM the "Dolla Lady", since the cucumbers are $1 each. Just 48,375 more cucumbers, and we will break even on the Bean Barn.

The Broccoli is getting close to being ready to pick.

The peppers grow a lot slower than the other things, but we are picking JalapeƱos now. The Bell Peppers are getting close to being ready to start picking.

As I mentioned earlier, I started with a number of different test systems to see what worked the best. Now, I have seen what works, and have the large full scale systems ready to go. I have not installed the large systems yet, as the test systems are producing, and I don't want to take them off-line. One table is growing the most succulent sweet peas you ever tasted, so I can't bring myself to break the system down to make room for the new systems. I have decided that over Christmas I will bite the bullet and change the systems out. With the new system, I will be able to grow 350 leaf plants like lettuce, spinach, and spices, and will be able to grow 60 vine plants like tomatoes and cucumbers.


  1. Sounds like someone is almost ready for greenhouse #2! At what point do you move from gentleman farmer to mid-level commercial produce supplier? And is that a dream of yours?

  2. Nate,
    I actually am pondering a larger commercial greenhouse. We have found that there is a large demand for fresh, pesticide free produce. Mrs. PJM has found that she does not have to compete on price, but can compete on quality. So, it is easy to sell out by simply pricing at grocery store prices. Just something rolling around in the back of the mind at this point.

  3. Your garden(s) look great! When do we see some more pictures of the extended peacock family? The chicks must be grown up by now.
    Graham in St. John's

  4. OK, I will try and put together some pictures from Chickie Town.

    Some of the chickies are molting, and they look pathetic.

    Handsome Jack is getting his full tail feathers in now, and he is looking magnificent. He spends about half the day showing off the plumage. Wrong time of year, so Lovie is not impressed.

  5. Mr PJM,

    Great garden!
    (Mine's about finished for the year, just a few jalapenos left, no greenhouse.)

    Your last sentence of The Cobbler is so true.

  6. What a dying vocation, It is almost cheaper to buy new shoes than get them repaired.

    Great garden. Not to many people can go in and pick cucumbers off their ceilings.
    How are your tomato plants doing?

    Yes photos from chickie town would be great.

  7. My greatgrandfather, at age sixteen, made a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas. He farmed and ranched until his later years when he moved into town and bought a house and became a shoe cobbler. As a small child(in the mid- forty's) I loved to watch him work. Sometimes he would let me do some polishing.

  8. Yay, domestic update! And I second the request for pictures from chickie town.

    I wish we weren't in a culture where it costs more to repair than to replace; it leads to the wasteful mentality of consumers who don't value what they have.

  9. PJM:

    I agree with your comments on today's post.

    It's true, almost no-one makes anything these days - or has a job that produces such tangible results.

    Re the cobbler, there are only two left in my city. Both of them only work part-time, and their shops are harder to get into than a doctor's.

    They also charge a fortune, which is why most people probably just buy new shoes.

    Too bad - it's fast becoming a lost art.

  10. I agree with your observation about the inability of people today to describe their job. There are, however two occupations that have a very clear definition that everyone can understand. They are the firefighters and policemen that help and defend us from the danger of fires and dangerous people. The product of their work is not always attractive, but we all sleep better knowing they are out there 24 hours a day.

    I'm a little partial to these occupations because my son-in-law is a firefighter in a medium sized town. I will add that the spouses and children pay a price for their frequent absences.

    I know I could include the military in this category, but it is often not clear what they do. However, this does not minimize their contribution to our country.

    PJM, the farm continues to grow. The recipe for the salsa makes my mouth water so I will try it with the old store bought stuff and imagine what it would be like using the fresh veggies from your garden. Keep expanding it.


  11. Any thoughts on the name of your farming outfit?

  12. Congratulations of the ever-increasing fruition of your intentions . . .

  13. Sorry haven't been on to comment of late, am living in the Philippines for a while and high speed internet is still pretty much of a concept. Am enjoying it immensely.

    Reading your comment on working today under the old cobbler and it occurs to me that not only have we become workers of vague necessities, but that our lives have become so as well. Most have no idea of life goals or ambitions and are consumed just getting through the work day.

    Like your Bean Barn. Waiting until Christmas might be a good idea depending upon your plans and goals for the produce. Sounds like you might have a bit more than you need for yourself.

    I might suggest that when you do switch over that you consider leaving a bit of room for experimentation as you seem to be the type not to accept 'as is' very readily. Or maybe consider a permanent experimentation area or even a scaled down barn. Just suggestions, but that is what I've done for a living for quite some time and I don't seem to be able to get by it easily. LOL



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