Marijuana Valley, Maine
Excerpts from Crash Barry’s forthcoming book
By Crash Barry
Crash Barry’s Marijuana Valley, Maine is the true story of the trials and tribulations of a misfit group – all living on the same rural dirt road – growing marijuana during the summer of 2010. In addition to detailing the struggle of reefer farmers, Marijuana Valley takes a close look at the cannabis subculture, complete with polyamory, drama, hijinks and tons of pot-growing tips. What follows are three excerpts from the book, which will be published in January 2013.
Mary hated living in the slums of West Mill City, Massachusetts. Born and raised in Central Maine, she never imagined she’d end up squatting with a scumbucket who’d gotten her pregnant.
It wasn’t just that she didn’t have any money. A beatific and bespectacled hippie chick whose previous address was a broken-down school bus parked on a pasture hill, Mary was used to being poor. It was all of it combined: being broke, friendless, and living in a strange town with a dude she didn’t trust. Luckily, they didn’t have to pay rent. Jeff was letting them stay in the apartment he and Gayle co-owned in a hippie co-op triple-decker while they wintered on the farm in Marijuana Valley, Maine. But it was more than she could take. Freaky was driving her crazy. And she was already nuts.
Mary was hungry and tired from standing on her feet all day, building circuit boards on an assembly line — the only job she could find. Times were tough. The recession was a heavy-duty bummer. And because Freaky was the laziest son-of-a-bitch on the planet and virtually unemployable, she had to bring the money home. Even if someone was stupid enough to hire Freaky, they’d quickly learn their lesson when he ripped them off as soon as their back was turned. She was 99 percent sure he was stealing from her.
Their only income since the harvest was the cash they’d made from the ganja cookies and brownies she baked, which Freaky sold for three bucks apiece. Two weeks earlier, they’d run out of ganja butter, so she took the factory job.
Mary sat at the kitchen table in the cold apartment, occasionally sipping from a cup of lukewarm tea. She stared at a column of numbers written in a notebook. She added the figures again. She’d transformed 32 ounces of finely ground trim from the harvest into 32 pounds of ganja butter. Each pound of butter made 80 treats. That would mean 2,560 cookies and brownies. At three bucks per, they should have earned about $7,600. Even if she and Freaky had eaten 10 percent of the cookies, which she thought was an over-estimate, they would’ve still earned about $6,800. Yet according to her records, they only made about five grand.
It was her fault. She should have paid closer attention to the money. She knew Freaky was a thief. She’d just assumed he wouldn’t steal from her. After all, they were living together and she was carrying his baby.
Had been carrying his baby. She tried not to think about the miscarriage. She couldn’t tell anyone, but she was happy the baby died. Sometimes, when her depression got really bad, she blamed herself for losing the child. Once or twice during the pregnancy, she had willed the baby to die because she didn’t want to be tied to Freaky for the rest of her life.
And where was Freaky now? She’d given him 20 bucks to get dinner. Again, she should have known better, but after a full shift and the 45-minute commute home, she was exhausted. Couldn’t even ponder cooking. Wanted to eat something, then go to bed. If Freaky was getting pizza, he was probably hitting on the teenage girl manning the register. If he was getting Chinese, he was flirting with the black chick who worked behind the bar. Such a slimeball. Always trying to fuck anything that moved. How could she have been so stupid to hook up with him? What could he have done with the rest of the money?
Her cell phone rang. She looked at the screen. It was Jeff. She smiled. She’d been waiting for this call.
“You ready to grow some medicine?” he asked.
“Are we on?” she asked, suddenly cheerful. Everything was gonna be okay. She knew it.
“That’s right. I need you and Freaky-Freak back up here by March first at the latest.”
She paused for a second. Could she handle another month in West Mill City? “Do you really need him?”
“Oh.” She paused again. “You sure?”
“Not going so well down there?”
“Not really.” She sighed. “Nope.”
“Maybe it will be better in Maine.”
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
“You come on home. If he doesn’t behave, I’ll throw his ass out of here. How about that?”
“Listen, you are a million times more valuable than that son-of-a-bitch. But I’ve got some shit jobs for him. Downstairs of the barn. Gotta be dug and mucked out by hand. Dirty hard labor.”
“Good,” she said. “Make him work. I’d like to see that.”
Rooster awoke on the floor. No clue where he was. Not a big deal, for him. Happened all the time. Often took awhile to get his bearings after a long stretch of partying. That’s the price of being a wanderer, living on the road, surfing between alley, park bench, hammock, couch and floor.
He didn’t recognize this particular surface: dirty, sticky and stinking of spilled beer. He tried hard to remember. He was somewhere in New York. That much he knew. But what city? Buffalo. That’s right. They were in Buffalo. He and his pal had hooked up with a cool chick the day before who invited them back to her house for a pot-luck supper. A bunch of urban hippies. The food and drugs were great. Snorted several rails of moli and smoked some good herb. Busted serious moves to dank dubstep for a long time. Then he passed out. Now he was awake. That was his life in a nutshell. Not bad for a homeless, jobless 28-year-old.
He yawned, which made him look leonine amid his mane of yellow dreads. He was still so tired. Just wanted to go back to sleep. Which would be totally fine, since he didn’t have any place to be. Or go. That was the joy of being Rooster, he liked to say. Rooster only does what he wants. That sounded cool, he knew, but in reality it was getting stale. Sure, he’d had some groovy times over the last three years. Hitchhiking around the country. Going to music festivals and Rainbow gatherings. When he needed money, he’d write “Broke Hippy needs cash to get home” on a piece of cardboard and stand in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Make upwards of a hundred bucks an hour. When he wanted food, he’d create a “Hungry Hippy needs lunch” sign and stand in front of a sandwich shop.
Despite the signs, Rooster insists he’s not a hippie. If forced to describe himself, for anthropological purposes, he’d claim to be a rooster. But from appearance to attitude, he meets every definition of a dirty hippie. To say he “emits a stench” would be polite. From his natty white-boy dreads to his nasty feet, he reeks of dirty socks and sweat. And he doesn’t even wear socks. He can’t get rid of the odor, no matter how much lavender oil he splashes on his chubby, hairy body. Even after vigorous soap-scrubbings during occasional showers, he comes out dripping wet and still stinking. Life on the road turned him filthy. Permanently.
He needed to shit and piss. He got up off the floor and stretched. While he’d slept, his skirt had gotten bunched between his legs and stuck in his ass crack. It wasn’t a woman’s skirt. It was a patchwork of random articles of clothing he’d sewn together and wore like a kilt. Whatever it was called, the thing was crusty, dirty and nasty. He also owned a red t-shirt, a pair of boots and a winter coat he’d stolen from a thrift shop in Philadelphia. That was his entire wardrobe.
Rooster traveled light. Had to when living on the road. Learned that trick early on. In addition to the clothes on his back, Rooster currently owned the following: a blue sleeping bag, a 10-by-10 plastic tarp, an L.L. Bean backpack, a rolled-up trash bag containing 36 baggies of heirloom vegetable seeds, and a half-dozen water-stained notebooks filled with pages of scrawled factoids and observations about the science of soil.
Rooster knew the end of society was near. The Illuminati intended to disrupt the food-supply chain to trigger mass starvation and panic among the people. A hungry populace was easier to control. Thanks to the food trickery and the poisonous chemtrails being spewed by government airplanes, humanity was gonna get fucked. Maybe as early as 2012. Maybe a little later. Regardless, he needed a piece of land, preferably in Maine, where he could build a crazy house out of found materials and grow all his own food. That’s what he wanted for the long term.
Short term was to find the bathroom. Or at least a window he could piss from. But he probably wouldn’t be able to shit out the window. Even Rooster knew his hosts would consider that uncool, no matter how radically outsider this commune gang boasted of being. Luckily for Buffalo, the first door he opened revealed a toilet.
After his ablutions, he returned to his sleeping bag to ponder his next move. It would be nice to eat and to check Facebook. Simple enough. He rose again and wandered through a couple rooms until he found the kitchen. A dude was sitting at the table with a laptop.
“Hey,” Rooster said, sticking his finger in his ear, which he did whenever he asked for a favor. “I’m Rooster, a friend of … oh, bread! Awesome.” He grabbed a loaf of peasant bread on a cutting board and ripped a hunk off the end. Spotting a butter dish, he used a long, serrated bread knife to smear gobs of butter all over his breakfast. “Yeah.”
“Who did you say you were friends with?” the guy asked.
Rooster chewed and chewed, holding up a finger to put the guy off for a second. What was that chick’s name? Man, she was hot. Worked at the abortion clinic. Was a fire juggler. Oh, yeah. Her name had something to do with the time of day. Morning, perhaps? Then it came to him. “Dawn,” he said, with his mouth half full. “She’s wicked cool. You know her?”
“Yeah,” the guy said. “She’s one of my housemates.”
“Wow, that’s cool,” Rooster said, nodding. “This place is great. Last night was awesome. Listen, is there any chance I could use your computer for a second to check Facebook?” He grinned. “I’m expecting a message from my grandmother.”
“Sure,” the guy said. “But I’ve still got work to do.”
“Right on,” Rooster said, sitting at the table. “I’ll be quick about it.”
He had all sorts of friend requests and invites, but he wasn’t interested in that bullshit. Because he kept losing his cell phone, he used Facebook as his mobile, nationwide answering machine. Only one new message. From a chick named Gayle he met at a festival in Maine last summer. Sexy hippie MILF with dreads. He’d been thinking of trying to nail her. But she must have been in her early 30s, if he remembered correctly. Too old for him. He liked the young ladies. He clicked on the message.
“Rooooster. Wha’ up? U wanna live on farm, grow food, raise chixens? let’s talk. U c’mon back to Maine and we’ll hook U up. Jingle me at 207-…”
A newspaper, opened to a half-finished crossword puzzle, lay on the table. He grabbed a pen and used the blank 14 Across to write Gayle’s phone number, then logged out.
“Thanks, dude,” he said, standing. “Mind if I use the phone?” He pointed to the land line hanging on the wall.
“Is it a local call?”
“Yeah,” he lied. “Sure is.”
Upon arriving at Jeff’s farm in Marijuana Valley, Maine, Rooster joined Mary, Freaky and others in helping Jeff manifest his dream: a totally legal marijuana garden, with 69 plants, located down the hill from his house. Rooster was immediately put to work digging trenches. Then, due to a personnel shakeup, Rooster suddenly found himself responsible for the actual growing of the marijuana, with guidance from Jeff’s consultants and the Internet.
The laughter from the other end of the house made Rooster look up from the Internet. Joseph The Consultant and the rest of his gang were taking a break from jamming country-folk-rock with Jeff. That sort of music drove Rooster crazy, so he was blasting the Unicorn Kid’s dank dubstep concoctions through his laptop’s tinny speakers. It was actually Dawn’s laptop. She owned two and had lent him one so they could stay in touch while she was on the road. He’d had ear-buds, too, but they were either lost or Freaky stole ’em.
The computer and Jeff’s Wi-Fi were real lifesavers, because Rooster didn’t know shit about marijuana cultivation. He’d surf the net whenever he had a chance. For hours at a stretch, mostly at night or during wet weather, he’d read pages and posts about growing ganja. The number of different opinions about how to grow pot was staggering. It was hard to sift through all the contradictory data and theories without getting completely bewildered.
Despite a decade and a half of steady substance abuse, Rooster still had excellent reading and retention skills, plus his innate intelligence and long-standing interest in soil science, so he wasn’t completely lost. Back when he was obsessively learning about growing veggies, he never imagined the knowledge would help him grow marijuana. But because he already understood the importance of minerals, nutrients and micro-organisms in the soil for tomatoes, it was a no-brainer that the same practices would apply to help cannabis achieve optimal health, development and yield.
As he delved deeper into the marijuana literature, it became apparent that the only thing marijuana growers agreed upon is that everyone else is doing it wrong. The most basic questions, like how many hours of light per day are best for vegetative plants, could trigger debates of thousands of words. Some claimed the lights should be on 24-7 until the plants landed in the ground. Others argued that 18 hours of daily light was more than enough, that longer was a waste of electricity. Other growers insisted the answer totally depends on the strain.
Fortunately, at the start of that evening’s research, there had been a full jar of weed on the table. Rooster had helped himself to several nice buds before the jar disappeared into the jam-band session. So he’d been steadily puffing while reading about pot botany. He’d recently discovered a series of blogs by growers who claimed to communicate with their plants and listen to their needs, trusting intuition more than science or a nutrient schedule. Although experimentation and record-keeping were super important, Rooster was beginning to like the idea of trusting his gut and letting the plant tell him what she needed. Besides, he sucked at record-keeping. And he hated doing what other people told him to do. That was part of his free spirit. No denying it.
He took another deep hit, then exhaled. He was high and exhausted by both the great ganja and the day of hard labor spent lining trenches with plastic and dumping Sunshine Soil Mix on top. After the back-breaking weeks of trenching, Rooster had figured this part of the job would be quick and easy. Not so. He finally understood what Mary had been bitching about while lugging the bales. The Sunshine weighed a ton, especially the shit that got wet.
Marijuana Valley, Maine will be published in January 2013. Visit crashbarry.com for details about Marijuana Valley “leaf certificates” — the perfect holiday gift.