A Farm Weekend

Weekends on the farm: Attending a farm estate auction last weekend, picking up various tools and putting them back down, kicking the tires on a nice horse drawn buggy ($800), told by the estate operator “We can come down on anything you are interested in” and not really interested in anything enough to pay cash for, so we stood in the doorway to the barn and watched snow start to fall. An elderly man stood next to us as big heavy flakes drifted out of the sky. We talked about the weather for a few minutes.

After polite conversation he said cheerfully, “Since my wife died I can buy pretty much any damn thing I want.“ He went on to speak of the five tractors and bulldozer he had bought in just the last few months. “I could buy this whole estate if I just had room to put it.” Weather worsening, he then volunteered that he had to “go to the house” and we said the same.

This past Friday we both took some time off from work to attend a mule and draft horse equipment auction an hour and a half northeast. A cold rain fell in Mascot as the auctioneer ran through his high-speed pitch on the virtues of plows with broken handles and buggies with mismatched tires. A lot of items were selling for $5-10, a wagon sold for $75, with only about three bidders in the crowd of a couple hundred. We exercised restraint and headed toward home. That night we joined a group of other farmers to watch a documentary on creating an English forest garden. We ate our fill of BBQ and drank some deadly homemade Belgian ale (curse you Tim and Russ) before leaving with a beautiful mix of orange and purple carrots.

Saturday morning we were up before dawn doing the usual chores. Caleb and I cleaned out the barn, part of an annual spring cleaning. A few hours later,the barn now cleared of accumulated junk and the
truck bed full, I headed to the county landfill. From there,
I ran up onto the Cumberland Plateau to bring home our horse wagon from a farm where it had been being used.

By the time I returned Cindy and our neighbor Sara had butchered and processed nine roosters, cleaned up the mess and were moving on to other endeavors. The rest of Saturday I spent setting up a new germination room for the garden, tilling the late winter garden. (Today the low hoop tunnels will be set up for early crops of kale, mustard, spinach and cabbage.) Cindy spent the late afternoon light working our Haflinger in harness. Coffee, final chores and then our neighbor Adrienne joined us for dinner.

This morning, back up before dawn with the usual chores–then the last couple of hours spent trying to load hogs for market. Loading hogs, as you may recall, requires the patience of Job. One is loaded and three more to go. We can outwait if not actually outwit these hogs.

And there you go, a standard weekend on the farm: work, community and pleasure.


Reading this weekend: The Localization Reader: adapting to the coming downshift, edited by De Young and Princen and published by MIT. Well worth picking up.