Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Farm Furrows

Posted on | September 30, 2010 | 4 Comments

It’s a wobbly walk from the end of the garden to the mailbox.  Underneath what looks like a smooth stretch of grass (OK, what we call grass–the green weedy stuff interspersed with yellow flowers that covers dirt in the summer time) are the old hills and valleys of someone’s farm field.  You can’t see these old furrows but you can feel them as you stroll and you sure as heck can find them with the lawnmower blades.

I have no idea who was farming there before me.  I just know, like me, they were left with only one sunny spot between two thick plots of trees to plant their seeds.   I also know they were a bit more ambitious than me since my garden only covers about a quarter of the area with furrows.  Perhaps they had a tractor.  Or a mule and a plow.  Or, horror of horrors, 9 kids.  I understand that people could farm more land with more kids.  I just happen to believe that free child labor must have some diminishing returns.  Like 9 pregnancies, 12 years of diapers, and eventually, more in-laws than it is humanly possibly to like or to avoid.

Regardless, someone else had high hopes for that sunlit patch of land.  Which makes me wonder what will be left behind of my small garden.  Sooner or later someone is going to turn the soil and find that darn trowel that I lost in the mulch a couple years ago.  Maybe it will be me.  Maybe it will be my kids.  Maybe it will be someone putting an inground pool in the same spot where my blackberries flourished and broccoli refused to grow.  Will they wonder who was planting with that rusted old thing?  Will they wonder what we grew? Do people lucky enough to have inground pools wonder about anything except who’s bringing them their next poolside margarita?

It’s hard to say what will become of a farm.  This summer I returned to my grandparent’s farm for my grandfather’s memorial service.  I haven’t been there since I had too many kids to manage a 12 hour drive with getting post traumatic stress disorder.  So, it’s been a while.  But when we pulled into that old familiar driveway I saw that their farm hadn’t been relegated to old furrows.  No, sirree.

It was acres of beautiful fencing.

With a few cows for tax purposes.

It was hens foraging around outbuildings.

And llamas standing guard.

Oh, there were pieces of what the farm used to be.

The big house, condemned for years, but still standing.

The frame of the greenhouse, where plants were started in the chilly New England spring.

But they pale in comparison to the majestic pine in the front yard.  Where generations of my family have posed for photos.

And the pond which my father and his siblings helped to build.

Where my brother and I canoed and fished in every summer of our childhood.

And where my children canoed.

And fished.  Just like me.

My grandmother is still living on that farm.  She has Alzheimers now and probably wakes every morning, wondering who in the hell put a llama in the yard.  But at least she knows it will be  a long time before her farm is just a bunch of forgotten furrows.  And since I survived the 12 hour drive with 1/2 a bottle of Rescue Remedy to spare, I think I might start taking the kids every summer to visit.  Who knows, maybe their kids will get the chance to canoe there, too.

Besides, now that my kids know they have a great grandmother who will not only listen to an hour long recitation on the levels, worlds, and game-winning strategies of Poptropica, but listen to it again in 10 minutes as if she never heard it before, they think they’ve struck the jackpot.   Imagine an adult who actually wants to hear what they have to say about computer games, the latest Little Pet Shop collectible, and the ongoing adventures of Eragon.  More than once.

So, maybe there will always be chickens running around my property.  Goats clambering over downed trees in the woods.  Blackberries growing along the fence line.  I’ll tell you one thing, though.  The ducks don’t bode well for that inground swimming pool………..

This is dedicated to Uncle Matt.  Whose hard work ensures the farm is there for the rest of us.  Hats off to you.


4 Responses to “Farm Furrows”

  1. kmmykat
    October 1st, 2010 @ 5:20 am

    How picturesqe! I want to live there! I have wondered about that trip…since you had said nothing I thought you were trying to put it out of your mind….

  2. Uncle Matt
    October 1st, 2010 @ 8:03 am

    Thank you one can only hope it works out that way for all

  3. Tim Patterson
    October 1st, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

    Such a lovely post, and nice photos, too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. katherine
    October 3rd, 2010 @ 2:33 am

    “I just happen to believe that free child labor must have some diminishing returns. Like 9 pregnancies, 12 years of diapers, and eventually, more in-laws than it is humanly possibly to like or to avoid.” I’m loving your blog. You’re a great writer. And this line made me laugh.

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