This is the sixth in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.
Snake in the Grass
Every player on a team needs a role and I have mine: I am the maintenance guy. Doesn’t sound very glamorous but it’s the perfect spot in the lineup for me. The maintenance guy does the stuff that the farming crew does not have time for, or that the crew would have to somehow manufacture time to complete, if I were not around.
One of the first things I did, even as the crew was preparing the excavated terraces for planting, was to carve a set of five, eight-feet-wide steps, into the four-foot-high, sharply-sloping surface area immediately outside the back door, to gain access to the lowered yard. This way all traffic, whether carrying buckets of compost or a hose, or just traveling empty-handed, had better maneuverability in every direction.
I put together Annie’s herb boxes, directly south of the greenhouse, in an area about thirty feet long, by twelve feet wide. Of course the ground slopes, so I did two parallel retaining walls, so as to break the area in half down the length of it. That way Annie could access the lower one from below and the upper one from above.
I also got the bed for our tomato plants all prepped for the grand event, and plopped those kids in the ground yesterday. I rarely put the tomatoes out before June 1st, unless I have good reason to think the weather will stay nice and avoid a late spring frost. Tomatoes are not fans of cold weather.
This morning I filled the gas tank of the weed-eater, and ran it until the tank ran dry. That is approximately an hour and a half, and afterwards I took a break. The weed-eater is just about the only device we use that makes a racket, but what are you going to do? If I don’t weed-eat, then the weeds represent not only a fire hazard, but a means of concealment for those critters who use it to hide in, like snakes.
A neighbor to the immediate south of me was heard to be expressing disparaging words because of the noise from what he termed a negative commercial venture, meaning Happyday Farms. He thought there was a rototiller going all day, but that was his error. Folks use a rototiller to break up the soil when it has lain fallow all winter.
However, here at Happyday Farms, crops are rotated through the terraces all year round, with Casey and the crew turning the loose soil by hand and adding in more of the rich black compost. Using the rototiller would be pointless, not to mention obnoxious. The irony is that I was doing the weeding around this neighbor’s water tank at the approximate time he was complaining about the noise. Ach tung, Chucko. Best get your facts straight.
Another reason the farm crew does not use a rototiller is because they are still reclaiming the soil from the rocks. Like our Irish forefathers, who had to clear Ireland of rocks, we have to do the same here. This means that one crew member is always using the pitch fork, sifting and shifting the soil to relocate the dwindling rock population. Rototillers and rocks don’t mix well.
In any case, Casey mentioned to me recently, when I was expressing satisfaction with my role, that it was a timeworn custom on the early-American farm, that the elder would assume this maintenance position, because it affords flexibility. I can work when it best suits me, and more importantly, stop when I need to pause.
I function best in the mornings, the earlier the better, and similarly, begin to deflate as the day moves on. Casey, Lito, Torey and Courtney will move into the back yard arena at four in the afternoon, to begin a litany of tasks that will occupy all four of them for three hours, and not think a thing about it.
When I reflect back on all the years I taught and how much of the work day was still ahead of me, even after school, I shudder. These days, at four in the afternoon, the most likely reason I would venture outside is to make sure that the barbecue was prepped and ready to go when Annie gives me the signal.
It’s my role in life and I like it.