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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Saturday we went down to Ellen's big old barn to help with seed potatoes. This barn has the proportions and dignity of a cathedral, striped inside with the diffuse cloudy afternoon light coming through the spaces between the timbers along the ends.

Our worktable was a flatbed trailer painted along the end with the legend "Soggy Bottom Boys"--presumbably a less-than-successful bluegrass group forced to sell. Or maybe a highly successful group moving up to fancier stuff. We--Ellen, her sister, their three little girls, Tammy, Tom, George, and I-- cut up 800 pounds of seed potatoes--Kennebecs, Pontiacs and Cobblers--and spread them out in the barn.

Each piece has at least one "eye", which will be the start of a new potato plant.

Not a bad way to spend a bit of Saturday afternoon: funny (commentary on wit, not peculiarity) people, an old white boxer (dog not shorts) and a little bulldog underfoot, good clean dirt, a red tractor--no, TWO red tractors--in a green field, kids falling in the creek, and seed potatoes ready to plant at the end of it (day not creek).


I am but an humble amanuensis here, recording what has transpired. Or some of it at least.

Last night, far into the dark, a tiny light marked the tractor's grumbling path back and forth across our field, spreading manure--40 truckloads, according to Tom, although there are still manure mountains in place beside the driveway. Rockdust was mixed into the compost today.

We had a very late supper of our approximation of a muffaletta, with Central Grocery's olive salad. Tom and Jeff were there, but Scharko (white-bearded old hippie from Georgia) and Steve (carpenter from somewhere in Tennessee) were new at the farm table.

Tom had inadvertently locked Steve in George's pasture, where he had been sprinkling biodynamic "potentiating juju" (his description) across the potato patch with a whisk broom--a zen state accompanied by random meditations on the meaning of life, the contents of his business card, and what was really in the bucket. Steve declared HIMSELF potentiated, since he had inhaled some of the mix--a condition we tactfully did not explore--but still required phone calls and rescuers to unlock the gate.

This bunch, plus at least Jim and George, had also planted potatoes and lettuce today and I don't know what all else, and I know for a fact that manure spreader envy ran rampant and unchecked, as they watched Jeff's machine in action.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

spring, fences

Warming up--Lulu's water bowl is thawed and the last speckles of snow tucked under the hydrangea bush on the north side of the house are gone.

It takes a big fence to keep deer out of a big garden, and ours is only half-built. One of our neighbors says it takes an 8-foot fence to keep deer out, but a 12-foot fence to keep them in! So what's up is 8 feet, but there is more wire to stretch, so another neighborhood workfest is on for Saturday.

We're a little embarrassed--we ourselves are going to be out of town--but George and Steve will be fence-bosses, and Kay is doing another workers' lunch. So load up your hammers and come on out.

Our daughter is bringing the Beloit Ultimate team (that's competitive frisbee) to visit, but we're not sure exactly when they will pull in. Put 'em to work if you see 'em!

Don't know where we are? Go out Hwy 12 towards Ashland City, turn right at Jimmy Lewis' Country Store, and we're the second farm on the right. The one with the Giant Fence in the front pasture.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Wet. Cold. Rainy. Sleet. A little snow.

But: the spring peepers are singing their little audio personals and pale green shoots are promising daffodils to come.