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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Fresh Crop Of Rocks


(Editor's Note: Blogger absolutely refuses to upload the picture that accompanies this. I'm a quarter of an inch from switching to another host, or going back to hosting my own blog on my furniture website, like I did before Blogger tempted me with their claims of easy uploads and straightforward WYSIWYG)

{Editor's Note, updated: Hey look. The picture appeared}

[Author's Note: There is no editor]

-Do you miss the farm, Mr. Perkins?
~Are you daft? Another year and a fresh crop of rocks.
-Crop of rocks?
~Have you never been where the trolley don't go? Do you think we pile those rocks along the plotlines to be picturesque for tourists?
-I take your meaning, but it would seem that a fresh crop is out of the question.
~They grow right out of the ground every spring.
-Now you're having me on.
~You get frostbite standing in front of the icebox with the door open, don't you? Have you ever been on a farm?
-A pig farm.
~They're all pig farms. except on most, the farmer is the pig.
-I still don't get the fresh rocks.
~Nature provides, I tell you. But it never provides what you want when you want it. Above all, it provides rocks.
-How do they taste?
~Like sweat. Every thing on a farm tastes like sweat.
-What about the rocks?
~Look, the ground freezes hard here. Rock hard.
-I'm praying for a stony silence, now, myself.
~You asked. The glaciers came through here a long time ago. Back before locusts and Republicans. And it spread rocks around. The devil's rocks. Smooth as cannonballs, and hard enough to turn a plowshare into, well, not a sword, but not a plowshare anymore, either. It turns it into the raw materials a plow used to be made from.
-I get that part. But once they're stacked on the corners, and the plow salesman is retired on your money, that's about it, isn't it?
~You'd think so. You'd think wrong. A farmer never thinks wrong. Because a farmer never thinks his troubles are over. A farmer knows when he's eating a turkey with one hand and holding hands with a pretty girl with the other, that things are going to go downhill soon. He feels about the same way when his hands are empty and the girl is ugly.
-My hands were always empty, and the girls were always ugly.
~That's the difference, see? At least the farmer's wife starts out pretty. The farm fixes that too.
-What about the rocks?
~I told you, the ground freezes harder than a banker's heart every winter. Everything expands when it freezes. Except the rocks. They're held there, in the ground, and a little space opens up around them. In the spring, during mud season...
-Mud season?
~It's right after black fly time.
-Oh.
~Anyway, that sun gets to working, and the water trickles down into the earth with the heat, and fills in that tiny gap under that rock with the slurry and gurry. Imperceptible. Like a raise in the army.
After many a year, that rock shows up, like a bald head, and you've got to pry it out of there before you lose another harrow.
-I get you. A fresh crop of rocks. Why are the walls so low, then? Should be Egyptian sized, by now.
~By the time you're at waist level with those devil's marbles, your greatgrandson has moved to Nebraska to farm in peace.
-Speaking of slurry and gurry, let's go get some coffee at my house. There's no farming there.

7 comments:

PatHMV said...

I've read about those rocks. I understand the physics of how it happens, but as a life-long southerner, it's a completely foreign concept to me. OUR farmland is nothing but soft, gentle silt laid down by several thousand years of river flooding. And it never freezes.

Editor Theorist said...

Great stuff!

BTW - I have to wrestle with blogger to post these comments. There have been times when I have given up...

SippicanCottage said...

Editor T- Thanks.

I wrote this because of your comment yesterday. You look at how people's minds work. That's how mine works.

Anonymous said...

"'You can tell a man by how straight he plows',they say. 'Crooked furrows mean loose thinking. Tell a man by how straight and how deep he plows. Too deep and he's wasting the rich part, wasting it deep and gone so's the roots can't reach it. Tell a man by how straight and deep he plows and how tall and neat his woodpile is and how sharp he keeps his axe and bucksaw....'" Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass by Gary Paulsen

Sorry for being a bit off topic but the post reminds me of this book. I think you'd like it.

And your furrows aren't crooked, either.

Deb in Madison

karen said...

You have no idae how i love that picture!!! I remember those wooden stantions-how they locked into place and letting cows out was like fitting pieces of a puzzle- then locking them back into place when they came back in from pasture. Vaguely, i remember- they were replaced soon by metal ones that pinched dallying fingers and were hard on little hands to open. Cattle are impatient when they know freedom is but a click away (sounds like me here).

Butterworks Farm is up on Buck Hill. We picked rock every spring when working fields over for a planting. Butterworks makes organic yogurt- the cows live downstairs and th milk is pumped upstairs to the little yogurt plant and then sent to the Natural Foods stores and such. I milked their cows for a while.

Thank you for the story(did you make it up?) You have no idea(well, of course you do) how true it is- esp about the farmer's luck :0).

Gary Paulson sounds familiar to me. I like the exerpt.

SippicanCottage said...

karen- people are very pleasant who comment here, and you are surely no exception.

It gives me a certain little spring in my step for you to tell me that you feel it is accurate, because you know the particulars intimately and I do not.

I liked the Gary Paulsen quotation that Deb offered as well.

Thank you all for reading and commenting.

karen said...

It's an honour to get to read your blog- all the blogs i read have a special nack for writing and making me feel- hopeful and so much better informed.

We love farming, we both grew up wanting to farm and it's kind of a miracle: meeting, marrying and milking our own herd. It's work.

Pig farmer made me laugh- oh man, the stories of places you could go. My husband keeps his barn spotless- he sweeps and our cows are very clean.

~That's the difference, see? At least the farmer's wife starts out pretty. The farm fixes that too.

Everything is spot on. Too funny. I'm praying the farm hasn't caught up to me yet LOL!!