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Farms On A Bookshelf

April 23, 2009

img_0850All farms are distinct.  They each have their own form of diction, their own prose, and their own story to tell.  With their long string of authors, and contributing authors they can tell a story that spans generations, or they can tell the autobiography of one inspired soul.

The novelists behind these agricultural works can be just as protective, boasting or ambivalent about their work, though I find that the small farm world is more akin to the world of short stories, where each word, each inch of the story is crafted and just as important as the next.  I suppose there is the obligatory corner of the bookshelf that is those cheap, trashy supermarket romance novels, that are probably written in a day, with a complete disregard for any supposed pursuit of “quality” but that was not the type of farm that we visited this weekend.

langs-yard-copyIf you were to find a library of farms, organized by philosophy, the farm we visited would be just a few cards away in that card catolouge.  Their owners have been good friends for thirty years, one introduced the other to driving horses, they are diverse farms with a comitment to sustainable management and passing on that philosophy.  And yet everything still seemed different.

The horses are a different breed, the house and barn are timber framed buildings, the land is much flatter and the soil tends to be a sandier clayey loam.  But it was not the details that made the farm feel different.  It was the history, the story perhaps and its authors that made the distinction.

The next farm on our library tour was an Amish farm near Aylmer, Ontario.  The three “boys” of the farm, Tony, Dirk  and myself were on a field trip of sorts to see some other farms and attend a plowing workshop sponsored by Pioneer.  We saw lots of farm equipment, many teams of horses, lots of Amish men and even more plowing.

img_0869Plowing is a big deal.  It is sort of like sawing logs for a lumber jack, or speeding down a straightaway for a racecar driver: it’s what farmers do, and pride themselves on.  If you have a messy plowing job, or your furrows are uneven, or your dead furrow is too wide, or you just can’t keep the furrows straight, all your neighbors will know.  To the right here, is a young Amish driving a double furrow (two mulboards or blades on the bottom that turnover the soil) plow with a team of six horses in tandem.  Six was a bit overkill, but he was an impressive teamster and turned the band of horses with envious ease.

img_0917Then it was time to head home and try out our new plow.  Tony and dirk looked like they were in a plowing contest (such things exist and are the source of many boasting rights) as Tony plowed along while Dirk took measurements and watched the movement of the plow.  Turns out there’s a whole art and science to getting a piece of metal to flip some sod over.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. ire permalink
    April 24, 2009 6:25 am

    jejeje ya te veo hecho todo un Jethro Tull, y no hablo del grupo de Ian el dios flautista de los salmones!

    Oye, y otra cosa muy importante después de una semana, porfi …dinos cuántos pollitos quedan!?


    • Itinerant Farmer permalink*
      April 24, 2009 7:44 am

      jejeje, me he hecho un poco granjero pero me quedan ciertas cosas de mi que nunca desaparecen. Y lo de los pollitos quedan 206, o sea que se murió uno más pero los demás quedan vivos y sanos!


  2. April 24, 2009 8:25 pm

    Nice post for the “Book’s day”. Certanly there are lots of things in life that could be described in books-terms. You did a really good comparison.
    By the way, you know I couldn’t agree more with you about that “complete disregard for any supposed pursuit of quality” you talk about, specially in literature and music.

    P.S.: ¡¡Hola, Irene!!, no sabía que también frecuentabas por aquí.

  3. Marta permalink
    May 4, 2009 8:42 pm

    “bookshelf” 😉

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