Laura Grace Weldon shared one of her poems in a comment to my last post. It is such an excellent poem that I want to make sure no one missed it. It is from her collection Tending. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I do.
Haying: June 12
I follow windrows as they curve
around the field’s geometry.
Rows of cut red clover and timothy
lie yet unsquared.
Driving our ancient tractor, I’m satisfied
with a perfect turn, the roller coaster rush
of throttling up over ruts.
I don’t care that our finances are precarious
as the glue holding together my glasses.
A conjunction of deep blue and green
plus birdsong, equals peace.
My sons lift bales from the field
a smooth ballet of strength
that plays like baling twine
unrolling steadily through the day.
My daughter stacks teetering squares on the wagon
as her father pulls it, head turned watchfully.
Afternoon light shines in their hair.
They call to each other, laughing as they work
voices held aloft as chaff’s long glittering.
Even swallowing this day I couldn’t feel more whole.
Hay piles up in the barn’s dark recesses
like stored sunlight.
Laura Grace Weldon
It will be time to start cutting hay before too long, and once again we won’t be doing do it. We outsourced that job last year and I’m already feeling nostalgic about it.
It’s been a year now since we sold our hay equipment. I don’t regret getting rid of it. Even though it feels wrong to me to buy something that we could produce here ourselves, considering how little hay we use it made no sense for us make our own. For the price of the equipment we can buy all the hay we need for a long, long time and we no longer have to worry about maintenance of the equipment. And now when we bring in hay from other farms we’re importing nutrients, instead of just shuffling them around on our place.
But I’ll confess there are some things about “hay days” that I miss.
For us it was always a family affair. Our daughter, beginning when she was about 13, would drive the truck. Our son would stack the bales on the trailer, and I’d toss them up to him. Cherie kept us fed and hydrated (or sometimes she drove the truck and I loaded, if our son was still baling). Those kind of family work days are all too rare nowadays. With our children grown and gone now, they’re not possible here anymore either.
I don’t miss worrying about rain ruining the hay before it’s out of the field, or about putting it up too wet and burning down the barn. But I did like the satisfying feeling at the end of a long hot day of baling, loading and unloading hay, working together as a family. I do miss that.
Two and a half years ago, after a long time wishing that there was an organized community of folks around here who share our interests, Cherie and I started up a group she named Piedmont Sustainable Living. We organized it through Meetup, scheduled the first gathering at our farm, and wondered if anyone would show up.
That turned out to be one of the smartest things we’ve done since taking up this lifestyle. Our group has grown into a great little community of friends with a shared interest in homesteading, voluntary simplicity and sustainable living. We gather once a month, usually at our place, for fellowship, a potluck supper and a discussion. In February we discussed spring planting dates. In January the topic was medicinal herbs.
Last Saturday we gathered on a friends’ farm to inoculate mushroom logs. So instead of me spending a day or two alone in the barn plugging away, we all gathered to do it together. In 3 hours we plugged about 100 logs. It was good fun, in good company, and will produce lots of good food.
Our new logs won’t produce mushrooms until the fall. But we don’t have to wait that long. Yesterday we picked some shiitakes off our older logs and Cherie gathered some oyster mushrooms from the woods. And they went into spaghetti sauce that went into us.
Crows, a woodpecker, a mourning dove, a wild turkey, a rooster, songbirds, raindrops dripping from the trees onto barn roofs–the sounds of a misty morning walk.
Last night’s rain will bring seeds to life.
Miracles are fixing to happen.
Among the interesting things I’ve found on the farm is this 1922 “Auto Trails Map.”
None of the roads in our county were yet paved, but the roads from Chatham to Danville and from Danville to Houston (now Halifax) were identified as “improved.” Our community (Keeling) boasted a population of 37 at the time.
I imagine travel by automobile was quite a challenging adventure in those days.
“Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.”
When our son Will was in his preschool years, PBS was the only television he was allowed to watch. Like most kids he was a big fan of Sesame Street, etc. We figured that cartoons wouldn’t do him any good at that age.
When he was three, with Christmas approaching, Cherie asked him what he wanted Santa to bring him. Will’s face lit up with excitement and he answered, “A Fisher-Price Three-in-one tournament table!” That’s how we discovered that he had learned to change the channels.
Of course it was that way when I was growing up too. Does anyone remember Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots? Or Battling Tops?
The commercials for those toys made them seem so wonderfully fun that millions of kids begged for them (as we did). Once possessed, sadly, they’re weren’t much fun at all.
Will’s all grown up now, with a daughter of his own. When we asked what she wanted for Christmas this year (a day that also happens to be her birthday), he wasn’t sure. It’s hard to know, he said. Because she doesn’t see television commercials, she doesn’t know what to ask for. Because she wasn’t being bombarded with ads, there weren’t many things she wanted.
Of course it’s the prerogative of grandparents to spoil a grandchild. We would have enjoyed buying her some trendy toy that she would have cherished for at least as long as I loved my Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots. But without the commercials to prime the pump, she wasn’t interested.
So we got her books instead.