A Clean Slate
Jane and I ruminated over that very subject the other night.
Since “we’re” not milking, I still like to spend a little quality time with Jane. I yak, and she chews her cud and sniffs my hair and gloves to see what’s up.
She heard me rummaging around in the
tie stalls catch-alls, and was curious what I was doing. Spring cleaning was up, which is much more fun in the barn than in the house for sure. Pawing around in the dark corners near the mangers is sure to bring something to the top. Good thing bugs don’t bother me, because I am sure spiders and other fun critters abound in the recesses of those stalls. I found a little galvanized bucket of stuff, junk mostly, that I think my kid squirreled away at some point when she was tiny, and sort of a klepto. A cracked Fiestaware teacup, horseshoe, T-post clips, pliers, and a cool old fence tightener, plus other odds and ends of stuff you might find in a barn.
Actually I pondered, Janey just cudded with approval. Kind of like nodding to your spouse when they are talking… .
A clean slate? What is that? I am sometimes envious of folks who start out farming in some place new or at least new to them. Whether it be a bare piece of land that was carved off some other farm or forest, or a farm. You see it’s pretty easy to trash the previous owners when you have no connection to them or the junk piles. One man’s junk, is well, another man’s junk, if you know what I mean.
So, because I am always trying to fit new things in with the old, I get pulled up short quite a bit. You would think planting a row of raspberries would be a simple thing. Just do it.
Well, I have to say our berry patch has been the bane of my existence for the last twenty years. Here you either build an eight foot fence around your garden compound for deer and elk abatement, or you place your gardening plots close to your house and keep a dog or three. So my choices are either take up more space in the pasture and add a wildstock fence, or stack that berry patch in the zone within close proximity of the house. Complicating that second choice is that the only open area is right where an old building used to be. Namely a shop that spanned horse power days to petroleum days. We have learned over the years that old building sites that contained fuel, batteries etc., are not always the best place for long-lived perennial plants like berries. I had one row left that I knew was a good, clean berry loving spot.
So what becomes a simple – strip the sod, amend the soil type of afternoon turns into an archaeological dig of sorts spanning more than a couple of decades. And unlike a new to this land person, I am curious about my findings. Whose hands touched those metal reminders of farming seasons past? I don’t cuss them for leaving a mark, it’s a tiny connection to the what living and farming went on here before. It’s part of my past. But it’s not a clean slate by any means. It’s more a diary of farming in the days before plastic. I shudder to think of the next hundred years, drip tape, row cover, greenhouse plastic, plastic gas cans, even in the woods, a plastic wedge and a pop can will show how far we’ve come. Rusty old metal parts and pieces do eventually blend in. Plastic not so much. I’m torn, I’m pretty used to the wonders of plastic, and I know that legacy will be with us in the future too, just like all this stuff in the farm shop turned berry patch.
This is just what we found this time, when we first worked this up with a disc and harrow twenty years ago, we found things you don’t want to find with a disc…
This week’s haul ranged from rein terrets, railroad spikes, square nails, round nails, round stock, glass shards, babbitt, buggy parts, and hooks, right up to a modern-day fuel pump piece and some kind of shaft from some long ago beat up piece of farm equipment.
So I sifted and inspected.
Added to replace what I took away, and in the row that contained the few heirloom raspberries I have saved, (for what reason I am not sure, they are not that productive – a connection perhaps?) I planted a nice bundle of new berries.