Today may have started with snow on the ground, but that actually seemed kind of irrelevant. It’s May, and that has power! And despite the weather things are coming along nicely here at the farm.
Last week we built a little greenhouse for transplants, and we built it out of scraps and about $50 worth of plastic from the hardware store. 35 feet long by 16 feet wide. And it held up to the wind and “mixed” precipitation, and stayed above freezing with outside temperatures down to 25 last night, so we’re feeling pretty good about that.
I took a trip to visit a farmer who grew up on a North Dakota farm using working horses and just never left and never stopped using horses. But now, he’s going to retire some he told me. Slowing down he said. At eighty-six he figures he’d like to see some of his equipment stay in use, and so I went down to purchase some iron and soak up some camaraderie.
Someone commented to me recently (somewhat derisively, actually) that I was born about sixty years too late. Well, I know that’s not true, but I do seem to enjoy the company of that generation of farmers. They don’t seem to think I’m crazy when I talk about using horses to accomplish farm work. They don’t treat me like they think I’m overly idealistic, foolishly romantic or wasting my time. No, they seem to appreciate my interest. Having witnessed the transition from animal traction to tractors, from the agrarian farm to the industrial farm, many of them have questioned what was gained and what was lost. They recognize the benefits of self-reliance and thrift. They remember the joy of working with live power at a human pace. And they understand the precariousness of those agrarian skills, many of them almost lost completely.
So, I find myself chatting with an old man in a farmyard about the angle of draft on a sulky plow or the operation of the overshot stacker, what needs to be fixed on this, what needs to be adjusted on that. And now at Riverbound Farm we’ve got some new very old tools to help us get tomorrow’s work done.