Tag Archives: planting

Breaking ground

Every year around this time, I get a little nostalgic, a little dreamy and a little misty over a boy, The Farmer Boy. I don’t think about him in the winter, summer or fall; no, spring was our season, or rather, those few weeks that lead up to planting. The reason my mind drifts back to The Farmer Boy isn’t because of his good looks (and ladies, he was sooo hot) or his personality. No, the reason I think of him is because this boy broke up with me with the most spectacular line ever.

Let me set the scene: Planting was about to begin. I knew what that meant, I wouldn’t get a chance to see him for six weeks. I was OK (though not thrilled) with it. One night, while on the phone, I asked for a small favor.

The conversation went like this:

Me: Every once-in-a-while, can you maybe, along the way, let me know that you miss me?

Him: Ah…well…The thing is that I really love riding around in the tractor. I mean, I love planting and, well, I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you that.

Me: Huh?

Him: You see, now that you mention it…I’ve realized that I love my tractor more than I like you.

Me: … But I have boobs! …

So as farmers climb up into their tractors, my mind drifts back to the boy who loved his tractor so much he chose it over a really, spectacular rack. And though it was painful at the time, I think it’s pretty damn funny now.

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Rhythm of the season

Spring has finally (kind of) made an appearance in Upstate New York. The Winter was cold and bitter and even snowy…but it was also long. Why is it that we spend all year complaining about the season we’re in? Winter is too cold (or too warm); Spring is too short, too rainy, too cold or non-existent all together; Summer is too hot, too wet, too dry; Fall is too short, too warm, too stormy. I’m just as guilty as the rest, I complain right along with everyone else.

To me, Spring is always about transformation and transformation is never easy or smooth. Transformation, instead, is about stormy emotions, destruction of the old, birth of the new. Muddy paths and windy nights; turmoil and chaos – that is what Spring brings. It is an unsettling of routines, souls and perspectives. It is scary and beautiful all in the same breath. It is about surrender and acceptance.

Spring in Upstate is also the time when fields are plowed and planted. It is the time when farmers emerge from their workshops rested and repaired with a curse on their lips and a prayer in their hearts, prepared for the marathon that is about to begin.

Farmers are always in a tussle with Mother Nature. Last year it was a record warm Spring and a devastating Summer drought. This year, it is the continued cold snap and flooding. We need to get seed in the ground so that it can mature in time and be ready for harvest but we also need the ground warm and dry enough to get into the fields.

For many of us who have a supporting role on farms or in farmers’ lives, planting means saying “goodbye” for a solid six (or more) weeks. I had my goodbye chat last night, planting hasn’t started, but it will in the next few days. There may be a quick call from a tractor cab here and there, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope. After seven years in the country, I’ve gotten used to the rhythm and the calendar that farm men live by. I’m not saying that I like it, I’m just used to it now.

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Muddy paths

The past few weeks as I have made my way in and out of the house or the office, I don’t know, something just felt  missing. I could’t quite put my finger on it, but there was that nagging, back of the brain, “I think I’ve forgotten a really important thing” sort of feeling. All the rain we have had/are having/will have, finally put a name to the missing bit: Mud Season.

Growing up in Connecticut, we were used to the standard four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Silly, naive me, I thought that was all there were. It wasn’t until moving to upstate New York at the age of twenty-five did I learn there is a fifthy, murky, dirty season lurking somewhere in between as well.

Mud season is like the black sheep of Mother Nature’s brood – you know the type, always getting drunk at Christmas and making passes at the preacher’s wife, walking into a fancy restaraunt with grease-stained jeans and a Toby Keith t-shirt. Mud Season is the Pig Pen relative no one wants to ever talk about.

The truth is that we’ve had an odd spring thus far. It’s like everything has been pushed back four weeks or so. April showers are here in mid-May, will May flowers come in mid-June? And Mud Season has come as well but not at it’s usual point between the snow-melt and the greening of the grass,  instead it has come now. Mother Nature (someone who has been on my naughty list recently) has decided to throw us yet another loop.

What does this postponed Mus Season mean? Well, the fields have been too wet to get much of the field work done thus planting has been delayed and chopping haylage will be pushed back as well. It means dirty floors, messy walks and filthy dogs. And, my favorite, the kind of mud that grabs onto you and won’t let go, sucking your shoes right off your feet with a deep “thawp” noise.

It also means, hopefully, that once all this rain stops and the sun starts to shine that life will begin to show, wardrobes will shed and Summer will finally be here. In upstate New York we get such a short window of nice weather (the first snow will undoubtedly be here by late-October) that having a delayed Summer makes us antsy and fidgetty and ever so slightly cranky.

Come on, Summer! Come on, Sunshine! Come on, allergy attacks and sunburns and frizzy hair…I’m seriously ready for you all.

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Berry patch preparation

We’ve officially begun a new endeavor – berries. This morning we trundled up to a field with seventy plants and put them into the ground. One day we will have boyson berries, raspberries and black berries to fill our bellies, pies and jelly jars. Did we do it properly? Probably not. Will they grow? It’s anyone’s guess to be honest, but we’ve planted them and, fingers crossed, come next year we will be able to pick a couple pints here and there and enjoy the rewards of what we’ve sown.

Anyway, the sun was out and the birds were chirping and flying past and the ground was surprisingly dry for all the rain that we’ve been having. Life’s pretty good on a day like this with lots of green all around. Below are some pictures to commemorate the moment and the inaugural planting of what will be a very tasty enterprise indeed.

Pre-planting confab

Mid-planting consultation

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