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April 9, 2017
The Good Ol' Days
By Charis Lindrooth
Once upon a time Red Earth Farm sat on a 14 acre plot of land, with just over 4 acres in vegetable production. So many heads of lettuce have been harvested since that time, maybe 100,000? That’s just a Farmer’s Wife’s guess, so we will see what the Farmer says when he hops off the tractor and reads this. Back then a collection of old bent kitchen paring knives constituted the tools for harvest. Now we use slick machetes with fat yellow handles. And now we cultivate over 30 acres in produce.
Sometimes the Farmer reflects on the “good ol’ days.”
Things didn’t always run smoothly, and the quality of the produce lagged behind our standards today, but a sweetness blessed those early days. One of the best things about those times, were crew lunches. We shared our housing with several employees and took turns cooking a hot lunch for the entire crew. Rickety tables, and even more rickety chairs set up outside were laden with steaming curried greens, homemade cornbread, vegetable soup and always the ever present salad. If the salad arrived on the table as a simple pile of lettuce, we called it a “George Salad” because crew member George lacked creativity or inspiration when making salad. Promptly at 1pm a hot, sweaty crew would pile down the hill from field to table, and while plates full of food circulated, the banter began.
I savored these moments.
Featured topics included politics, much less eventful in those days, TV shows from the 80s and the secret lives of our chickens. Ian, a red-haired Johnny Appleseed sort of fellow, teased the kids about "Chuckles the Chicken" who was always calling his cell phone. Todd, Ian’s counter-part, strummed his guitar and crooned songs like Long Black Veil as the tea kettle whistled: hot tea after every meal for the Farmer, no matter how hot the day.
While the intimacy of those days have disappeared, a strong camaraderie still thrives among the crew. The challenge of long rows of a single task, be it bean-picking, tomato-stringing or cultivation with the hoe, becomes a backdrop for friendships that endure. Crew lunches still happen, now in the new lunch room, albeit no hot fare prepared by the Farmer’s Wife.
And once in a while you still might hear the notes of Old Joe Clark, when the Farmer is feeling sentimental and can spare a moment to pick up his banjo.
Sometimes it feels like the Farm has grown up, just like a child ready for college. We can't help but feel excited about the potential this "child" holds, but a little worry about pitfalls and a little wistfulness for what once was, the pitter-patter of little feet, as it were, seems appropriate.
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