Farm Songs

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“O come with me my little one, we will find that farm
and grow us grass and apples there and keep all the animals warm.”
– Leonard Cohen, Stories of the Street
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“So I took her by the arm we settled down upon a farm
And raised our children up as gently as you please.”
– Blitzen Trapper, Furr
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“Possum up a ‘simmon tree
Raccoon on the ground
Raccoon says you son-of-a-gun
Shake some ‘simmons down”

– Traditional
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“When I first came to this land I was not a wealthy man”
– Pete Seeger, When I First Came To This Land
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Somday we might write our own farm songs on these days as ripe as watermelon. For now, they’re melodies to hum and probably, as Snoop Doggy Dogg says, we’ll “never go platinum” but anyway we enjoy more the silence between the notes like a watermelon’s savory center, sweet with no seeds to spit.

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Funny, this jar of sweet corn kernels that’ll hand-mill down to a few pounds of cornmeal might be confused with cornmeal available from the Walton family that sells for around 2$ a 5 lb bag but ours sure looks pretty through the glass, as it did standing in the garden, as it did in seed trays on the windowsill in Spring which seems like a dream.

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I started a fire outside to get us going over the weekend and stood looking out in the light breeze. An American plum dropped to the grass in front of me with a thud then an acorn fell from the oak, just beyond. I love to be there when the fruit drops from the trees in the breeze.

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And later that day, before we harvested some of this year’s hazels, we were eating last year’s black walnuts and every third or fourth nut from of the hopper was still good to eat and this year there are almost no walnuts and what there are we’ll leave to the squirrels who need them more than we do.

Sitting there with our hammers cracking, putting the bad walnuts in a bucket for the good chickens, we heard nuthatches talking in the oaks above us. And I told my youngest, who at 3 years old is the best at magically picking good walnuts from the hopper, “Do you hear that bird talking? That’s a nuthatch. That’s how nuthatches talk.” And my son asks me, “What’s he saying?” and I tell him, “He’s talking to his friend about the bugs in the oak tree above us.” And my son observes, “They’re talking about bugs and we’re cracking walnuts.”

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And I suppose you should know that these goji berry fruits taste too much like medicine when eaten fresh off the vine but once they’re dried and look like tiny, red raisins they are sweet and you want to eat more and more of them and you forget that the good medicine is still in there.

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It is the time of goldenrod, Solidago canadensis, and our black gum, Nyssa sylvatica, has already donned her crimson hues. She shows she will not shine so brilliant this year perhaps for lack of August rain. And we did get an inch and a quarter over the weekend but in the pastures you are hard-pressed to tell.It is the season of the cricket and I tell my oldest that I will survive on them one day like John the Baptist.

The cool nights are dark with the moon rising after daybreak and soon we will be lighting morning fires in the new wood stove and learn her ways and how to feed her so we don’t lean so heavily on the old wood stove in the sun-room corner that’s heated our house these past eight winters.

And I don’t look forward to feeding the fire or moving the logs from the wood-lot to be cut. It’s not that I mind the work, actually it is one of my favorite chores but there is enough to occupy us in this moment without looking into the future. So, with the crickets singing and the night air cooling, I finish this post.

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