Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gentleman Farmer

This morning, as I waited for a fellow at the farmer's co-op to weigh my seed potatoes, I felt at home in my overalls until I spied the retired pair of running shoes on my feet and remembered I was wearing a road race shirt. I suddenly realized I was an imposter, and not a very good one. I might spend all day doing gardening-related things, but I must admit I'm not a farmer.

I say this with envy for the folks who buy hundreds or thousands of pounds of oats and spring wheat and need a $50,000 tractor to get their work done, who have augur attachments and sink a hundred fenceposts to my one, who run to the barn for a set of tools when equipment fails, who look at the sky and know what's coming. "Farmer" is a badge of honor in my book, the ultimate Renaissance person. Like Joel Salatin, I want to hear "my son is a farmer" said with the same pride and conviction as "my daughter is a doctor."

Here's how my day went. After running 4 miles, checking emails and eating my usual oatmeal, I loaded our John Deere garden tractor onto our pickup and delivered it to the co-op. Remember, a real farmer would do the tractor's annual checkup by himself. I visited the seed counter and picked up packets to supplement my previous mail orders to Burpees (thanks to my in-laws' Christmas gift certificate) and the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. A real farmer would have bought bags, not packets. Next, I drove to Boxerwood Gardens to get a load of free wood chip mulch. I used a shovel. A real farmer would have used a front-end loader (the wimp!). I returned home and spent the rest of daylight preparing soil and planting carrots, beets, potatoes, parsnips, salsify, and spinach. A real farmer would have waited until St. Patrick's Day to plant potatoes.

"You didn't even touch the piano," says Virginia.

"Not yet," I say, "but I will after I finish blogging."

Let me tell you something. A real farmer plays piano!

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