Farmer John Writes: Field Day Delight

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 14, October 3rd – 8th, 2022

Our Field Day this past Saturday was a glorious event. Many shareholders visited the farm for the first time and glowed with enthusiasm upon taking part in the day’s activities. As noted in the invitation, shareholders enjoyed pumpkin and gourd picking, creating bouquets from the U-Pick garden, a morning concert of Balkan folk music in the barn loft theater by Jutta and the Hi-Dukes, plus an afternoon of invigorating folk dancing in the barn loft gallery, and a fabulous array of delicious foods for the potluck. We also gave out surplus tomatoes and the last of the sweet corn. And a nearby potato field was a source of delight for children and adults who uncovered buried potato treasures.

potato treasures

En route to and from the pumpkin patch, many kids enjoyed rides in the cab of the Deere tractor.

3 sisters enjoy riding in the big tractor

Field Day Reality Check

In addition, shareholders were presented with a farm reality check, when a tire on one of the hay wagons went flat in the pumpkin patch, this in spite of carefully checking and adjusting tire pressure on the wagons before the event. The farm crew responded rapidly with a fresh wagon replacement complete with properly inflated tires. It seemed like a pit stop from a high-end auto racing event. The whole episode did not even throw off our day’s schedule. Still, shareholders experienced first-hand that things can go wrong on their farm, in spite of the best laid plans. 

hay wagon tire

the crew rescues the ride in a jiffy with a replacement wagon

The point of the Field Day is to share the farm with our shareholders, to connect them more closely to the source of their food, to one another, and to those who grow their food. For those who attended, this mission was grandly achieved.

Morning concert:

Afternoon folk dance;  farm employees Amanda and Nathan dance up and down the corridor:

The Field Day requires a lot of preparation ahead of time and a lot of getting things back to normal. We don’t track the hours that go into it, but I suspect it requires about 200 to 300 work hours. It has quite the impact on field operations, the farm’s money ($4,000 to $6,000 for the recent event), and notably the biggest impact on my time. Normally, the upcoming issue of Farm News is ready a few days before the weekend, but this issue is being prepared today, Sunday, just a few hours before it has to be ready. This paragraph is more of a report than a complaint. The Field Day was a wonderful event, but it comes about in a context of major demands on my time, hence this issue of Farm News which has more photos and less text than usual.

Lunch Under the Storied Maple Tree

At the Field Day, we had lunch under an enormous maple tree.

the maple tree

I wrote about this tree in Farm News in 1994: “What Are You Going to do with that Stick?” Here is an excerpt:

[Friends and I were roofing the big barn in 1974.] We were still under the strong influence of the sixties, so we would roof for a while, and then come down and play some football or just mess around, then maybe go back up and roof again. This wasn’t the way farm people normally got work done, but it’s the way I farmed for a while.

On this particular May day, my roofing friend Stanley got out of his pickup carrying a stick about two feet long.

I said, “What are you going to do with that stick?”

Stanley said, “Stick? This is a maple tree.”

We planted it. When my mother got home from teaching school that afternoon, we were playing football. It didn’t set right with her that we were playing football instead of roofing the leaky barn. We would-be roofers were all giggling and trying to think fast on our feet and wishing we had been up pounding roofing nails when she drove in, at least for show.

“Stanley,” I whispered, “it’s her birthday today. Tell her that’s her tree.”

Stanley went running to my mother.

“Anna, I want to show you this tree I planted for your birthday.”

Stanley dragged her over to the little stick pointing out of the ground. He couldn’t get her to believe it was a tree at all, let alone her birthday present.

It’s getting to be the nicest tree in the yard now. On Sunday [back in 1994], the name of the tree popped into my head. Its name is ‘the tree that was my mother’s birthday present… pause… but not really.’

There I was on Sunday, leaning against ‘the tree that was my mother’s birthday present… pause… but not really.’

end of excerpt

So, there we were, at the Field Day this past Saturday, in the shade under a grand canopy of branches, from a tree that in 1974 was a stick, and that was (misre)presented to my mother as her birthday present to distract her from our lame roofing progress.

Odd how things come about sometimes.

Butternut Squash Already?

Our popular driver Zdenek brought over this butternut squash recently.  He said, “it’s been sitting on my counter for a year.”

one year old butternut squash from Angelic Organics

Farmer John

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