Thanks to my sister, it's impossible for me to see a junco like this handsome fellow on the right without saying "There's a rumble in the junco." Aloud. Every. Single. Time.
Back in those days, rural Jefferson County had no public sanitary service: no town dump, no curbside pick-up, no recycling centers.
This was also (mostly) before plastic, so the sheer volume of garbage produced by a family was a fraction of what it is today.
Between midden heaps and melting metal, the Would-Be Farm is giving us a rich archeological site to mine.
The barn has been a collapsed wreck for thirty years or more. Locals who come visit don't even remember even when it went. It's a little mystery.
This spring, we hired a guy with a very large excavator to clear out the old foundation and haul the detritus away.
The old foundation area was chock-full of ancient roofing material, twisted sheets of metal, honeysuckle trees, tumbled rocks, pipes, and miscellany.
The man with the excavator (and dump trucks!) showed up while we were racing sailboats in Massachusetts. By the time we arrived back on the farm, only an invoice, some dents in the turf, and a void remained.
Knowing how brambles quickly re-colonize an area, we got to work clearing the rocks* that had tumbled outward from the collapsed western and southern sides of the old foundation. Decades of fallen leaves helped the old timbers and cow manure compost itself into some good-looking soil. We took the opportunity to carve out more garden space.
(*Rock-picking. One of the harder jobs on a farm. Oddly, it did not seem incongruous for me to find myself, decades and degrees later, once again picking rocks from the clay soil of the North Country.)
My friend Len has a metal detector that he uses to great effect. He often sends snapshots of his latest hauls: delicate, old-fashioned ladies' rings, coins, lead weights he's saving for Mr. Linton.
My metal detector is less refined: I use a big magnet on a length of twine.
There's a decided "clink" when a rusty nail jumps onto the magnet. And then there's the odd pull when the metal is too big to heave itself from its bed.
I can't resist saving these things.
The metal chunks range from the obvious –– hinges and horseshoes –– to the arcane.
Nails were evidently cheap, and our guys never used one nail when three were possible.
Astonishing amounts of leather survive, the linseed oil preserving the bits of harness and halters even after half a century or more.
So much peculiar loot! We could open our own Agricultural museum –– or stock a display case or two at least. Until then, we have a level spot to park the tractor, a stretch of reclaimed field, and a new couple of gardens.
I am thinking horseradish and rhubarb, plus a protected winter bed for daffodils and iris. Ahhhh.
Okay, okay, he doesn't have a beard or a red suit or a nose like a cherry, but the twinkle and the red sleigh full of toys for good girls and boys? He's got that!
Thank you Harry Carpenter of Flying Scot Inc. for delivering Flying Scot #6133, The Scuppernong.
*the Flying Scot is a 60-year-old sloop design by Gordon K "Sandy" Douglass.
I know, I know, she who would tell so execrable a pun is just as like to pick a pocket.
Tractor envy. The green-eyed monster has been whispering to us about the rumbling of a diesel, big ole knobby tires, a power take-off connection that would strike fear into a worried soul.
I've had my eye on a pair of Jiminy Cricketty brother-tractors down the road. Not planning to purchase, as they lack any of the safety features of the past three or four decades, but still.
The flames of feverish desire were fanned by the loan of the neighbor's brand-spanking new tractor to mow our fields last summer.
Likewise also was desire inflamed by the week's rental of a small but feisty Bobcat excavator, which enabled us to move dirt and rocks in a most gratifying way.
One of the really surprising parts of the Would-Be Farm is how things go from concept to reality. Mr. Linton perused the interwebs (on his tablet! haHA!) and chatted with his tractor-driving friends. We piled into the pickup and bounced down to the tractor store.
We took a mechanically-inclined friend, Curt, along as the designated cooler head to prevail over our starry-eyed amateur purchasing impulses. Curt suggested that we might want to have a bulldozer, too. Not sure his head was cooler.
Anyway, it was the matter of a morning's shopping, negotiation of some refurbishment on the 14-year-old beauty, several painfully slow days of waiting for delivery, and it's official. The Would-Be Farm has a tractor. With a back-hoe attachment. And a brush cutter.
I'll admit to a certain aesthetic weakness for a taxidermied specimen. Maybe it's ironic. Maybe it's the easy appeal of kitsch. De gustibus non desputandum est*. I have yet to act on the impulse, but I do spare a wistful thought for the ones that got away...
Like that awful stuffed red fox that I did not buy at auction –– it went over my $20 limit a lot faster than you might expect, given that its feet were visibly nailed to a chipboard base.
Or the full-body white-tail buck for a single Benjamin? It was the artist's first attempt, and I had one crisp Benjamin of mad-money in my wallet. I might have strapped the creature to the top of the mini-van...SO many practical jokes left unplayed with that bad boy. With four caster wheels and some 80-lb-test monofilament, I know it would have been a legendary traffic-calming measure.
*AKA "Riding the gusty bus." Isn't the language amazing?
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