Once upon a time, the Would-Be Farm was a young dairy operation.
In its prime –– somewhere between the middle of the 1800's and the middle of the 1900's –– the acreage had a darling little farmhouse, a couple of barns, fresh fenceposts, livestock, plowed fields, newly planted orchards of apple trees.
This was also (mostly) before plastic, so the sheer volume of garbage produced by a family was a fraction of what it is today.
But still, things did break beyond fixing, and generations of folks who lived at the Would-Be farm burned what trash they could. Anything else, they chucked over the edge of the hill in the back yard.
I admire farms that keep things neat and trim. It's a rarity.
Even more than other people, farmers tend to hold onto equipment that they've stopped using. Things pile up. Sometimes they leave it right where it stopped and after a few seasons, the metal begins to melt into the scenery.
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.
- First, because Mr. Linton kept wanting to toss a match and some accelerant into the pile of rotten wood and rank weeds
- Second, because we thought we might make use of a limned space already carved out of the side of the hill.
- And third, because, well –– squalor.
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 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.
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.
I am thinking horseradish and rhubarb, plus a protected winter bed for daffodils and iris. Ahhhh.