A Farmer's Journal

July 2017


"Someday we'll look back and laugh"

There are moments when we cry. Lots of those, actually.
There are moments when we laugh. We trust that there will be more of those someday.
This episode is one that we are certain will bring laughter. Someday.

It is time to move the heavy equipment.
Machines with names like Rose, Big Bertha and Big V need to go to the new farm and get to work.
It is time to "get on with it."
So we hired a moving company to move the big stuff.
When I say big stuff I mean this kind of "big stuff:"

In order to protect the innocent, we will give our mover a name; let's call him Travis.
Travis is a good guy. He's the kind of guy you want when things are going well and the kind of guy you want when things get a little sideways.
On the morning of the equipment move, Travis arrived with his big rig at 10am.
We'd allocated 2 hours for equipment loading, 6 hours for driving, 4-5 hours for sleeping and then another 2 hours for unloading the equipment in it's new home.
Travis called on his cell phone, confirmed directions to the farm, pulled into the driveway, hit the farm sign, murdered a daylily, almost got his rig stuck, and kept right on going.
We knew we liked him. We like people who press on in the face of adversity.
Down the driveway Travis and his rig rumbled. (We should give the rig a name. Let's call her Big Momma.)
But there were problems. Big Momma could not make the turn into the "loading area" (yeah, we'd moved everything to be loaded into one area, we had planned that much at least) and then needed to reroute.
Then there were the trees. Tall trees. Trees that wanted to scratch Big Momma. Travis was not having it.
So Grandpa got out his chainsaw and started pruning trees.
The image looked like this:
Grandma (formerly known as BA) driving the lead tractor to show Travis and Big Momma where to go.
Grandpa walking in front of Travis and Big Momma with the chainsaw, clearing the way.
Travis and Big Momma looking like they'd suddenly fallen down the rabbit hole, rumbling across a cow pasture towards a row of heavy equipment.
So far, so good.
Grandpa had a plan for what to load where and now, but first Big Momma needed an inspection; we had just the team for that.

Once our team was satisfied, we moved to a discussion of how to load things.
Thunderclouds loomed in the distance.

I would bore you to death with the details of the day, but after the first 2.5 hours, I took the Boss in for a nap.
After our nap, we came back to inspect Travis's load. It looked good.

About this time, Travis's partner in crime arrived. We'll call him "AJ." It was AJ's first day on the job.
Thankfully, we'd learned a few things from bringing Travis and Big Momma into the loading area so we took a new approach with AJ and Smalls.
Travis, like I said, is a good guy. Instead of loading Big Momma and heading for the hills, he moved from his load to helping load Smalls.
That's when the rain came.
We took a pause.
While rain lashed the trucks and equipment, we shared ham and tomato sandwiches and ice tea under the barn.
It was bonding time.
All told, it took 6 hours to load Big Momma and Smalls.
Everyone was patient, safe and meticulous . It went well. It took a long time, but it went well.

So Grandma and Grandpa got in their truck and left, heading north.
Travis and AJ were completing their safety check lists when the northern crew left.
I was standing in the field with them discussing heady subjects like politics, the latest Pulitzer Prize winners, gumbo recipes and beer.
Grandma and Grandpa stopped by to say goodbye and to ask if we wanted a chain just in case Big Momma or Smalls got stuck in the mud.
(Astute readers will see foreshadowing in these lines.)
Laughing, I reminded them that a chain would do no good since all of the tractors were on the back of the trailers.
They left.
Then the rain started. Again.
It came sideways.
While Travis and AJ cinched straps and strapped on "Wide Load" signs, I hunkered under the bed of the trailer and watched the drips of water fall on my knees.
When the rain stopped, we were all drenched.
AJ crawled into the cab of Smalls and changed into dry clothes.
Travis and I discussed the upcoming G20 conference.
When AJ was ready, we said our goodbyes and Big Momma and Smalls rumbled to life.
I moved over and opened the first gate.
Travis waved and pulled Big Momma forward.
AJ looked exhausted and stepped on the gas for Smalls. Smalls lurched. Smalls slid. Smalls stopped.
The world stopped.
It was 5pm on a Monday and the tractor trailer containing half of our farm equipment was stuck in the mud.
Travis (I said he was a good guy) parked Big Momma and came back to help.
Over the course of the next two hours, we tried to move Smalls in every way Travis could think to move her.
We stuffed boards, we pushed, we pulled, we planned and our plans failed.
Grandpa texted to ask if the trucks were on the road. I decided to ignore the text.
The cattle herd noticed Big Momma and came over to "help." We had to stop and chase them away.
And then, when things looked most dire, a friend of a friend stopped by to see how things were going.
Within half an hour, he had another friend on hand with a backhoe. The backhoe pushed Smalls who shuttered and then jumped to life.
There was mud and muck and mire, but Smalls was free.
With Travis and Big Momma showing the way, the trucks pulled out of the pasture and hit the road.
I thanked our friends, returned Grandpa's text and assured him that everything was fine, and collapsed.
It was a long day in what is going to be a string of long days ahead. Someday we will laugh.

July 2017


"How to move a farm"

It has come to this.
The gardens, for most purposes, are over.
Our CSA is finished.
It is time to move.
Over the next two months, I will attempt to offer a humorous, thoughtful, enjoyable journal adventure of how to move (or not) a farm.
Hang on. Fasten your seatbelts.
This is not for the faint of heart.
Google "How to move a farm." Go ahead. Humor me.
I thought there would be SOMETHING. SOMEONE. Surely some insane idiot had attempted this before us?
If they have, they did not live to tell the tale.
How exactly does one more two houses, seven barns, 8 cats, 5 dogs, 60 nanny goats (and one billy), 30 momma cows and one bull, 4 horses, 40 laying hens, three geese, a duck, a dozen beehives and all of the pieces that make all of those things function.
Wait. I almost forgot (not): WITH A TODDLER.
Before I begin crying into my water glass (again), I'll post some pictures of the new place soon.
It is...beautiful and it needs a lot of work.
What were we thinking?
I will remind you of a few things before ending this opening piece:

1. This was not our idea. Our little family of four and a half did not decide that leaving our current farm was a good idea. I'll leave that at that.

2. The only way to keep the farm was to move the farm and so that is what we decided to do.

3. Have you met us? We are strong-willed, determined sorts of folk. There is a way. We will find it. This is going to work, it has no choice.