on the farm
Growing up, our grandfather (Big Papa) had a farm. Quite a large farm. It nearly encompassed the entire world for me as a kid…that and the woods behind our own house back in town. Most of the time Big Papa had a caretaker who looked after the farm property which was acres and acres of horse pasture, huge barns with hay lofts, tall silos filled with the sweet smell of fermenting hay, leather-scented tack rooms where saddles and horse blankets were hung, a milking barn that smelled like cottage cheese and cream, all kinds of old farm equipment, an old-time fire engine, a gas pump. You get the picture. There were woods there too, and sand banks where we’d play for hours on end. There were Shetland ponies and two big beautiful Pintos. A milking herd of sweet-faced Jerseys. A Brahma bull, just because he was fiercely fantastic. There were pea-brained guinea hens forever running from us, though they had no reason to. There were attics filled with beds and bunks, chenille bedspreads, old dressers and vanities with dusty mirrors. Old women’s clothes, men’s work boots. Old baby buggies. Indian blankets. The farm was a child’s paradise.
I was blessed to grow up free to roam. I explored for endless hours the woods out back, built forts with the guys. I believed there was a gang who roamed those woods. “The Dick and John Gang.” Mean as all get-out we were told, but we never met up with them. (I’m not sure anyone ever did.) I climbed water towers. I’d frequently ride my bike down to an old abandoned saw mill and investigate. I rode my horse, alone, and fast along sandy trails! (I was taught that I’d gone a step too far when I woke in the middle of the night with the express purpose of driving my dad’s car down onto the beach nearby. The lights were on in the farm house when I returned. There was to be no sneaking back to bed. I think I was 12.)
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Seems to me that we’re each formed in good part by the experiences we had as children, the games we played, the woods or yards or streets we roamed. There’s no question, the farm runs in my veins.
About three miles down the road from we live now is an old family farm. The city next to ours bought it from the Luscher family and it’s been turned into acres and acres of gardens for the community to share. This time of year the gardens are populated by brooms wearing clothes. You’ll see. I went there yesterday to breathe and wander. I thought I’d share a few photos of my time there.
Click on any one of the photos below to enlarge it, or by using the arrows you can flip through them all if you like.(Click on the little x in the left-hand corner to return to the post.) I hope you’ll enjoy a few minutes of peace in the gardens where the bees buzz and people quietly turn over the dirt and tend their tomatoes.
I’d thought I’d include a recipe for the cornbread from yesterdays post here, but will instead put out a separate, very brief post later today for the bread. It’s a simple skillet corn bread, but really quite good.
Thanks for walking the farm with me!
A special note for those living in or around the Portland area:
While roaming about the farm yesterday, I learned something I hadn’t known before. I met a couple nice women from an organization called Oregon Tilth. (They asked if I’d say a few words about the work they do. I was happy to.) For those living nearby, you may be interested to know that what you see in the photo above is part of an organic urban teaching and demonstration garden. Thousands of local residents have been trained there in the practices of organic farming, conservation of natural resources, and a good deal more. Volunteers were busy at work there yesterday and I’d hear them calling to each other, “So, does this go? Or stay?” “You think we ought to cut this back?” “This is looking good!” It was lovely seeing these people working hand and glove together. I learned too that Oregon Tilth provides engagement opportunities and donates fresh produce to organizations that serve those in need. If you’d like to learn more of what they do, or explore ways to become involved yoruself, you can check out their website: http://tilth.org/education-research/organic-education-center