Mother’s Day is here, again. And again, I find myself with an opportunity to brag about some of the great women in […]Read More
Mail Order Ice Cream Despite Danger
A sophisticated city slicker from Los Angeles stood in the barnyard, shading their eyes. “Are you homeschooled?”
“Homeschooled?,” Sister Lily rolled her eyes at Farmer Bob. “No, leastways, not in the winter, ain’t much farmin’ to do then, so me and my sisters got more time to work on learnin’, our cipherin’, recitations, construin’ Ovid an’ such.” Flouncing off, she looks back over her shoulder; “Anywho, Ma and Pa try not to let formal education get in the way of our learning.” Dad from LA laughs, commenting that plenty of schooling is freely available at the farm.
Certainly, many aspects of farming in Vermont are like a never-ending free education, with classes in managing expectations, showmanship, customer interaction, entrepreneurship, raw capitalism, how to judge a person’s value, creative problem solving, a fair amount of hard science, and no small amount of patience with both people and things. Occasionally you are on the more visceral, primal end of education. Farms can be dangerous places, one of the few environments where average, everyday people can still be in mortal jeopardy on a day-to-day basis. Only one’s own split second choices and reactions keep chance events from turning into disaster.
All new hires get the Farmer Bob speech: “This is a dangerous place. Nearly anything you do here involves heavy, sharp, powerful tools and equipment made out of iron or steel. If you are not sure what you are doing and how to do it, STOP. I would much rather you spend an hour looking for advice and guidance, than looking for a finger, a limb, or your life. So Don’t Be Stupid.” How rich, how ironic, that Farmer Bob is the one who chose to be stupid.
October 8, 2019–like Bad Day At Black Rock–it’s the day we won’t forget. One moment the crew is standing around drinking coffee, the next moment Bob Marley (constant Farmer Bob companion) and Barkley (Brother Ed’s wingman) are in full Cujo mode, trying to tear each other’s throat out. Momentarily stunned, in the center of a whirlwind of fur, teeth and blood, Farmer Bob and Brother Ed think 1) never get in the middle of a dog fight, 2) I hate these stupid dogs, 3) can I stand here and watch them kill each other?
In the end everyone survived, baring a little mutilation, lots of bruises and lacerations. Bob Marley and Barkly learned never get in a dog fight with two stubborn old farts in the middle.
Farmer Bob learned all he ever wants to know about trimming bone to form a nice stump, and that there really is a good reason for certain traditional advice. The Sisters of Anarchy learned that generating new names for Farmer Bob – Bob of the Nine Fingers, Bobby Nine Nails, Stumpy, Nubs – provides endless family fun. The whole farm crew learned that growing fruit and making the best ice cream around (yes, we have mail-order ice cream) is not always a lark; occasionally, one finds oneself scanning the ground for missing digits. Great Grandma Fisher was right; eat desert first, ‘cause you never know what might happen.