2 weeks ago, on the 1st, I drove to NJ. It rained the whole state of PA, getting increasingly shitty and with highway signs warning about tornadoes. Got to the Howell Living History Farm at the extreme end of their day, in time to just be shown to the house that’s on an adjoining property, but you need to leave and drive around a corner to get to it. The whole valley has horrendous Verizon service, and neither the house nor the farm’s buildings had wifi, so …pretty cut-off. I ate dinner, read a bit, and (as always when there’s no internet to keep me alive) went to bed by 8. Around 9 someone from the farm had come to make sure I was ok, as the storm was getting more and more intense and they had no way to reach me, and he had to actually come in and bang on the bedroom door because I was out. So, weird way to meet that guy. I went back to bed, and around 10 there was a BANG and the power went out, as a tree right outside the driveway went down on the lines/across the road. Despite the fact that my phone actually had an X instead of showing any bars, so, entirely “no” service at the house, somehow I was still getting phone alerts about tornadoes being spotted in the area that said to check local media. …easier said than done, thx.
Thursday I went for my first day of working at the farm. I was there to get a bunch more draft horse experience, but after that storm they were in crisis-management mode, as 9″ of rain in 4 hours meant all 4 bridges on the property were washed out, a canoe was a mile down a river wrapped around a tree, fences were damaged, etc. So, the main highlights of that day were a volunteer spending a good chunk of time introducing me to the horses, then helping their bee lady re-set several hives that had been knocked over by flood-powered tree trunks. We had to scrabble enough to even make a flat place to put them, then right and carry each box of angry bees. I wound up stung several times, which hurts for like an hour, and then ITCHES SO BAD for a week. Friggin’ bees! Someone brought a generator over to the house I was at that was big enough to at least keep the fridge going, so that evening once I was done working I ran back to the house, then back to the farm to use the shower there, then watched a movie I’d downloaded back in Ohio, read until the sun went down, and went to sleep.
Friday they were still dealing with disasters, but also deciding to still have their big plow match event on Saturday, so things were still all a-go-go-go. I helped harness some horses – their harness was a bit different than that at Tillers, so, good to see variety. I helped chop some veg for a tomato salad they’d be serving at the event, then (to get away from more chopping) I helped move one of the bridges that had washed out. It had gone ~200 yards, totally no longer over the stream and jammed into the edge of a woods, covered in debris when we got to it. We were able to clean off the heavy shit, lift the end enough to get it properly chained, then basically just drag it across the grass and then across the stream, where we built up bases for each end and then their guys made new gravel ramps to access it. Somehow after all it went through, it was still sturdy enough to support the big, 3-row golf carts full of people, which was real impressive to me, and good for them because it is for now they only bridge to cross the stream across the property, and their event was the next day! The tree was still across the road when I got “home”, so, another night of early to bed.
Saturday I checked in the teamsters for the pro plowing contest as they arrived, then I participated in the novice plow competition. Eventually I wandered up the hill to where the ice cream was being offered. As I was trying that out, I heard the awards ceremony on the far side of the house, and scooted around the corner just in time to hear my name being called, and booked it over there! Hooray! After that I was a spotter for the obstacle course – the participants from the pro plowing competition had to drive their horses, pulling a long log, through a series of twists, turns, and get-close-to-this-s without knocking over any cones, or knocking the tennis balls off them, and it was a tough course for them. After the competitions were over, and the visitors left, I ran back to the house, where the power had JUST come back on, grabbed my stuff, stopped back by the farm for some pizza, then hit the highway up to my mom’s.
Sunday/Monday my mom and I visited her aunt and went paddle boarding (…two separate things, we didn’t take a 97 or 98 year old lady out on the lake).
Thursday I drove back to NJ and helped some with the horses that afternoon.
talking to the pigs
Friday I did some ground driving (walking behind the horses), then we loaded up a manure spreader and spread a few loads of shit.
Saturday we went out to plow, but…the ground really wasn’t cooperative (the actual experienced guy had a rough go of it, not just me!) and eventually gave that up, which gave us time to …go find the chain that had busted off of the spreader the day before, and was out amid the spread poop.
Sunday I got back on the highway, but stopped of in PA for a very nice breakfast with my college friend Matt and his wife Sarah. Eventually made it home, where some of my plants look SAD.
Monday was lots of catching up on calls, emails, and work errands, including getting a bit more primer to finish the new barn – what was originally supposed to take 10 gallons wound up using 24. Absurd.
Yesterday I made bbq sauce for most of the day. In the afternoon, Chris and I went out to the garden with a pair of scissors and cut the oats that we’d grown from the 5g of seeds we were sent by the USDA. Once we get it threshed (which, for this amount, will be a by-hand thing) I’ll weigh it and see how much it’s increased after 1 year! Meanwhile, the guys have gotten the buckwheat cut, shocked, and on wagons out of the weather, the first little bit of corn cut and shocked, and the field that we’ll be planting into spelt prepared, plus the potatoes from the front garden dug, and idk some other stuff as well. Alyssa got the tomatoes I needed for the bbq sauce peeled and chopped and in the freezer before I needed them, and spent a bunch of time working on saving seeds from garden stuff for next year.
first handful of corn shocks
Today I’m off work, so biked to North Baltimore to run into that guy with the newfie that walks him on the trail every morning. Good dog.