Friday, August 20, 2010

Detox on the Farm

Please tell me summer is almost over. Mine has been chock-jammed full of weekends away, weddings, music festivals, friends in town, running about, CSA challenges, bike rides on and on and on.  I wouldn't take back one single trip but August hit me hard.  Really hard.  Since Memorial Day weekend, I have been out of town 8 of the last 12 weekends.  Oiy.  It hurts more just typing that one out and rereading.  Really Jo?!  8 of 12.  No wonder I've been worn out. 

A good detox weekend away was in order and luckily, I have good connections with the folk out in central Missouri.  Hamilton, Missouri to be precise.  I dare you to look at that Google map and not be jealous.  I'm smack dab in the middle of fine USA soil surrounded by cornfields and soybeans for miles.  My roommate's grandparents saved up for years to buy their fine 40 acre farm.  Dean sold feed and Donna working at a beauty shop in town, kids went to school and the whole family would come home to tend their pigs, cattle, chickens and anything else Dean wanted to try his hand at.  At their peak, they had 30 sows and would raise piglets for 6 months, then sent them off to a feed lot.  Currently, D&D are hosting hoards of grand and great-grand children and only watching after a stray yellow calico cat who has yet to decide if he will adopt them as new owners.
What follows is a collection of memories from the weekend, and the intriguing farm facts that one gathers when all you do for four straight days is work and talk and swim and sleep.  Wisdom to be gained grows in them fields.
 Bounty from H&M Country Store, run by the Amish of Jamesport. Purchased: pineapple slices, flax seed, french burnt peanuts, whole nutmeg, candied ginger, tapioca pudding, garlic jelly, mini chocolate chips, banana chips, dried green beans, honey, local pasta, salted corn chips with flax, spicy black bean corn strings, steel cut oats, spearmint tea, agave nectar and tomato knives.  Successful trip.  Jamesport is full of stargazer quilts and oak furniture, funny beards and soft, unassuming smiles and the best club sandwich I've never had. 
Neighbors on the north side of the fence.  Black cattle are the hot commodity right now for beef raising. Dean couldn't tell me why but the black ones against any other breed are the most highly valued.  For 20 cows, you only need one bull and that's a lot of action.  Gestation period for cows is 9 months and typically you keep your bull away from the cows until early spring.  Even at a 20:1 that guy will never stop.
D&D's best friends.  We rode around their land for about 2 hours and three days later, my legs are still sore.  Smokey hadn't been ridden in over a year, and never by anyone save Bob.  I coaxed him around the pen a time or two but, again, heels still sore from kicking. A good stud should have eyes that are far apart, a narrow face and strong shoulders.  Colts are weaned and sold between 6 and 8 months and then broken at 2 years old.
After hours of work on the farm, running around Jamesport or riding, we took naps on the dock.  Above is the view from the dock up to the house from the pond.  First 14 inches were bathtub warm, the rest--cool from the spring that feeds it.  D&D built it when they first bought the land.
Evening walks past the neighbors' land, dogs, cattle-- we were an oddity walking down the gravel road, as if they knew we were just city girls posing for the weekend.  Sunset colors orange, magenta and deep blue every night, with clear views of the Milky Way and a good handful of shooting stars each night.
Slap a sign around my neck that reads "will work for food and quite space."  We dug little trenches, laid edging, trimmed trees, hauled rocks and dirt-- the burdens resting on D&D's minds became outlets to clear our minds.  As it happens, nothing cures stress quite like getting sore, sweaty and fatigued. 
When we pulled up, the corn had all been smashed down by a violent storm that blew through Friday night.  By Monday afternoon, it had all perked back up again, pulled up by the sun, according to Dean.  The green beans that I'm strolling through haven't been great this year.  D&D won't be able to can a fraction of what they normally do to make it through winter.  This summer, Donna had already canned beans, pickles, tomatoes and then freezes corn, peaches, strawberries and stores potatoes and onions in their basement. 
Sometimes, all a girl needs is a little bit of calm space.