Of Farms and Fables combines the efforts of professional and non-professional artists by engaging artists in farm work and farm workers in storytelling and acting. The result will be an original performance in October of 2011 which will engage performers and audience in dialogue about local agriculture, farming, and the future of small family farms in Maine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dirty thoughts, stealth bombers and zombies (Keith)

Everything about farming is for the future.  When you plant a seed, you look forward to it sprouting.  Then you plant it.  You look forward to it growing.  Then you harvest it.  You look forward to eating it.  Everything I did on Broadturn over the last two weeks was something to do now, but look forward to later.  

I had the opportunity to plant seeds, plant seedlings, harvest and eat food.  The timeline on a farm can be very short term, or very long term.  The seeds I planted last week were sprouting this week.  That's a nice, short term gratification.  It was a wonderful sense of success to see all my little lettuces and squashes growing.  And the pigs?  They did make the big move into their new pen on their own terms and are happily eating the undergrowth.  When I asked Sam how long it'd be until they got moved again, she replied "They'll probably be there the rest of their lives."  In their case, that will be until they are needed for a wedding pig roast, or are ready to fill the Broadturn freezer with more pork chops and tenderloin in late Summer/early Fall. There's something to look forward to a little ways down the road.

I also had the opportunity to get really dirty on the farm.  Working in the soil and with composted mulch, my hands got really dirty.  Really, I was dirty all the way up to the elbows.  It reminded me of the high school summers I spent scooping ice cream.  You need to just embrace the dirtiness of the situation and go for it.  It's the only way to get the job done.   

Tuesday morning, I worked alongside other CSA volunteers from all walks of life, putting new winter squash seedlings into the ground.  I learned from my landscaping days that plants do better when they are packed solidly into the ground.  It puts more surface area of the new roots in contact with the life giving soil if they are pushed in firmly.  This kind of planting really grinds the dirt into your skin.  

When we broke for morning tea, there was quite a line at the water faucet to wash up.  I opted to use the rain water collection barrel.  It was an AMAZING feeling submerging my filthy arms into the cool water, seeing the dirt cloud the barrel as I rubbed it off my palms, my fingers and my arms.  It's hard to describe the wonderful feeling of clean I had.  It was short lived, just long enough for tea, toast, fresh Blackberry yogurt with fruit.  But it was fantastic.

I finished up my rotation on Broadturn Saturday morning planting willow trees with Sam and Courtney.  We lined both sides of the driveway with small shoots.  John stood there with a vision of the future.  He envisioned the driveway, 10 years from now, lined with beautiful wispy willow branches creating a cool, shady path gently blowing in the breeze, welcoming people to the farm.  It was a nice vision.  I could see it with him.  I can't wait to come back in ten years to see the fruits of our labor.  

While we stood looking into the future, a strange thing appeared on the horizon.  As bizarre as it sounds, while we stood there amongst the new willows, a stealth bomber slowly circled the farm.  It was unbelievable.  We all stood and watched it, I think to convince ourselves it was real.  Was it an agriculture apocalypse?  Should we duck and cover?  Were we under attack form the MOFGA Military?  We had no idea.  All we knew was, it sure did look out of place on the farm.  

I ended my time at Broadturn with a leftover CSA share.  Stacey invited me to take a bag of goodies with me.  We made small talk about the weekend, next week and the future.  I was going to be filming in Brunswick on Saturday and Sunday.  I get to play a character who saves the souls of zombies by smashing their heads with a large circus mallet.  Maybe they are zombies form the agriculture apocalypse?  The script doesn't really say.  As I was getting into my truck to leave for the day, intern Courtney said, "Have fun killing zombies."  I had to laugh. But, as I sat with the zombies on our dinner break Sunday night, sharing a big salad with fresh Broadturn mezuna, salad turnips and chives, I was having a great time.  

If this is what the future looks like, I'll gladly take it.  Fresh organic veggies, stealth bombers, zombies, dirty hands and all. . . . I'm pretty lucky and life ain't so bad.