Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Way Things Are

Today was "mowing the lawn day."  I started early, trying to get it done by lunch.  Our "yard" is more than an acre of grass, closer to one and 1/2  acres, maybe more.  Cutting the grass therefore means at least 3+ hours of pushing the mower.  My riding lawn mower needs to be repaired and my other push mower died a sudden death in July, so I just have one mower left.
While doing the side section against the hay field my neighbor, Mr. H., came along on his riding mower to introduce himself.  He has been gracious enough to mow the grass that edges the hay field-technically a section that I should be doing.  Since I am push mowing I am grateful for this help.

After formal introductions we settled in for a nice chat.  He asked how my boys were adjusting to their new school and how did we like living here now.  I found out that he and his extended family have been living and farming here for 60+ years at least.  Mr. H. knew the history of who lived on our farm before we did, when they moved out, etc.  It was a bit like listening to my grandfather share his stories.  I was grateful to learn about what Mr. H. knew, it filled in the gaps of the stories I had heard.
I learned that his wife, Mrs. H., is an avid gardener. That they have 20+ chickens and roosters, some of which will be soon be meeting their demise.  Mrs. H. cans what they harvest from the garden and she also likes to quilt.  I made a mental note to make a visit to see what I could learn from her about quilting.

Mr. H. said I will need to plant 3x as much as I intend to harvest due to the raccoon population around here, something I suspected and am already plotting against.  More importantly, I learned about the coyote situation here.  I have not been letting the dogs run free after dark, instead I take them out on their leashes when "nature calls."  My neighbor shared that years ago he and his family lost their black lab and they strongly suspect it was due to coyotes.  Coyotes have even taken down a couple of calves here in the past.  It was enough to prove my theory that daytime is not like dark out in the country.

Mr. and Mrs. H. came over later this afternoon to share some of their bounty from their garden.  Mr. H. brought green peppers, some tomatoes, a small watermelon, jalapenos, and "hot" peppers.  My husband was excited about the hot peppers, he loves spicy food.

I also learned something else that had me curious.  Out here there is an understanding that if there is a need the neighbors will be there, but otherwise, everyone goes about his or her own business.  It's a bit like the Robert Frost poem "Mending Wall."
I feel even better than before about living here.  I am surrounded by people who are experienced farmers and if I have a question all I need do is ask.  Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. H., I am glad we're neighbors.


Robert Frost. 1874–1963
 
 Mending Wall
 
SOMETHING there is that doesn't love a wall, 
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, 
And spills the upper boulders in the sun; 
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. 
The work of hunters is another thing:         5
I have come after them and made repair 
Where they have left not one stone on stone, 
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, 
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, 
No one has seen them made or heard them made,  10
But at spring mending-time we find them there. 
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; 
And on a day we meet to walk the line 
And set the wall between us once again. 
We keep the wall between us as we go.  15
To each the boulders that have fallen to each. 
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls 
We have to use a spell to make them balance: 
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!" 
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.  20
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game, 
One on a side. It comes to little more: 
He is all pine and I am apple-orchard. 
My apple trees will never get across 
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.  25
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors." 
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder 
If I could put a notion in his head: 
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it 
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.  30
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know 
What I was walling in or walling out, 
And to whom I was like to give offence. 
Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 
That wants it down!" I could say "Elves" to him,  35
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather 
He said it for himself. I see him there, 
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top 
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. 
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,  40
Not of woods only and the shade of trees. 
He will not go behind his father's saying, 
And he likes having thought of it so well 
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors." 
 

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