Farmer Fires – Week # 13, 9/2/20

 In CSA Newsletter

Apparently there is a native centipede that was nearly wiped out by DDT spraying back in the 1960s and 1970s. Since DDT has a 40 year active effect, they have been suppressed for quite sometime. The centipede, symphylan, is now making a come back. It likes soils with high organic matter content – just like the types of soils we try to create at organic farms.

As my farmer friend, one with a penchant for the doom and gloom in agriculture, shared this information, I was on the edge of my seat, riveted. The comeback of an agricultural pest that will thrive in my soils?  What crops will it go after? How long until it gets here?  Does it winter kill? How to control for it?

This is how we organic farmers socialize.

Even in non-pandemic times, we like to sit around fires and talk about what we love to do.

Whose dog is good at trapping and killing groundhogs is a perennial favorite farmer discussion of mine.

Talks of strange customers, fun bird or animal findings, or favorite superstitions for making it rain when we are in dry times are other favorite topics.

Sitting around a fire with other organic farmers is chill. There’s a shared understanding of what we all do for a living – how we are all tied to the land and weather in ways that our non-farmer friends don’t understand. There’s a weight, and a worry, and a joy in working the land. We come together with this baseline, making it easy to enthusiastically talk about cover crops or hazelnuts or skunk spray remedies without fear of boring others.

Another farmer friend pointed out that she loves farmer fires because she doesn’t have to worry too much about what she wears or how dirty she is. It’s totally appropriate to show up to a farmer fire in your dirt-covered work clothes – no one even notices. In fact, it’s usually more notable when someone shows up in their ‘fancy’ clothes. There can be lots of oohing and aahhing at how other farmers dress when not in a sunhat, plaid, and thick work pants with knife pockets.

Farm walks are another great part of farmer hang outs. I haven’t been to a farmer fire yet where we haven’t taken a walk through the fields with our drinks in hand. Each farm is so incredibly unique in terms of its environment, soil types, topography, size, scale, crop focuses, growing techniques, equipment, etcetera. All of us enjoy sharing what we do and seeing how others do things. It’s endlessly fascinating and fun. Like Squashington Farm’s eggplant! It blew me away. On Saturday night, we walked their long narrow fields, bound in by the neighbor’s 10 foot high conventional corn on one side and pastured cows on the other. I could see these hedge-like bushes, so lush, so gorgeous that it took me a minute to realize they were eggplant! Nerdy farm talk ensued under the moonlight. I’m envisioning hedge-like eggplant for next season at Crossroads.

Farmer fires are so wonderful (second only to farmer potlucks – the food is always incredible).  Many of us work in very solitary ways throughout our days.  The camaraderie is key. All of us need social outlets. It can be so grounding to occassionally socialize with others who share the same love and craziness of working on the land. We are a strange and unique lot indeed. 

Cheers and enjoy your veggies!
Farmer Cassie