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Farm To Farm

A steady mist descends from the vague cloud cover, preventing me yet again from ascending the barn roof to repair the flapping, corrugated steel.

"You should let me do it," my teenaged son, Craig says. "I have better balance."

I have to admit that he's right, though the idea of watching him climb around on those steep slopes with the rope and harness scares me more than the reality that I am growing clumsy and my hands shake after too much coffee. Rather than commence to sliding on the barn roof, I've decided to hone my skills on the less daunting, chicken coop in the back yard. The "chicken" part is inherent in this decision. This coop is the classic small-farmer's model with the concrete floor, the one-by-whatever native timber for walls, fourteen by twenty feet with the sloping roof facing North. Some of the roof was rotted out, and I had to scrounge around the farm to replace a few rafters, noting that the family who'd thrived here from the forties until the late eighties had originaly spliced together scraps of two-by-four with random nails poking through everywhere. So I did the same. On this farm I want to restore every building to its original purpose, knowing that I'm not half as wise in the ways of the land as Roy and Luis were. Also I believe in ghosts and ancestors watching from a "higher perspective," and if it was me looking back at the farm I'd worked to build every day for decades, I'd probably rather see the future inhabitants repairing and reinforcing my brilliant intentions, than see them triumphantly destroy everything.

"Man, you should see the lumber we threw away in Ag today," my son said when Kenny the bus driver had dropped him off. "[The ag teacher] had me and a few other guys doing clean-up outside, and we were throwing these two-by-sixes in the dumpster."

"How long?"

"I don't know. Twelve feet or so."

"But they had nails sticking out of them, or they were split, or covered with concrete?"

"No. They were left over from some project last year."

"So your Ag teacher is instructing you to throw away perfectly good two-by-sixes, twelve feet long?"

"Yeah, I should have told him we'd take them."

Gene Logsdon said in one of his popular back-to-the-lander books of the early 1970s that if you were looking for the perfect place to start your little market garden venture, don't choose on account of the schools. They're just as pathetic no matter where you go, he said, in other words.

Missing the Fair in Anderson Valley this weekend. Can't wait to read about it.

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