My faithful Troy-Bilt tiller, Spiny Norman, is having his engine rebuilt this week. While the Wheelhorse tractor, which rambled over a few too many stumps last season, has a cracked spindle on its mowing deck, and the greenhouse has three panes of storm splintered glass that need replacing. I seems I need to set up a triage on the farm. The thing about older machinery is that it’s worth fixing, worth rushing to the ER (Engine Repair?) for treatment. Like organic farming versus chemical farming, good tools presuppose a long-term relationship, not a one-night-stand with plastics and pot metal.
I’m not into small engine repair. Dirt I don’t mind, but all of the petro-gunk that clings to engines and fuels internal combustion has no appeal. I’m partial to external combustion, to the heat of topsoil as it arouses seeds to germination. I have a neighbor who’s a genius with all things petroleum based, a grease monkey to my dirt monkey. He tinkers while I till, and keeps me in working machinery, a must-have for farming unless you’re Amish and have seven plain-clothed children who are chore-bound to help out. My kids harvest eggs and tend a few flowers, but it’s all moi after that.
I pick through the soil, which has been coughing up rocks in a consumptive heave of frost and thaw in beds that I was certain were finally stone-free. The tilled earth, before being knotted and bound by weeds, is a relief, as are the vines-less cucumber and squash trellises, the short Winter-stalled grass, the absence of insects. All of the cold season’s fitful tantrums have passed , and the farm seems to be holding its breath. Then March continues on into April (it snowed on the first, no joke), and instead of going out like a lamb, it sent Spring on the lam, a fugitive from the farm and its desire to unfold and grow again.
Happy Spring! – Mb
As he has planted, so does he harvest; such is the field of karma. ~Sri Guru Granth Sahib