Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Day in Idyllia

                On October 9, few clouds spotted the clear blue autumn sky, as the sun warmly toasted the farm to a high of 79.5 degrees Fahrenheit. After a month and four days of horrific weather, fall had descended upon the farm in a delightful fashion. Birds flittered from the tree branches, scurrying around with spring like glee. And the intoxicating aroma of German White garlic consumed that autumn day of continued farm activity.
                I was sitting on top of the two steps that lead to the back porch of the farm house. The activity for the day was to plant the German White garlic cloves for next July’s harvest. The first task was to break apart the large bulbs of garlic into the individual cloves. Ah, what a refreshing task! There is something about the scent of garlic that greatly enhances one’s mood, and as each one of those multiple bulbs that I had saved for specifically the reason to plant as seeds were broken apart, a sense of relaxation enveloped me as that warm fall sun continued to illuminate the farm.
                The next step was to plant the cloves. I drove over to Kirk and Jen Robertson’s R&R Farm with the garlic planting stock. Their farm is .7 miles away from Nev-R-Dun Farm, up the dirt road of Hughes Shop, then around the corner on Murkle. When I arrived there was plenty of activity going on; Kirk and his father in law were installing irrigation line, Jen was helping, and their kids were running around like little kids do.
We quickly set upon the task of planting the cloves. The row that we had designated for the garlic planting had been tilled earlier, the one up against the fence to the cow and chicken pasture. Jen helped in the process, where we took the cloves and pressed them three to four inches into the loose soil down theoretically straight rows. There is not much involved in the process of planting garlic, but as the aroma of those delicious cloves waft in the air, the task is oh so pleasant!
In that one row, which is about five feet wide, four strips of garlic were planted about a foot apart. While I was planting the first strip, with my back literally up against the cow/chicken pasture fence, chickens constantly neared my activity out of curiosity. And the sun still shone brightly in the sky.
Garlic is such a wonderful, and somewhat unique plant. It is one of the few that gets seeded in the fall for a summer harvest. Theoretically, after seeding the cloves, in a week or two, green sprouts will break through the soil and grow until the hard frosts and full on freeze, but the growth of the plant has been started! Once the soil thaws and warms in the spring, the garlic plants revive and quickly grow into quite beautiful plants. While almost nothing else in the early spring garden shows sign of life, a green stand of garlic promises a wonderful July!
But of course, we are in the land of Idyllia, which means whatever can go wrong will. In our case, for that particularly warm day, nothing did go wrong. However, garlic, which is such a delicacy to humans, is also quite desired by other creatures that infiltrate the farm, especially groundhogs! Oh, how I hate those despicable creatures! And that was precisely why a row of German White garlic was being planted next to the cow/chicken pasture on R&R Farm. The chance of a groundhog attack is slim in that vicinity, but I have probably just jinxed that situation…
As my back was against the fence, slowly moving down the row sticking garlic cloves in the ground, I felt a presence behind me. I was squatted down in a baseball catcher’s position, and as I turned my head to investigate the presence, I found myself face to face with one of their larger cows, separated by a couple of inches… and a fence. What a startling site to see! The cow’s head was bent down toward the black crate I had the garlic in, apparently sniffing that powerful aroma. Do cows like garlic? Hmm. Perhaps groundhogs aren’t the only mammals to be worried about! But that is for a later day to investigate. (Kirk has assured me he will reinforce the fencing there to make sure he doesn’t wake up one day to his cows in the middle of the row chomping on fresh garlic!)
So, the day proceeded in quite a peaceful fashion. There was a time when the young kids, I believe the oldest of the two is seven, the other possibly three, decided that they wanted to help Mr. Tom plant the garlic. Kids really don’t know how to help, but the day was peaceful, the weather serene, so the “new helpers” did not get in the way… too much.
After planting the row, I drove back to Nev-R-Dun Farm to plant another garlic row there. The sun was descending in the sky at that point, and the temperature was falling as well. As birds skirted about the fringes of the field that should have been mowed months ago, and others sang from tall trees that surrounded the scene, the rest of the cloves were planted. The work was done.
It is sometimes strange when a day as peaceful and uneventful as that befalls the farm, for so many of the other days involve… an earthquake, hurricanes, tropical storms, groundhogs, rabbits, etc. But then the thought of having to leave the farm to find employment arises… No, I will take Idyllia, with all the hardships and unforeseen disasters. And on such an extremely peaceful, warm and sunny day in fall for planting garlic, I will drink up that day like the finest of wine. Some of the days in Idyllia ain’t half bad.

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