May 19, 2015
"I had to live in the desert before I could understand the full value of grass in a green ditch." ~ Ella Maillart
News from the Farm: It's Always More than I Think
And takes more time than I'd like. We were on quite a roll with the New Land until the ditcher (this is the guy who cleans out the ditches, in case you're wondering) came. There's an entire culture of ditches in the Black Dirt. Ditching is what made farming the land possible. Otherwise, it was referred to as the Drowned Lands. What's so amazing to me is how the early immigrants (Irish, Polish & German) knew the value of the dirt under the water; how they hand-dug the ditches (there is one ditch that is nearly two miles long that is called, by some old-timers here, the Irish Ditch, because is was dug by 50 Irishmen who were paid $1 a day) and how they were able to dig all those ditches and drain the proper way (it all needs to drain to the lowest point to eventually drain into the Wallkill River which runs north...one of 30 in the United States).
Now, instead of shovels, the ditchers have equipment. And horsepower (always a good thing!) Over the years, we have worked with four different ditchers who have four different styles, four different pieces of equipment and four different ways of charging.
Ditcher #1: Let's call him "A"...he has his own equipment and his own guys and knows a novice (aka sucker) when he sees one. Cha-ching. This cost a lot!
Ditcher #2: A really nice guy. Great piece of equipment. But we were geographically undesirable. And he suffered a stroke.
Ditcher #3: Another really nice guy. The Mighty Midget as he is called affectionately by everyone who knows him. He had a snowmobile accident and was paralyzed from the waist down but still manages to drive a truck and bring his purple excavator to the fields to clean the ditches. And he really knows how to clean them! We surprisingly ran into him at the boat show in New York City the week after he ditched for us. Boating must be a great way to feel free!
Ditcher #4: Another really nice guy (see? based on my experiences with ditchers, a very small minority, means a very large majority 3/4 of the population is great! In fact, I think most people are!) And his wife was too. She would drive him over, drop him off, bring him lunch and a snack and collect the check for payment (and he gladly let her). He was a little late getting there that day when he ditched for us because he was helping his wife...she had found someone giving away sheetrock; something she thought would be great to have to build some more space for more relatives to visit "The Homestead" (the home her grandfather had built and she had lovingly restored). He worked late into the night that night. He had a great piece of equipment; an excavator with a six-foot bucket that he drove like my 90-year old aunt drove her Jazzy Scooter (seeing it bounce on the parking lot made me so grateful that we chose the storage containers over building a barn...sometimes, always, you need to obey the Laws of Nature!) and he was reasonable and geographically desirable.
A match made in the Black Dirt.
We are looking forward to many more! Won't you join us? For possibly the best vegetables from the best soil...and we are geographically desirable.
Lisa & Albert & Jacob & Tyler
P.S. Two new Pickup Locations: Teaneck and Ridgefield. The 2015 form is on the website.
P.P.S. Pelham will be having a Block Party on June 6 to sign up members for 2015 CSA. See website.
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