A couple of weeks ago, we had a guy out to estimate the cost of taking down the scary, hollow, dangerous willow tree. He showed up on time. We chatted a bit. We asked him not to hurt the nearby oak tree, but said it wasn’t such a big deal if he dropped a limb on the house. He asked if we wanted to be there (to stress out about it) or if he should do it whenever. We opted for whenever and gave him the combination for the lock that we’d put on the gate.
Around the same time the tree guy showed up, a couple of our friends appeared. They’d signed on for some planting of wetland plants which did happen, but before we got to that, we attacked the orchard. This year, we want to be able to mow the orchard and keep the moisture down if it is hot and humid like last year. We severed parsnip roots below the surface of the ground and dug up multiflora rose and pulled the dead stalks of last year’s burdock and put it in piles to burn at some later date.
We served up some sloppy joes and potato chips as well as some Brewery Creek beer (D. picked up a couple of growlers on his way through town on Friday night.)
A bit later, a man and two young boys came walking through the barn. I figured they had something to do with the tree guy dropping by, but I was wrong. I was immediately friendly, leading D. and our friends to think that it was someone I had invited out until I asked him who he was. Turns out the man is our neighbor to the east on the next road over. Returning home from a sporting event with his boys he was driving by and thought he’d stop because the gate was open. Early on, we used to close (and possibly lock the gate) if we stayed overnight. Now, we’re likely to leave it open if we’re there, including at night and might even leave it open if we go to town. He said everyone around (naming names of all the neighbors and gesturing toward their properties) knows who should be around. He’s surprised to see any vehicle he doesn’t recognize drive by his farm. He says if something doesn’t look right, someone is likely to make some phone calls or go driving around to check it out. He gave us a bit of background on the property, like telling us that what we thought was somebody’s right of way over our land was the old road and that there are actually bridge remnants left over the creek. We told him of the problems with the willow tree and that we planned to burn or tear the house down. He was in favor of this plan telling us that the house wasn’t great 50 years ago. He was able to tell us which of the two nearby fire departments we should probably call for something like this, adding that in an emergency though, you just call 911 and see who shows up first. A while later another neighbor who had talked to him dropped by with her teen-aged son. And mentioned another neighbor nearby who is a dairy farmer and with whom we’ve apparently been discussed. It certainly seems like everyone knows everyone’s business around there. So far it seems more friendly and protective than gossipy and intrusive. I’ve never lived in a place where everyone knows everyone. Actually, I think it’s fair to say that everywhere I’ve lived there has been a healthy dose of anonymity unless something out of the ordinary is going on. D. on the other hand has. His parents like nothing better than to tell us the goings on where they live. I know I recognize the names of people I’ve never met and probably never will. My grandmother lived in a town of 1500 people when I was little. I was too little when she live there to pick up on any community dynamics. Even so, when my father was still alive, people at the restaurant in town recognized him, my sister, my husband and me. Getting slightly off topic, shortly after my father died, my sister and I stopped in the restaurant for a late lunch and we thought we’d climb one of his favorite hills. (How many places have a place called Bald Bluff?) Two of the waitresses/proprietors there are sisters. We’ve known them since they were teenagers waiting tables at a different restaurant and since we were little girls. We were sizing them up deciding if we should tell them and it turned out they were trying to decide if we were “Ben’s girls.” They couldn’t believe it when we told them he’d died a few days prior. After all, he’d just been there the week before for breakfast. In the four years he’s been gone, we’ve only been there a couple of times. We’re easily forgotten, but our dad? Probably not. It was a community that he was part of even if he lived two towns away and mostly he knew the old timers and not the people who were new to town. Especially not the people who lived in subdivisions which used to be farms. That does kind of bring me back to our land. The neighbors would like to know what we’re going to do there. I’m sorry not to really be able to tell them that we are going to farm. But I guess that depends on the definition of farm and the time frame about which we are talking.
Our goal really is to live there full time eventually. For me, the sooner the better. I feel like we miss things every day we aren’t there. Tomorrow, it will have been about two weeks since we were there. Are the lilacs blooming? The apple trees? Are the damn raccoon babies out of the wall of the shack? Out of the wall of the shed along the driveway? Are there whitetail fawns yet? Is the willow tree down? I can’t wait to get rid of the house and I’m so excited about that prospect that I’ve been looking at house plans. Lots of plans I didn’t care for, some that looked good and one that if we flipped the floor plan the opposite way, it’s absolutely perfect. From there, we find out what is involved and whether or not it is in reach.
This week, we have our work cut out for us. Preliminary assembly of the spring house door, planting close to a dozen tree seedlings, a blueberry bush, two grape vines and more than a dozen raspberry canes to transplant from our city yard. Cultivating the garden to keep down the weeds between the garlic rows. See if we’re having any luck with potatoes, leeks and onions. More pruning in the orchard. Burning more brush if it isn’t too windy. The list goes on and on. We just have to keep believing that we’re making progress.