Category Archives: fielder-isms

surrounded by fields ‘o’ nuts

For the past two weeks, Gabriel and I have been surrounded by serious abundance. Hoards of tomatoes, armies of squash, herds of green beans, squadrons of pears, battalions of apples and, most especially, flocks of friends. It’s hard to believe the season is almost over. We’ve been over the stove pickling, processing and drying. We’ve been out in the fields harvesting and putting our beds to sleep with the sun dipping low earlier and earlier each night. This is what happens at this time of year but what makes this time particularly magical for us is all of our friends and family who have been getting dirty, sticky and silly with us. Deja, Josh, Zach, Mara, David, Joe, Christopher, Shiva and Joshua – you have been our abundance!

Here’s a reflection from Joshua – a friend of mine from elementary school who just left to head back to the Bay Area:

It’s my last day on the farm
Woke up with strange dreams
I lay awake with visions of the past year swirling in my head
I’m not home,
it’s better that way,
i’m on the farm for one last day
Hip-Hop-Hurray

There’re few people I’ve known for as many years as friend Serah Mead
She works the land of Oregon Country Farm with her Milwaukee Man,
known as Gabe or Friendly Ears

Good music was to be had the moment we came in a week ago
Magnificent P dropped me and Marz off and even though he was headed to
Barter Fair,
there was a little part of him that wanted to stay

It’s one thing to be plopped down on a 21 acre field o’ nuts, but it’s
a completely different story
when the people running the hoes are quality, choice individuals

Cousin Deja was in town from Chicago
“all my co-workers are jealous of me right now” she would say,
she was staying for 3 weeks

Its an interesting phenomenon, young folks wanting to go pick tomatoes
or crush apples for the cider press as good wholesome ways to work
outdoors and reconnect to where
our food comes from, instead of being locked up in the city, at least
for the whole year

The Farm is blessed in more ways than one, owned by Rod and Sara Feilder patrons
of Brownsville, Oregon

One of my favorite moments of the week was around the fire spinning ‘yarns’
with Rod and extended company of the band Magpie, three young gents
wielding stringed instruments that could be heard earlier in the year
when they played a show in the hazelnut orchard

Sacred stories under the stars,
this is what country living is about, evening times without a TV are
just some young folks,
one old man, surrounded by fields of fruits and nuts
glorious

before I left for Oregon I stopped by my old support group in San Francisco,
which I helped facilitate for 8 years in my rise becoming a
mental health educator and performing artist

I asked a young guy point blank who seemed to be looking for
direction: “if you could do anything with your life, and money
wasn’t an issue what would it be?”

He leaned back in his chair, “be outdoors, work with my hands and live
off the fat of the land”
“sounds like a ticket to go up north and try out some farming ” I said,
“yeah” he said, “what more do you need?”

Advertisements

Kubota, Jefferson, Fielder, Mead

On Monday, I learned how to drive a tractor. Rod and I were planting a (hopefully) disease resistant variety of Filbert tree in the blank spots of the ten-acre orchard (more on that later) and 5 minutes into planting, Mr. Fielder looks at me and says, “okay, well you better drive the Kubota now.”

“Okay… I don’t know how to drive it.”

“Oh. Well it’s a perfect time to learn,” he said, “hop on up.” Rod has a really special way of teaching. He began pointing at the various levers, knobs and pedals and announcing what they did. “That there’s the clutch and you pull this thingy here, or that one there, to make it go forward. Down there are your gears, first, second, third, fourth. This one moves the bucket, this one moves the tiller in the back.” And then he was gone. Walking away from me with a shovel and a planting stick (more on that later).

As I watched him shrink into the orchard I tried to transform instruction into action (via osmosis due to the rain) and make that Kubota go. AND I DID. How exhilarated I felt as I blasted along at a 4 mile an hour clip. 15 feet later, I threw it into neutral and started digging.

Before you begin replanting in an orchard it's important that you go through and place markers of where the new trees will go. It makes planting go faster and also keeps your lines straight and spacing consistent.
First you place your planting stick (nothing special, just a stick with a notch at each end, a notch somewhere in the middle, and two stakes connected by string) parallel with your existing rows so that one notched end is flush with your "marker stake." Drive a stake into the ground flush with the other end of the planting stick and pull the last positioning stake out perpendicular so that the string is taut. Now you've got a tool that when repositioned, you can use to plant a tree in the exact same spot at the "marker."

This photo is taken looking Southwest, with the planting stick facing due West.

Our planting stick has a red line at the end of it. By the second tree, that line was covered in mud.

Once your planting stick has been set up you can move the main board aside (since it's still connected to the stakes by string), remove the stake and begin digging. In general the holes are about a shovel-head deep and longer than they are wide. We decided to orient them North-South so the roots will be encouraged to grow in those directions making them stronger against heavy winds.

Mr. Fielder places a tree. You can see its fine root system. While the trees wait to be planted, they rest in the bucket of the Kubota on a big pile of compost. This variety of Hazelnut tree is called The Jefferson Hazelnut Tree. It is a new variety developed and evaluated at Oregon State University in Corvallis. It is said to be extremely insect resistant and totally immune to eastern filbert blight disease (which is what wiped out some of our older trees).

In this photo you can see the placed tree, all board and stakes in position. From here you put one or two shovelful of dirt to help stabilize the little guy, then a shovelful of composted chicken manure for fertilizer, and then fill the hole back in, holding the tree in place while you compress the dirt with your boots.

Hooray, now you've got a thin but sturdy little tree setting its roots in the big wide orchard.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Our hard-workin’ M-F

We have two farm vehicles that put in the hard work for us here at Oregon Country Farm.  Lately I’ve been jumpin on the ol’ Massey-Ferguson diesel tractor, our big rig next to the almost toy-like Kubota.  I’ve already had a hand in fixing up the rake attachment, which allows us to gather orchard trimmings into big piles down each row.  The piles of brush are numerous, massive, and dense, which should make for a memorable burn day.  Rod always refers the the ‘ass-end’ of the tractor, and about keeping the orchard floor ‘tabletop clean’, phrases that always get us smiling.

Massey-Ferguson is a make I’d heard of from reading a book by Richard Rhodes titled Farm: A Year in the Life of an American Farmer.  A continuing theme in the narrative involves the farmer’s dominion over his fields through the use of machinery, operating it with surgical precision, understanding its mechanics, and taking great pride in its diligent upkeep.  The featured corn and soybean farmer, Tom Bauer, operates a Massey-Ferguson combine, a big metal beast in trademark red.  Ours is a far cry from Farmer Bauer’s shiny waxed and oiled rig that stays fresh in a shed for winter, but she’s got her own sort of weathered-Oregon charm.

While using stinky gassy and clumsy machines does definitely have its downsides, I manage to have fun controlling all the levers and scooting around the land, getting big jobs done quick. There’s nothing quite like raking a row clean and staring back down its length, trees primmed and floor swept.

Tagged , , , , ,