In a week when the world has been preoccupied with worries about the potentially catastrophic health and financial consequences of the coronavirus infections rapidly spreading around the globe, I’ve been focused relentlessly on a small patch of 38.5 acres in Germantown, New York otherwise known as Turkana Farms. It’s not that I’m trying to escape the ugly larger reality surrounding that patch of land. Rather, it’s that this is the part of the world where I actually exercise a small degree of control and am called upon to make decisions of consequence.
Further, in contrast to decisions involving the larger world, this is an arena where I harbor a modicum of hope that I can make the future something of an improvement on the past.
Just a couple of months ago, when Troy and Victoria told me they had decided against forming their own farm operation here, my first impulse was to declare defeat. If the plan I thought was the farm’s salvation had failed, perhaps it was time to sell and move on to the next phase of my life. I contacted a realtor, who outlined various options and suggested what she thought was a realistic price for a quick sale of the place.
I thought about what it would mean leave to leave, but the period of contemplation was brief and not very hard. The realistic price she suggested was insufficient, in my opinion, to provide me with the economic security I would have expected from selling my single most valuable asset. After brief reflection, I told her I was disinclined to go forward. If a huge pile of money (i.e. a fair price in my estimation) should materialize out of the sky in search of this property, I can at that time truly struggle with whether I could bear to part from the repository of so much sweat equity and memory and what seems to so embody the joint project that was Peter’s and my life together.
Instead, as I previously reported, I began the search for someone else to run the farm. I posted the property on a farmer-landowner match site, the agricultural equivalent of OK Cupid or Scruff. In a brief period, and before I even posted the pictures of the farm that were encouraged, I garnered several responses.
What follows will be familiar to those of you who have dated via the internet. There are a lot more misses than hits. I got a couple of inquiries from people who wanted to place “tiny house” farm vacation rental units on the property, up to 20 of them. These units are mini-cabins in which people get a farm experience by living out in the field and hanging out with the animals grazing around them. I was told that such operations, which seem to me nothing more than camping sites with sheep manure, are under New York law considered ancillary to agriculture and can be put up without zoning variances or much in the way of permitting.
Without thinking, I invited the first such inquirer to come see the place. Then I read a bit more about these operations, and I thought about what it would mean to have my field dotted with little cabins, and a parking lot for their cars, and all the ancillary services they would require, and it suddenly became apparent to me just how antithetical it all would be to my sense of what the farm should be. To my relief, the fellow, who had found another site he liked, called to cancel as I was about to cancel with him. When the next tiny house operator contacted me, I was able to decline this less than ideal type of date immediately.
While some prospects on dating sights reveal themselves immediately to be searching for something wildly different from you, others will initially seem very promising. Promising, that is, until they turn out to be there solely to revel in their fantasies. They will spin out the sexual or romantic fantasies inspired by your profile through text or phone communications, but never really intend to meet or consummate the relationship. On the farm match program they are people with city jobs and careers who have dreams of giving it all up for the agrarian life, but who have minimal real training or experience and cannot articulate a solid plan for how they will go about it. I’ve had some of those too.
Yet also as sometimes happens in real life, matches do happen. For me the successful match turned out to be via a more traditional means of meeting – a mutual acquaintance. Actually, it was the result of writing the bulletin about Troy and Victoria’s departure. After she read the bulletin, Enid Futterman, who runs the IMBY website where this bulletin is published as a blog, suggested a young farming couple she knows who were interested in moving back to Columbia County from the lower Hudson Valley land they had been renting to farm on. They are vegetable farmers selling mostly through farmers’ markets. They have a truck and are acquiring a tractor. Theirs is a fully going concern. We spoke, we met, we hit if off. It seems our expectations are in sync.
I will wait to introduce them to you all until everything is set, but we seem to have passed a number of typical milestones on the dating path. I skipped a “speed dating” farmer-landowner event at Columbia Greene Community College last week run by the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, feeling I had already found my match. And when I told them I was skipping it, they acknowledged that they’ve stopped looking for other arrangements also. It felt almost like going steady in junior high! They’ve come and taken extensive soil samples, which I guess is like the equivalent of a premarital PAP test. And I’m working on the lease, using models provided by the Columbia Land Conservancy folks, which will serve as our “ketubah” (marriage contract).
So it seems a match has been made. Enid, wonderful publisher that you are, perhaps you missed your real calling in life.
WHAT’S NEW THIS WEEK:
Happy Leap Year.
Thank you all for picking up your lamb so promptly. There will be another round of lamb done in about two months, if anyone wants to place orders.
In the meantime, the seasonal egg glut has begun. From famine to feast. We welcome your orders.
WHAT’S AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Tiny hot matchbox peppers, $5.00 a string, dried and quite decorative.
Cheese Pumpkins, $2/lb, 5 to 8ish pounds
EGGS: $5/doz, $3/doz (fun size)
MEATS: We keep some on hand, but it helps to order ahead in case we need to retrieve from our stash in the big commercial freezer. See below.
GEESE: One remaining, about 8.5 lbs. $10/lb.
ROASTING CHICKENS – Nice fat Freedom Rangers, frozen, largish (4 to 7 lbs, a few smaller), $6/lb.
LAMB: Whole or Half $7/b (hanging weight), Riblets $8/lb, small and larger leg roasts $14/lb,
PORK: Loin pork chops, $12/lb (2 to a pack, btwn 1 and 1.5 lbs),
Spare ribs and country ribs $7/lb
baby back ribs $8/lb
fresh ham roasts (2 to 3 lbs), $12/lb
smoked bacon, $12/lb
Email us your order at email@example.com, and let us know when you’d like to pick up your order. It will be put out for you on the side screened porch of the farmhouse (110 Lasher Ave., Germantown) in a bag. You can leave cash or a check in the now famous pineapple on the porch table. Regular pickup times are Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., other days by arrangement. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call at 518-537-3815 or email.