August 11, 2020

This here be farm country.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.

-Masanobu Fukuoka


From West Warren, we head west down Main Street, Route 67, to Warren.  There’s a little traffic, but there are also wide shoulders and, occasionally, poorly maintained sidewalks.  In Warren, we turn right and go down East Road.  From there, it’s a straight shot to our destination, Brookfield, 7.5 miles away.  East Road is a sometimes hilly, small, treelined road that meanders through some beautiful farmland and pastures.   We see a few small fields of corn, whose stalks are not more than a foot or so high, lots of grassland and a few cows.  Many of the fields have picturesque large red barns and farmhouses — the kind of scene you might expect to see as a pictorial example of the word “pastoral” in a dictionary.  Waldo seems very comfortable in this environment – he was born on a farm in Pennsylvania.

We pass a meadow where a farmer is putting hay into large round bales.  Each round bale has the same amount of hay as about twenty square bales.  When I was eighteen, I spent one summer helping my uncle put up a lot of hay in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.  We stacked it with a device called a stacker (go figure) that threw the stuff up on top of an ever-growing mountain of grass.  As this was going on, two of us kids got on top and pushed the hay around with pitchforks and stomped it down until we had huge square piles.  This was called “stacked hay.”  I also helped collect one-hundred-pound square bales of the stuff by throwing them onto a wagon which we then had to unload onto huge piles many bales high.  It was all hard work.  This guy we passed was working alone, using a machine that rolled the grass up into round bales as tall as a man and about as thick.  The machine then wrapped it in plastic, stretched taut, and put it on the back of a truck.  I’m sorry, but that’s just cheating.  There’s no other way to describe it.

It’s hot, in the mid to high seventies, and humid.  I’m awfully glad I’m not baling hay today.  Not the way I used to do it.  Waldo is panting, but doesn’t want to drink a lot of water – he’s probably sloshing with all the water I already gave him.  He seems to be just fine.  Sweat is soaking my shirt and running down my brow.  Sometimes, the road goes between grassy fields where there is little shade.  Along one such stretch, we come across a large orange trumpeting bush and we both make for what shade it provides.  Waldo snuggles in at its base and lays down.  He’s panting pretty hard, but refuses more water.  The bush is next to a fence on the other side of which is a house and a huge, well-maintained classical old red barn sitting on the edge of an expansive mowed field of grass.  We stop and wait for Waldo to cool off a bit and appreciate the property.  It’s not long and a man comes out of the barn.

We say hello and wave.  The man yells back, asking us to wait, he wants to talk to us – his tone is not confrontational, he just seems eager for some human interaction.  We’re always up for that, so we wait.  Within a couple of minutes, he comes over, wearing a mask and keeping his distance, and we exchange pleasantries.  Introductions are made, we explain we’re walking to P’town and tell the man where we’re from.  The man tells us of the history of the farm and how he was in construction and excavation, but is now retired.  He seems reluctant to let us go on our way.  Maybe he doesn’t get many visitors out this way.  But it’s getting hotter and we still have a ways to go, so we wish him well and continue on our way.

We don’t go a hundred feet and a passing car stops and the driver calls out to us from an open window that he just saw a large bear come out of the woods up ahead and disappear down a driveway.  We thank him, I shorten Waldo’s leash and the three of us humans become vigilant, cautiously looking for a big old Ursidae.  I’m thinking about what I’m going to do if we come across one.  I’ve heard that they will avoid you if you make a lot of noise — they want to have less to do with you than you do with them.  But we walk on to our destination without confrontation.

You know, if you step out your door, interesting adventure abounds.

All you need is an open heart.


Keep on truckin’.

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