Clearing land

Wednesday, January 8th
Yokna Patawpha Farm
Oxford, Mississippi

Today it was still cold when we woke up, but it was decided that by noon the temps would be warm enough to work outdoors.

So while Kristin made grits for breakfast, I built the farm a Google Doc spreadsheet to help them keep track of how many pounds of each type of produce they harvest and sell twice a week during the growing season. While I finished that up, Kristin cleaned up a bunch and baked a cake with the apple preserves we’d brought along.

The day’s planned work was to help clear out some uniformly-planted rows of about 50 pine trees (planted by the state to grow for paper pulp), to allow that patch of land to be transformed into farm field. Doug ran the flail-mower (it’s what it sounds like: flailing, bladed chains that chew through brush) through the thorny blackberry brambles between the pine rows, clearing pathways for us to work – and to pile up downed trees.

While the undergrowth was thoroughly flailed away, I finished up the harvest spreadsheet & Kristin cleaned out the chicken’s nesting boxes.

morning egg collection

When I was done with the computer work I helped Kristin finish adding fresh clean hay to the nest boxes, with the sound of Jeff chainsawing down the first of the pine trees snarling across the field.

We finished up and got back in time to get gloved up and ride out to the field clearing project in the back of Doug’s pickup.

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The work was nonstop and satisfying – dragging and carrying chunks of downed pine to the woodline, and throwing them in as far as we could.

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As row after row of pines fell, the pile got deeper and deeper – and we had to hurl each chunk of tree higher and harder. The pile was soon higher than our heads, but the weight of newly-added wood compressed the existing pile of branches and made just enough space to make the addition of more trees just barely possible.

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Tom From the UK didn’t have gloves, so his palms became thickly coated in sticky pine sap. We took turns being the one who pushed the trees over as they were cut through, and grew talented at shotputting the heavy, branchless logs from the trunks, and chucking the thinner top portions like javelins.

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The weather was sunny and cool, there were no bugs, it was a beautiful contrast to the icy weather back home – and, moreso, to sitting at a desk at my old job staring into computer screens. I felt invigorated and glad to be using my body out under the sky.

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We went into a nearby town for dinner, where a musician named … crap, I forget his name. But he was a rootsy man with a guitar and a mesh trucker hat, and he played a song called “Catfish for Dinner” right after I had catfish for dinner, which I appreciated.

Then we turned in early to read and write.

– Gabe

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