…and now for something completely different…
Canoe bow waves are quickly lost
on the shoreside
But go on out of sight
on the lake side.
The constant swish-swish of skis
On a day long ski.
The constant swish-swish of wiper blades
On a day long drive.
My dog, trotting barefoot
Steps on a garden slug
Nothing of it.
Word spreads quickly
as I approach the pond.
All becomes quiet.
Hidden in the vines
a large warted cucumber
jumps out of reach.
of marshmallow snow
on a branch,
await the trigger of my hat
to melt their way down my back.
Deep in the tomato jungle
Fruits of yellow, purple and red
Tell of their readiness
To go to market.
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow with spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
This document was begun in 2000 with major revisions and expansions made in 2008.
Snakeroot Organic Farm
Farmers' Retirement Plan
Thinking about farm succession . . .
(A work in progress: 2008 addendum)
From Apprentices To Partners
A gradual process.
In the course of working together day after day in the fields, in the woods, in the greenhouses, at market and over paperwork, a bond develops between
apprentice and mentor, one which begins to transcend the initial teacher-student relationship. Bonds of trust begin to form based on shared experience. The
mentors occasionally learn a few things from the apprentices. The mentors begin to depend upon the apprentices, not just for labor, but to see that things
get done when they should get done. The apprentices are beginning to become managers.
Not that either mentors or apprentices would be comfortable seeing the apprentices completely in charge of the farm as of yet, but it is becoming evident
that the basics that will be required are beginning to form. The apprentices questions change from "Is this what you want me to do?" to "Is
this what we should be doing?" This is an exciting phase, because the transplant has taken root and is showing vigorous growth.
Already, in various situations, we have started referring to our apprentices as "our partners" when introducing them, because in many cases it
seems to be more appropriate to introduce them as equals rather than as "temporary farm help", which is what the term "apprentices"
often means to people. And, indeed, it points to our intentions, even if not yet formally realized. The point is perhaps one of psychology, indicating that
we as mentors are becoming comfortable with these unrelated strangers becoming known as partners in our lives.
The mentors' psychological acceptance of the transformation of the apprentices into partners is important, for without it any legal framework adopted is
but a hollow shell of formality. The mentors must feel like the apprentices are partners, not simply adopt some paperwork saying so.
There are still issues of the maturity of the young folks, the weariness of the old folks, the four-way interpersonal chemistry among us, personal habits
to be adjusted to, and other such issues we continue to encounter. But none of them seem like barriers to carrying on with our plans.