Thursday, October 2, 2008

Apple season

(This has nothing and everything to do with teaching--if you're looking for pedagogy, won't find it here today. But you might find some wisdom under an apple tree.)

I just got a call from the man in those boots. He's a farmer, and a good one.

He lives on a good chunk of land in Lenawee County, in the state given up by McCain today, and he grows apples. His family has been on the same piece of land for over 150 160 years, and it's in as good shape now as it was before anyone reading this was born.

His family could have sold it years ago, and every Keeney for the next seven generations could have lived high off the hog.

They chose not to. Instead, the man in those boots chooses to work a full-time job so he can keep the other full-time job as farmer.

He just called. It's been a bumper year for apples. A few years like this one and...

I interrupt. "You sound like a farmer. If you didn't, you wouldn't be doing what you're doing."

He laughed. He's sending me a bunch of apples. He sends them every year, no matter how his crop did. Northern spies, jonathans, macs.

We talked a bit about the gyrating stock market, but he reminded me that the apples grow the same no matter what the market does.

Hail storms, well, they matter. So does drought. A lot of things can go wrong--scab, rust, mildew, bugs--and they do.

Still, his family survived the 1930's on the farm, and I reckon they'll do just fine in the current crisis.

And I'll keep getting sunlight disguised as northern spies.

The boots belong to Dave Keeney, and I lifted the photo from Bill Bynum and Co.; the apples are from the USDA site. While you're at the Bill Bynum site, listen to Sinners and Saints--"every sinner has a future, every saint a past"--thanks, Dave.


Kate Tabor said...

Growing up in South Dakota, crops came in well or not, and market price at the Sioux Falls stock yard was more important that the NY Stock Exchange.

We are going to pick apples at our two favorite family owned orchards in LaPorte Co, IN on Sunday. We gather energy from the sun as well as we gather apples.

Your post reminded me of a poem by Thomas Alan Orr called Soybeans

Here's to apples!

doyle said...

Enjoy the apple pickin'!

It's easy to forget when surrounded by concrete how we're all connected to the ground. There's a lot of concrete in my town.

Dave is as grounded as anyone I know. He's one of the brightest people I've ever met, plays a mean dobro, and is truly wise. There's some personal history on the orchard that will remain private here, but I owe Dave as much as I owe anyone outside my immediate clan.

He'd tell you I owe him nothing--that's the kind of man he is. Makes me wish I hung out with a few more apple farmers.

I think he'll appreciate the poem.

Louise Maine said...

Love your posts. I am fortunate to have 115 acres and over 500 if you count my in-laws land (it is also one of the last original William Penn land grants left and our family will not let it split). I leave a rural school to go home to greater pastures everyday. We both work full time jobs and manage our sheep and fruit trees. Many students here are still connected to the land but our species has made poor choices when we have forgotten it.

Enjoy the apples. We are enjoying ours here. Nature always gets it right.

doyle said...

Thanks for the kind words.

I am still getting my feet wet--one of the fascinating things for me is how knowledge is spread on the web. I followed your link to your site, and it is wonderful!

I feel like I am still in the Stone Ages (not always such a bad place to be, Luddite that I am), but will recommend that anyone who thinks technology is just an IWB visit
your page

Betty said...

My sister and I also own a family farm. It mostly produces corn. The apples look delicious. Nature is so amazing.

Anonymous said...

You know, if the NYC Stock exchange was linked to the ground, it might not be in all this trouble. You can't eat it if you don't grow it.

Kate Tabor said...

Follow up to my earlier comment- we are 100 lbs of apples heavier and we tested a bit of food chemistry tonight and made the first pie of the fall season. I'd save you a piece, but I don't think it's practical or possible. Wonderful day.

doyle said...


Our dollops of sun came in clams and garden tomatoes this weekend. (Didn't come close to a hundred pounds, though. Still, more than enough for a family to feast.)

I should have my apples soon enough to practice food chemistry here. Cheers!