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Outstanding in His Field

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Written by Leigh Anne Florence, illustrated by Chris Ware

 

CHAPTER 10

While we waited for Pa to hang up the phone and tell us about a surprise, Granny fixed us homemade bread with straight-from-the-shrub blackberry jam. The food was much tastier coming straight from the source.
“I’m going to miss homegrown vittles as much as I’m going to miss you and Pa,” I told Granny after swallowing my first bite.
“You can still have homegrown goodies,” Granny said as she shelled peas from the garden.
“How?” we asked.
“You can grow a garden,” Granny explained. “You can also find a farmers’ market or a vendor.”
“A what?” I asked.
“A farmers’ market is a place where farmers sell tomatoes, corn, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, sorghum, honey and the like – so folks who don’t live in the country can still have fresh produce to eat,” she said. “There are more than 145 in Kentucky. We also have about 2,500 vendors. Sometimes vendors sell from the back of their trucks on the side of the road. The food’s delicious, and the price is better than a grocery store. You could join a Community Supported Agriculture. CSA, as it’s called, lets folks participate in farming and gardening. CSA subscribers pay at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, they receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruits. Many CSAs include herbs, flowers, honey, eggs, dairy products and meat. If there is a plentiful harvest, subscribers share in it. If the weather doesn’t cooperate and the crops fail, members share in that, too. There are almost 50 on a Kentucky Department of Agriculture list.”                                                                                                                                           “And, you must go to your county and state fairs. Pa and I love going every year and seeing the state’s best livestock and produce. We like to splurge on a funnel cake.”
Pa, who had returned from his phone call, said, “There’s another way you can have homegrown vittles. We own a small piece of land adjacent to our farm. It’s not big, but Granny and I haven’t had the time to do anything with it. Since you enjoy farming, we want you to use the field any way you see fit. You could plant a garden on it, get some cows; grow hay or trees; plant orchards, soybeans or corn; or raise goats. It’s a win-win situation. The field would be used and it would ensure that you doggies would come back and stay with us from time to time. And of course when you weren’t here, we would do what farmers do – we’d help you.”
 “We love everything about farming – except for the manure. We love the animals, the food, the feather bed, the overalls and the two of you,” I said, feeling a tear come to my eye. “We still have so much to learn. We didn’t learn about farming catfish or soybeans or corn. And I haven’t driven a tractor yet.” That made Pa and Granny laugh.
 “You may have lots to learn about farming, but you’ve come a long way since you arrived,” Pa said. “Besides, it would take much longer than a few days to learn. Sure, you saw dairy farming, beef farming, tobacco farming and learned about produce farming, but there is horse breeding, orchards, tree farms and, like you say, soybeans, corn and a host of other products. As far as that tractor, you have a lot more to learn before I turn you loose and give you the keys!” Pa stated. “But I’m glad you’ve had a taste of farm life. It’s not for everyone, but it’s the only life Granny and I know. It’s tough being at the mercy of Mother Nature, planning around the milking, the feeding and the weather, but there’s no greater reward than using our resources here in the Bluegrass to feed ourselves and others.”
Chloe and I definitely agreed.  
“We have to talk with our parents,” my ever-careful sister stated.
 “That’s who I was talking with on the phone,” Pa said. “I’ve cleared this with your folks, and they said that as long as you worked hard and it didn’t interfere with your other commitments, it was fine with them. Your dad said he would call back in a bit so you could give him your decision and to let you know he was bringing the family here to pick you doggies up. Of course if you take the field, you will have to return soon to get started. But the field is yours if you so choose.”
Chloe and I got up and gave Granny and Pa the biggest bear hug ever.
“Come on, Pa! Show us our land,” we begged.
“Now?” Granny asked. “What if your parents call?”
“We promise to hurry!” I said, excited to talk to our parents. “But if Mom and Dad call before we return, tell them we’re out standing in our field!”

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