Monday, September 26, 2011

The party's over.

The Horse and Colt Show rolls up a soggy carpet on Sunday after a three day, steady stream of cars, trucks, horse trailers and open semi-trailers pulling antique tractors, muscle cars and an old gypsy wagon. Apple-Fest in Gays Mills and orchards across the ridge on highway 71 ended up another successful weekend of pies, puppies and ghost figures on wooden stakes.  I went to Wal-Mart on Sunday to buy a new pair of Wrangler jeans with some of the proceeds of potato sales off  the highway.

Pooch, the cat, treads his feet Momma-style on crocheted blankets on an easy chair.  I tossed the blankets there after a short stint in Mandy's bed in the breezeway.  The dog curls up and buries her nose in the blankets to ward off 40 degree chilly temperatures.  Saturday morning I bring the blankets to Martha and Marion who are stationed at the entrance to our road under a canopy, selling pies, cake. cookies and bread.  It's cold sitting there watching cars speed down the hill gathering steam in the only straight stretch between two towns to the east and west.

The day before five of us-three Amish women, a visiting cousin and me-carefully walk the eight legged 20 foot long canopy down the road to the entrance of Kickapoo Center Lane. After setting up two banquet tables, putting out Bake Sale signs, decorating the booth with pumpkins and a brightly painted birdhouse gourd and piling a bushel basket high with potatoes, baskets fulls of yellow onions, a tub full of tomatillos, we're ready for the rush of customers.

I'm busy digging potatoes while the two Amish "girls" ( it's what they call themselves) read and write a letter.  The sun briefly peeks out from the cumulus clouds .  The girls wave at each passing car while I marvel at the fall colors in the woods above the cornfield across the road.  Mandy takes a turn sitting under the table and curling up on my lap. You couldn't ask for more country goodness.  The pecan pie, red and black raspberry pies, whole wheat bread, and fresh baked molasses cookies shout at me.  I want to buy them all.

Dawn joins Marion and Martha bringing her knitting along to pass the time.  I drive the lawn tractor out to the road to check on sales and find that Dawn sold 14 pounds of new Kennebec potatoes to some savvy customer.  I previously set my prices to be a bit higher than industrial, chemically produced spuds but lower than the expensive "co-op".  In the several weeks that pass, potato prices jump dramatically.  Now Wal-Mart Idaho potatoes are equal in price to my organically grown-you can eat the peel-taters.  The Amish Patriarch proclaims that seed potatoes will be in demand next year at a higher cost.  He's seldom wrong.  Martha and Lydia spend two hours digging potatoes the week before in a "shares" agreement.  They take home 69 pounds of Kennebecs for next year's seed potatoes plus a huge sack of Russets.  My back muscles thank them profusely.

So, on a rainy Monday morning, I stand at the kitchen window looking at the driving rain with a cat in my arms who is rumbling with warmth and joy after a cool Sunday night. He's made his rounds quickly, deciding that sitting under an overhang in the rain isn't much fun. Mandy retires to her chair after a quick run out in the yard.  The garage is full of drying beans.  Some lie in cardboard trays on a four by eight sheet of OSB. Others hang from a line stretched between hooks on the ceiling.  On wire racks in the summer kitchen racks of rattlesnake pole beans are drying for next year's seed and barbecue beans with baked chicken for a Sunday dinner.  Fresh sage hangs in bundles from an old extension cord over the chest freezer.  It's been a good year.


okjimm said...

the spuds sound good. The local farmers market is two blocks from my house, downtown. I figure I pay more than what I could get if I went to a roadside stand.... but two blocks away is pretty hard to beat.... plus I can get a pretty decent bloody mary downtown... with a good beer chaser.

Gavrillo said...

I wrassle with cost considerations of growing my own versus buying at a farmer's market. The best farmer's market is around the capitol in Madison, too far for us. The local market in Viroqua is overpriced. Milwaukee's West Allis market is great for home canners etc. A guy nicknamed "Frenchie" is the stalwart at the closest market a mile and a half away. Once we set up next to him and he gave us his slant on organic farming, "with all the pollution from cars, the rain...why bother". Say it with a Quebec accent and you get the gist.