TRR photos by Kristin Barron

Inroads on the farm

Most of the former fields and pastures of our old farm here in French Woods, NY, haven’t been cut for about 20 years. The fields are overgrown and wild. Willow, and aspen and pine trees have sprung up. Hedges of hard hack and berry and rose bushes prevail. But all that changed this month when my nieces and nephews came for a visit with a tractor and brush hog in tow.

My sister’s eight children are now grown and most have children of their own. They are scattered around the country and Europe, so the odds of finding a time for most of them to meet in little old Hancock, NY are slim. But they made it—from New Jersey, from Illinois and Switzerland. A few of the farther-flung kids couldn’t get here this year. But it was still a big party of swimming and berry picking, great food and kayak trips down the Delaware. There was even a sunrise hike up to Jensen’s Ledges. But perhaps, most importantly, it was a time to discuss the future of this cherished old farm.

My nephew bought a tractor and brush hog just for the occasion. And not just any tractor, but one with an air-conditioned cab, which is certainly a step up from the old, brakeless Ford that my father had. My nephew then hired a local guy to haul the tractor up here from the Scranton, PA area.

My nephews and nieces took turns cutting in the old fields and fixing the inevitable tractor breakdowns all week. The kids took turns too, including my daughter, Lily. You might have thought it was Christmas morning—they all enjoyed it that much. When they realized the big headlights worked, they started mowing at night too.

My nephew cut some inroad paths by all the wild blueberry bushes that have taken over. While driving in the fields, we did “drive-by blueberry picking,” meaning I could reach out the truck window and pick a sweet handful of berries straight from the bush. My nephew Gary drove me up to the old “terrace” section of the farm where the original log cabins were built by our ancestors in the 1840s. I hadn’t been up there in years. There were black-eyed Susans and even a few pine trees suitable for Christmas trees. (I am always on the lookout.) It felt good and hopeful to be able to go there again.

It was a lovely week and a start to planning the future of this old, overgrown family farm.


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