First night at Abe and Sarah’s Lancaster farm went well, except for the friendly rooster who stomps the ground just beneath the window of my room. Apparently concert time is 430 am. I felt compelled to compliment Sarah on her bird’s voice the next morning. That got a knowing chuckle. Earplugs didn’t quite keep it out, but closed windows did the trick last night.
Abe is a swell organic farmer, and he loves his tomatoes. And he happens to be getting hammered with them right now. Yesterday I helped him to bring in 1500 pounds of the fruit, all with colorful names like Red Zebra, Boxcar Willy, and Cherokee Chocolate.
Abe is ambitious, and is shooting for 6000 pounds a week. He might just hit it. Harvesting began in mid-June and will continue through September. Abe has encouraged me to sample liberally. I will turn into a tomato soon.
Yesterday evening was a study in the limits of the local Ordnung. Being Amish, of course Abe does not drive, but had no problem when I suggested using my pickup to transport the tomatoes from the field, rather than hitching up his team. I suppose this was a welcome solution, with dusk coming on quickly. A gas-powered generator attached to a thermostat runs a cooling unit inside a converted tractor trailer nestled behind the barn–a nifty refrigerator if I ever saw one. An electric light inside allowed us to see what we were doing as we stacked the 10-lb cartons in the coolest back compartment.
To close the evening out, Abe checked his voicemail at the message phone which he keeps at a safe-enough distance from the home in a little barn nook. Turns out he had orders for 850 pounds the next day, and the rest will surely go by Saturday, he assured me.
Sitting around the kitchen table sipping garden tea and munching melons, we recounted the day’s events under the glow of a gas lamp hanging from a hook in the ceiling. And when the gas ran short, the flashlight filled the gap until we turned in for the night.