I sowed a field of oats and, for lack of warmth and rain, it was slow to germinate. This gave the grackles and blackbirds time to scour the field and eat all that they could of my efforts. The fact that anything comes up at all surprises me.
In the barnyard, things are much the same: Our industry is robbed by winged ravens, not desirable birds but nest raiders and invaders from Europe. The starling and the sparrow continue a lasting plunder. They are brazen and go right into the coops. I won’t be surprised if one day I find a cowbird egg among the chicken. But, for now, if I don’t adjust my feeding practices, the winged parasites will eat almost everything I put out for my egg producers. “No more cruise ship access to food all day,” I apologize to the hens. “From now on, only morning and night.”
To me, Sagaponack is made up of two elements, the sky and the earth. Though the two things can be separated, they are inseparable. Here, the sky hasn’t ushered a raindrop upon the dirt in more than two weeks. It is dry during a time when moisture is needed to accommodate the vegetation on which we feed, be it decorative or digestive. I am chiefly interested in the digestive. Dry times, even if they are short-lived, can make a lot more work for the farmer. Not only do the transplants need water, so do the directly sown things, a phenomenon that is unnatural in these parts.
Still, what amazes me about Sagg’s dirt is the way it holds what little moisture it has. This morning, it is pulling a slow drink from the fog. I can tell because it is a darker brown than its midday self, which is as dusty and loose as July.
What amazes me more is how much of this magic dirt has been transformed to housing, and extensive landscaping. Every time I squeeze my tractor past a contingent of landscaping teams, I consider how they are the workers of the land today. Their industry has replaced the ubiquity of farms—and I wonder if, among the workers, there is any affinity for one estate section over another.