Finally comes the first day of potato planting season—and we wake to a hard white frost. The ground that my brother plowed yesterday, fresh and moist and fluffy, was this morning a solid surface. My, oh my, what conditions are these?But then the morning quickly warms. We make it across one field, and by early afternoon we must move the entire operation to another field. Most of our machinery is uniquely slow or large, and often both; we make for a curious parade as we head down Main Street to the Whites’ home farm.
The great thing about potato planting is that it supplants the rest of the world entirely. The only thing that can trouble my mind is the task at hand. I might be driving tractor, I might be getting coffee. It might be an easy 20 minutes cutting specialty seed potato by hand. We stood just outside the barn, an array of crates between us. The sun was warm, our knives were sharp, and my father and I fell easily into the old-fashioned way of cutting seed.
Seed potatoes vary in size. I have nine different kinds, and many of them are oddly shaped. It is not possible to run the seed through the mechanical seed cutter. We cut 150 pounds in 20 minutes, and then I am called away. My father goes to sharpen knives. Unfortunately, we won’t return here today.
I don’t know if the person who dumped their rooster at my farm intended for me to eat the bird, and was thus making a gift. I don’t really like chicken; I butcher my own roosters mainly out of sensitivity to my laying hens. It irritates me that I am the recipient of someone else’s responsibility, and that they didn’t have the decency to ask, or the manners to leave two hens as dowry. It’s basic rooster-dumping etiquette—I am, after all, taking a useless and very likely illegal animal off someone’s hands.
As roosters go, this one is beautiful: a full ruff and a full tail, he is black but flashes emerald. His presence stirs fights in the chicken yard. By the time night falls, he has gained no permanent girlfriends, but his comb is bloody and beaten for trying.
I’ll give it a few days. If things don’t settle out, by then I’ll have built ample malice, and pretty boy will be a hat.