The overwhelming amount of rain lately has had all the farmers feeling down. Yesterday we spent all day out in the rain trying to harvest lettuce and broccoli and collards, on top of trying to keep the pasture raised chicken comfortable in the fields of standing water.
But I had to smile when Ananias, one of our strawberry growers, pulled in with his horse and buggy. Ananias is a certified organic grower of the Swartzentruber sect of Amish. He’s the oldest order and doesn’t have a tractor or paid driver. Just the horse.
The strawberry growers have had it really rough lately. The excess rain is causing fungal issues on the plants, very soft fruit, and short shelf life. It’s a very bad strawberry year.
However, I laughed as I saw his horse drop a deuce. Last season I had to explain to Ananias about cleaning up after his horse and not leaving the droppings near the barn or in the parking lot.
One day last summer I was really bothered by it, and I told Rachel, the 17 year old Amish store clerk that worked for me, to box up the horse manure and send it back with Fresh Fork driver Mike to Ananias’ house. At that point, I had already politely asked him not to leave droppings.
She shoveled the manure into a box we had sitting around – a Conway’s Irish Ale master carton. I explained to Mike to say something to Ananias about the droppings and asked him to take the box back. I put it in the cab of his truck. Mike’s response, “I don’t want that shit,” and he left it in the parking lot.
Later that day, Rachel asked me about the box. She explain to me the one with the horse shit. “What shall I do with the shit?” she asked. I, caught off guard, asked her what she said. After she said it 3 times in her quaint little voice, I just started laughing. “I heard you the first two times, but I just had to hear you say it again.”
Ananias’ horse shit became the joke of June. The box was put on a wagon to go to the compost heap, but then someone stopped along the way. Somehow the box ended up along a fence row near the pasture and eventually out of sight, out of mind. Later that summer Evan – part Fresh Fork staff, part farm staff – was doing weed eating the fence row. He found the box of what he assumed was beer, and thought it was his lucky day.
“Hey,” Evan proclaimed. “That’s a mean joke whoever put horse shit in that box of beer.” I shrugged and replied, “Well what else should I have done with the shit?”