Trials of an absentee farmer

I’ve commented to anyone who will listen that I have found some unexpected challenges in taking care of Belly Acre Farm while living on the other side of the county. (By my calculation, it’s about 10 miles, though Google Maps says you can’t get there in less than 13 miles.)

When living on the same land you are farming, you constantly see what’s happening. From 10 miles away, out of sight is often out of mind. The grass needs mowing here, so who thinks about the insects gnawing away at the beans at Belly Acre? To be fair to myself, I do think about them, but so many things come up at home that I tend to push them down the priority list. Especially after I think about the near-hour roundtrip drive to do anything about them.

Last year the garden was overrun with grass when weather combined with pressing matters at home kept me away for over a week at just the wrong time of the season. This year I’ve been more successful at keeping the grass under control, partly because I’ve been more determined not to have Mom remind me of how Dad used to keep things neater.

But this week I found another difficulty with being a commuting farmer.

Somebody stole my tomatoes.

Not just the few ripe ones waiting for my harvest that day, but just about every tomato on the vines. Even the green tomatoes were stripped, except for a few very small ones that were overlooked.

With one notable exception: The perpetrators must also be tomato connoisseurs. They left the Carolina Golds I wrote disparagingly about in an earlier post. Those vines were left unmolested. The Carolina Golds taste better now than I thought they did two weeks ago.

Except for the Carolina Golds, everything is gone. Until the heat relents and the plants start setting fruit again, my tomato season is over.

We think we know who did it. My mom, my daughter Laura and I have all noticed a certain car slow down a few times as the occupants looked over our garden, which sits right beside the road. They probably also noticed that we tend to work the garden in the mornings before the heat gets too great.

We should have been suspicious right there. Unlike when I was a kid, nobody slows down or even looks away from the road as they drive past the house anymore. Except for those texting, of course, and they don’t look at the scenery. And they certainly don’t slow down.


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