I follow tiny hand-painted signs, each depicting a blueberry, from the paved straightaway of Wild Branch Road onto a dirt road winding through Collinsville. Day, lovers of the small blue fruit travel this route to arrive at Arnold Brown’s gravel drive, sign the guest log, grab a bucket, and traipse into a field teeming with hundreds of mature berry bushes. Last year was a light one, as only 15,000 pounds of berries were gleaned. The year before, pickers hauled out 10 tons! I find, as usual, that Brown’s hillside is abuzz with people; their voices carry easily. I overhear snippets of heart-to-heart conversations, as well as an excited child discovering a “big one!” But none of us could be gathering these sweet surprises if not for an overeager man with a tractor mower. Back in the 1990s, Arnold had just planted this hillside with 7,500 Christmas tree saplings. All was proceeding according to plan until the man hired to cut the east field did Arnold a misinformed favor. He thought: “Arnold would probably like me to mow this field. He just forgot to ask.” So, here we are with our buckets, gossiping across the bushes, harvesting Plan B.
About this Podcast
Welcome to the monthly Farmer’s Calendar podcast. These essays come from The Old Farmer’s Almanac annual publication. They are recorded by Julia Shipley, the author and poet. She draws from her life raising animals and vegetables on a small farm in Northern Vermont.