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The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams

On June 11th- 2013, it was Tuesday again and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg, and it seems like it is raining all over the world. This is the way it feels to the OFs here, but if we were in Colorado, or Arizona, we same OFs would be saying the whole world is cooking ─ where is the rain? As one OF put it, “We can’t go out or we would turn into a prune, and in the Midwest they can’t go out or they would fry.” Again, as a few said, that is what makes really nice days so much more pleasant but there are not very many of them. One OF said, “It all depends on what you call pleasant and I call pleasant…they can be totally different.”

With all the rain the OFs said that they still have not planted their gardens. One OF said that he will harvest his tomatoes from the garage, and another said that his tomato plants, which are in one of his greenhouses, are blossoming already. One OF said he had his peas in and they have rotted. One mentioned that the leaves on a certain plants (and here this scribe missed what it was the leaves were on) are turning yellow and that is not a good sign. Another OF said much of the good early hay is ready to be cut and that tain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

This led to farming according to city folk. The Time Union had a piece on some city people who wanted to leave the city and live off the land and have a farm. They purchased 8.5 acres and the paper called it a farm. To the OFs, this is no more than a house with a garden. The OFs that were talking about not getting their GARDENS in are the same thing. To the OFs a farm would be (in their estimation) at least 30 to 50 acres minimum with hay to mow, or a commercial crop to plant and harvest. One OF said he has 13 acres, and considers that just a garden with a big lawn and a few trees.

Another OF said, “Yeah, but you guys come off of 150 to maybe 300 to 400 acre farms with cows, horses, pigs, goats, chickens, and who know what else, and 8 acres to you is just where the barns, machinery shed, shop, and house are.”

Again, one OG said, “It is all relative. If you live in the city with no yard, and a 900 square foot apartment, 8.5 acres is going to feel like Christopher Robin’s 100 acre woods.” This OF said that it would be just like trying to put him from the farm into a nursing home. The OF said even though he can’t do much anymore that maneuver would have him climbing the walls.

Another OF said he would rather have that than being a burden to his kids. He said he has seen too many kids lives wrecked, and these same kids have aged well before their time trying to take care of older parents and/or relatives and still live their lives. “It is hard,” one OF commented, “Some kids would rather take care of their parents and don’t want to see them in ‘the home’. It is a dilemma, put me on an iceberg with a couple cans of beans and ship me out to sea, what more is there to see and do? Once you have seen a tree, you have seen a tree. Once you have seen the sky, you have seen the sky. Once you have kids, and they are good kids and good citizens then we have done our job, so pack me off to the next place.”

“Having large chunks of land with shrubs and trees and a big lawn is a lot of work to keep looking nice,” one OF said, “Plus we have all these critters running around and some aren’t so cute or nice.” One OF mentioned that when he comes in for mowing and ducking under trees he has one or two ticks on him at least. None of them may be the nasty kind that carry the Lyme disease but who knows? They don’t carry a little sign that says they are disease free, so this OF makes sure he is tick free when he comes in from mowing. “I bundle up,” the OF said, “No matter what the weather ─ gloves, long sleeve shirt, hat, safety glasses, ear protection, the only thing sticking out is my nose, mouth, and chin.”

One OF said, “Get some guinea hens.” “Oh no! Back to the guinea hens,” another OF said. “Yeah, I have them and have NO ticks at all. Ticks are like dessert for these birds.” One OF then commented that we should study these birds and see what keeps them from getting Lyme, and maybe we could come up with a guinea hen vaccine. “Nah.” an OF responded. “I think if you watch a guinea hen for very long it has to be their metabolism. That bird’s temperature must be a lot higher than 98.6 and it just cooks that Lyme germ.”

“Why is it,” one OF inquired, “That we never used to hear about Lyme disease, and now it is all over the place?” “Maybe,” one OF opined, “It is because people had it and the medical profession never knew what it was.”

The OFs attending the breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg and not knowingly bringing any ticks with them were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Steve Kelly, Roger Chapman, Bill Krause, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Herb Sawotka, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Henry Whipple, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Bob Lassone, and me.