Everyday begins the same at this time of year. I am usually out of the house around 6:00 to let the turkeys out before the increasing light makes them too fidgety. We close the doors to their shelters each night at dark and most of them are self-loaded with the rest having flown up to the peak of the shelter to roost for the night. In the morning the top sleepers fly back down and taunt the locked-up groups by strutting around just outside the chicken wire walls. So, out they come for another day, pecking for bugs and discussing with each other what happened last night in the other shelter. Then I walk down to the irrigation pump to turn on the water for the day. When it is this hot we water everything for two hours a day, every day, and it is most effective if we do it early when it is cooler. You can tell that fall is on its way because the spiders are getting serious about stringing their webs across the paths to catch every thing in sight. I assume it is either to gather lots of food heading into the winter or trying to catch a ride for the new borns to another location so they can set up shop. In the early part of the year you can walk all around the farm and never run into a spider web. Now I have to find just the right stick, each morning, that I hold out in front of my face and chest to intercept them before I get a face full of spider! This morning walk can be up to three quarters of a mile or more depending on side jaunts, which gives me a chance to think about what needs to be done this day and to contemplate other issues. It is not quite a perambulation of the bounds but close.
Today I was thinking about the tragic passing of a friend, neighbor and fellow farmer, Chuck Glosson. Chuck was accidentally hit and killed by a car on Saturday morning while we were at market, he was only 33. The news spread quickly though the market community as we all returned home that afternoon. Many of you may remember Chuck who sold at market from 1993 until 2000. He and his family set up right behind our Saturday stall where Chapel Hill Creamery is now. The next to take over the family farm, a farm that has been in the family at least 200 years. Chuck finished High School and went right into farming with his father and it was a true partnership from the beginning. A true traditional family farm, they raise cattle, pigs and chickens. They also produce corn, wheat, soybeans, grass seed, hay, straw and many more crops, some to feed the animals and some to sell. At market Chuck was an innovator. He was the first to sell beef and pork. They sold beautiful produce and cut flowers. They immediately had a loyal customer following because of the huge diversity of product but mostly due to the fact that Chuck was the friendliest, kindest, and most sincere person they ever met.
We first met Chuck when he was about to graduate from High School. He came by the farm one day because another market vendor suggested he go see what we were doing. He was sure of staying on the farm and thinking about how he would fit into the family operation. We walked all around our place and he asked good questions and soaked it all up. In the years since we have bought straw from them, asked them about raising pigs and other crops. After Hurricane Fran, when we had to move our transplant greenhouse after it was flooded, Chuck came over with one of their huge tractors and towed the structure up the hill and helped us set it on the new foundations. He was always happy, willing to help and was a great listener. The kind of farming that the Glossons do is completely different than what Betsy and I do but we had an understanding of each others daily lives. Chuck has always been the picture, in my mind, of the future of traditional mid- size farmers. Now I don’t know what image I will have in my head when someone talks about young conventional farmers but I will always know that I was friends with one of the finest humans to have ever walked this earth.