Carry the Weight

by Caroline Fanning

September 10, 2020

It’s that time of year when things start getting crowded in and around the Tin House. The wash station is jam-packed with onions, the exterior walk-in cooler is filling with potatoes, winter squash is everywhere, and that’s not a quarter of the total haul. When I consider the massive transfer of food that still lies ahead, I fantasize about an eruption of vegetables, in which crops launched into the air shake free of dirt and debris and then miraculously land in their designated bins, ready for storage, Mary Poppins style. In reality, the crew trudges out, like an army of ants, ready to carry the weight. We have a tractor-drawn digger to draw the potatoes and sweet potatoes to the soil surface, but the crew must collect each and every potato by hand. Ditto with the winter squash—each fruit is clipped from its vine and loaded into bins by hand. Years ago, when our backs were younger, our harvests lighter, and our obsession with soil compaction borderline manic, we’d carry our full bins to the edge of the field, where they would be loaded onto the truck. Nowadays, we leave our bins in the field and let Peter see how fast he can load the truck as it rolls by. As we like to remind him, getting paid to lift weights is better than paying Tough Mudder or Spartan for the privilege.