Saturday, April 16, 2005

Farm Auction

Today was a day of great change for Bentley Farm. Everything that was not built on a foundation was auctioned away. The day was beautiful. Dad calls these bright, crisp and sunny days, "Dutchess County Days."

Two of Dad's faithful friends, Roland Naglieri and Trip Sinnot, came to support Dad. They knew it would be a hard day for him. In his ever thoughtful way, Trip brought us several packets of seeds with prayers for rebirth and new life for the farm. Isaac's farming buddies, Patrick Miglio and John Harris, showed up in support as well.

However we did not recognize most of the farmers that came. It felt like the whole agricultural sector of the Hudson Valley descended upon the farm. Dad and Nathaniel parked cars in the field on the north side of Bulls Head.

We drove the old John Deere B far out in the North Field so that no one would think it was for sale. In the midst of so much change, it was a comforting thought to know that the John Deere B would not be leaving us - yet. All eight of us children have very special memories of sitting in Henry's lap, "driving" the tractor in from the field with a load of hay precariously stacked in the attached hay wagon.

When the creaking old hay wagons were driven away from the auction, I felt like my childhood memories were undergoing painful surgery. A lump settled in my throat as I remembered how I passed many hot summer days sitting on one of those wagons awaiting the somewhat irregular throw of the baler's kicker. It was often with a twinge of fear that I would anticipate the sway of the wagon as Henry went down Bentley's steep hills. And sometimes I assumed the duty of 'spotter' and would shout, "STOP!" as loud as I could so that Henry could hear me over the noise of the fly wheel and the tractor engine. Henry would turn off the PTO and slowly come off the John Deere B, restring the baling twine and once again bale the loose grass.

And then there was the time that seemed to signify the beginning of the end when, in the daze of the extreme heat, Henry forgot to turn off the PTO before coming back to fix the baling twine. Climbing onto the baler, he secured a position on the baler's kicker only to be thrown like a sack of potatoes down on the ground. I prepared to run and dial '911', but in Henry's ever calm and steady way, he got back on the tractor and finished the round. We later found out that Henry had punctured his lung.

And then there was his heart attack. And then cancer. And then Henry quietly slipped away. He never really said 'good-bye.' He loved life too much to say 'good-bye.'

And so today seems like the day when we have to say 'good-bye.' The old wagon doesn't deserve to be carted off by some new-fangled Ford F350 with an extended cab and dual wheels. But it goes anyway.

We stand grateful for all that has been left behind, and all that goes before us. - Watermark