Small Farmer's Journal

Facebook  YouTube

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Parasitic Experiences

Parasitic Experiences

by Catherine Bennett of Heuvelton, NY

It all started with a sign.

“We Have Worms”

It’s not complicated to make — I tore the cardboard box, handed it to Andy, and he wrote on it with a black magic marker and hung it in the store window. Everyone knows what it means, it means that if you’re not gonna go diggin’ for the earthworms yourself, you come in and and buy bait from him. It’s a seasonal sign; we scrap it every Autumn. No biggie.

But then… Davey’s cousin come up, and he — well, we all know Davey’s a lot smarter than he looks — or acts — I just didn’t expect Hank to be quite so… stupid. The way Davey tells it, he was driving Hank to his place, and Hank took one look at Andy’s sign and speed dialed a parasitologist, convinced we all had freakin’ tapeworms. Davey had to spend a half hour convincing him the water was safe.

The problem was, once Hank managed to grasp this concept, he went nuts. He started calling every friend he had in the city, urging them to come on out here. “You’ve gotta see this,” he says, “these people have worms.” And they show up, carrying USA Aid-style briefcases, and the cows can’t stop rolling their eyes because they’ve never seen anything less practical on two legs. I mean, they step out of their huge freakin’ cars, okay? Land in a pile o’ horse crap, and can’t figure out why the pigs are eating dead chickens. And I ask them, do you eat yours live?

So they have to see Andy’s place, and he thought it was the craziest thing, said that he was never sure if they were gonna buy some’in’t or just swab for the E.coli. But he did some business. It just felt like we were the tourist attraction and they were snatching at the souvenirs.

And so to pretty much everybody’s surprise – including, I think Hank’s – they stayed. Oh, they didn’t buy a house. But a few of ‘em found an apartment, raved about how cheap it was, called their investors and said they found a new market.

Parasitic Experiences

Before long, the tourists started going from asking the difference between a chicken and a turkey to yes, testing the water. They made calculations; they surveyed and analyzed and estimated. They started whipping out their phones at our well pump and telling me about the fifty bucks I could spend on a solar panel that’d take just fifteen minutes to install! No more hand pumping! I asked them if they’d ever actually set up a solar pump and while they hadn’t, they were quick to assure me that a short Youtube video’d cover it all. I gently reminded them that we didn’t have Youtube at the house, that fifty bucks was more than we make in a month, and that they were blocking the sun. They suggested we apply for a loan.

Once they figured out which end of a hammer you use, it got worse. “Wouldn’t it be easier if you mowed the field in May? Or September? It’d be cooler out, right? Less work?” “Hey, if you just set up this blog, you’d have followers in NYC who would want to buy your produce! And you could get a better deal! Sell to restaurants! Have you ever tried that?” Mmmmhmmm. There is no hay in May, honey. Or September. And sure, as soon as I’ve finished butchering those thirty birds and helping those two sows pig, I’ll start a blog about it. And the last time our neighbors tried selling anything to a city, they drove eight hours to have the sous chef reject their best radishes. Go ahead. Try it. I’d pay to see it happen. It’s not like I’m cynical, I swear, and if you can come up with a better way, I will take it. You just haven’t found one yet.

But they wouldn’t stop. And they begin to feel unmovable. Fixed. Like they’d dug their way into our skins and latched their tiny little jaws… It was ridiculous, Kate at the diner had to ask them to stop taking up two booths every night. Hank had left his cousin’s house and was living with his friends; I asked Davey what he thought. “They’re drivin’ me nuts,” he says, “keep telling me how big and beautiful this place could me. And I’d tell ‘em how beautiful it already is, but they’re… they don’t listen, they get a kick out of this place. It’s just one big feast for them. And I only have so much energy. I wish they’d leave, but it’s like they’re determined to ‘fix us’ with their big cars and their pinkie rings and their smartphones. They spend more money on clothes than I make in a month, in a year sometimes.”

And that was just it. After they stopped ogling the tomato plants and running away from th’ bees, all Hank’s friends wanted to do was teach us how behind we were. Technology would save us all! Food rots, so it has no value! And if they were exhausting Davey, it was no wonder most of us were feeling leached. They were in Andy’s store two, three times a day; they wanted an electronic welcome sign for the fire department, the town border, the school. They had to ask for directions to the church, but they showed up and preached the glories of electronic cars — six people walked out after explaining to them that growing your own peppers and carrots was better for the planet than such stuff.


City slickers don’t like t’see death, and I don’t expect we’ll see much of them past lambing season — we’ll lose a few babies, we always do, and most unaccustomed folks can’t comprehend it. We’ll explain the circle of life, and they’ll pack up after learning that placenta is edible and good for the soul. They’ll get confused when we mention stolen land or that world hunger is a myth. They’ll figure out that we’re not a new market, we’re just trying to survive the best way we know how. They’ll stop calling their investors, stop trying to put my house up on AirBnB, perhaps stop seeing us as a tourist attraction, but I don’t think they’ll ever see us as people.

I guess I just keep laughing, because — what drug the fancy tourists here was a belief in our dying guts. We had “tapeworms,” and they were here to save us. We were fine, doing quite well this year, as a matter of fact, whereas they – they’ve become the very thing they fear. At least eventually, a tapeworm will become someone else’s food, a hookworm eats histamines. Nothing will break down the electronic bulletin boards they wanted to replace our wooden ones – an unknown object, the environment can’t cope. And Hank and his friends were so busy fiddling with such crap that it never occurred to them to look at themselves. Worms, they are. Each and every single one of them. We don’t want them here, stripping the good out of our daily activities, just as one can resent parasites, taking meds to keep them at bay. The difference is that the tapeworms I had when I was two loved a healthy environment. These guys just want to kill it.

Spotlight On: Book Reviews

McCormick-Deering No 7 Mower Manual in English & French

McCormick-Deering No. 7 Mower Manual in English & French

Instructions for Setting Up and Operating the McCORMICK-DEERING No. 7 VERTICAL LIFT TWO-HORSE MOWERS — Instructions pour le Montage et le Fonctionnement des FAUCHEUSES A DEUX CHEVAUX McCORMICK-DEERING No. 7 À RELEVAGE VERTICAL

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Art of Working Horses

Lynn Miller’s New Book: Art of Working Horses

Art of Working Horses, by Lynn R. Miller, follows on the heels of his other eight Work Horse Library titles. This book tells the inside story of how people today find success working horses and mules in harness, whether it be on farm fields, in the woods, or on the road. Over 500 photos and illustrations accompany an anecdote-rich text which makes a case for the future of true horsepower.

Apples of North America

Freedom has been called the ugly duckling of disease-resistant apple varieties. But that shouldn’t detract from its many merits. These include the freedom from apple-scab infection for which it was named, a high rate of productivity, and an ability to serve as a good pollinator for its more attractive sibling, Liberty.

Old Man Farming

Spinning Ladders

You die off by passing away. You live on by passing on. I want to pass the culture of my life on slowly, over the ripening time of my best years.

Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide

How to Store Vegetables

Potatoes may be safely stored in bits on a well drained spot. Spread a layer of straw for the floor. Pile the potatoes in a long, rather than a round pile. Cover the pile with straw or hay a foot deep.

"Work Horse Handbook, 2nd Edition" by Lynn Miller

Draft Collars and How To Size Them

It is difficult to accurately measure a horse’s neck without fitting. In other words, there are so many variables involved in the shape and size of a horse’s neck that the only accurate and easy way to size the neck is to use several collars and put them on one at a time until fitting is found.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 2

How do you learn the true status of that farm with the “for sale” sign? Here are some important pieces of information for you to learn about a given selling farm. The answers will most probably tell you how serious the seller is.

An Introduction To Grasslands Farming

From Dusty Shelves: A World War II era article on grassland farming.

Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing

Setting Up A Walking Plow

Here is a peek into the pages of Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing, written by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller.

Book Review Butchering

Two New Butchering Volumes

Danforth’s BUTCHERING is an unqualified MASTERPIECE! One which actually gives me hope for the furtherance of human kind and the ripening of good farming everywhere because, in no small part, of this young author’s sensitive comprehension of the modern disconnect with food, feeding ourselves, and farming.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 3

What goes with the sale? What does not? Do not assume the irrigation pipe and portable hen houses are selling. Find out if they go with the deal, and in writing.


Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

Dont Eat the Seed Corn

Don’t Eat the Seed Corn: Strategies & Prospects for Human Survival

from issue:

Gary Paul Nabhan’s book “WHERE OUR FOOD COMES FROM: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov’s Quest to End Famine” (Island Press, 2009) is a weighty tome, freighted with implications. But as befits its subject it is also portable and travels well, a deft exploration of two trips around the world, that of the author following in the footsteps of a long-gone mentor he never met, the Russian pioneer botanist and geneticist Nikolay Vavilov (1887-1943).

Honoring Our Teachers

Honoring Our Teachers

from issue:

I believe that there exist many great practicing teachers, some of who deliberately set out to become one and others who may have never graduated from college but are none-the-less excellent and capable teachers. I would hazard a guess that many readers of Small Farmer’s Journal know more than one teacher who falls within this latter category. My grandfather, and artist and author Eric Sloane, were two such teachers.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 5

You might think that your new farm is fenced all wrong, or that a certain tree is in the wrong place, or that a wet area would be better drained, or that this gully would make a good pond site, or that a depression in the road should be filled, or that the old sheds should all come down right away. Well maybe you’re right on all counts. But maybe, you’re wrong.

Work Horse Handbook

The Work Horse Handbook

The decision to depend on horses or mules in harness for farm work, logging, or highway work is an important one and should not be taken lightly. Aside from romantic notions of involvement in a picturesque scene, most of the considerations are serious.


Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT