Saturday, May 7, 2011


I want to make amends for the glassy-eyed elephant by showing the expression on the eye of a very live sheep, one of the occupants of the Farm Museum in Cooperstown, where I dodged in and out of the heavy showers among the old farm buildings in this reconstructed village.   One of the sheep had just had two little lambs yesterday, who were in the old hay barn - it was all idyllically bucolic, including the old rare breed of turkey, and the working horse rolling in the muddy field - I'm sure the more idyllic because it was pre-memorial day and hence almost devoid of families.

It wasn't, however, devoid of farmers, real or pretend (there were a good number of dressed-up Interpreters around), and I had a particularly fascinating conversation about rural poverty.   Indeed, this gentleman told me, those who haven't got an old family farm have left the countryside for jobs elsewhere if they possibly can.   But over 50% of the newcomers in that county are Amish (and this is only four hours from NYC ...) - mostly from Ohio, not PA - and they are doing well enough using old methods.   Farmers have been going badly into debt buying, and repairing, machinery - a blown tire on a tractor can cost a month's profits - but a couple of horses and a hand plough involve pretty low overheads.   Throw in the Fenimore Museum, and a beautiful cross country drive (set the GPS for Shortest Route, and No Interstates is always fun - a huge NYC reservoir; miles and miles of the Poconos), and it was a curiously educational day.

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