Machines

The difference between our approaches was even more evident during day two of clearing the hop yard with my father. Dad powered up the lawn mower and attached wagon to collect the downed burdock plants, whose trunks he had earlier felled with a saw attachment for the weed whacker. That’s right; a blade for the end of the weed whacker. Having spent the past handful of years planting in small urban plots and without any semblance of a lawn in my life, I had no idea such a thing existed. As if combatting unruly vines with the bucket tractor was not enough. It was now time for a motorized machete.

Clearning brush in new hop yard for Origin Hops.

Dad clearing out a mess of vines on the first day in the hop yard.

When Dad began mowing over stumps and brush with the family lawnmower, I cringed. I was certain he would break something, send a stray stone shooting out of the mower and injure the dog, or some other similarly harmful fate for driving with reckless abandon over our newly minted clearing.

I, on the other hand, plugged along with non-mechanized handheld clippers, a wheelbarrow and pitchfork. I sought a hard sweat, sore muscles and calloused hands to demonstrate my fortitude. Dad used power tools. Or so it might seem. But Dad was really guided by the mantra to “work smarter, not harder.” After lugging barrowful upon barrowful of chopped debris to the brush pile, I noticed how little progress I made with my method compared to his. It wasn’t time for the Tom Thumb test, of muscle versus machine. My father had a clear understanding of the work that we had ahead of us. Starting our hop (ad)venture is a marathon and not a sprint; to sustain endurance for the long run, we’d have to be careful not to burn out at the start. I am a runner and my delayed realization made me blush.

The first week spent in the hop yard was set amid the backdrop of other exciting events in the Goodman family. I was home from Washington, D.C. to celebrate the first of two 2013 babies with my older sister’s baby shower. It was also that week when my younger sister and her boyfriend closed on their first house, and the family redirected their efforts from hops to help prepare the new house for welcoming Jess and Anthony’s own bundle of joy in July. With my two sisters bringing into the world my first niece and nephew, and the first grandchildren for my parents, I have been asked a lot recently if I feel left out. I smile, remind the questioner of Origin Hops, and explain that not every baby is brought in by way of the stork.

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