A black and white hog on its side sleeping in a pile of hay and straw

Our crew is fairly diverse. Some are peculiar, some curmudgeons and a few are downright cantankerous. Then there’s one in every crowd, happy.

One of the crew is a discerning beer drinker but eschews beer flights. “Why? What’s not to like about a beer flight?” “Nothing, really, I just like a pint, simple as that. If I like it enough I might have another. If I don’t, I’ll try something else. The only beer flight I ever enjoyed was in Viet Nam, from Nha Trang to Ha Noi. We’d taken off in the remnants of a typhoon, and it was terrifying. The one flight in my life where I thought I was going to be sick. I’m talking sick. But afterward, on solid ground, in the first bar I saw, that Bia Saigon? Best beer I’d ever had.” Peculiar, that guy.

Another of the crew is a self-proclaimed foodie. Loves to cook, and bake, loves to eat. Loves going to restaurants, good ones anyway. Dined at Per Se just a month after Thomas Keller opened it, thinks Taniere in Quebec City is worth the six hour drive, recommends a stay at Auberge Saint-Antoine. But he’s just as comfortable eating at a food truck, authentic ones anyway. “Fifteen bucks for a burger off a food truck? No thanks.” Likes talking food but laughs when he hears words like “fave” and “delish”. He wants to be clear he’s laughing at them, not with them because, “they’re not laughing, they’re serious.” He thinks they must all be English. He’s a curmudgeon.

Yet another of the crew believes in strong government, thinks good governance can make a positive difference in people’s lives. But he has no patience for anything frivolous. In this, he is the sole arbiter. He’d recently read an article that began “Sunday sadness is real”, and it went on to offer tips on “how to battle the pre-workweek blues.” The article stated that eighty-one percent of people reported they grew “progressively more anxious as the weekend came to a close” and that sixty-seven percent experienced “restless nights’ sleep” Sunday nights, attributable to “job-related anxiety.” He got the percentages right and the quotes accurate, he was waving the article about as he spoke, and we checked. “This is malarkey!” he did not exclaim. We don’t know who reads these blog posts, maybe children, so we didn’t write what he did exclaim, but close enough. “I find it hard to believe eighty-one percent of people don’t like their jobs so much that they dread going to them.” He was talking to farmers, the ribbing was quick. “Not everyone gets to work in the pouring rain.” “Or the sweltering heat.” “Or stung by wasps,” added the crew who’d earlier stepped on a ground nest. He was undeterred. “Well I doubt four out of every five people even work a Monday to Friday job. What about store clerks, the restaurant industry, hospitals, highly driven associates in big city law firms?” He had us there, we live and work on a farm, a farm doesn’t know what day it is, remember? (See “A Day Nobly Spent”) But he stepped right back in it before anyone could concede his point. “And did you know we have a National Sleep Foundation? What the heck is that?” he did not ask, finally getting around to government. “We have a National Sleep Foundation. We pay for that? What the devil do they do?” he did not go on rhetorically. He waved the article about, again. “They make suggestions as to how job-anxious people can avoid restless nights’ sleep. I don’t think we need that, I don’t want to pay for it.” The most righteous of the human rights advocates among us spoke up. “That’s not fair, they do good work.” “Like what?” “Well, they might recommend how many hours of sleep prisoners should get.” “What the Jiminy Cricket?”, he did not cry out. Cantankerous.

The guy who eschews beer flights headed off, to of all places, the brewery, to clean kegs.

The guy who avoids pretentious food trucks told a story about Boston Celtic legend Larry Bird walking into a bar in New York. Bird orders a beer, a draft. Bartender pours it, slides it over, Bird takes out his money and asks how much. Bartender says six dollars. This is back in the day and this is Larry Bird, West Baden Indiana, small farming town, once worked as a garbageman to pay bills. Bird puts his money away, slides the beer back to the bartender and says “You drink it.”

The guy upset over the National Sleep Foundation said he really doesn’t sleep that well, hasn’t for a while, knows it’s an age thing, doesn’t think it’s the government’s problem. This could have all gone on for quite a while, but the guy who hadn’t said a word yet just shook his head, laughed and got up. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t too hot, and he loved the work, honestly thought he was lucky to get to do it, had always wanted to farm. Slept pretty well at night but, yeah, not like he used to. He agreed, an age thing. He had followed Larry Bird’s career, watched him play through all kinds of pain, a work ethic he’d learned from his father. Remembers Bird talking about that stint on a garbage truck. Remembered Bird saying he loved it because he was outdoors, around his friends, picking up brush, cleaning it up, had a feeling he was accomplishing something. He remembers Bird saying that people ride around their towns asking “Why don’t they clean the streets up?” and there he was with a chance to do that, the chance “to make my community look better”. Peculiar? Yes. A curmudgeon? By most accounts, Bird is, and arguably cantankerous. Happy? Without a doubt. So is the guy mucking stalls. Most of the time, so are we all.