Saturday, October 1, 2011

Puh-TAY-Tuhs, as they say in Montana

Tuesday evening this week, I felt like I had done push-ups all day.

No, I did not start on a new, vigorous exercise routine. It’s just that we spent most of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday—from 10 am to about 4 pm—digging potatoes in the lodge's garden. We had twelve rows to dig, each about 150 to 200 feet long.

Now, we had intended to wait until the plants froze, but we only had one guest on Monday and none on Tuesday or Wednesday, so we needed something to keep us busy. And we were very close to frost by Monday, anyway.

Loosely defined, ‘digging’ meant walking down the row to pull up sprawling vines, crawling back down the row to pick up loose potatoes, waiting for the tractor to turn over the row, and then clawing over the dirt again to get every last potato.

I was on the digging crew, but once we carried the potatoes over to the tarps in five-gallon buckets, someone—several people, actually—had to wash them, sort out bad potatoes and crate the good ones.

By noon, when we stopped for lunch, we had one row of crates.

By 3 pm, when we had a break for snacks, we had two rows.

We worked for another hour, before we stopped digging and began sorting the last few tubs of potatoes. After we filled all the crates we could with good potatoes, some other people came by and picked out a dozen more bucketfuls for a church camp.

Tuesday morning, we were back at work—same time, same routine. The morning was much colder, though, and some of the plants had delicate icing on their leaves. To keep warm, I started wearing a pair of hip boots with nice thick knee-pads. Damp, dirty jeans do get uncomfortable, not to mention cold, after digging potatoes for a few hours.

By Wednesday, the frost was even thicker and took longer to melt. This, incidentally, meant that even hip boots and wool socks were pretty chilly—unless we kept moving, which we did.

We finished the last three rows early Wednesday afternoon and puttered about sorting out seed potatoes for next year, as well as cleaning the tarps and hauling the last few crates to the root cellar.

French fries for dinner tonight, and snow on the mountains!

That last photo looks like a story-book picture, but I didn't photoshop it, I promise.


The Front said...

Not to gloss over the main point of your blog post, but those mountains... I. want. to. climb. O_o

Audrey said...

About those mountains, Daniel: they don't even have names, there are so many like them out here. Incidentally, if you happen to want any mountain photos, I've collected a few hundred over the summer. Now I just have to sort them sometime.

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