The Mushroom Farmer, Book 3, Chapter 13

Threshing was a farmer-daughter togetherness experience of separating oats from chaff.

The separation was in part a clear success. Together the mf and his grown daughter Yyyyy witnessed chaff fluttering beyond the trough they had set up in front of a big circular fan. The fan went whoooooosh across the trough as the mf and Yyyyy took turns dropping handfuls of threshed oats into the airstream.

Oat kernels dropped into the trough while bat-beaten remnants of florets and hull drifted away to settle on the plastic gingham table cloth. The mf and his daughter beheld the chaff, separated, and felt agricultural.

It was another bond between them, like love of going to bookstores. Now they had a magic moment in the tender grown-up years, when their lives did not intersect as much in the day-to-day, but what intersects more than a handful of bat-beaten oats and a circular fan airstream?

A: While driving home from school an hour earlier, a driver who really, really wanted to stay on the 110 instead of merging onto the 10 had crossed in front of the mf at freeway speed, missing a collision by barely more than half a second. The mf had felt his seatbelt tighten.

*

The threshing was not complete, however. Perhaps the oats needed to dry out a little more. Residual moisture might be keeping some of the florets from separating into hull and grain. The mf and Yyyyy had given the oats all the drying-out time they could, then bashed them between two tablecloths as much as they could with the plastic bats.

The mf had felt quiet pride in having two plastic bats available for oat-bashing. I know what you are thinking: only two? And I agree. There must be another plastic bat around here somewhere. Yet two was all they needed for a good loud session of swatting and more swatting. What about the neighbors? Well, a neighbor’s gardener had just been leaf-blowing so loud you could barely hear Jorma Kaukonen play “How Long Blues” even when the mf cranked it all the way up. Perhaps acoustic blues was not the best choice to drown out a neighbor’s leaf-blower, but it was a Friday afternoon in early June.

The point being that the chickens really liked the home-grown, hand-threshed oats the mf and Yyyyy took turns flinging upon the compost heap. The hens pecked and pecked, then dug into the compost with their mighty chicken feet to dig out hidden kernels. And then they pecked some more.

Meanwhile, the mf and Yyyyy observed the plump, well-cared-for birds raising radiant dust while aerating the compost pile. They observed the softness of brown and golden feathers, noted the bobbing of red-wattled heads, absorbed deep animal concentration.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky has been writing stories and essays since he was a music snob prodigy in early-1970's San Antonio, Texas. Since then he has written about not only music but also baseball, gardening, teaching, parenting, cycling and the... glory of love. Lit Hub and The Sun have published his work, and so has the Austin Chronicle. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he teaches English to some of the nicest kids in the world at an arts-themed public high school downtown.

3 thoughts on “The Mushroom Farmer, Book 3, Chapter 13

  1. Now, of course, your dear reader wants to see the pictures. Especially if they include humans, too.

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