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a knock on my door

Today there was a knock on my door and it was an older fellow (I later learned he is 72) who was wearing a covid mask and I opened the door and said hello and he said hello and simply "are those mastiffs?" I looked at him for a moment, trying to assess if he was here to complain about something, or had some ulterior motive and was just using 'dogs' as a way to wheedle his way into my opening the door, but he seemed sincere so I said "they're Anatolian shepherds" and waited to see what he'd do. He said "oh I thought they might be mastiffs but I wasn't really sure. How much do they weigh?" It was a very curious few minutes of this. He has several Irish wolfhounds that he drove all over the country to collect (like me going to Kentucky). I learned that wolfhounds were indeed used to kill wolves. Now Ireland is free of wolves so the dogs don't have a lot to do and I think he said are endangered. They are bigger than my dogs and only live about 7 years.

He lives near the intersection of 27 & C, which is about 10 minutes from the house I’m renting but is nearer my farm. I told him I had a farm on Severson Road and he froze with his mouth open. Then he stuttered "where? where on Severson?!" I said 'at the bend' and he said "Kleppe's place?!" His family has been living in the area around my farm since 1840. I kept describing where my farm was and although he knew all my neighbors' land he couldn't place mine. Finally we figured out that because my land used to be part of a larger farm whose address was on the next road over he thought of my parcel as being on "Smith Road" not "Severson." And he didn't think of it as "a farm" he thought of it as "Egge's north field." We talked for probably half an hour. I was in my pajamas and it was very cold on the porch and I kept the front door open and could hear the furnace running nonstop. He was a very nice good-natured fellow, and a democrat, which is rare in my experience out here. He was a dairy farmer until 7 years ago. He was very excited to hear that I was going to do grassfed meat. He said everyone growing corn/beans was unsustainable. I asked if he knew about the hog CAFO trying to build nearby, he did not and I wrote down a website where he could learn more and sign a petition. He said he really would do that, that in the 1980s he and some friends had figured out how to stop a CAFO from being built here by arguing that the blasts from a nearby quarry could damage the manure pits....something like that. It felt enveloping to think that this lovely area might have been ruined by a CAFO years ago if not for being fought-for and protected by folks like the regular-guy standing on my porch. Hopefully the things I do are making a difference for someone else years forward. I only learned his name by asking him twice as he was leaving to get back in his car, and he seemed to think it an odd question to ask, despite the fact that by now I had even seen his summer vacation photos on his phone. I recognised his last name, there are lots of his clan around here. He is not the first person to stop and ask about my dogs, though he is the first to have come and knocked on my door to ask...others pull up on bicycles and ATVs. It didn't really seem weird, which IS weird, I must be becoming countrified! Later I drove to town for groceries in the dark, and rather than my usual fleeting thoughts of "if I were to crash right now no one would find me until morning," instead I thought of all the longtime families I am beginning to get to know (I bet they talk about me to each other, I bet during tgiving dinner they casually say "have you met the gal who's got Egge's old north field now?") but I thought that if I did crash that whomever came by next would most likely be someone I know.




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