â€œYou wonâ€™t be canning the tomatoes from the CSA share,â€ my husband said.Â I tilted my head in confusion.Â â€œWere there none in the box?â€ I asked.Â Â â€œThere was no box,â€ said my husband.
He had stopped at our local grocery store to pick up the CSA Â (community supported agriculture) box that arrives every Friday morning.Â This time of year the share is heavily laden with tomatoes, eggplant, onions, swiss chard, peppers, parsley, and apples.Â When the young produce worker went to the store’s cooler, he discovered someone had taken our box.
â€œWell, I hope whoever took it needs it more than we do,â€ I said with a shrug.Â My husband shook his head.Â â€œYou have a great attitude, Hon, but I want my veggies!â€Â He called the Womenâ€™s Environmental Institute and told them what had happened.Â In exchange for a CSA share, my husband has been doing fieldwork for them all summer.Â Although the theft was not their fault in any way, they immediately told him to come out to the farm and get another box.Â â€œYou know where we keep them.â€
I tagged along because I love the rolling hills tinged with reds and yellow that adorn the Womenâ€™s Environmental Instituteâ€™s grounds as fall arrives.Â As he went into the building to retrieve his veggies, I walked around and savored the rustic barn wood and various farming tools leaning against the shed.Â Near a stack of bins and crates an old milk can stood sentry.Â I havenâ€™t seen one of those in years!
All sorts of smells, sounds, and memories flooded me as touched the cold steel lid.Â Â It was only yesterdayâ€”wasnâ€™t it?â€”that my mom and brothers called the cows in from pasture, encouraged them into their stanchions, and filled pails with warm frothy milk.Â The cats circled and were treated to an occasional squirt of milk, or an accidental â€œspill.â€ The milk went from pail to strainer to milk can.
I remember trying to lift full milk cans, but couldnâ€™t.Â And yet my brothers made it look easy as they hoisted those cans up and over into the cold water of the cow tank.Â Like a row of metal soldiers the cans waited at attention for the milk truck to arrive and whisk them off to their fate.
This can had seen better days, but wore the patina of happy ones.Â When my husband came out of the shed with bags over-flowing with vegetables, I reluctantly stepped away from the milk can and offered to help put our bounty in the vehicle.Â Restored veggies and memories?Â The best part of my day.
One of my daily farm jobs was to take the empty milk cans and put them where Dad needed them. 2 on 1 side of the barn, 6 on the other, and 8 outside, by the cow tank filled with ice cold water. It was not a difficult job UNLESS there were feet and feet of snow to battle and/or it was pouring rain. I once painted a milk can and had it in my apartment, but soon got rid of it. Milk cans should NOT be painted or look pretty. They have a job and a function, and making something pretty just isn’t something farmers spend time doing.
I remember–I think it was in the late 1970’s–when it became a decorating trend to use old milk cans as bar stools and such. People painted them and added a cushion to the lid. My aunt, who abhorred farm life, asked if she could have one or two of our milk cans if Mom (her sister) wasn’t using them. She was following the fashion trend, but it baffled me.
Repurposing items is great, but why have an object that you wanted no part of in its functional state sitting in your home? Repainted or not, it still was a symbol of a life she ran from as quickly as possible.
I’m impressed that you hoisted those cans around. Even empty they had weight. Thanks for the smile!