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Our Summer in a CSA: Sometimes in farming, you lose a finger

Note: Our Summer in a CSA is a collaborative project between Coloradoan reporters Erin Udell and Jake Laxen. Each week, Udell and Laxen will be picking up produce from the Shire CSA and writing, throughout the spring and summer, about what they get and their general CSA experience.

When I first met Luke Hall, he had ten fingers.

But, on Thursday, when I met him at his organic vegetable farm, the Shire CSA in central Fort Collins, there was a bandage where his left pinky finger used to be.

I was there for my first volunteer session at the local CSA, where Eat+Drink reporter Jake Laxen and I purchased a mini-share for a summer of fresh fruits, veggies and a little taste of farm work.

SNAKES AND SPIDERS: Our Summer in the CSA: Getting closer to our food

And one lesson I’ve learned — about three weeks into our membership — is that sometimes, in farming, you lose a finger.

Hall has owned the land the Shire CSA has been on since 2004 and started the vegetable gardens there in 2009. About two weeks ago, after 20 years in landscaping and farming, a table saw got the best of him when he was building a pergola on the property.

He was back in the fields the next day and has been able to continue working. After all, there’s no rest for the wicked … or farmers. Plants need to be tended, vegetables need to be harvested. The pinky finger is to the hand as Pluto is to the solar system, right? And, good news, he’s right-handed!

Some CSA members emailed me and Jake after Luke’s incident, letting us know he might need extra help around the farm. And, although an admitted lone wolf when it comes to work, Hall said he’s more than open to outsiders coming in to assist (if that’s you, email him at lukeshirecsa@gmail.com).

INGREDIENTS: Our summer in a CSA: A ‘Chopped’-like challenge

Today, he talked about the accident with ease. Later, when I called my grandparents in Maryland, my grandmother did, too.

My mom’s parents, my Grammy and Pop Pop, still live on the dairy farm my mom, aunts and uncle grew up on in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Pop Pop, now 93, started farming before he met and married my grandma in 1947 — back when horsepower was literal horse power.

While Pop Pop is still quick as a whip, he was sleeping when I called, so Grammy, instead, filled me in on the rough and tumble tales of farm life. There was that one time, she said, when a bull attacked Pop Pop, and he escaped under a fence with some scrapes and broken ribs.

And then there are the stories my mom has told me. Like the time Grammy accidentally grabbed onto an electric fence, and her little fingers got stuck, like a magnet, to the wires.

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“Nanny, remember when I was holding onto that electric fence …” I hear her say, trailing off over the phone to her older sister, my Aunt Nancy, who was sitting nearby.

And then there was my grandma’s brother, Cliff, who caught his wedding ring on a farming mechanism and got his first two knuckles of his ring finger ripped off.

“And that was a common thing,” my mom said.

She and my grandma both spoke very matter-of-factly about it all, reminding me again that I’m just a thin-skinned city girl from the Colorado ‘burbs.

It was the same way with Luke. Though he kicked himself for the accident, saying he’s had an impeccable safety record with no previous issues, he’s realized it’s not the end of the world.

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So today, while showing me how to pick peas, Luke — with his bundled left hand — wrestled with a vine before using his right fingers to pluck a pod.

Don’t worry if you pull too hard and the vine breaks off, he said, pulling, right at that moment, hard enough for a vine to come off in his hand.

“See,” he said. “It happens.”

And life goes on.

How to help: 

If you’re interested in helping out a nine-fingered farmer at the Shire CSA, email Luke at lukeshirecsa@gmail.com.

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The Coloradoan has joined the Shire CSA in Fort Collins to experience community-supported agriculture up close.

Article source: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/life/2016/06/26/shire-csa-farming-lose-finger/86299102/