An orchard revlation 'or not to bean'

Mr. Burpee may be wondering why I ordered no green been seeds this year, thus reducing his income by $5.55, but were he here he would see a clay flowerpot on the sill of my easterly fenestration with 10 bean sprouts prominent. This is my germination test, and the answer is 100 percent. That is good enough for all practical purposes in this climate. Last summer in my little garden behind the birdbath I grew enough Tendergreen beans to feed us and friends and Knox County, and when I came to clean up the patch I noticed quite a few pods still clung to the vines. I stacked them and later brought the stack into my shop, where it languished in desultory idleness all winter. I don't have a flail now, anyway, and I didn't push things around to make a threshing floor, so just lately I pulled off enough pods to give me a couple of quarts of seed and I shelled 'em out by hand. Ten beans went into the pot to see that the sprout would be. Ten out of 10 suits me.

This is my first bean news since the war, when we grew three acres of the things every summer for the factory (this was part of the Lend-Lease Doctrine), and sort of got the idea of beans out of our system. Since the war, I have curtailed my bean effort drastically, and one abbreviated row is enough.

Three acres are many beans. We had the farm tractor and all the row-crop equipment needed for this war effort, but beans had not come to mind as a way to bring the conflict to an end. A chap came around and convinced me. He was a nice-appearing fellow, and after the custom of his kind he managed to drived into the dooryard just as we were sitting down to our simple peasant nooning. He ate enthusiastically, and smacked his lips to whow the cook he approved, and before he left I had signed up for three acres of factory beans. In Maine farm lingo, the word factorym has a special nuance -- we used to grow beans for a variety of reasons, but factory beans are grown under the supervision of a field man from the canning company, and the crop must go to the canning factory. Seed and encouragement are supplied by the company, charged against payment in the fall, and the man will come to tell you when to pick so that the crop of the entire growing area will come to the factory in daily quantities.

I wasn't a complete stranger to the culture of beans, and I was aware of an old-time canning factory deceit. I was smart enough that day to cross out the line in the writings that gave the field man the right to judge the quality of my crop. That was the old-time deceit. When it comes time to pick beans, they go into the factory as "No. 1" and fetch the good price by the pound. But as the season works along and the canning company has all the beans it wants, the field man shakes his head and says the quality has dropped off. So, of course, has the price, and it is now less than you are paying the pickers. So you quit, which is what the field man wants you to do. The factory has run out of cans, or the orders have all been filled. Maybe it has been such a good yield year for beans that the value has dropped. Doesn't matter -- the factory has made out and the farmer is stuck. So I crossed that line out, and the factory man set his initials there.

Eveybody picked beans. We had girls up from the city, and we scoured the countryside for local talent. Men would come from the sawmill to pick for the noon hour, and women would come for an hour or two when they could. Each evening I had a load of harvested beans in the big net bags provided for transport and I would take them to the receiving station. All the other growers did the same, and then a truck delivered to the factory. One look at the pile at the receiving station, and you'd know the war was just about over. Then the cans alloted by the War Production Board for the Maine bean pack ran out, and the field man came and shook his head and said my quality was down.


seems to me we grew beans three times, but when the man wouldn't let me cross out that line a fourth time I shifted to o ther crops and eventually won the war by myself.

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