The Quintessential CSA Moment


Tuesday afternoon’s work started, believe it or not, with a change of plans. Our initial intention was to move the pack shed, thus taking care of this last vital transitional step prior to Oren’s leaving again for law school. However, the best of intentions have a way of falling flat in the face of reality, and the Coop’s late cherry tomato order, coupled with our cows’ increasing escape-artist efficacy, altered the structure of our afternoon a bit. That’s alright, I figured. I’ve never been one to mind a little cow wranglin’ from time to time. Plus, the hoop house solace would be nice.

Thus, after a peaceful and solitary cherry tomato harvest session, I made my way to Rising Sand, where I was met by Monica and Robin River – the Cow Whisperer himself. Robin is the co-owner of Primitive Pastures Farm, and the rightful owner of these cows. It turns out that we were in for our last wranglin’ session of the season, with the end point being his trailer, then off to “the farm” for our ruminant companions; whatever that may mean in this instance. Oren was, believe it or not, late, and so we waited and chatted amicably about food service, the business of farming, and pickled peppers.

Finally he arrived, and undermanned as we were, we set to wranglin’.  We had just gathered the cows from atop the hill into the pasture when we heard a voice call from the driveway. It was our next door neighbor – not Bob, thank goodness, but Peter, who is also a CSA member. “Hey,” he called as he approached, “Is it CSA day today?”

“Yep,” Oren responded from his post behind the cows. “You can pick up your box from the cooler over there. Unless,” he continued, “you feel like helping herd some cows..?”

“Sure,” Peter shrugged, crawling through the stanchion and entering the swampy cow pasture, running shoes and all. He took his place in the circle and we collapsed in around the cows, easing them towards the corral and the trailer. Closer and closer we drew in together until… escape.

One cow darted under the fence; the other scooted and circled back, and we were back to square one.


“Looks like someone else is here.” called Peter as we made our way out to regather our rambunctious friends.

“Ah, it’s probably Logan Brice.” I responded. “Is it a huge white van?”

“Nope, a small hatchback.”

And from that small hatchback approached none other than Jasia Steinmetz: my former academic advisor; current friend, fellow food enthusiast and CSA member.

“Jasia!” I called excitedly. “It’s awesome to see you!”

“I know!” she replied, “it’s great to finally be out here!”

And with that, she crawled through the stanchion and entering the swampy cow pasture, work clothes and all. She took her place in the circle and we collapsed in around the cows, easing them towards the corral and the trailer. Closer and closer we drew in together until… escape.

Jasia and I set out to regather the agitated herbivores while Oren and Robin recalibrated our corral strategy. “You know,” I started, sensitive to the time commitments of professorship, “You don’t have to hang around if you’ve got anywhere you have to be.”

“I’ve got nowhere to be.” responded Jasia flatly, making very clear her view of the foolishness of any rightminded person who passes up the opportunity to traipse through a muddy cow pasture in professional clothing.

Again, we circled the cows; again we collapsed in towards the corral, and again… escape. Finally, our fourth effort proved fruitful, and the Cow Whisperer and I muscled the last cow into the trailer and clamped the door behind. Heaving a sigh of relief after all the excitement, we made our way toward the cemently padded, fully roofed and functionally electrified cooler, where I grabbed the heavy box labeled “Steinmetz.”

I stepped out of the cooler and handed Jasia her box of veggies. Here was our quintessential CSA moment. Here, the concentrated essence of a High Mowing Seed Catalogue picture; the living poetry behind any tidbit of idealistic literature you’d care to read about local food and CSA farming – friend handing friend a box of wonderful food, having working cooperatively on a classic farm project. It was absolutely beautiful, and I was proud of that box; blessed in that moment.

We made our way back to her car and caught up a bit while she unpacked her veggies; voicing her appreciation for the bounty and beauty as she went. Oren approached, to shake my hand before hitting the road back to law school. I gave him a hug instead. “It’s been a great summer, brother.”

With that, I took my leave to make the Coop delivery as the two took up a discussion on some law topic or another.  I watched them in my rearview as I neared the end of the long driveway: Jasia’s intent and intense gaze following Oren’s ever-rattling mouth and dancing hands. I reached the intersection of driveway and road, and turned towards the early fall sunset, leaving the farm and my friends in the wake.