Scene is along a country road, rainy day.

An interesting sensory experience, taking this photo – – a really nice floral fragrance, from the grape hyacinth.

And also, a farmer was busy in the field just in back, with a honey wagon.

If you’re not from dairy country…a “honey wagon” is a/k/a manure spreader.  I was going to say “a bucolic scene, despite the pong from the cow manure,” and then realized, that’s exactly right.  I looked “bucolic” up, and that word comes from “ox” and “herdsman,” so the cows’ contribution is appropriate.

I read about President Truman giving the press a tour of his birthplace, a farm in Missouri.  A White House staffer asked Mrs. Truman if she could please get the President to stop saying “manure.”

Mrs. Truman replied, “Do you know how long it took me, to get him to say manure?”



The farmhouse cellar and a collapsed barn, are just behind the forsythias. Whoever lived there, must have planted the grape hyacinths many years ago, for them to have naturalized and spread so much.

Finger Lakes, FLX, History, Spring, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes ~ April, Yates County ~ A Place Where a Farmhouse Used to Be


30 thoughts on “Walks Around the Finger Lakes ~ April, Yates County ~ A Place Where a Farmhouse Used to Be

  1. Darts and Letters says:

    The same little hyacinth (grandma rogue planted it years ago, she’s always been peeved at my relative disinterest in cultivating flowers except by accident and likes to get at me) all by itself is always the very first thing that sprouts up in our yard, early spring. Even before the crocuses. This was probably two months ago. It’s really pretty but then the flower falls off and it’s just these solitary, preternaturally green blades sticking up at the base of a still-bare Japanese Maple that make everything else look rather blah by comparison. I love Forsythia, we had one in our backyard that looked super pretty this time of year, contrasted against the blue of our house. But I had to take drastic action against it last autumn because it was sending crazy runners all over kingdom come, completely overtaking the back and getting twelve feet high. Those runners make amazing starts, though. Buried a bunch of them elsewhere in strategic locations and they’ve come back this spring

    • One of my grandmothers did the same thing, she’d plant things, included two beech trees! And 2 or 3 kinds of mint that sometimes gets out of hand. I’m back visiting my family, it looks like work-from-home is going to continue for weeks, and the forsythia is great this year, I always look forward to it, too. There’s a big clump that we chop back every few years, it’s really growing on the neighboring property – the cat is often under there on rainy days, it stays pretty dry. I looked it up a couple days ago, never knew it wasn’t native, but I guess people have been planting it in England & U.S. since the 1850’s, even the untended bushes seem to do just fine.

    • Hi Neil – Always corn, of course, but now lots of soybeans, too. Winter wheat, which is really nice, because they plant it in the fall, and you have green fields as soon as the snow melts, like golf courses. In the muckland areas, potatoes and onions. A limited amount of oats, which is my favorite, because the fields are beautiful colors. And the big “crop” in early spring, is maple syrup – – a lot of woods are filled with miles of plastic piping, to collect the sap, kind of weird-looking. But saves a lot of time over running around collecting pails.

    • We are surrounded by farmers fields. We actually live on one acre at the corner of a 100 acre farm. Back in the day the plots of land were divided up in 100 acres sections.It was allowed to sever off 1 acre for a retirement home to be built for the farmer when the kids took over the farm. Nowadays that does not happen but our acre was sold to a developer and the house was built and we bought it and live it it. The farm is active and has big silos and is a busy place. The farmer farms thousands of acres on land that is the Green Space land I mentioned in my comment on the schoolhouses. On that land there are old farm houses that are falling down but around us the farm houses are all new

      • Sometimes I realize, looking at the names on the mailboxes, while driving past farms, that the new houses on the road are clearly all built by relatives of the farmer. And there’s a steady increase in new farmhouses for the Amish, they tend to have large families.
        I passed through some Amish & (I think) Mennonite farms in Ontario a couple of years ago, but I don’t remember what area.
        Ontario is such a huge province, I read it dwarfs Texas!

  2. That’s a funny Truman anecdote.

    The bu in bucolic is the same element found at the beginning of bovine. The col in bucolic is the same element found in cultivate and culture. Manure turns out to be a doublet of maneuver; the literal meaning was ‘to work by hand,’ which shows that farmers originally spread manure by hand.

    • Thank you, Steve, I’m really enjoying learning about word histories and derivations. The Amish farmers are definitely still shoveling, and using horse-drawn spreaders. The bigger, non-Amish operations, seem to have all switched to water-based systems, which can create horrible situations that are far from our idea of “bucolic” – – then it’s from Latin “repugnant,” or Germanic “stench”. I hope large-scale farmers start using more bio-digesters

        • I’ve read of some people in their county, being driven from their homes, by odors and respiratory problems from ammonia, methane, etc. produced by the “lagoons.” The right-to-farms laws are basically a good idea, but also make it very difficult to do anything about problems from large-scale producers.

  3. melissabluefineart says:

    I tend to forget about grape hyacinth, but they really are beautiful when they spread about, aren’t they? I’ll have to plant some in the fall.
    My husband grew up on a farm so I’m well familiar with honey wagons! So funny, the quote about manure 😀

    • Thank you, Melissa, yeah, I’ve always gotten a kick out of Harry Truman. It’s funny, somehow I’d forgotten about that flower, wasn’t sure what it was, driving past, until we got out of the car. I’m curious how many years it took, to spread like that.

  4. I’ve never seen grape hyacinths in the wild — or in gardens, for that matter — but they are beautiful. Now, forsythia? That was one of the first signs of spring in Iowa, along with pussy willows. Around here, odd plots of plants are a sure sign of old homesteads; they’re great fun to find.

    When I still was in college, I worked for a while at Clay Equipment in Cedar Falls, Iowa. They manufactured a variety of farm equipment, including honey wagons, and had a branch in Binghamton, NY. The usual mergers and acquisitions led to Clay’s demise as an independent entity, but it was a good place to work. The salesmen always were putting together turnkey jobs: usually with DeLaval (milking parlors) and Harvestore (those gorgeous blue silos that looks like pieces of art).

    I didn’t realize until I started blogging and met a native New Yorker whose family had a dairy and ice cream factory that NY was such a dairy state. It was like finding out Florida’s more than oranges and beaches.

    • My NYC grandfather, who moved upstate when he retired, loved those Harvestore silos. It really is a beautiful blue. Hey, there’s a topic or theme, Linda – – the palette of farm equipment! There’s a lot of colors out there, than just “John Deere Green.” 🙂
      And speaking of oranges. The first time I worked in Milwaukee, I lived in West Allis – – the Allis-Chalmers tractors used to be made there, and although it’s usually not a color I like, once they’ve mellowed for a few decades, they’re a really nice warm orange.

  5. From a distance the grape hyacinths remind me of a big patch of English Bluebells I have, especially when they’re just starting to bloom. I think I’ll pass on the bucolic aromatics though…

  6. Such a beautiful blue, and the post basks in its place in the best way. I love finding traces of long-disappeared homesteads like these flowers. Today I saw irises at a park planted among huge rocks. I don’t think anyone actually lived there, but someone must have stuck them in there long ago, just because they looked nice, and they do. What a pleasure it must have been to see these – and smell them, and know that life goes on across the road as it should.

  7. I actually consider the wafting scents from a honey wagon somewhat pleasing. A sign of the return of the growing season and a natural smell compared to the chemicals many are using these days. Good ol’ Harry. Possibly the most down to earth president we’ve had. No hype, just presidenting.
    It’s always a cause for wondering when we find a patch of flowers in the middle of “nowhere”.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s