The Gardener As Magus, from 'Beautiful and Abundant'

| 9/28/2011 2:57:38 PM

Tags: Beautiful and Abundant, Gardening, Jobs, Husbandry, Bryan Welch,

Tim Posey lived in a former barracks bought surplus from the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss, Texas, and moved a few miles into the dusty, unpaved village of Anapra, New Mexico in the late 1950s. Most of Tim’s 10 acres was devoted to his business–the Posey Trailer Park. But at the center of his property, surrounded by the trailers and the vast Chihuahuan Desert, the Posey homestead teemed with life. Milk goats bleated under a shed. Chickens scratched in the shade. Miraculously, two dozen kinds of vegetables grew in the sand behind the horse stable. A big man past middle age, suntanned and stiff with arthritis, Tim spent most of his time on a kitchen chair under one or another of the awnings he had built onto his barns. He watched the animals, sharpened his tools and chatted with his tenants when they stopped by. I remember him in dark prescription sunglasses. I almost never saw him indoors.

I was 9 when Mr. Posey “hired” me. My family lived about a quarter-mile away. The livestock and the garden drew my attention. I was fascinated. Once I was certain he wouldn’t chase me off, I started spending nearly every spare moment there. He asked me if I wanted to learn how to milk the goats. Then he asked me if I was willing to do it every day. He paid me in produce, eggs and goat’s milk. My dad paid me cash for the food.

It was my first job, and I loved it.

Photo of farmland by Bryan Welch 

There are places on the continent more barren than southern New Mexico, but not many. Creosote and mesquite bushes dot the sand hills. Most of the plants have spines or thorns. We called the surrounding landscape “hills,” but they were more like dunes. If you leave a junked car on the downwind side of a hill there, the hulk will disappear under the drifting sand in a few months.

Mr. Posey boarded horses. He raised chickens, guinea fowl, milk goats and honeybees.

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