Tag Archives: fairhaven

Tales from the Farm – Ridin’ on a Train

Ridin’ on a train,
life’s like that a lot.

Don’t know where we’re goin’
But we sure have seen a lot.

Don’t know when we’ll get there,
but we know we’re gonna stop.

Life’s like ridin’ on a train…

~ from ‘Being an F Flat’ – a musical story by T Potter Seyferth

March 25, 1995 – the day GG died.   I had written a little musical called ‘Being an F Flat’ about a young boy who had to live up to other people’s expectations, instead of doing what he was good at…playing his horn.      ‘Ridin’ on a Train’ is one of the tunes from that story.     And living up to other people’s expectations is a recurring theme for us all.

I dedicated the ‘F Flat’ story to GG.   He was my grandfather.   He and my grandmother, Matilda, lived in a little converted chicken coop, on a farm in the town where I grew up.    He named the little house “Fairhaven” and hung a hand-lettered sign outside the door.

GG was dedicated to caring for Grandma ‘Tilly’, a very tiresome job I’m sure after she fell and broke her hip.   But, GG was always very laid back. He was always smiling and laughing. Nothing upset him. And he had what I call the “caring gene”…empathy.

I don’t believe GG ever owned a house.   He never rode that train. He came to the US as a young adult.   My great-grandfather ran a bakery and GG managed a small community grocery store in the same building.   He lived upstairs with Grandma Tilly and my Dad.   The grocery was bought out by A&P, a larger grocery chain, and GG continued as the manager.

The thing about riding on a train is that you have to go where the train goes.   You have to adapt your travel plans to the scheduled routes, and those are designed to maximize profits for the stakeholders.   That’s the expectation.   In the late 1930’s, A&P closed a large number of their small community grocery stores, in order to build larger suburban supermarkets.   GG took his young family and rented a chicken farm.   They raised chickens and pigeons, selling the eggs and “doves” to local customers.   That was about the time that John Tyson was getting into the chicken business.   Tyson learned early on that you can’t make money raising chickens.   He set about to “chicken-ize” the meat industry with his vertical integration system, designed to maximize profits at the expense of the small chicken farmer.

Right around that time GG left the chicken farm and went to work at a funeral home, learning to be an undertaker.   That was a good trade in the 1940’s, and a service that people needed.   My Dad was drafted into WWII.   GG, Grandma Tilly, and my Mom lived upstairs over the funeral parlor.

GG never went to college.   He never rode that train.  The closest he ever got to the ivy covered halls was when he got a job as a dorm janitor at Wellesley College.   That was back when university mission statements included phrases like “generating knowledge”, “the common good”, and “local community”. In the last few years, those “for the good of all” goal statements have changed to “career-ready” and “joining the workforce”.   It’s a different train ride, designed to maximize revenue for the university and morph “good students” into “good employees”, who work long and hard to support the bottom line for big business. That’s the expectation.

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s industrialization was just getting a foothold.   March 25, 1995 – the day GG died, two months before his 99th birthday.   GG was able to avoid the industrialized food train, where fake food is convenient and fast, and our bodies are fat and stressed.   He was able to avoid the industrialized healthcare train, where addicting drugs destroy our immune systems, and leave our bodies unable to fight their own battles.   And he was able to avoid the industrialized education train, where success is defined by the size of your paycheck.   He wouldn’t have gotten on those trains anyway.

The little rented chicken-coop house that GG called “Fairhaven” was a real haven, not because it was a five-star tourist destination or because it held historical significance.   It was a haven because GG was there.   And he didn’t care what the world expected from him.   He did what he was good at…caring.

Happy Homesteading,

Fairhaven Blog Post Sign

FREE Chicks & Ducklings

We’re giving away our RED STAR PULLETS, INDIAN RED JUNGLE FOWL, and, PEKIN DUCKLINGS for FREE with a donation to our non-profit: Fairhaven Learning Project.  Come and visit the farm, take a tour, watch a demo, take a class, or just say hi!

Please note the RED STARS are pullets (hens that have not begun to lay yet). The JUNGLE FOWL and the DUCKLINGS are straight run.

RED STAR PULLETS are great laying hens.  They start laying at 4 months and lay all year round.  Large Brown eggs. We have pullets of all ages, newly hatched to 3 months.

Indian Red JUNGLE FOWL chicks – They are smallish-size but larger than bantams. Very good layers with creamy-colored eggs, excellent free rangers. Roosters are very showy with large iridescent black/green tails and rusty orange body feathers. Chicks resemble chipmunks.

Indian Red JUNGLE FOWL Roosters

Hope to see you soon!

Happy Homesteading,


feather pen with egg