This post might just as well be titled ‘farmers smell’ (both connotations), or even ‘farmer’s smells’.
Fermentation. In the compost pile — mostly piggy bedding — belligerent in the beginning, beguilingly sweet at the conclusion. In the sauerkraut crock: increasingly assertive over the course of six weeks or so, until you’ll go to some lengths to keep visitors out of the basement. Poultry feed, mixed whole and crimped grains, a complicated ferment, sprouting as well as acidifying, the smell of which drives our bibulous hens wild. Windfall apples with yellow jackets mining the holes in the white flesh; moldy grapes under the leaves on the arbor, forgotten by the humans but most appreciated by the fruit flies.
Late honeysuckle blooms over the yard gate which surprise you as you come through in the dark after closing the poultry up for the night. Chocolate mint underfoot where the old herb bed used to be, now a holding yard for spent round bales we’ll use to mulch next year’s winter squash patch. The intoxicating smells of tomato leaf and marigold bloom; sharp smells of hot pepper and sweet pepper; carroty Queen Anne’s lace foliage crushed under the hoofs of a passing cow. Hot machine oil under the tractor hood; parched, cracked soil beneath much-needed rain; second cutting clover hay, sweetest of sweet smells.
Dairy fermentation: yogurt, at once both sweet and sour; buttermilk, what John Seymour called “noblest of drinks”, with two natures, first sweet and then sour; kefir, sharply alcoholic. Warm yellow smells of cheese; sweet whey and sour; complicated smells in the cheese cave, where geotrichum candidum and pennecilium roquefortii argue with dirt mold, wood mold, and just plain ordinary mold.
Loving dog breath on your cheek as you share the porch swing for a nighttime meditation. Ruminant urine, with its messages of health, of openness or gestation. Musky goat smells, and the unpleasant rankness of chicken manure where there is inadequate litter to absorb it. Boots; wet socks; damp basement walls. Sweat, of horse, or cow, or human; and clothing that no hot water or detergent can ever make innocent of its hours of labor.