Brome what?

Vetch 1The annual subscription was coming due soon for the bromehill.com domain name, so I made the payment this past week.

Bromehill.com will live on for at least another year.

It’s difficult to believe this blog recently passed its first birthday, but the occasion seems like a good opportunity to answer the question I am often asked: What is Brome Hill?

I’ve written about this before. Brome Hill was a place on the farm where I grew up.  It was named after the type of grass that grew well on that old hill. And it symbolized how stubborn my dad could be when he thought he was right. It also showed how willing he was to try new things such as no-till farming, which he first did on Brome Hill years before it became common everywhere.

Vetch 2But today, I’m sharing another story about grass. And this grass is anything but new.

When I really started writing this blog, I was out of work and had lots of spare time to hang out at Harper’s Cycling & Fitness. Since going to work last fall at Muscatine Center for Social Action, I don’t spend  as much time at the bike shop. But I got done at work early Friday — a day that, unfortunately, was still too cold to go biking.

And in my book, if you get done working a little early on a Friday afternoon in the spring and it’s too cold to go biking, hanging out at the bike shop is the next-best thing. Because it was getting to be late enough in the afternoon by the time I got there, the first thing owner Charlie Harper handed me when I stepped back behind the work benches was a Busch Light. Then, he handed me an old Ball jar filled with seeds that looked kind of like old, black BBs.

“That’s older than you are,” Charlie said of the jar, which he had kept somewhere in the shop. And this came as no surprise because the back corners of the shop are filled with stuff Charlie has been collecting for years … old bikes, chainsaw parts and the like.

The jar, he said, was filled with Crown Vetch seed. He has had it since he studied agriculture at Muscatine High School in the early 1950s. So the 60-year-old seed is older than I am.

But the Crown Vetch released more farm-boy memories. My folks built a number of terraces, sloughs, ponds and other erosion control features.  I don’t remember exactly how it worked, but I’m sure they got government money to help pay for some of the work. And Crown Vetch is what I remember helping seed in the terraces to help prevent soil erosion.

It’s just a good thing Charlie didn’t show me that jar of seed at this time last year. Personally, I think Brome Hill is a better name for the blog than Crown Vetch would have been.

2 thoughts on “Brome what?

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