Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Hazards of Crop Transportation

Whiskey still-West Point,Durham,NCI have just returned from a trip to the small settlement of Swallow Creek in north Georgia, where I observed an interesting method of shipping produce. The roads to this place are so steep and narrow that the farmers can’t export their crops by wagon. They therefore don’t grow vegetables in any commercial quantity, with one exception: corn. Farmers up there have learned to convert most of their corn to liquid. Since unhusked corn can go bad quickly, they take the added precaution of fermenting it for preservation purposes. They then make use of the natural forces of gravity by pouring it off a rocky granite outcrop from which it falls to a large vat in the valley far below their settlement. The owner of the vat pays the farmers for their crops by weight.

For this reason, people in the area measure the land in gallons, not acres.

I discovered all this accidentally when attempting to refill my water supply from what I thought was a pure mountain waterfall. It was dusk, and in order to see better I carried a lantern. Well, I stumbled and dropped the lantern. Imagine my surprise when the waterfall caught fire. Not only that, but the flame appeared to travel both up to the source of the stream above, and also down the mountainside. I looked over the ledge I was on as far as I dared and watched the flame as it ran downward until it reached the valley, where it ignited a large pond. The pond stayed lit for some time.

When I reached Swallow Creek the next morning, the farmers were in a sad state. It seems their entire season’s yield had been consumed by fire the night before. Upon learning the details, I decided that further enlightenment from me would not help matters. I mentioned, however, that the ancient Romans faced a similar problem and solved it by transporting their water via aquaducts. The farmers got rather excited about this. The last I heard they were planning to construct something which they were calling an aquae-vitae-duct.

By way of making amends, I also left a bottle of Wizard Water© to help speed production of their next crop. With luck, they might fit another season in the next week or so. I just hope they get the produce bottled before storm season sets in. The lightning strikes around here don’t need any augmentation.

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