Down on the Farm with Garrett Hack
Garrett Hack is not your ordinary furniture maker. Part woodworker, part farmer, he engages in both crafts with passion and flair. When it comes to making furniture, hand-tool work is his hallmark, allowing him to prep surfaces and add subtle details to his furniture in ways that no machine can match. And his remote shop in the mountains of Vermont seems the ideal place for a hand-tool aficionado to serenade himself with the swoosh of a well-honed handplane as it glides across the surface of a board. When it comes to his farming, Garrett also prefers the “old ways” over modern machinery.
A couple weeks ago I was at his shop taking some photos for an upcoming article. At the end of the day, Garrett and I strolled around his tract of land. He showed me where the various gardens would be, and he introduced me to his new animals: the latest batch of chicks peeping away in their coop, and a drooling but otherwise reserved newborn bull.
After the stroll, Garrett had real work to do, turning over a patch of land that would become his corn field. He hitched up his plow horse, Jazz, to an old-fashioned disc harrow, hopped on board and worked the land, up and back, up and back. He smiled the whole time, and Jazz made the job look easy, leaning instinctively into each turn and heeding Garrett’s instructions like a well-trained show dog (but on a much bigger scale!). To a city slicker like me, the job looked downright dangerous. I kept peeking for the seatbelts on the contraption he was riding and hoping that my cell phone signal would be there in case of an emergency. But happily there is no tragic ending to the story.
After the job was done, Garrett rewarded Jazz with a bucket of apples. And as I was scraping moist cow patties from my shoes, I asked him why he doesn’t use a tractor for such heavy work. He just laughed and walked into his barn, letting the peace of the spring twilight answer for him.
One happy herd. The little bull with the drool on his chin is the newest addition.
What, no seatbelt? Garrett steers the harrow like a pro.
Got apples? Jazz can smell 'em a mile away.
Jazzercize. The horse handles the chore with elegance and aplomb.