Two weeks ago I drove up to the city and had a meeting with the local branch of the U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service, to talk about qualifying for possible grants.
It turns out that I can’t apply. I had thought perhaps I shouldn’t, due to the very high costs of going organic (how ironic and frustrating is that — it costs double to find feed that isn’t raised with chemicals), but I was surprised to learn that I couldn’t.
It all came down to maps. Yes, maps. First, the soil service map has my land drawn as a wetland. It’s not a wetland, but to ascertain that officially they must send a soil specialist out to take soil samples, and, presumably, tramp around on the dry ground. Second, the tax maps for my property have me owning a chunk of the highway (I own a piece of Route 73? can I set up a toll?) as well as a nice section of state wild forest on my north border. I pointed out the absurdity of this but heads were shaken dolefully. Nothing could be done until the tax maps were corrected.
All I could think of was the time Allen accidentally moved the boundary stone. My northeast corner is marked by a large hunk of concrete, set and inscribed by a surveyor in 1921. It lies in a bouldery area shaded by trees, and when Allen was trenching for electricity he mistook the marker for another rock and tossed it aside with the excavator. The next time I rented the machine, I asked Allen to put the marker back. I walked the line and we figured out the exact original position.
“Of course, we could put it twenty feet deeper in the woods and give me a few more acres,” I teased.
“All right, Frank,” Allen said mildly, referring to a mutual acquaintance not noted for his integrity. He set the marker back where it belonged.
Apparently, however, the maps are going off a Frank line.
Fixing these maps in the various government halls will take months, disqualifying me for this growing season. I formally withdrew my application and will submit it again next year.