We knew there was nothing else we could do. By the time we’d lugged out the sheets of gauzey cloth out into the field and unrolled it over the strawberry fields it was clear that the rabbits had nibbled on nearly every plant. Jack squinted his eyes and looked across the lawn, at the oak trees we’d planted years ago along the property line, back when these tall beauties were just foot-long Arbor Day giveaways. Jack planted one foot on the fat roll of  gauze and maneuvered the roll back and forth as he thought, the cloth pulling away from the roll with each tilt of his ankle.

“Compost?” I asked, crouching down to examine a plant close up.

I looked up at him, in his overalls and work books, cap off kilter on his head. Jack reached under the bill and scratched his head. I got up and turned and looked at the soybean patch, and the corn rows beyond that. Dry, brown, done for the season even before the season had started.

In the cellar there were bushels’ worth of apple sauce and apple butter and pickled apples. After a decade taming and tending the orchards with pecks of success, Jack and I had the audacity to think that we were some kind of protean farmers, able to grow whatever we put our minds to. The rabbits and the drought taught us otherwise.

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