Behind the Scenes at The Oasis
What It's All About Blog
By Tony Forder
In the space of 24 hours this past summer, I was called both Guru and Sheriff. Last year I also became a Minister and a Mazer.
I live part-time on a farm in New York State. Quite an amazing place, a constantly evolving tableau of interweaving threads.
At its center is Dan the Man, and at his center is Disc Golf. He is a pilgrim of plastic, that is to say he has been involved in Frisbee-related sports for decades, Ultimate and Disc Golf. (These days the word 'plastic' so often brings bad connotations, but there is one domain where it is worshipped. Disc golf – where your spirit can fly on the wings of a good drive. As Dan likes to say, "Fondle Plastic"). He has designed disc golf courses all over the northeast, beginning with the one that thousands of students have known on the Douglass-Cook campus of Rutgers University. When Dan bought the farm 10 years ago – which by the way is called The Oasis – the first rung on the ladder to becoming a destination for fun and recreation was to put in the disc golf course.
Dan's the one who called me Guru. I think he was just trying to impress a pair of possible future farming partners of the female persuasion. He's called me many other things. But, he's also kinda responsible for me trying to flex my muscles as a Mazer, or a maker of mead. He let on that he's partial to the stuff. He had a case shipped back from a meadery he had run into on a disc golf foray to one of his favorite locations – Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Well, I said, let's make some. Now, Dan already has a brewing partner – oh, I didn't mention yet that one of the interweaving threads, in fact the one that will likely pull all the other threads into a tighter knot, is the brewery. Plans for Snufftown Farm Brewery are all drawn up and awaiting final approval. The Covid-19 slowed what was the pace of a tortoise to that of snail, and it looks like ground will not be broken until 2021. Charlie has some serious creds as a brewer as his elaborate homebrew system and results have attested, not to mention his acuity as a plumber. More about Mr. C later.
I don't claim to be an expert in the foibles of fermentation – although I have spent a good part of my career writing about, publishing, and promoting the craft beer world. Still, I have dabbled, on and off over the years in the hobby of homebrewing; you could say I know the basics, certainly enough to be dangerous. We procured equipment, and some local honey – by the 60-pound bucket. So far, after four batches, I've found it's pretty easy to make mead; but it's pretty hard to make good mead – still on the learning curve. The fun part has been foraging nature's bounty from the property to flavor the meads – which is what it's all about, right?
The Sheriff part, well, that's something else. See, my farm abode is the trailer I purchased a few years ago and parked on the farm with Dan's blessing and a heartfelt commitment to put my shoulder to overall wheel of The Oasis. I might as well state this now, I am the senior of the community...no, not Senor, Senior. I've only got Dan by about a year and a half, but almost all of the regular discers are my juniors. Sure there's a few plus 50s, but the inner core – they call themselves the Schmos – are mostly nudging or past 40. With disc golf as their religion, they're a solid buncha guys, good hearted and spirited (a lot sometimes), they'd do anything for a Schmo. But they were a let's say a little lax about cleaning the place up after the weekend shenanigans. Sure garbage would go in the garbage cans, this and that, but I couldn't help noticing the plethora of cans scattered around the place. As a veteran of recycling (I used to deal CARDBOARD in the days of yore), this kinda stuck in my craw, so I set up a lil recycling station. But this just wasn't altruistic recycling, there might be some $ involved. I knew there was a bottle deposit, nickel apiece for cans and bottles in NY State, different from NJ, and with the help of the Schmos we got people to understand the jist of the gig.
I bought industrial grade garbage bags – they're large. I can fit 4 of them into my Nissan Versa and take 'em to Bottle Deposit in Goshen. I love that place. Some guys tried recycling at the O before, but they took 'em to the supermarket where you have to feed bottles and cans into the machine one at a time. Well, that wouldn't work for my load, which is usually nudging 1,000, mostly cans, but some bottles too. At Bottle Deposit, you just dump 'em on the counter – sometimes mine are pretty shitty – and they count 'em. Near enough $50 once every three weeks or a month – helps defray the beer bill, and helps keep the place a bit tidier. You know Feng Shui and all that – which is what it's all about, right?
So, as The Oasis becomes more discovered and popular for disc golf, parking starts filling in. It was when I asked a dude to move his car so we can keep an access lane open that a couple of the Schmos called me Sheriff. I thought that was funny so I said, "If you guys are calling me Sheriff, then ok if I deputize you boys right now?" Sign us up they said. Shoot, now I gotta get some badges, although I know (and you know) what they'll say to that.
The Minister part – can't say I really expected that. My eldest daughter, Samantha, was engaged last year, and plans were afoot for a big destination wedding for 2021. Then Covid hit; she and her fiancé, Shiv, were caught in the whirl. Sam told me they'd like to tie the knot sooner rather than later and asked me, "Do you think we can do a small wedding at the farm?" Sure, let me ask Dan.
I knew weddings were in his master plan once everything got copasetic at the farm. He didn't hesitate to say yes. And on top of that Sam asked if I would conduct the ceremony. I was touched. And I signed up to become a minister of the Universal Life Church. I kind of like the role I have to say.
As for the wedding, it all turned out way bigger and better than any of us had ever imagined – a perfect fall day in the midst of the pandemic, like it was meant to be.
Which is what it's all about, right?