Friday, October 2, 2009

Oat Harvest
Shane has finished scything the oat field. We are gathering it in to feed out in the sheaf to the animals this winter. This makes it so that we don’t have to thresh and winnow it, and also gives the sheep and goats a little extra roughage and hay since there was a lot of grass in amongst our handsown oat field. It is hard not to be a little self-conscious when you are forking bundles of oat straw up into the back of a pickup for the first time in your life. You feel as though you are a part of a painting…squint a little and the ’92 Dodge Dakota becomes a rickety old haywagon, the distant landscape of rolling hills, woods, and soybean fields might be anywhere- Austria, England, Pennyslvania. The setting is distinctly pastoral. The air is clean. The sky is clear. The sheep watch: at first suspiciously and then eagerly, hoping to be tossed some of the grain. There is a rythmn to the work, set to the tune of repeating thoughts playing in your head: “Is this futile? Is this crazy? Is there a better way to do this? But soon, quite distinctly you find yourself working to an internal melody that goes something like “there is nowhere else I’d rather be right now, there is nothing else I’d rather be doing….Jesus I trust in you” Stab, lift….toss. Repeat.

The view from the vegetable field could easily be one of the English countryside. Especially with all the morning fog rising from the grass and the sheep moving slowly about, materializing magically. I imagine myself an Austenian heroine out for a bracing stroll. “It is a universally acknowledged fact that a single man in possession of a large field must be in want of a pig.”

Sausagina and Bacon
Our two lovely feeder pigs frolic about like dogs. One can easily see how E.B. White wrote so charmingly of one of their species: for they are such enchanting animals. They are doing their darndest to endear themselves to us. Performing tricks for us when we visit, flopping over on their bellies to be scratched, and leaning into their stock panel fencing in a most confiding way eyeing us with a very disarmingly intelligent gaze as if to say “we both know how this affair will end but let us love with passion anyway!” Such noble animals.

Ginger and Dixie
The whole of the woods near the farmhouse has been fenced for the pleasure and romping of our two dairy goats. This certainly does not mean you will have trouble spotting them when you visit. They are two of the most social young ladies you will ever meet, and will come running (usually pell mell) from anywhere in their enclosure to snuffle at you and perhaps nibble the hem of your skirt or sleave. When their kids arrive in the spring this will give them more room and save us the trouble of moving their paddock when they eat all the buckthorn, so we can concentrate on more important work( like growing your vegetables!)

Across the Pond
Our laying hens display the most intriguing differences between them. Our Buff Orpingtons (an English breed) are decidedly more shy of strangers, but they will be the first to figure brainy things out like eating bugs off of garage walls and stealing cat food from the cats. Our Barred Rocks (an American breed) will be the first to put themselves into bodily danger for the sake of venturing out of the coop in winter or making new forays into distant unexplored lands (like across the lane and beyond the white fence). These traits seems so comically analogous to typical American and English peoples….what do you think?

Hera has given birth to two of the cutest bunnies imaginable. They get their coloring from their Father, Zeus, and are little carmel balls of happiness and delight. Too cute to eat I’m thinking.

Apple Harvest
Happiness is having four crates of gleaming apples in your kitchen ready to be processed.
Misery is processing them.
More happiness is eating the results of your labor.
More misery is finding your one-year-old and the entire floor covered in apple mush you left in a bucket by the door to take out to the pigs.
And so it goes.

To give you an indication of how the harvest has completely flooded our domestic life: Shane came down from tucking our daughter in and he said: “She had an apple in bed with her!”

We need some feedback from you. We are undecided on the question of eggplant. There are many varieties: the commonly seen large purple ones, the delicate looking slender European ones, and recently I have seen asian eggplants the size of bocce balls. Which to chose? And then I suppose, there is also the question of whether we should grow eggplant at all. Weigh in.

Perhaps it is a Midwest thing, but there is something thrilling about a field full of pumpkins.
This year we are gowing 4 varieties: Kentucky Field pumpkins (the traditional Halloween pumpkin), “Jack be Littles” for decorating, the splendid looking french pumpkins- think Cinderella’s coach, and a pie pumpkin.

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