Friday, April 29, 2005

Still Live with the Contrary Goddess

Life has been slow. Still even. After being out too much, it has been chill and rainy and I’m not quite sure how three days have passed away. I always have to figure out what the date is to date the eggs and I still think next month is April somehow. It is as if there was a fissure and I stepped outside of time. Time doesn’t seem to have much to offer so I may well not go back.

I walked out tonight to milk and the scene was as though it was taken out of my out-of-time head: total fog. From the edge of the woods I could barely make out the bald knoll that makes a bulk of the back field. And then there, on that hill, I was barely able to sense the bulk of a horse picking quietly. And a whole herd of goats (6). And the donkey. In the dusk, in the fog, they weren’t really visible or invisible but just like a dream.

And that cow. She was grumpy for so long after we got her. A new place, no other cows, and soon she had a calf to protect. I’ve been milking her for a solid year now and somehow during that year I came to love her. I’d never been around cattle much, still don’t know that much about them. She’s still grumpy, but sweet too. She always pees right after I finish milking, but she always waits until I’m finished and moved out of the way. It may seem a small thing, but I appreciate it, and she knows it.

Happy eggs from happy hens: Happy milk from a happy cow. The other night I pulled a salted ham hock and a gallon of green shell stage Jacob’s Cattle beans out of the freezer, served with grilled corn cakes made from corn we grew and moistened with our buttermilk, topped with our butter. Beans and cornbread, classic Southern fare, but our own. We dreamed of this.

Next year I’ll hope to add chow chow to the meal.

I remember the year it seems everything was hard. We had only the one child then and I was still working off the farm part-time. I don’t remember whether it was rains or drought but the garden had been a disappointment and was very overgrown with weeds the way it always was in the beginning. But husband had put out rune-shaped beds of October beans and they had matured and he took the behemoth ¾ ton truck to harvest them in to and was gone for so long and then, here it came chugging up the hill with the bed piled so high that the driver couldn’t see out the back at all. All of October beans. I thought we’d never pull all the beans off those vines. We canned and dried and froze them until we dreamed of nothing but beans, and there were beans everywhere in the tiny little trailer we were living in.

And in that experience, we learned what prosperity was.

I don’t think we ever looked back.

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