Thursday, November 08, 2007

But it's a beautiful ride

The farm. Well, we had the killing frost maybe ten days ago, and a huge harvest out of the garden before it -- peppers, tomatoes, more peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, more peppers, green tomatoes, and a whole muck tub of acorn squash from a very late planting that was watered a couple times a week by the kids. And a few watermelons too. And probably other stuff that I’m not thinking of right now.

And we’re still killing roosters. Yes, that has gone on for a very long time. That’s how that is. We’ve got four put up to do today and that leaves only four more to do. I’ve tried to do four every week except every now and then a week gets away without them getting done. One week it was a small cold; one week the lack of water just oppressive enough to make us give ourselves a break. I have learned I can scald four in one pot of hot water. Then we use that water to water the other chickens. Waste not, want not.

Lots of manure is coming onto the place from my job, which I love the job. It really kicks my butt, tells me how old I’m getting, and I love all of it. The knickers of the horses when I get there; the smells of the manure, the shavings, the hay; the personalities of each horse; and the people are ok too. It is also the time of warming fires and gathering wood so this week the little truck has worked extra hard bringing in first the manure, then the wood, and today a round bale of hay.

I am thankful to not have had to pay as much as I feared for the hay. We are in category four drought, and alfalfa is being trucked in from the Midwest and selling for nearly a dollar a pound if you can believe that. My source only charged me ten dollars more than previous years and for that he earns a great deal of goodwill from me. So I managed to afford both hay and wormer for everyone this week, and both will help the animals keep their condition. But my hay source said, “Be conservative with it.” He has only about half his usual store of hay.

The big guy, my horse, is aging and had already started to lose some condition, so I’d started feeding him some grain. In all the years I’ve had him, I’ve never had to grain him, he’s been that easy a keeper. Now I milk the cow, bring the milk up, than take his feed down to him and feed him in the milking shed. He learned the routine in one day. He even decided, on day three, that if I fed him after morning milking, perhaps I wanted to feed him after evening milking too and he tried to muscle in on that. I may eventually have to add an evening feed for him, but I’m hoping not. My girls have been taking the equines out during the day and letting them eat the longer grass outside the fields. It takes them about two hours to fill up to where they stop eating right then.

We still have to dig the potatoes and cache them. Then get the corn stalks brought up to be fodder for the big animals. Then we’ll be ready to plow that field. We’ll be plowing in some extra manure, and probably ashes and egg shells and maybe we’ll even get the chicken coop cleaned out, and then probably seeding annual rye to turn under in the spring. The corn awaits our processing of it still -- we shell a couple ears to make our cornbread for tonight but haven’t done the bulk of it to store yet.

This photograph is a wasabi. I’ve kept the wasabis for a number of years now but haven’t yet been successful establishing them outside. They are VERY sensitive to light (it kills them). They need a LOT of water. But I have been successful at keeping some of them alive, and even in limited propagation. When we first got them, they got an infestation of some sort of scale. I lost a lot to that before I figured it out. They had a couple of scales since then but I knew what to look for and to use pyrethrin at the first sign of it. But this year they got sick and I didn’t see any scales and they didn’t respond to pyrethrin. I was clueless but husband said, maybe it’s a fungus, so I put a dilute solution of copper on them and they recovered.

This photograph, though, is about philosophy. You see the knew leaves just now coming out -- and this is months after they were treated with copper. This particular pot of plants (it had two systems in it) lost all of its leaves, every single one. I didn’t even start treating it until all the leaves were dead. It was the first and hardest hit of all of them. But I treated it anyway. And the stems stayed green. And so I kept watering it. And nothing happened. And the rest of the plants sprouted new leaves. And this one sat there. And then, one day, there was a small little sign of a leaf coming out. Then another.

The moral of the story (like that of the sick goat from last winter): Life will surprise you with its toughness.

1 comment:

Walter Jeffries said...

Roosters are good eating. Half the chick are, the others end up laying until they get the inspiration to become stew. :)