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The amount of food a little place like this produces is ridiculous —

What does one do with twelve or so gallons of milk a day?  Three go to the bucket calves, others to herd share co-owners and to the monastery, our household drinks at least two gallons a day, and there is always buttermilk, and whey, for the pig pen.  When the calves wean we will start making cheese again; if we start some parm-type Appalachias next months, we should have some ready to eat by January or so . . . the Paysanos we made in May should be ready to cut in just a couple more weeks, thank goodness.

Wheelbarrow loads of weeds go to the feeder hogs and Porca, and all the corn thinnings that should have been pulled or cut weeks ago, but how are we to get into the garden while the ground is sopping?  The spring-planted greens have bolted, but now there are beets and beet greens, and carrots, and the first planting of beans will soon be ready.  There are golf-ball sized green tomatoes on the vines, and little peppers like fat lanterns hanging on the bushes, and the outer leaves of the garlic are beginning to turn brown.  In the oat patch, the oats are in the milk but the field peas are just now making pods.  It is too wet to cut these, as we want to dry them as hay and put them up loose for the hogs and chickens, so we take gratification from the fact that if it stays wet and the oats get too mature and shatter out of the hulls, the peas will have that much more time to fill out and make seed.  The chickens are laying well, but something has been picking them off during the day.  We don’t just raise people food, see, we raise fox food as well . . .

fecundity

Rain, rain, rain . . .

All to the good — the cisterns are full, the grass is still growing, and where the cows have trampled waste forage the soil bugs are having a population boom, turning cellulose into humus.   We are putting heat stickers on three heifers and three cows, hoping to catch them for breeding in the next two weeks.  Earlier is better when in comes to the spring-calving cows, and April is none to early —

The hogs are growing fast with all the excess food available; we may have to hang them split when we butcher this fall, not to pull the rafters down in Barry’s barn.

We put two young pigs down in the run-in shed in the calf pasture, wired them in behind stock panels and gave them a stab-in pig nipples hooked up to the overflow of the second spring tank.  We throw them shell corn in the old calf bedding daily, and they are turning that manure pack into powder — beats heck out of getting in there with pitchforks and lifting it out layer by layer —

full day

Enough is when on a day of bread-baking, cheese-making, butter-churning, and laundry, you get a cow in standing heat, a swarm of bees and a thunderstorm — right at milking time.

All evening I have felt the tension going out of me like the air out of a punctured tire; we have decided to take Sweetheart, a misnomer if ever there was one, to market in the morning.  Hallelujah and glory be.  That black-and-white besom has nearly kicked the snot out of me a hundred times, and better to get a check for her than to make copays because she puts me in the hospital.  Anything on four legs that eats grass is bringing good money right now, and maybe someone with a surge milker can use a fifty-pounds-a-day second calf heifer who is just too unpredictable for someone sitting next to her back right leg on an upturned bucket.

Enough is enough.

I feel terrific.

An acre of garden supplies all the vegs for the house, a good many for the monastery, and tons (quite literally) of corn, turnips, and mangels for the pigs.  A good deal of work goes into that acre.  Today the girls (ten and thirteen) finished weeding the potatoes that make up about a third of that acre, while Mom weeded half the mangels and tilled between the rows.  The weather was good for it — partly cloudy and a little breeze — and the soil was just right, damp but not wet, letting go of the roots easily.  If it doesn’t rain in the next day or so, the weeds loosened by the small tiller should dry out so the plants don’t reroot.

At six fifteen this morning we hauled the hen coupe up to the top of the pasture and unhitched, only to find that the doors had wracked open on the way up and let all the hens out half-way up the hill.  It is in the nature of hens that they could never, not in a million years, find their own way over the last sixty feet or so of the journey to their house; no, they would, inevitably, go back to the spot where their coupe has been for the past week or so, mill around, scratch, and wait for the coyotes to come eat them.  Back down to the foot of the hill we had to go, and by then there was no way they were going to go back in the house and let us move them.  Tomorrow is soon enough to move the hens, but we can’t help wishing the Lord had made them with more brains . . .

Two feeder pigs are staying in the run-in shed, rooting in last winter’s bedding and eating shell corn, until the bedding is ground to fluff and ready to be spread on next-year’s corn patch.

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