The past three days have been very hot and busy. Rain was predicted for every day since we finished the first cutting at Barry’s and the TOR’s front field, so there we have stopped, but this week has had days in it which seemed to come right from God Almighty for the making of hay. To offset this, there have been brief storms of rain or half-days of shower which would pound a cutting of hay to the earth, and leave it there to mildew and overmulch the grass beneath, both ruining the present cutting and suppressing the one to come. We have not regretted on the whole spending this week on the barn.
Great strides have been made, great steps forward in the construction of the barn of a century, not the century, but a barn to last one hundred years. All the posts were set by early in the week, when we lost S-2 to a trip to Philadelphia. Shawn and the other boys carried on unchecked, and one can now walk the floor of our new, four hundred square foot barn loft. It is as yet uncovered, and so not ready to receive the hay we hope to cut next week, but it soon will be, God willing. The heat has been oppressive, and the boys have overextended their stamina a little, but not dangerously.
Cooler weather seems to be coming – Illinois has it now – and even today, although the humidity was unabated, the heat was somewhat less. S-5 and Mom and the girls have been occupied with improvements to the house, principally the porch, where old furniture and animal beds did little to create a bright atmosphere. Primarily by the use of paint and brushes, the porch has become a more inviting sitting area, as it deserves to be.
It got cooler last night, and this morning everyone was wearing jackets. Shawn and the boys went out to work in the pasture and on the barn. The fences needed the weeds cleaned out of them, and the floor of the loft needed about a half a course of plywood still. By evening the fences were cleaned, and the loft had a floor and one framed wall.
Shawn also used the weed eater with its blade to clear out the black currant bushes by the driveway. It seemed a shame, but they had never been useful; they were supposed to be gooseberries, but true to form Gurneys sent currants instead, and they never gave enough to make a batch of jam, the only thing I know to do with them. Over the years they had spread their prickly canes to cover a substantial area between the car park and the fence, and I have decided that this area should be at least ornamental, if not also useful. Last summer I planted a mimosa tree a few feet from the black currant bushes, and this will fill in the space previously taken up by the bushes. There is also a rose of sharon where it had grown up in the middle of the bushes; I will leave this for now, trimming it out to tree form, and see if it holds its own. No doubt the ravaged bushes around its feet will send up a few canes that can perhaps be left there for the birds.
In the afternoon I took pictures of the boys on the loft before going over to the corn patch and thinning, hoeing, and hilling. It looks lovely now, like a real garden. I started weeding the onions, but the boys got antsy for dinner, and s-5 had to get to scouts, so he and I went up and made chicken fried steak, gravy, and mashed potatoes.
After dinner, I weeded the broccoli. It was evident as soon as I peeled up the row cover on the long tunnel that something had been in there, digging up broccoli plants, and my vote goes to Sampson the black kitty. He was right there when I opened the tunnel, wanting to play attack cat with my fingers through the spun-bonded polyester. I threw weeds at him to chase him away. It looks as though three of the plants were destroyed. I fastened the cover down more tightly when I closed it up, and will have to keep an eye on it. I weeded the other one, and the asparagus as well – those baby asparagus are so easily lost among the clover. I inadvertently pulled at least three, but some of those may not be completely destroyed, since their root remained in the soil.
I sprayed all the fruit trees, and hope to save the apples from too much damage. Really, they should have been getting sprayed about once a week all spring, but the rains we had would have made such an activity useless; hopefully the second growth leaves they are putting on will remain undamaged by spider mites or whatever they are, and help those trees to better health. I also sprayed the phlox, but forgot the roses; I’ll do those tomorrow.
I suckered the tomatoes in the kitchen garden.
It’s still cool tonight.
The past two days have been disturbingly cool and cloudy, and although there has been no rain since last Friday or so, the hay Shawn and James cut on Sunday is drying very slowly. Now the forecast is for thunderstorms on Wednesday night, so we must absolutely lift the hay tomorrow if it can be done. Goodness only knows how long and wet the next spell of weather may be.
S-3 and -2went up after lunch to check it, and found that the field mowed with the sickle bar was actually curing faster than that mowed with the brush hog, which is counter intuitive, because the latter hay is so chopped about; but it is also clumped up a bit by the mower, so that it doesn’t dry as readily. Neither is dry on the bottom, however, and after Shawn checked it about six thirty, he decided we would hand turn it tomorrow early.
Shawn was weed eating under fence again today, and the boys milled more two by sixes – fourteen from one log – and framed the north wall of the loft. Mom found out that Bernard Davies Lumber in Canfield has a very good price on metal roofing, so we can make the barn roof red after all. A couple of rows of onions got weeded, and we had an orgy of french fries for lunch and dinner, and doughnuts in between. We were creamed in our softball game this evening, and folded the laundry before bed.