february

Tuesday, February 7:

Saturday’s snow lingers only on the shady side of rail fences and fallen trees, or as a soft slump carpeting the north-facing slope of the south hill pasture.  Just by raising our eyes from the dishes we can trace the contour lines, black wanderings across a white ground, laid down across the face of the hill by the cows’ unerring instinct for the level path; like the lines on a topographical map these trails, by their close proximity one to the other, show the extreme steepness of our pasture.  No one except the farmer who had nowhere else would have attempted to use this place for animals; yet, having nowhere else, we find that it will indeed pasture our livestock, and they, and the grass species, are thriving.  We want it to be known that if we can do it here, it can be done almost anywhere.

Another trip to the mill to purchase feed for the pigs up at the neighbors’; by March, when we are planning to butcher, those pigs may be absolutely enormous.  By contrast the home pigs, which receive cooked slops, dairy waste, and bakery scraps, continue to grow at a steady, moderate pace.  The baby bull is again the subject of discussion:  the girls want to keep him in the bottom of the white barn, where they have been giving him a half-gallon of milk a day and making a pet of him, while Papa thinks he is ready to go out with the other animals and rustle grub for himself.  Baby Belle, the young cow who is supposed to replace Isabel this year, is an aggressive pasture mate, and the boys, in a move unusual to them, are backing up the girls. They will probably win this one.

As the days grow longer the chickens lay a few more eggs every day, and wander farther from their chicken house to scratch.

The fan on the furnace is finally working, and the house is now almost too warm.

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