uncovering the low tunnels

Tuesday, May 1:  

We took the plastic cover off the low tunnel yesterday.  Temperatures the last few days have risen even into the eighties, and a plastic cover is a liability under those circumstances.  Also, despite the wildly erratic weather this spring, this is the usual time for uncovering the low tunnels and putting up the window screens.   The young lettuce is doing very well, the beets hold second place, but the spinach is just germinating and what carrots have come up have been eaten by the slugs and sow beetles.  Not too encouraging.  This matter of poor germination is especially galling, people in all ages having comforted themselves in adversity by the certainty of the return of spring and new life from seeds.  Now it seems new life from seeds is a matter of uncertainty.  Is it the seed, or the cultivation practices, or something else?  This is the fourth year we are noticing a marked decline in the germination rates of some seeds.

We will take notes and report back.

Today was baking day.  It is a process that leaves time for little else than the firing of the cob oven (“the dragon”), the grinding of wheat, mashing of potatoes, freshening of levain, mixing and kneading and so on that goes into the bread making, but two of the men moved three truck loads of soiled bedding from the cow barn to the compost bins, while the small people played beside the pond with the ducklings and chased the cows off the hill when they strayed.  After dinner we harnessed up the coupe and drove down the hill to repatriate King, the dekker rat terrier, who is determined to dilute the bloodlines of the neighbors’ black Labrador.  Despite sprinkles of rain the small people – D-1, 10; D-2, 7; and S-6, 4 – are bunked in the woodshed with the errant King and a stack of Tin-tin’s.  Our ears are grateful.

The man who stood to read on Sunday has the outward physical appearance of severe congenital mental retardation.  His narrow hunched shoulders slope to awkwardly immobile arms and hands, his wide hips are carried stiffly over a gait almost tip-toed.  Small, thick ears are folded forward, and the heavy black-rimmed glasses carry hearing aids on the ear pieces.  Black hair and pale waxy skin make his small moustache stand out with incongruous dapperness.  I have heard him read before, and yet I am still surprised at the voice, faintly accented with the twang of some city on the eastern seaboard.  It is the voice of an academic, measured, undramatic, but rich in nuance, even passion.  He is arguably among the best lectors in our stable.  When will experience and reason teach me how useless it is to substitute impression for fact, supposition for knowledge?  At least may the slow procession of events in the natural world eventually accustom me to a patient waiting upon eventuality which is the lot of those who ask the Earth to give them food.

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