corn and calves

Saturday, June 30:

Two-tenths of an inch of rain last night laid the dust temporarily and cancelled our church league softball game.  We sat on the edge of the porch and let the drizzle damp our hair, watching the air currents, never straightforward in our little hollow, tie the treetops in knots.

Belatedly we remembered that we had not given the corn its second hilling; the late planting, in fact, hadn’t been hilled at all.  We hoped the wind wouldn’t knock it over and lodge it; just such a storm last summer had laid out all but the youngest corn in an almost totally supine position.  Not people to know when we are beat, we actually – we blush to admit it – spent all of a very hot morning crawling around in the dirt raising the corn up again and tying it – yes, tying it, every last stalk in about three hundred row-feet of corn – to temporary wire fence we stretched between the rows.  Good heavens, what an expenditure of energy on a very long shot.   Yes, we got corn out of that patch that we probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, but it was a lot of work for only a very little gain; half the stalks bore little or nothing.  We could instead have fed the lodged corn to the pigs and cows and replanted with something else.  It was only July; fall came late that year and some short-season hybrid corn would have had time to make before frost.

We made two five-pound Paysanos last week, but we will not be making more until the hot weather breaks.  A cheese fresh out of the press has to dry at room temperature, usually for several days, and at the present room temperature a new cheese doesn’t dry; it weeps like a mother-of-the-bride.  If allowed to welter in its own whey it will rapidly develop a case of mold spot-measles.  We turn it often and keep a fan on it, but experience tells us that when a biological operation of this sort gets too complicated it is probably best to suspend operations until conditions are more favorable.

We paid the price last week of not having perimeter fence at the monastery in a hot calf-hunt through the high grass and into the steep wooded coulees.  Something, deer probably, had charged through the polywire fence around the steers’ paddock, leaving them at sweet liberty, and by the time we discovered the damage they had disappeared without a trace.  Almost an hour’s searching high and low finally turned them out barely a hundred yards from their starting point, dodging and grazing among the cane brakes behind the big garden.  We are making their paddocks smaller now, to give the deer a smaller target; the price is that we have to move the paddocks more often.

Our experience in the world of business is that many problems are may be susceptible of a single solution – one size fits all – and we have had to adjust our minds to the fact that animals and plants and weather have a way of springing something new on us every time.  Realizing this fact has lowered our tension level a notch or two; now we don’t feel like failures every time we have to alter the management practices around here.

2 thoughts on “corn and calves

  1. I enjoy all of your posts because I always gain some knowledge from them-hoping that I will absorb some of it into my being so that I will eventually just “know it myself.” This post had me laughing outloud, which I’m not sure if sleeping husband or children appreciated, but I sure did! The part “we don’t feel like failures when we have to change management procedures around here” really hit home. We had our tethered horse today near our creek-but then today some neighbor kids came to wade in the creek and their dog tried to attack the horse….”management” moved the horse closer to the house now and vowed to work on building more fencing in his spare time….

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