Wednesday, August 29:
The moon is a day from the full, rising just as the sun is setting; in our valley, closed to the west, dropping down to the Beautiful river in the east, darkness never fell, the yard, scattered with toys, passing without margin from the dim of dusk into the clarity of moonlight on a perfectly cloudless night. Walking down with a late bucket of whey and buttermilk for the six new piglets in the big barn our shadows lay on the lane hard-edged like cardboard cutouts.
The piglets, forgotten on this market day until thoughts of tomorrow’s chores remind us of our dependents, are still awake. They stampede through their bedding after the manner of shoppers at a Christmas sale, straw flying up in the wake of tiny, tiptoed hooves like pink high-heeled slippers. They come immediately when their trough is filled, burying whiskered chins in creamy tart dairy waste, all but one small guy with a black spot on his ear who, in his haste, climbs into the trough entirely. He falls twice on the slippery bottom and then, resigning himself, drinks recumbent, whey laving his sides. Pighood is to be capable of entire contentment on earth.
The old rat terrier in the box on the porch is almost stone blind. Only the shadow of an object in bright sunlight, when it falls across his eyes, evokes any response, and he ducks when the children are playing Frisbee nearby. Objects left lying on the porch cause him to stumble, and he comes down reluctantly to his food, it being against house rules to feed an animal on the porch – clandestine treats fed by hand to the patriarch in his box do not count. Sometimes he forgets he is blind and follows a boy to his work in the garage, settling down in some safe place under a workbench or a market stall. When later he tries to return to the porch he runs smack into the car some careless person has left in his way, smack into it with a bump on his black nose, and then must sniff his way gradually around the obstacle and in through the gate. We are reminded of Jaques: “ . . . sans teeth, sans eyes, sans everything.”
He receives the most solicitous good care, and no one passes without a kind word for him. Steak scraps still taste good, and he seems pretty happy.
We are experimenting with the local farmers market. S-5 has designed and built two ingenious stands, rather like a baker’s rack but with rows of pegs in place of the upper shelves. On our first foray into the farmers market we took our braided garlic and sold little, but could have sold those market stands ten times over. Last week, being in less of a hurry, we took other produce – tomatoes, onions, lettuce – and made a small but pleasing profit, and today, having remembered the things which last week were forgotten, we made more. This, with just that portion of garden overage which might more easily have been fed to the pigs; but we are offended to see our carefully-raised produce gobbled by undiscerning palates, so we devote our afternoon to the farmers market, and are happy to be rewarded by other people’s enthusiasm for fine food, and the small amounts of cash which add up surprisingly.
Tomorrow begins our series of seminars entitled Ecological Stewardship: Practical Farm Science 101. We are energized; making and canning salsa, and the mysteries of butter making, are on tomorrow’s agenda.