early August

Wednesday, August 8:

Feast of St. Dominic, Dominican St. Dominic, rosary St. Dominic.  The Franciscans at the monastery chanted the parts of the mass.

This is the wrong time of year to be without several pigs.  We are swamped with pig food – milk and whey, as usual, but in addition buckets of corn cobs with sweet corn clinging, gallon after gallon of tomato seed and pulp and skin, apple peels and apple cores and the scrapings from the kettle of apple butter; peach skins (but not the pits) and the brown parts cut out where the big black ants climbed the trees and mined the sweet fruit; leftover potatoes and pasta from a fete at the monastery when we have eaten all we can; ends of loaves quick to mold in the moist summer heat.  We are down to a single gilt in the pig pen in the big barn, and still a week to go before we can take delivery of the half-dozen twenty-pound piglets we are expecting.  One pig can only eat just so much, and the swill is backing up.  We make a note for next year to the effect that July and August shall not find us in a depleted state pig-wise.

The pig that last went to the butcher – we usually slaughter our own, but not when we sell them – was beautifully large and healthy, with just that layer of fat which makes for tasty chops and crisp bacon.  She hung at two-hundred twenty pounds, larger than a market pig, and the pork freezer is full again; we had BLT’s for lunch to celebrate.  The profit on the half sold covered the cost of the entire animal, purchase, feed, and slaughter, so that we enjoy our pork for the cost of our labor.  As it should be.  The family-scale farm should not be without a pig or several.

The clear open sky of the past few nights means that we that we have gotten out of bed into air drained of heat by deep space, but by three in the afternoon the window above the kitchen sink pants hot breaths off the roof of the greenhouse.  This is trying when the house is already thick with steam from the blanching of bushels of corn for freezing, and the scalding of peaches and tomatoes .  Two or three bushels of peaches have been jammed or frozen; pounds and pounds of corn – okay, about twelve pounds of corn cut from the cob – are in the freezer; and maybe three dozen quarts of thick tomato sauce rich with garlic, onion and oregano mark the turn of the tide on our basement shelves where empty jars set upside down had nearly replaced all the full jars we put away last summer and fall.  Work is backed up so far that we make plans to keep working late into the night, but by nine o’clock our aching feet and tired muscles change our minds for us.  The laundry that has gotten so backed up can stay backed up; we are going to put up our feet and rest.

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