Wednesday, September 5:
The young cabbages are set out and watered with the hose off the creek. Constantly running water – free, and not drawn off the aquifer – is a blessing we feel every day. Eight dozen cabbages and seven hundred row-feet of carrots, mostly Napolis, need lots of water, every day even, water we could not give them from the house well even if we wanted to burn electricity to do it. We are properly grateful. In October we will cover the winter vegetables with low hoops and row cover; in November, or December if the cold holds off, we will cover them again with high hoops of welded wire and six-mil poly twenty feet wide, making a high tunnel about five and a half feet tall and almost ten feet wide.
That’s a big tunnel, much bigger than last year’s, and we hope it works. In a high wind it could be a disaster.
The big pile of waste wood at the foot of the hill, in the curve of North creek we call “the bonfire pit”, has been reduced to a thin layer of cinders edged by a few half-burned lengths of two-by-four. It went up in flames thirty feet high, lighting the whole valley with tongues that tore loose from the parent fire and expired in showers of sparks. The alchemists of the Middle Ages who classified all matter as either Earth, Air, Water, or Fire, can’t have been too far wrong; at the Sow’s Ear fire is employed almost as often as the other three, multiple times a day. In the kitchen, of course; and under the fifteen-gallon brass kettle out back where we cook swill for the pigs and chickens. In the oil lanterns we carry down to light the way when we close up the ducks and chickens, and in candle lanterns on the porch for prayers. In the grill to sear the good red meat that, with potatoes and fresh vegetables, refuels us after a day of hard work. In the rock oven by the creek for hot dogs and marshmallows; and, as last night, for joy, and to clear the farm of those things, comparatively few, which cannot be recycled and for which we can no longer find a good use.