forest pigs and winter carrots

Sunday, September 16:

The maple tree at Kenny’s is always the first to turn in the fall.  Today the top of it is washed in shades of peach.  Mossors’ place closes the bottom of the Jeddo’s run hollow like a cork in a bottle, the hills rising an abrupt hundred feet plus trees to the north and south; from there the run flows almost level across a mile of ground that, when Kenny was young, was cornfield, arrowhead-hunting ground.  Now it is cut by state route seven, the cornfield replaced with our village’s one grocery store.  The trees along the river have taken on a jaundiced look, not truly yellow, but with their vibrant summer green gone army drab, announcing their irrevocable judgment that autumn will come.  Goldenrod still froths in ditches and on hillside, more cheerful, but the meaning is the same.

The carrot beds are at the top of the big garden.  That high up the flow from the creek hose is only a trickle; if you lift the hose a foot the water stops completely.  With so little pressure it takes a long time to water the carrot beds, and we have not been as assiduous as we should be, we who have last year’s experience to tell us that carrots need to be watered often.  Yesterday we did what we have known for two weeks we should do.  We took a hose from the collection of damaged garden hoses hanging on the board fence along the drive, closed on end with a fixture, and hooked it up to the creek hose.  Laying it out along the top of the garden, we began drilling holes with a one-sixteenth inch bit and a cordless drill starting at the very end of the hose and working our way back.  At first we spaced the holes about a foot apart; when we reached a point forty feet back, we started over and drilled again, between the first holes.  Crude but effective, it makes a drip hose when laid out along the highest beds, and a sprinkler hose lower in the garden.  We shift it every few hours and finally the carrots are getting properly watered.  We hope they will respond with better germination.

Why didn’t we do this two weeks ago?

Two young pigs are on pasture at the top of West hill, enclosed with sixty feet of polynetting and watered by a hose from the spring a hundred yards further back in the woods, a hose ending in a pig nipple welded to an iron stake.  There was some doubt in the beginning whether these particular pigs were going to settle in well.  They began their lives as confinement pigs and their terror at finding themselves enclosed not by bars and a floor of rubber-coated expanded steel, but by the wooden walls of our infirmary pen on a wood floor strewn with hay, caused some of us to wonder they would be able to make the transition to woodland foragers.  Happily, they have adjusted themselves nicely, turning over a bed of soft forest mould under the side of a fallen tree and snipping leaves from the young sassafrass.  We hope they will thrive.

We have said before that trying to build a farm and learn to farm at the same time, and with no instructor, is like trying to build, without benefit of blueprint, a Boeing 747, at the same time one is taking it on one’s first transatlantic flight – solo.  Now we think a better analogy would be trying to do the above while manufacturing the parts.

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