Tuesday, October 23:

The pigs have been turned into the first garden paddock to harvest late beans and graze on the clover we used as a cover crop in the pumpkin patch.  The six steers at the monastery have been moved back to the spring paddock, anticipating the time when freezing weather will make us drain all the hoses and put them away for the winter.  In the three long beds that will be covered with a high tunnel in November baby spinach and lettuce make a charming pattern of light and dark green, like a snapshot of spring in an otherwise autumn collage.

Now the two cows are together in the home pasture.  In the late afternoon whoever is on milking turn trails down with bucket, milk can, and wash water to shift the cows’ paddock and turn them out, one at a time, to be milked.  The cows hurry, bags swinging, to reach the milking parlor before marauding chickens can steal any grain; going back to the paddock they must be led, leisurely, snatching clover or frost-sweetened fescue as they go.  Two cows take an hour and a quarter for our slowest milker, including straining and wash-up.