Wednesday, March 3:

For twenty-five minutes yesterday morning, while the sisters chanted an Easter alleluia and the sunrise warmed faintly the sandstone behind the altar at Our Lady of Sorrows, clouds of snow fell horizontally beneath a clear sky.  Our weather knows no limits.  Referral to our records of past years confirms our memory of warm March days and sunny Aprils, but such are not the offerings of Anno Domini twenty-thirteen in this little corner of the Beautiful valley.

Isabel, the down cow, is still getting up, but we fret to have her out with the animals in the big pasture.  Any question about the superiority of their fodder to our first- and second-cutting square bales is settled by one look at the conditions of the various animals.  The animals on pasture at the monastery hardly look as though they have come through a winter at all; they are solid , stocky animals with thick , fluffy coats.  The three lactating cows which have spent the winter on hay in the home pasture are craggy, scraggy old girls with accumulations of mud and manure on their legs despite the clean bedding we lay down for them.  We are serious in our intention to keep them all on stockpiled grass at the monastery this winter, if only we can work the kinks out of our portable milking house.

The patient Sussex hen who has laid a clutch of eggs in the corner of the wall by the greenhouse is impervious to all discomforts.  She has been there almost two weeks, with yet another week to go if she is to hatch those eggs.  The boys building the summer kitchen first noticed her from the vantage point of the loft of the new building; being wise to the ways of little girls they did not share their knowledge, but left the hen to her delusions of invisibility.  Cowboy, the blue-heeler pup (inelegantly known as “Squirt”), crashed through the English ivy one day and stumbled on her; but not even his shrill conversation was enough to drive her from her post.  When the little girls finally discovered her their too-zealous urge to make her comfortable by crowding in close and offering her food, water, pregnancy books and fruit coolers nearly gave her a disgust for the whole business, but the girls were persuaded in time that the Sussex was better equipped and informed than they for the hatching of hen’s eggs, and now they, and she, observe one another from a distance, and slant-wise.   We fervently wish her luck; it was with the hope of getting hens which could hatch their own eggs that we first bought the Sussex flock.