Sunday, April 14:

   last Tuesday:  Driving upriver to the feed store – and oh, how we long for the day when we give up that chore – we study again the face of the river which the Mingo Indians named Beautiful.  A breeze setting up the river roughens the surface of the water, and under broken scudding clouds turns it dull mufti green, with here and there a brushstroke of white.  The morning was warm and sunny, and midafternoon, still the hills are scarfed here and there with drifts of yellow forsythia, just opened today.  The tips of the uppermost maple twigs are aflame with deep red buds.  In the woods the sassafrass stems are green, spicy-cool when bitten, and multiflora rose, good only for nesting birds and hungry goats, puts out leaves while everything else bides one more day.  For only a few days more will the young beeches shiver their bleached foliage like trees made of ectoplasm; new pale green leaves will push off the old in a natural case of the succession of the young.

   Green grass.  Each day now we have to recalculate the size of the cows’ paddock, taking into consideration how much taller the young grass tips have gotten in that time, moving the animals onto fresh forage to which they take the way a newly-launched ship takes the water, the initial rush down the ramp concluding with a full, restful bobbing in place and a sense that this is where the ship, or cow, belongs.  In the last week green has washed over the hillsides completely; the change of season, when it finally came, being accomplished in only seven days.  The cows have still some three weeks of stockpiled forage to graze before we will need to bring them back around to the east side of the hill and start them again on mature cool-season grasses.

   The only cows not to be envied are the two presently in milk, Baby Belle and Sugar.  They cannot go onto the monastery pastures until we have arranged a summer milk house there, a movable structure with two stanchions to follow the cows’ paddocks around the hill and save us a long step back to the big machine shed.  We have still many obligations off the farm that prevent us putting all our efforts into completing the milk house, and we are anxious to give all the cows, especially those which are in calf, the benefit of the best pastures.  Baby and Sugar wear a path around the perimeter of the barn yard, reaching their heads as far under the fence as they can go to snatch at any green blade.

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