Wednesday, April 2, 2014:
Snow last week has given way to temperatures in the fifties. The sun has been out some of the time, and the green tinge on south and west slopes of the pasture deepens noticeably in a single day. The cows scrounge for the tender green spears of new grass and leave the brown, high-carbon forage to lie. Question: do we expand paddocks to prevent overgrazing of the new growth, or tighten them up to increase competition and best use of the limited forage? We’ve tried the first (Beth gets fretful about low milk production, and the lactating cows are, after a winter of good flesh, looking a little boney), and our observation has been that the cows just spread out and scrounge some more spring growth; so, tomorrow we’ll close down the twelve-hour paddock by forty percent or so and see if rubbing shoulders with one another increases their root-pig-or-die instincts.
In the garden the winter spinach is growing faster than we can eat it; much faster. The young chicks get some chopped spinach along with their ground liver every day. We eat spinach salads with young chives and slivered almonds practically every night, but it never gets monotonous, it is so delicious. On Friday we’ll make spanakopita. Two long beds of seed onions have been planted and last night received the blessed rain; a row of peas set out last week won’t be enough, and we’ll plant another tomorrow. In the kitchen garden there are short rows of beets, carrots and lettuce planted, with wire panels laid over the beds to keep the dogs from digging them up, a capital offense if Mom finds out about it.
Last Tuesday as the Bishop said the funeral mass for Father Ray Ryland and his family and devoted friends followed his body to the grave, a Consol tug steaming down the Beautiful River between New Cumberland locks and Pike Island rounded the bend above Weirton, West Virginia and grounded gently on the sandbar below Alikanna Creek. There is a buoy marking the bar, and twelve barges of coal overran it before the tug, drawing more water than the giant raft, met the bottom. I don’t know if the pilot was asleep, or distracted, or just not looking. We shoveled the dirt into Father’s grave by turns, old men and young men, women and girls and small children, but mostly his strong, tall grandsons, while the sextons looked on. They said no one had ever filled in their own grave before. I wonder if the river boat pilot lost his job.
That boar had three weeks with Porka the sow before we took him out of there. Last fall he fathered ten piglets on her and we thought the job was done this time, but her gestation time is more than past and there are no piglets. There is more to this game than pouring swill in a trough and counting days; we will seek help from our experts.