Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Earning my keep

The bull is going to the butcher on Thursday. Yahoo. I like seeing the finished product of a years work. He is a beautiful 14 month old boy. Yummy eating for 4 lucky families this winter. The only sad part is the cow Stella and the horse Bud are going back to Yarmouth for the winter, since I have no barn yet. My financial plans still rely heavily on winning the lottery. So I have to hang up my coveralls and saddle for a couple of months.

Since I've had to wait until now for the critters to go home, they've been out in the pasture. In case you didn't notice the grass stopped growing a couple of weeks ago. Since their arrival in spring, I've had to buy 4 round bales of hay. Two back in August when they were staring at how much greener the grass was on the other side of the fence. Green grass I hadn't finished fencing in. So 2 weeks of hay got them by until I could open the gate. The other 2 bales fed them the past 2 weeks since the grass declared it winter.

When cutting grass, be it for hay, haylage or silage, nutrients are being removed. Without putting fertilizer of some type back on, the soil will quickly loose it's ability to grow anything but weeds. Because I have no equipment, or money, and would like to stay as natural and as close to organic as possible I've not been able to put fertilizer back on. A great farmer/agrologist/consultant told me that people have to earn the right to harvest a crop. I'm ashamed to say that I have not fully earned that right. The cows and horse do fertilize as they go, but not enough to even out what is being removed. I was hoping for wood ash to put on the field, which is organic, natural, and oh so good for the soil. But October decided it wanted to be a mansoon for halloween and the fields are too wet to get anywhere near with a tractor. Next year.

The good part of all this is that the left over pooped on, walked on hay that the animals didn't eat (which is a significant amount) was piled to rot all summer. Since this hay was cut very late, the grass had gone to seed. So now, I have something to give back to the soil. The very grass that removes alot of nutrients when harvested also gives it back. This rotten peed on, pooped on grass is now spread out, fretilizing the field and reseeding at the same time. Areas that the horse had paced down to the bedrock now have green grass growing. Hooray. This had turned out to be a very good use for this old hay. Some of it went in the garden too. That should help break up the clay and improve the soil structure.

The goal for next year is to have the back field fenced off and do a better job of rotational grazing. Because wood ash doesn't supply any nitrogen, I'm fiddling with the idea of frost seeding triple mix to add clover to the fields, which will hopefully help it produce its own. Wood ash will be used next year and everyone will end up happy. I'll have earned my crop, the cows and horse will have better grass and the soil will have the nutrients it needs. All naturally.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stone age hunter

I don't know where I get these ideas, but they make sense to me. Well at least at the time they do.

Have you ever read the children's book Little Red Hen? The hen decides to make bread, so she plants the wheat, threshes it, mills it, then bakes her bread. The other farm yard animals laugh at her, so in the end, she doesn't share. Sounds pretty easy. So I figure I should find out just how much wheat you'd have to plant to get enough flour to bake bread. Forget that I don't have a mill. What difference does that make. They did it in the old days. Last summer the lawn was mess of tall grass because we decided to build our house in a hayfield. The mower really couldn't handle the 4 ft grass, we needed a tractor and a hay mower. Since we don't have a hay mower, I figured Dad's old scythe would work just dandy. It did in the old days.

In case you're wondering I did learn that inventions and modern technology were born by need. Hay mowers and grain mills were no exception. But I still fall back to the old tools. It's a problem. I'm working on it.

Mr (or Mrs) Coyote was in our field last evening around supper time. Just standing there, taking his time wandering through the field. No worries at all. Not even the least bit skittish. We watched from the kitchen window as he tracked through the grass, under the fence and into the pasture with the horse and cows. The nerve of this guy! How bold is he! I don't want him around. I don't want him for the safety of our cat, our dog and all future animals that come onto our place. Coyotes are all fine and dandy, and quite pretty really, but they belong in the woods, away from people. They should be scared of people. So I went outside. Me and Mr Coyote were going to have a little chat.

I walked right up to the fence, maybe 50 feet from this fella and he stood there. Just stood there. Looking at me as if he were there just to check out the local entertainment. So I picked up a rock and walked into the field. Circling down wind so I had the advantage. If I could have I would have liked to sneak up on him and scare the living daylights out of him. But as Martin noted to me earlier in the evening when speaking of my diabolical plan, that perhaps sneaking up on a wild animal who hunts for a living isn't the smartest thing to do. But it would be funny. Or fun. Probably both. I wanted the coyote to be scared of us, thus leaving us alone and minding his own territory. As I got closer he moved away, back towards the woods. I would have kept chasing him, but the two deer who live in our field showed up and blew my cover. Not that an open field and a graceless human have much cover. But I didn't want to chase away the deer, just Mr Coyote. So I reluctantly went back inside.

Back in the house, Martin asks what I was doing. I'm sure he was watching and laughing from the window at the sight of his wife tramping through the fields after a coyote. Because you know, he's good that way.
"Did he turn on you" he asks
"No, I just didn't want to scare the deer. Besides, I had a rock"
"A rock. What did you plan to do? Defend yourself with a rock?"
"No, throw it at him. But I couldn't get close enough"
We don't own a gun. But Owen and Reiley were playing with a sling shot. Perhaps if I could practice and get good enough at aiming I could hit him with a rock. That'll scare him off.

Mr Coyote didn't go anywhere. Our little chat was not effective. He stayed in that field staring at the house until it was too dark to see him. Probably wondering who the hell that strange person was coming after him in the field. He'll be back though, if nothing else for the entertainment. But I'll be ready, with my stone age tools. A rock and a slingshot. That'll teach him.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the brink of teen

Remember being on the cusp of 13? I remember. Grade 7 and the first peek at being a teenager. First year in a new school. Lockers. Walking the hallway between classes. Real sports teams. More than one teacher. Crushes and note passing. Wishing mom would buy me the cool clothes like the cool kids. Wishing I was pretty. That I would grow boobs. That a boy would ask me to dance.

I was a sad thirteen year old. No particular reason I could put my finger on then, but likely the last three things on that list had alot to do with it. It was a big deal being in grade 7, on the verge of teenhood. As if I didn't get it right in that first year, the next 6 years would be ruined. I never was a social butterfly, always awkward and with few close friends I trusted. Watching the other girls trying to learn how to fit in, how to get a boy to like me, how to be. Then failing miserably at it. Like vultures, the other girls would swoop in at the scent of my weakness and pick at me until I bled. I did well in sports, I was strong, did well in school and oddly enough never had a real issue with self esteem. I found I was no comelian, but I was great at building thick skin and had attitude to spare to fend off the vultures. Who eventually left me be. But thirteen was hard. Lonely. And it did shape the rest of my teenage years. Luckily they only lasted 6 more.

Now, looking back, that year really had little impact on my current self. A blip on my radar that I can on remember bits and pieces of. Insignificant in the long run. (All though I still don't like girls. They're just mean at that age.) But all in all the worries I had then were a light load to the realities of life. I seem Herculean now in comparison for what I carry on my shoulders each day.

Reiley is there in those shoes. He'll be thirteen in another month. As a parent I see my boy, not a teenager, not the same boys I remember, that I had crushes on back then. He somehow seems younger than I was then. Reiley is socially very strong. He has lots of friends, girls crowding together when they see him and giggling and running off when he smiles their way. He's well balanced, funny and treats people nicely. With him, I don't worry about the things that I had trouble with back then. School however, is hard. Very hard for him. He has a learning disability which affects more than just his spelling. I see it in his organization and his ability to plan. Keeping up with homework and projects and making sure he brings the right books home is a challenge. All he wishes for is to have it easy like his friends, to slide through school, to just get it.

I forget how huge this year is in his life. What is feels like from the perspective of a kid on the brink of teen. I talk with him and lift the load from his shoulders to mine, and then I remember. I feel how heavy it is. But it too, will only be a blip on his radar in 18 years.

Monday, October 19, 2009

for you

I dare not whisper his true worth to me. A treasure I want keep all to myself. They would try to steal it for themselves if they knew our souls were one. That such a thing is possible, that such a power exists.
He is so much a part of me, I forget he cannot hear my thoughts.
I thank the gods each day. Praying they won't take it all away. And leave me to crumble, forever cold and hollow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Perfectly perfect

I know they're in there somewhere. Buried under the dirt. Probably playing in it. Ah well. They're being quiet and are out of my hair.

I visit here mostly when I'm happy. When I have a happy memory of my life or day or kids, I want to save in ink (so to speak). But this picture painted here, when you step back and look, isn't the whole truth. Just the pretty stuff. Any online life which only shows the pretty stuff, isn't telling the whole truth. Even if you eat nothing but caviar, it still turns into shit. In every life there is shit. KD or caviar. Maybe shit is too strong a word, maybe just dirt.

Our real lives reflected is 4 people in a lived in house. Me, Mart and 2 boys. I've spent hours cleaning only to have it undone in seconds. With each joyful step they drag dirt in. Don't even mention the dog. I put on my slippers so my socks don't stick to the floor and kick the kids outside to get them out of my hair. Most days we open the front door and kick off our shoes. Somewhere handy to the closet is acceptable. Have a seat on the couch, put our feet up on the coffee table. Watch out for the toys and dishes from last evenings drinks and snacks. Pull the dinky car out from under my butt. I asked them a hundred times to put those toys away... We don't mind the dust bunnies formed from the dogs shedding hair. If we stomp the floor nearby they frighten and move into the corners to hide. They really are more afraid of us, than we are of them. We will coexist until the next time I get a chance to vacuum.

Mom calls Thanksgiving morning to ask that since my photographic brother in law was visiting we should get a "nice family picture in the fall colours". I bristled at this, sitting with my morning coffee still in my robe, sporting the hairdo the pillow gave me. It just felt like work. To get everyone in the house dressed, in clean clothes, at the same time. Stand and smile, outside, without getting dirty on the way (Owen is 5 remember). A chore. That is what I call that. So I didn't' move from my chair, and after a few short words, hung up the phone with mom and finished my coffee.

Why can't we just send real picture of us? These 'nice' pictures really don't reflect who we are. When do you ever see Owen with brushed hair and a clean shirt? Maybe for 2 minutes, between his bedroom and the kitchen, between dressing and breakfast. I have always preferred rubber boots to shoes and even when I try I can't quite manage fancy.

The day before, we all walked down the path through the woods for a picnic. Roasted hot dogs on the fire and drank hot chocolate. Surrounded by fall leaves, highlighted by the crisp fall sun. The bright yellow a dazzling contrast to the dark wet earth of the forest floor. Between stick gathering, fire making and hot dog roasting, Uncle D and his soon to be wife snapped pictures of us. The real us. Happy as can be in rubber boots and coveralls, mud splashed on our play clothes, hair scattered from the wind. Owen may have even had ketchup on his chin. Shady was wet from finding every puddle around, twigs stuck in her fur. He tail never stopped wagging.

The pictures turned out great. I hope the group shot counts as a "nice family picture", because it's the truest family picture she'll get. If mom wants a fancy, perfectly smiling, perfectly coiffed, perfectly perfect family picture, I'll just steal one out of the frame at a store.