Archive for June, 2012

The Older Woman

These few days each June are special. I turned twenty-six on Sunday, and Jacob will be twenty-five tomorrow. We get to celebrate for days on end, and for three days I get to be two years older than Jacob. This morning he is at work and I am plotting surprises for tomorrow. There are souvenirs from Sunday’s party on Lake Champlain throughout the kitchen: half of a mocha-chocolate cake, barbecued chicken in the fridge, a (new to me) antique pitcher full of fresh daisies on the table, and a finally exhausted, gray-bearded dog napping on the cool floor.

Outside the house, a good day on the farm is under way. Here are the 11 am observations for Tuesday, June 19 (thank you NOAA):

The cows are taking a siesta. Avery and I walked out to check on their water, and I spotted them lounging in the shade of the big Maples that line their new pasture, chewing in the breeze.

The pigs are poky, pushy, fat, hungry, thirsty, and scabby. They’re busy pulling weeds for us in the corral outside the barn, cleaning up that patch of woebegone pasture where the cows spent their winter days.

Laundry is drying on the line.

Zucchini and yellow squash are making a miraculous recovery from last week’s onslaught of slugs, and are setting out new leaves and bright orange flowers.

Our first planting of beets is recovering- not miraculously, but recovering, nonetheless- from….we’re not sure what. Poor germination? Soil compaction? Flea beetles? They’ve been babied these past few weeks with lots of watering, fertilizer, and row cover, and they’re finally coming around.

There are 1/8th-inch-long sugar snap peas peeking out!

Our forty meat birds (round, yellow fluff-balls, rather) and nine chicks are eating and drinking and bickering under their heat lamp.

The meadow is soaking up warmth, and smells like sweet clover.

The corn is planted, the potatoes are leggy, and the second round of greens is coming on strong.

It is a good week for birthdays.

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Our debut at the Essex Farmer’s Market on Friday was a success! Before the sun got too hot, we picked bushels of spinach and baby greens and made a mess of the kitchen washing, drying, and bagging them. While they cooled in the refrigerator, we played an interesting game of Tetris trying to fit tables, tent, coolers, boxes, baskets, scale and four flats of teenaged tomatoes and peppers into the back of the car. At the greenhouse, we picked carrots, beets, scallions and head lettuce, then rushed to get everything into shade and cold water before it went completely limp. The sky clouded up as we drove into town, and we hustled to unpack and set up our little green tent in Spot Number 22. I was nervous: had we brought enough? Were the kale bunches, the heads of lettuce, and the beet greens going to look like wet towels? Would people think our prices were fair? We filled our one modest table with dark greens, oranges, and reds, and by 7:30 had sold almost everything. In the meantime, we were able to trade for jam, fresh bread, and sweet potato salad, visit with family and friends who’d stopped by to see us, and share a six-inch tall Old Smoky from the local deli and a cone of Coffee Chip ice cream, homemade by the folks across the way.

In animal news, the piglets are here! We picked them up three weeks ago in Cabot. I have never seen such tantrums from animals. Pigs are supposedly very smart, though, and I’m not surprised that they were displeased at being nabbed, carried by their back legs with arms hanging to the ground, and stuffed four deep into a crate built for a medium-sized dog. They screamed and bawled and panted, and we rolled down the windows and turned up the music. All the way home, I wondered how, and why, and when, our conversation about growing vegetables on our own had turned into an attempt to also raise cows, hens, piglets, and the meat birds that are scheduled to arrive any day.

But people are eager for good food. Jacob already has takers, months out, for our pork and chicken. Market-goers on Friday were thrilled by locally-grown carrots on June 1st. So while raising animals is a much more overwhelming endeavor than tomatoes and kale, I keep telling myself that it will be just as valuable to us and to whomever we can feed. “Expensive pets,” Jacob reminds me whenever I threaten to chicken out of eating Ishmael, or our little piggies, when the time comes…

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