Tuesday, March 23, 2010

night farming

Night farming happens by accident, and often in the spring. The warmer weather and extra sunlight trick me into staying out way past sunset. Early in the season I'm just outside because I can be, and later as planting time rolls around I'm out because I need to be. Tonight I was raking the lawn and stacking firewood and I didn't realize how dark it was getting. On days like this I let the hours fade into events. Starting with stopping at Wayside on the way home from work.

I stopped in after the office to return a rented movie. (New Moon, don't judge, I adore werewolf films...) Nancy and Nicole were at the front desk and handed me a big white envelope. "Here, this came for you today." was all the explanation Nicole gave me. It is not often I get mail at Wayside, usually only when delivery guys feel the notch is too scary for their trucks in the winter. (They just assume all locals end up at Wayside every day or one of their neighbors will drop it off. Which is true.) I was somewhat puzzled as I took the package. "No return address. Intrigue..." I mumbled. Inside was a large green handmade card with a deer, photos of the Jackson Farm, and "Congratulations!" written across small flags. It was darling but without a note or name? I think the postmark was Germany? Regardless, I was flattered. Somewhere on the other side of the world some one is following this life, and thinking about me enough to mail a card that took them some time to glue and mail. Shucks. I was a celebrity for thirty seconds, but then I had to move aside so the people behind me could buy milk.

Thank you, random sender of cards.

After that the evening fell into the usual routine. I walk the dogs a mile or two, then return home to feed them a big meal and hit the backyard. I let the sheep out into their small pasture of movable fence and throw down a flake of hay (most of the grass is still dead). While they eat I run back into the cabin, grab the egg basket from the kitchen lined with hay and raw wool, and grab the day's eggs. There were only eight today. I blame the rain. For some reason wet days mean less eggs than sunnier ones. I think because everyone is stuck inside and the stress level isn't conducive to creating life. It's hard to give pre-birth with a goose up your ass.

With sheep fed, eggs collected, scratch grains scattered, and dogs chomping away—I get to other work. I chop wood and stack it. I get water boiling on the stove for rice and plan dinner as I head back outdoors. I started raking up the leaves to make the place look a little less like a windstorm just nailed it. I get lost in the chores, and do all this with audiobooks or music on the iPhone in my pocket. I didn't realize how dark it was getting. Before I knew it I was night farming.

I grabbed the lantern and my 60" shepherd's crook and headed to the sheep across the farm. They need to be back in the safety of their pen come black, so I walked a football field's distance to get them settled in. The crook's purpose is to gather lambs and direct sheep, but I was using it to feel a little safer as I walked through the dark. I knew my crook wouldn't actually do much harm against a bear or rabid coyote (forgive my imagination) but just holding a big stick in the dark is a placebo I'll gladly accept. I held the lantern in front of me, and soon met my flock. I caught Maude off guard. (She stared at me long enough to let me snap a picture.) And before long got them inside with a bribery of fresh broccoli. With the wools safe and the world dark, I was going in to eat, write, and play some music.

Just a few hours since the office, and certainly nothing of consequence, but a fine day. My animals are well, my stomach is full, and my fiddle is lonely. I hope all of your day's were kind to you as well.


Blogger pjo2179 said...

Maude!!! If looks could kill, girl, you'd be a dead woman!

Pam in WNY

March 23, 2010 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

I think some of my favorite posts are the ones where you describe the quotidian tasks of your little farmstead. And then, of course, you throw in the hilarious comments that end in the sentence ....with a goose up your ass! Very charming :)

March 23, 2010 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I like your 'quotidian tasks' as well.

I took delivery of 7.5 cubic yards of blended soil this morning and moved half of it into planter boxes today. I had a very large and late lunch, so I 'drank dinner' (Bitburger pilsner, one of my faves) and I think I'll sleep pretty well tonight.

I'm not sure my day was kind, but I still feel pretty good- somewhere between three and three quarters cubic yards of dirt and a large German beer, I got a reward for another day at it. And I liked it.

March 23, 2010 at 11:51 PM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

Although I, personally, haven't come face to face with all the wildlife that we share this 58 acre mountain tree farm with, I've seen the scat evidence they've been here. They eat the old apple trees, all the blackberries and leave a path. Don't actually know what I'd do if I came face to face with a bear, a cougar or a bobcat. I've seen bobcat out the window...thankfully I was indoors. I love the country life...sounds like you do too!


March 24, 2010 at 12:10 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'm totally afraid of what might be lurking in the dark as well, more so since I knew a co-worker in Maine who came face to face with a mother black bear and her cub while walking through some woods at night. The dark is very humbling. Cheers!

March 24, 2010 at 2:00 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

Okay, so, werewolf films--Brotherhood of the Wolf, is it any good? With all the zombie and vampire love out there, I think werewolves are getting short shrift these days.

March 24, 2010 at 6:01 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Night farming! It's what we do in the northeast from Nov-Mar although as you found out, this time of year we get carried away with additional light in the evening. I can imagine trying to find the sheep in the dark wasn't easy. Darkness at 3:30 is a distant memory. Thank God!
When I go out to tend chickens and rabbits after dark, I have 3 German Shepherds who make sure nothing is coming near. I think their scent all around has kept the coyotes and racoons from attempting a chicken dinner.
Small town America, where you pick up your mail at the general store if need be. Does it get anybetter?

March 24, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I can't tell you how many times I've been in the garden and lost track of time, especially in the spring. I'll look up and realize it's dark out, look back down at what I was digging in amazement that a second ago I could see what I was doing. Great times, being part of the light-to-dark.

March 24, 2010 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger E said...

Interesting egg/rain theory but eggs take several days to form.

Moonlighting as a farmer - a sure sign of spring!

March 24, 2010 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

I'd be using the extra daylight here in North Florida to get my garden all planted if it would BLOODY WELL EASE UP ON THE RAIN! You'll notice God, I said 'ease up', not 'stop'. I know Your sense of humor well. "You've Had Enough Rain? Oh...Okay. Let's See How You Feel About Rain In Say...3 Months". Next weekend I turn the dog pen into a chicken pen...then adopt some hens from my neighbor who doesn't understand they need daylight to lay eggs (!)

March 24, 2010 at 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's hard to give pre-birth with a goose up your ass.".....this is pure Jenna! You cracked me up with that one. Others could express the same thing, but it wouldn't be said the same way. You have a unique way of saying things and that is what makes you so special. Every now and then I just have to share one of your golden nuggets with my husband. He always loves it. This one made him laugh out loud. Love you Jenna.

March 26, 2010 at 9:36 PM  

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