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April 2012

             The snow has not surprised me. Perhaps it installed a touch of dismay but as there is always some at the end of March, it was to be expected. I sold my most obnoxious goat a few days ago in an effort to make life more manageable. She gave me an exceptional doeling, and did show promise as a milker. However, she proved to be aggressive to other goats and killed a kid I had wanted very much one of. The Sable twin doelings. She has been sold to some one who has no other goats and whom I have known a very long time to be gentle with livestock. He wants the milk with which to raise calves, and can breed her back to my Sable buck. Part of the payment was in shoveling out the pen where most of the goats are living. I don’t think she will ultimately be sold at auction; however, she shouldn’t live with other goats. Ever again.


            I had done all of the things, separating her, tethering her, even putting her, however briefly in another building. It didn’t’ work. Her kid is a beauty. While Rebecca is some kid of Sable called “Experimental”, she looks like her Saanen fore bearers, as does her doeling. My son has the privilege of naming the two doelings who are staying so she isn’t named as yet. However, she is the most clever and ambitious of the four kids that I have this year, sitting in my rocking chair while she lived for a few days in the kitchen, rocking slightly while staring at me. It was when she leapt onto a kitchen chair that was two feet from the table and eyed said table that I knew she had to go to the carriage house, now. And so she did. Two of last year’s doelings were covered two weeks ago, which means if it took, I’ll have milk for fall as they will freshen in late August. That would be wonderful! These three are very tame to me. Vanity is the most affectionate but they all are quite nice. I’m trying to keep away from the buck that is still small, but very nice. He’ll stay for awhile, a few years, I hope, and I don’t want him to get too relaxed around me.


            I’m milking. I haven’t hit my stride yet which means it is never at the same time of day, however, one has started to milk quit heavily, she is the harder because she is lopsided and I’m always squirting some outside of the pail. That means I don’t get an accurate measurement of her production. A new blue enamel pot has arrived to get started with making some cheese. An exceptional book was given to me with the most explicit directions on cheese that I have encountered as yet. The recipes have more specific types of starter than I’ve seen in most catalogues, in addition to the sources from which they can be obtained. One of the goats is a heavy milker. The mother of the Sable twins, and I expect to get enough production from her spare to make cheese in addition to feeding the kids. The new white goat’s mother is now gone, and the little buck’s dam doesn’t give much, so a lot shall be demanded from my two does who are in milk. Every year I say this year I’m going to do it right. Never can tell. Maybe this shall be the year.


            `I bought some pear trees this year. Four for me and one for a friend. They are from Saint Lawrence Nursery which specializes in trees that will withstand our climate. Nova is supposed to be their best tree, however, they suggested ordering one more of another type to pollinate the Nova. I didn’t make note of the one they recommended, but did order it. The quandary was where to plant them. Sheep had demolished the negosa roses in the ideal spot visually for the newest trees. The beavers are back and would finish off what the sheep hadn’t trashed. I haven’t started tearing out the damn as yet, however, it isn’t wise to plant in their possible wake. There is a woven wire fence enclosing that section of brook. It occurred to me to plant the pears in front of that fence and to add a piece in front of them making a room of woven wire around them. In that way I can watch them grow from the dining room windows.


            The currant bushes woke up during our interlude of spring-summer weather. The buds on some of them have leafed out a few weeks early. There is a customer for the red currants this year, in addition to eggs. I’d like to find the name of the company who sent me this latest flock of chickens in substitution for my original order. They may be Golden Cochens. They are tiny chickens who lay huge heavy, heavy eggs. I’m averaging 22 a day from twenty-six chickens, including two old ones that were a gift. That gives me ten dozen to sell, two for Wendell and one a day for me!


            The flowering quinces have budded out. I pick some for the house. They are, in nature, a flamingo color, shocking, almost. Their green leaves against the Charleston green fence relieves the intensity somehow. Before the fence was built it was almost too ostentatious. Now it is just right. In the house the buds open as a very pale pink, almost a blush tinged white. I put them in a mustard pot on the work table in the kitchen. The kitchen still does not satisfy me. I don’t really know why. All of the old pieces are in place. The drawings I made from delft tiles some time ago have faded beyond redemption. I’d have to redraw them were I to want them on the wall over the kitchen table once again. Now I know to get glass that will prevent them from fading. I do love to draw. It is rare for me to have both time and inclination all at once. There even is a box of Crane’s writing paper waiting for me and several of the pens with which I like to draw. Cleaning out a desk gave discovery of a very beautiful fountain pen that I have never used. Did I also find ink? Perhaps if this chilly weather continues I’ll do some drawings, evenings, and pretend it is winter rather than spring beckoning me outside.


            I am waiting, at the moment, for an aspect of this life to play itself out. The question is how to make best use of the time. Time has become more precious, of late, and I want to be able to use it well. I bought a watch in Walmart, the other day. Eight dollars and change. It is a copy of one I bought in Tiffany’s a long time ago. This is an acceptable copy. Today a piece of paper cut from a catalogue fell out of this book. On it was a picture of a watch I had wanted over the past couple of years. When I had the money, they didn’t have the watch. It was too nice for the barn. Looked as if it wouldn’t stand up to being as wet as I can get something on the farm. I may call Orvis and see if they still have it. It may become my prize for having managed this winter.


            To survive is not good enough. I’ve refused to look at life as a war although it has often tried to seem that way. I also dislike the concept of life as a learning experience. I am not a child in school. And adding information upon information and how-to-do-it doesn’t satisfy me either. What has come about for me over the past few years is a belief that life is a process of our true selves emerging, to live the essence of who we truly are. There are in each decade a set of assumptions that become fairly generally adopted by society to explain our lives or to guide us through the maize. For the most part, although we as a people are fairly religious, we don’t rely on our places of worship for a uniform sense of guidance and values as we once had. Pseudo science and newly invented religions have in some respect captured our imaginations. Life as a learning experience was one seemingly sensible of those approved ones. “What can I learn from this?” is often the question, rather than the reality of becoming more truly ourselves. I had trouble adopting that philosophy, and have since abandoned any attempts. For myself, at least, as I see my life, becoming more truly myself is the best I can do. We are, each of us, unique and individual. The life here has been harsh in many respects. I’ve lost two small animals, a kid goat and a ewe lamb I wanted very much. But that has never stopped me from noticing the beauty here intrinsic in small details. And that may be who I am.

Sylvia Jorrin

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