It is amazing what a difference a day makes. "Just twenty-four hours." as the old song goes. The sun came out. Again. Yesterday was winter revisited and the story I began to write for you was a miserable reflection of all of which it reminded me, and all of the despair that clings to it. I started to continue it today. Day two this section was to be called, and interrupted myself a few times to address some more pleasing things such as sending my daughter a Christmas present, dated 2008, and lending to a friend through the mail, a copy of Through the Garden Path, or is it Down the Garden Path by Beverly Nichols, and returning the midnight blue J. Peterman Glamour Pants that I bought thinking they were navy blue. (I don't care for midnight blue, too close to black) and writing to two companies to entice them to carry my book. By the time I returned to my most miserable and demoralized tale the sun had come out. The air warmed up. Light poured through the living room French doors. I noticed last year's black currant cuttings had rooted and were still alive even though they had been frozen in water all winter, and was reminded that given a choice, I always choose, nearly always choose, being happy over being miserable. So, the eight hundred wretched words, oh, I must admit my tone changed at about 500 words, the mention of live stock will always do it, were abandoned, not thrown in the fire, merrily blazing, it is still winter indoors, nor were they torn from this note book, but were simply regulated to another moment.
It is one day past the day I, and some of the English put their sheep out. I never remember which saint's day the twentieth is, however, it is inevitable that it is one, and historically my sheep go out on that day. Even before I knew it had historical significant in my world. The pastures have been greening, but the grass is not growing. My lambs need more than they can get out the first cutting hay that they are getting and would love some grass, but it stands a chance of being damaged by too many sharp hoofs, and the pasture gates are not all in repair.
Another moment of everything is about to happen is in the offing. Indiana Berry put the five Hinnomaki gooseberries and ten Consort and Ben Sarek black currants in the mail yesterday. Due to arrive tomorrow or the next day. And Jung Seeds is about to put three champagne currants and six more Hinnomakis in the mail as well.
And I broke my resolve and ordered twenty-five Coco Moran chicks. Form New Mexico no less. I've done well with them in the past even though there were four roosters in the last batch. I realized I have only six chickens left and if they are laying then they are all egg eaters. I had ten survive the winter. However, a fox or coyote got some who managed to escape and two Buff Orpington and four Morans are alive to tell the tale. While these won't probably provide me with much of anything if at all, the chicks ordered today and due to arrive in a month may give me eggs in the fall, or early winter. I lost money on them last year because I didn't have egg cartons in which to sell my early eggs. However, I may make out all right next spring.
I'm about to start braiding ribbons to put on the necks of this year's replacement ewe lambs. And have started searching old day books for names that have not been used. The Horned Dorset flock shall go out in the South pasture as soon as I can get someone to help me get them out of the carriage house. And, I hope to have them joined by the young stock that I am keeping. A creep feed under the flowering quince bushes that are now at least eight feet tall, shall be placed there, to grain them a bit over the summer.
The deworming medicine has arrived. Thank goodness a generic Ivomec has hit the market, twenty dollars cheaper than Ivomec, and Premier offers for shipping on orders over $100 if one orders on line, so I got two for nearly the price of one. Farming is about pennies. It is really about hope, however, it is also about pennies. And my life is about ha'pennies were we still to have the ha'penny. Some money happened here and I gave myself a small percentage of it to reward myself for I don't know what. I haven't taken money from the farm in three years. I used to take three hundred a year. But not any more. Books are what I spend money on when I have it, however, I promised myself not this time. But couldn't resist. And so arrived Churchill by Himself, Beverly Nichols' Laughter on the Stairs and a reprint from the 1920 book Kitchen Essays by Jekyll. I don't know which I have enjoyed more. Kitchen Essays is a series of, yes, essays, is that what I write, too, about food. In the early twenties, the structure of life had begun a change that was never to reverse itself. While a household might have a cook and/or a housekeeper, there no longer is a scullery maid, oh how I could put one to use, nor a gardening staff, although Nichols had one, and the household staff was certainly drastically diminished in all walks of life. Therefore Jekyll included recipes that were relatively simple to prepare for tea after a shooting party, a light supper after the theater, or other small meals for occasions we no longer celebrate. However, there were some very nice things to be made and some exquisite use of language that I also appreciated. To my delight there was a recipe for a Russian Lemon Ice that included, if you could beg some early leaves off a black currant bush. I called my daughter to see if she had an ice cream machine. And offered to send her said leaves. The covers of all three books were lovely. Today I shall go to Oneonta and buy some bars of Lindt bitter sweet chocolate with orange peel. A number of them to hide around the house, to come across in despair i.e.: only moments when only a piece of chocolate will do. What I also need, although need is an indefinable word these days, are two white coffee cups, with thin rims. Porcelain perhaps, and a white coffee maker that can be programmed to go on at a specific time. I'm putting a small table that can be folded down on the upstairs porch and would love to have coffee out there some summer morning.
I'm milking these days. Lucinda MacDouglas isn't giving the gallon a day she used to give, however she is very easy to milk these days and I am reluctant to part with her yet. She is a murderess and I've decided to get rid of her. But the milk has still bound her to me. She shall stay a little longer. Adelaide Merriman is now eight or nine and giving only about three quarts a day. She is still nursing a kid one time a day so we shall see what she does when I wean him. Neither of my two old ladies finish their grain when I am milking, however when I take them upstairs to the barn proper, together and put grain in front of them they go into competition with each other and scoff down what ever I put in front of them in what seems to be moments. I milked Lucinda's daughter for the first time yesterday. She didn't like it one bit. She has been dethroned and can easily slip her head out of the milking stand. So she did. I milked her front ways, sideways and backwards. It hit the sides of the bucket, the floor of the stand and the great stonewall next to it. About a tablespoon arrived in my milking bucket. The wild barn cat that waits for her above was to be disappointed. The doe's teats are tiny. She is nursing the prettiest of little doelings whom I shall keep. With any luck her teats shall lengthen some by summer. Her bag is perfect. Ethyl Merriman is also young. This is her second lactation and she milks like a pro. Tomorrow I'll buy some lemon juice and make a lemon cheese.
What never seems to amaze me, here, is how powerful an influence the sun makes on life. A sunny day without wind and some warmth in the air and life seems possible. Today. Yesterday, with damp in the air, grey and forbidding skies, and wind, and life seemed unbearable. There is promise for several more days like today. I hope the promise comes true.
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