Today is the first day in a very long time that life seems possible. There are no extra demands being made on me. I'm not going to town, (my social obligation to myself). And no one is coming here. The demands of the farm and home alike are within reason. And I have the old familiar choice to make. Do I make one thing, room, pen, barn floor perfect or do I dent the chores in many places, keeping an even keel on the work load? The latter is my customary choice which is why often things here are "not very nice" and "not too bad". This year I came to the decision to try to "go for perfect" one room at a time. A room includes the stone floored patio under the bridge way where I milk. One room with gleaming floors and shiny windows. Or well bedded like the lambing room. All supplies neat and orderly. These windows washed as well. I have given myself a luxury in the form of a cluster of repairs. It is a luxury that comes of a form of necessity. But reads luxury anyway, because it is something I've lived without. Eric Bowser, husband of Cecily Rush in Walton, is an electrician's electrician. He loves what he does. Asks in detail about what I need and want. And then, wonder of wonders, takes the time to explain to me what he is going to do and how it will be done. His latest project for me is to repair and make functional no less than five lamps. And, repair a broken fixture in the summer bedroom as well as wire my root cellar. I had bought the perfect light fixture for the root cellar a year ago, and was told by every electrician I know to run an extension cord to it. I don't want to run an extension cord to it, I want a real light in a real fixture and a real set-up. The second most beautiful lamp came from Nanas Attic in Oneonta. It is pressed glass, clear, tall, and very nice. I thought about buying it for two weeks. More uncertain than certain. It had neither shade nor wiring. It was pretty. But not great. However, as a number of things at Nanas it kept recurring in my thoughts. I'm buying baleage. And shall be buying lime. And dairy ration for the goats. And have a bottle lamb. Again. Is an unwired, un-shaded lamp what I should spend my money on? No. But it kept recurring in my thoughts. I went through every jar, teapot, ceramic chicken-on-a-nest and found twenty dollars in change. I bought the lamp. The dining room here is taking form. Too slowly. But taking form it is. It needs lamps, however. This room of many windows and the most glorious light in the house, needs a subtle variation of light at night. I put the lamp on the edge of the table. The next morning I chose the dining room in which to have my coffee. Sun came pouring into a window, turning this merely nice glass lamp into a lovely thing. Almost beautiful. It is now on Ernie's workbench ready to be wired. Evenings in that room, it shall, with the light turned on, be absolutely beautiful.
There are twelve hours left in the day. My choice of how to properly live them. That is always true. But more hopefully today than in the past few months when a day has only demands rather than requests, offers hopelessly intense orders rather than inspiration, how one lives it inside oneself is often the only choice. But today, what I do with it is also within my choice. Later, and what did I do? Luxury of luxury. Unscheduled moments I did the kind of thing I love the most. And in doing so, at least for the day, made Greenleaf mine again. There is a place, among many, that I love. It is the stone floored room, of sorts, under my bridge way where I milk goats. One wall is comprised of massive stones. A second is the barn itself, bearing remnants of the dark green paint that once covered all of the buildings here. The back wall is nondescript. I had it put in using wood from the wall of a tumble down calf barn that once was here, before my time. But it is the open front side that enchants me most. It faces an enormous cherry tree and a tiny building that will someday
be my summer writing room. It is that view that I face when milking.
The light on the tree, first covered with a pale of Alizarin Crimson and green froth, then with pale pink blossoms, and, finally, when I'm lucky, tiny wild cherries is lovely, late afternoon. But now, the carefully laid stone floor is laden with the black bags filled with last year's fleeces, straw from hay that has spilled out of the barn and bridge way floor has gotten wet, matted, and is partially decomposed. I wanted to see that floor again. And I wanted to love milking the goats there again as well.
I've been bringing my nursing does and the three most pregnant ones to the milking stand to get their grain. They are being trained to stay there and not kick me when I milk them. Being trained, however, means only that. They haven't quite accepted the concept. "They improve," she said, hopefully.
Elizabeth eats the fastest. I'm to try to bottle her kids tomorrow. They've had bottles when they were a day or two old. With any luck they will take to it. She's been kicking them off of late. My grand old Saanen, Mrs. Merriman is most civilized. Her daughter comes next. Her granddaughter is impossible. As is Pembroke. Worthington, goat capricious.
And so, on this unstructured day of doing what my eye lit upon, I shoveled and scraped and hauled load upon load of this extraordinary stuff to the currant and gooseberry bushes, gleeful in the sense of accomplishment, and pleased as punch as each stone on the laid stone floor appeared. It is half done. Night had fallen before it was finished. It shall be limed as soon as it is swept and tidy.
The chickens have been purely decorative for months. I put these in the outdoor coop thinking that the in-house possum had been eating all of their eggs. Each day I looked in the coop. Disappointment reigned. They then found still another weakness in the coop, chicken wire and escaped. I want a garden this year. Free range chickens and gardens are a poor match. But recooping, that is, making a permanent repair to the wall has been one of those kind of things that I, albeit misguided at times, always think I need someone else to do. But Ernest is gone. And a competent someone else has not manifested. Were I Ernest I'd nail the end of a mass of old chicken wire to the end of a table and untangle it. I'd then buy some staples and replace the fencing tool that disappears here on a regular basis, and mend the coop.
There has been a folded mass of chicken wire on the old stove in the carriage house that had always been insisting I take to the dump. It wasn't as tangled as the one I've been eying for a year or so. It caught my eye as I left the carriage house after one last look at the goats. I unfolded it. Lo and behold! It was, rather than a hopelessly tangled mess, a neatly folded bundle comprised of cut pieces of chicken wire. Nearly dark, I got my hammer and staples and ran out to the coup with it. Even more of a miracle, the pieces were an exact fit over the two sections that had rusted out. It felt as if Ernest was smiling as I nailed the wire on, trying to think of how he'd do it. I stretched it from one side, stapling it carefully. I nailed more staples than had been placed originally. And when it was nearly too dark to see, even back to the house. Repairs done. To my and, I hope, Ernest's satisfaction.
All of the gardens surrounding the house proper now are weeded and have their stone borders turned. The hanging tags and mucky parts of the fleeces that were shorn last week are now piled neatly, around the apple trees my mother bought me. Slow release fertilizer and biodegradable mulch. All porches are swept. Ashes are now fertilizing my garden. Garlic seedlings have been set out. Some rubbish has been bagged. Four goats were set out on tethers to graze. Then brought to the outdoor room under the bridge way to eat grain and taught to stand. The house was dark and silent when I finished the day. What a very nice one.
A lovely day.
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