The Rich Full Month of August
August is my favorite month of the year. My second and third favorites November and February vie with one another, and alternate pride of place, depending on the way the year has played out. Every moment counts in August. It is a serious month, bright and clear, equal in purpose and pleasure. The perennial border begins to bloom with a madness of pinks, magenta, and golden orange, phlox, golden glow heliopsis. This years rains have created height and intensity in the border, the likes of which I haven't seen in a very long time. Within moments it shall burst forth in a splendor beyond imagination.
It is the time for jam making and preparing for the winter in a joy of smells and colors that is only matched in December, and that in a very different way. I pull out yarns from baskets and design sweaters and air out blankets strung along like flags on the fences to the pastures, and sort out sheets from which to make blanket covers, and and and. No moment can be washed for its loss shall impact the quality of my life for the rest of the year. Slab wood has arrived. It needs to be cut and stacked. But first the wood room needs to be cleaned out and order must become obvious. And some form of order must be established. Again. The north wall larder must be emptied, scrubbed, painted, and refilled.
My memories of myself in the middle of all that August has to offer are my favorite, for I am both my best and worst self. The best rushes to create all things lovely to make the fall and winter the most secure and most lovely they can be. The worst leaves pots to be scrubbed indefinitely beneath the sink, drops of burnt sugar on the stove, and a sink always full of dishes to be washed or dishes clean and ready to be put away. Ambition rules the day, and chaos rules the kitchen sink, I knit in the truck, buy too many peaches with which to make a jam, organized sewing projects only to be left unidentified in baskets, mysterious fabrics cut into pieces with which to make what? Some things do work out. In fact some sweaters have been finished being knit and only await their buttons being sewn on. Some closets are neat. And sometimes there is a sense of order. What shall this August bring?
Tomorrow the sheep shall be sorted, if it doesn't rain. And I shall paint the briskets of the rams with raddle so the ewes who are serviced can be identified. Pastures have been rich that year in clover, lying low and thick. The sheep resist crossing the creek to the far side where the grass is waiting to be grazed. It, too, has grown, thick and lush undergrowth bodes well for August grazing. To my surprise, a day or two ago, on my way to town, I saw the sheep dotting the side hill, shades of Scotland, Ireland and Wales would they come in, evening? Or should I have to climb up after them when I return home. Without a dog to help. Even worse would they choose to go the neighbor's, my line fence is weak or rather non-existent in most places along the southeast border of my farm? Some remember how nice the lawn of my neighbor- But-one can be. It is beautifully mowed, and sports a decent thatch of clover. Sometimes there are drop apples there. Nature's way of thinning the crop so the best will mature in the fall. When I came home the sheep were all crowded against the gate by the brook, ready and anxious to come in. I rejoiced. There are two East-Friesian cross rams, one full East Fresian, two black rams and one becoming ancient Dorset ram in my flock now. I want to breed for black fleeces this year and so shall separate a few ewes to be bred by Brownie McGee and Thurgood Churchill, black fleeced sheep par excellence. I'm no certain that Rushwater Churchill, nearly ancient ram shall be strong enough this year, to compete with the two East Friesian crosses. And if he isn't, it is only for the best. The young prince, my pride, a 15/16 East Fresian yearling fram shall be put in with the ewe lambs and the East Friesian crosses, the better to build up the Friesian herd.
In the fullness of time I have devised a number of fail proof systems concerning the right and wrong ways to do things. Logic circumscribes over those systems. They make sense. They are infallible. However, they do not take into consideration the unexpected. And it is the unexpected that undermines the pins of the obvious, the logical, the measure of common sense that creates order in all things. The latest system stands on shaky ground. It has been known to fail on a number of occasions. But I've not come up with a better plan yet, and so shall use it once more. That plan involves finished units. Do not go on to one task until the one started is complete. The rule observes, nothing shall remain in evidence that the task was at hand before the next task is begun. That means, mop a floor and wash the bucket and the mop and put them away before cleaning out the chicken coop. It also means the chicken manure needs be bagged and taken downstairs and spread, the bags returned to their rightful place before going inside to make jam. Iris must be planted. All of them, the new ones bought, roadside two days ago. And the shovel returned.
Each moment is precious in August. None may be wasted. And all is equal. Rich, thick, intense, beautiful, Goldenrod begins to light up the stonewalls along the pastures. Purple loosestrife has worked its way along the roadside. The goldfinches wait for the down from the magenta thistles. Blueberries learn nearly black, gleaming in the sun. And blackberries turn navy blue as the red raspberries begin to fall. I love the chokecherries, warm and ripe. The syrup made from them has its own magic, magenta tinged with blue. I wait for the elderberries, still small and green to ripen into the purple that shall soon become wine. Dragonflies float, gossamer wings over the pond the beavers have rebuilt. And the moon reflects pure gold in the evening light. August.
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