Life on a family farm
in the wilds of
Upstate New York
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Towels of optimism sag on the line, dragging damp toenails down in the mud. It's been a fine, dry fall, but that's all over now. It was raining like blazes at four AM and it hasn't stopped since...I think I just saw Noah. Interesting stuff down at the bottom of the driveway. Big, fat cow pie right by the there. First thought....Moon? Bama? Cinnamon? Then Liz takes a closer look. Nope. The pie fell right between the tire tracks of an Amish buggy. Somebody leading a cow somewhere. You'll get that.
Hay for sale....seriously, we need to sell some. Looks as if this guy would buy if he had pockets to carry his money
Eerie how sounds carry when rain is in the offing. Trains haunt, whistles flaunt, pitting distance against stability, tracks rumble and thunder under weighty wheels, rattling the windows and waking the sleepers. If I had a dollar for every wheel that passed in front of this farm, even for only an hour, I would be rich indeed. Imagine how many pass in a day, with two state highways, one on each side of the river, a bike path, the NYS Thruway and the busy train tracks over there! I would take a day's worth in dimes and never worry about a dollar again. The valley funnels travelers past, all hours of the day and night, until if there is a pause, say at three AM, we all awaken and listen in restless concern...what is wrong, what is wrong? The roosters crow right here in the kitchen, deep and throaty, high and squeaky, the young entry being heard from. Did the barn creep up to perch on the window sill sometime in the darkness? Or is just the lowering clouds and emptying branches snuggling all around us, bringing the busy valley and the early animals to intrude on the morning? I don't know, but it focuses attention on things usually ignored. Yesterday was one of those restless days before a storm. I made a batch of cider jelly before the sun came up, filtered and froze the rest of the cider, and puttered all day, propagating mint plants, watering things, and doing household chores. No one could sit still for long. Even Lazy Daisy was antsy and busy about the burying of biscuit ends in corners, under tiny pieces of paper that utterly failed to shroud them, and prancing about a job well done. Or clicking toenails an hour before dinner and shoving her dish around pointedly. Even the birds were busy with the Jays finally braving the feeder right next to the window. They had been avoiding it until then. They are still swift and loud in their dining. I like to note first bird each day...many days a Carolina Wren. Yesterday a Chickadee, today a what the heck? Something chip noting happily away....I think maybe a robin....hmmm.....too dark to be sure.
An especially dear friend from childhood has been calling me several times a week about a friend of hers, who has been targeted by a proposed new law, aimed specifically at her dog rescue. The lady's dogs evidently do some barking and the neighbors decided to go big and go long about the matter. Never mind working with her to perhaps keep the dogs indoors at sensitive times...they are always fenced....no, they need to pass a big new law to make her get rid of the dogs or move.
If I understand it correctly, the new rule would mean that anyone with more than three dogs would have to provide a heated, separate structure, 1500 feet from their nearest neighbor and keep their dogs in it. I hate listening to dogs bark but....dang, Is that nuts or what? I was thrilled to read that a large crowd showed up at the public meeting on the subject last night to protest, long and loud. Can't wait to get a paper so I can read the whole story. Good for them! They at least got the rule tabled. We don't live in the town in question, but bad law like this tends to spread like kudzu. If the kids get me that puppy they are talking about, all our dogs would have to move to the barn and we would have to heat it, if we lived under that rule. Say what? Daisy likes to sleep on the blanket we keep on my chair in the winter. Ren prefers her mommy and daddy's bed. I am assuming that new pup, if we get him, will like to lie by my feet, so as not to miss any action should I choose to stand up. Border Collies are like that. And I don't think that is anybody else's business.
Well, actually the leaving of Fultonville. We did get a hard frost last night, cold enough to leave ice lying around.
The birds are taking it seriously and leaving in droves. This morning the Red-winged Blackbirds are coursing over like hounds hot on the trail of Hell. There is no looking back, no pause in their travel. Although the individual flocks are small, a dozen here, a hundred there, I would imagine by the time it warms up thousands will have passed over the house.
As the sun rose their red epaulets flashed like stop lights as they flew over the Robins and Cardinals and Blue Jays that are still here. A few starlings flew up to join their urgent quest, then settled back into the bare ash trees. Not yet. Too lazy. Too content to natter over the pasture, gleaning seeds and insects.
The leaves are living up to their name too
Their path crosses that of westbound geese, evidently still enjoying the river and the freshly harvested corn fields around the area.
I would have passed these vegetables by, just a few weeks ago. Big old beans gone too mature, missed under heavy leaves somehow and forging into to leathery toughness. At the other end of the spectrum, tiny beans, no more than threads, but succulent and sweet. I should not pick them. They will fit right down the sink drain in a swoosh of water. I'm sure that isn't good for the plumbing. I should just eat them right off the vine instead. Or leave them. Left to grow they would only get fatter and better. However, there is no more left to grow this year. What the meteorologists euphemistically call "the end of the growing season" is upon us. Killing frost. The big freeze. It will fall tonight sure as November, unless somehow this icy wind holds it off. I don't think so. But maybe Minuscule squashes, barely more than blossoms, a single grape that the wind tore off the apple tree. One apple just to see if somehow the Winesaps taste better this year than last. I know better than to test them before frost, but they always tempt me beyond reason. It will be dry and bland and mealy, just as they always are until the frost turns them tangy We will have a stew tonight of mostly homegrown. Beef from the big steer, the beans and squash, and a few store bought carrots...ours are all gone alas...though they surely were delicious. After a breakfast of French toast made with eggs from the kids' hens, topped with jelly made from apple cider that Alan helped squeeze....delicious stuff, think i'll have some with dinner...we will feel well-fed indeed. The electric fencing is holding so far, down on the chicken coop, although there were reports of an outlandish howling out there in the night, as if something had tried to crawl through and got zapped. And zapped. And zapped. And zapped again. What a shame......
I guessed the color green or perhaps the letter G, so I went with grazing, green, and golden....lots of all those around here this fall. I meant to put a cap on a pumpkin, but it rained....pretty cool challenge, even if I got it wrong,.