Sunday evening, September 25, 2011
Hopefully today will be the last day this year of 100 degree plus weather (today we had 101). Last week the place I live on received an inch of rain, but the other places I care for didn’t fare so well (a tenth of an inch or less). The sell-off of cattle at local auctions continues.
By my estimation even if it started raining today it’s too late to grow any hay, but we’d still have a chance of getting some winter wheat or oats in for grazing. The ten day forecast gives us 20% chances for scattered thundershowers Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week. Where I irrigated ground for sorghum hay, we had army worms: I am relatively sure we’d have an outbreak if young tender grass began to grow at this late date.
My milk cow, Teah, continues producing abundant amounts of milk with the cooler September nights. Another cow, Latte, surprised me with a calf so now we’re covered up with milk, somewhere on the order of 7 to 8 gallons a day in addition to what the calf sucks. I desperately need a couple of extra nurse calves.
Milking two cows takes two hours in the morning and two more in the evenings when the whole process is taken into consideration. Leah spends an equal amount of time making cheese. The economics of this, when measured in dollars, doesn’t add up.
I have four hours of labor in 8 gallons of milk, Leah has four more hours of labor in 8 pounds of cheese those same gallons will make (at least—probably more). If I were to sell cheese in this part of the world it'd bring $5 a pound: that’s $40 a day for our labor, minus the cost of feed and maintenance of the cows and the cost of rennet, cheese culture and energy to power the stove and pump water. Of course I wouldn't sell any cheese, being as how it's against the law...
Either I don’t get paid enough or the rest of you get paid too damn much. I know I ain’t the only one; any labor intensive endeavor is unlikely to pay well in these United States.
But the real reason we choose this lifestyle isn’t making more money, it’s needing less money. While we still aren't totally weaned from the consumer treadmill, we’ve come a long way over the last decade: we make less and have more left after meeting our obligations. We are debt free. I don’t know if that will matter much when the country and the world at large are insolvent and I believe that to be the case. I'm not the only one.
I keep thinking back to a question Mike Ruppert once asked: Does it hurt more to fall from the penthouse to the sidewalk, or from the sidewalk to the curb?
I am getting as close to the ground that feeds me as I can.
PS. Tuesday morning.
102 again today and our chances for rain over the next ten days have been reduced to a 20% chance Wednesday.
Some patterns are hard to break.
Re-reading this post, I sense a touch of arrogance (in myself). I ain't ready for what we have coming. Not even close.
No man is an island.