Friday, March 2, 2012

This land is your land....

Sabbath eve, March 2, 2012.

Spring is in the air. I start days wearing a long-sleeved shirt but soon peel down to a t-shirt and sweat, nonetheless. We’ve had no winter. Decent rains in January and the early part of February have faded of late. Computers continue to give us chances of moisture. Quintin, a farmer friend of mine, says he saw dust devils in January—a bad omen. He says he doesn’t feel good about the year.

I take his dust devils over a computer forecast for rain.

Corn requires more water than grain sorghum, so grain sorghum it will be, good Lord willing. I also hope to plant cowpeas for hay under irrigation, a practice long abandoned in this area. Cowpeas, being legumes, fix nitrogen into the soil. I over-farmed my irrigated field, trying to grow forage for cows through the horrible drought. I do have the advantage of copious amounts of chicken shit for fertilizer, but even so, I think we need to rotate our crops and give the soil a break now and again. Cowpeas serve as green fertilizer when plowed back into the soil.

We had an explosion of clover this year, nature’s way of healing pastures after drought killed off most of the grass. With the clover came problems—producers in the country, myself included, lost cattle to bloat. The alternative would have been losing them to starvation, so I am not complaining. Clover is also a legume.

Unfortunately, the herbicide most people use on hay patches kills clover along with the targeted weeds. I think spraying may prove a costly mistake, especially if we fail to get more rain. I’d rather have bales with a few weeds than have nothing to bale.

Cattle numbers are low; consequently cattle prices are high. A good calf will bring almost double the price it did last year.

We have a decent winter garden, cabbage in the field, sauerkraut in the crock, spinach getting huge. Onions are doing well, potatoes just breaking out of the ground. There’s beats, turnips galore, and some really good cilantro. The broccoli is pretty much done for, but pigs in the pen think the whole damn plant pretty good stuff.

We’re aerating the soil in pecan bottoms and applying chicken litter. Preparing to irrigate, if need be.

I’m milking three cows and Leah makes cheese, only now in a big vat once a week instead of daily. The leftover whey that doesn’t make it into Ricotta gets soaked into corn the pigs eat.

For rest, Leah throws pottery.

I’ve paid almost no attention to our mares over the last couple of years, especially after Racing Rhinocerous died. When I least expected it, a friend told me that Gaff, a multiple graded stakes winner could be bought. I offered what I thought a cheap price. To my surprise, the owner accepted. Looks like I am back in the Thoroughbred breeding business.

Gaff is by far the best horse I’ve owned. He won $560,000 and blistered tracks around the land doing so. He’s a sprinter, my preferred type, a son of Maria’s Mon.

I’ve heard it said a man with a yearling will never commit suicide. Something about hope, I suppose.

We pasture bred our mares last year to a cheap stallion no one will like except for Leah and me (Sheck My Goyo). Gina’s Patience delivered our first foal in three years this morning. More are on the way. Abraham tells me he’s a champion.

Manuel is back from Mexico, with him the blessing his presence brings. I didn’t give hiring Manuel a second thought, despite having quite a few people already on the payroll. He’s cutting pecan wood from limbs that fell in the bottom and helping with the chores. A hand like Manuel always pays his way.

I know times are tough and there are lots of reasons to be afraid, but I am determined not to let fear dictate the way I live, no matter how dark it may seem.

This world is ours, despite pretenders to the throne.

Make of it what you will.

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