Friday, August 17, 2012

Home sweet home

Sabbath eve, August 17, 2012

Another work week, come and gone. Such is not to be taken for granted.

This week we baled iron and clay pea plants. To my delight, all our farm animals seem to like the resulting product. I am told the hay is high in protein and other nutrients and being a legume, the peas fix nitrogen into the soil. No one I know has planted peas for hay in these parts, but the practice was documented by farmers in the 1930’s and appears to have merit.

With the advent of cheap chemical fertilizers such practices became obsolete. The decline in availability and increases in the price of those substances have just begun and will progressively get worse. Or so I am led to believe.

The weather has been hot, but hot is to be expected in a Texas August. We’re a bit dry, but much better off than last year; apparently those states to our North are getting a taste of what we recently endured.

The consequences of this drought will be much greater, considering the affected region is the breadbasket of our nation.

We also planted three acres of peas for green harvest: an acre of black-eyed peas, an acre of purple hulls, and an acre of zipper creams. At some point we lost the battle when it came to keeping the peas harvested; a combination of heat, other work that needed to be done, (the kind that pays the bills), and one big ass rattle snake that avoided getting killed a couple of times after scaring shit out of a field hand saw to that. So this week we pulled whole plants, pods and all, allowed them to dry in piles, and gathered the piles to be thrashed by hand when time permits.

None of this makes sense from an economic standpoint, but these methods kept humans fed for centuries before being discarded in our recent history. I feel compelled to learn them and preserve the knowledge.

I’ve made it a practice for a few years now to keep a store of essential grains and dried beans on hand from one year to the next, both for planting and for feed. Most of this ends up fed to farm animals, but not until the next crop is harvested to take its place. There probably won’t be advance warning of a catastrophic event if and when it comes, other than that you are receiving right now as you read my words and those of others of a like mind.

Consider yourself warned.

I got stung by a scorpion for the third time this year. It’s been years since I was stung previously and those incidents also came in a group (four as I recall, and that’s not something easily forgotten). Most times I feel no side effects other than the intense pain at the site of the sting. However this last sting made my arm tingle all the way to the elbow and I also felt it in my tongue (I was stung on the finger).

We have an abundance of black widow spiders this year. Somehow I have managed to avoid learning what the sting of one of these bitches is like. I’ve seen what the bite of a brown recluse can and will do to human flesh, but I don’t know anyone that has been bitten by a black widow. I’d just as soon it stayed that way.

One of my Great Pyrenees dogs came up missing. Don’t know what happened but I’m relatively certain he’s dead. Brings me down to 8. Been thinking I need a male Anatolian to cross with my Pyres. (When exactly did I become white trash?)

Manuel’s out and about, but still not ready to resume work. Bullets play hell on a body.

This is a hard land in which I live.

But it’s home. And I it’s where I’m supposed to be.

Til the day I die.

Continued--Saturday morning.

We've rain in the forecast. Thanks to Martin and Lindemann Fertilzer from nearby Cost, Texas we have chicken shit and chemical fertilizer spread respectively on two hay fields. Hay for sale is still scarce in Texas, particularly in small squares;  feed prices are prohibitively high and getting higher. I'm hoping to get in at least one more good cutting. A barn full of hay is my version of a bank account.

Cattle remain expensive but are well off from highs of six months ago. I suppose the droughts to our North have caused sell-offs, and then there's the cost of feed.

I still suffer horse mania--Gaff's offspring are hitting the tracks around the land and so far are performing well. Abraham takes care of my stock and fights the good fight with his own brand of mental and spiritual ills. I think Gaff has given him a reason. Abraham loves race horses.

Keith the hitchhiker came by for a spell, but can't seem to stay put, even when he has a place to stay. I've noticed a growing number of wanderers, reminiscent of depression era hoboes.

We've been watering pecan bottoms and remain hopeful there'll be a crop this year.

The garden is an afterthought, although I do have a nice patch of sweet potatoes and a start on fall tomatoes. We have peas tucked away in freezers, refridgerators and jars; the sweet corn was wonderful this year and that too has been put away.

Hogs, chickens, goats and cats make up the rest of the barnyard menagerie.

I still milk cows in the morning and Leah continues making cheese.

Despite the trials, life is good.

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