Autumn: Six Months On The Farm
Autumn is here. It was 39°F this morning. The days of heat and sun are mostly over, although we may still get some Indian Summer – ish days (I doubt it). 50s and lower from here on out. It’s been a busy summer mostly because of the garden, and now that is ramping down, leaving time for — yes — the wintery clean-up-type projects. Getting ready for new things, like the sheep and goats, and the meat chickens. Lots of planning. Lots of shoveling (manure, what else?). Beautiful, blustery, dramatic days with glimpses of Mt. Hood through the clouds.
We are still getting a bit of broccoli, zucchini, and flying-saucer squash. The new broccoli and cauliflower plants are doing well, and the new greens and carrots are growing nicely. We have new fruit bushes: huckleberry, more blueberry, paw-paw, elderberry, and hops. New fruit trees (pear, plum, cherry) and two beautiful black walnut trees are hopefully putting down some good roots and hunkering down for the winter.
As the year moves on, it’s hard to believe that I am six months into the apprenticeship. Even after six months, it is still a time of new beginnings for me. I look forward to the days of milking without power (because it will go out at some point), hands aching with the repetitive motion, dealing with mud and ice and cows kicking the bucket over with their dirty legs. Builds character, right? (And golf-ball sized muscles in your palms and “forearms the size of a vegetarian’s thighs,” to quote Joel Salatin.) Oh, but those cows will be nice and warm, at least, and their milk is so delicious. And the goats! Whenever those little girls show up I will probably hug them to death. And we will have to get more goats.
In a week we will be slaughtering the beef cows, and we may be slaughtering the rabbits and the remaining muscovy ducks this week. The garden harvest is almost over but the animals are still providing.
The last remaining beehive (the oldest one) didn’t make it — with no apparent disease or predation. Hard to accept the failure of all three hives this first year. But that’s a good lesson to learn; ya gotta fail forward, as farmer John always tells me. Oh, and wasps ate all the honey. Bast–jerks. We did get to salvage a lot of beautiful new beeswax to melt down some rainy afternoon. After all, (and now I think I’m channeling Marilla) there’s no great loss without some small gain.
I’m looking forward to Winter at the farm, to the copious amounts of snow we are expected to get, to the different chores that the changing seasons bring. And for now I am enjoying Autumn, pretty, mercurial Autumn.