Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A small oasis of green

Well here it is.  'It' has arrived. I'm not sure if it is a real drought, or just a normal dry spell, but it can no longer be ignored.

It crept in on us quietly, as all dry spells do. The signs were there all along, but just last week I began to notice the serious ones. The small clouds of dust rising around boot and paw with a mere walk across the yard as Don and Dolly on their way to get the ewes in for the night.

The heat has been oppressive, but we managed one more post hole. The heavy auger only 10 days before had easily bored through sod and soil, now groaned and slipped, slicing slowly through the hard clay, and it took several drops to reach the required depth. The sight of the small pile of dusty ground surrounding the black hole raised eyebrows, and an exchange of looks. Not even enough dirt to set the post.

So when the opportunity arose to take a painting job, I did. Hard work, but in air conditioning. And cash to buy more hay. So the last week or so has been on a time schedule. Work, water, home, move the water. Rescue the wilting. Keep the tanks full. Do what you have to do.

I admit I dislike these discouraging times. Times when the balance of sun and wind and water gets all out of wack, and with it the spirits and resolve of the people who must live with and in it. But to whine is a waste of time.

If you choose to live on and off the land, as farmers do, you must come to both expect and respect it. It's just a cycle, like all of life. We humans tend to like schedules and predictability. Mother Earth prefers spontaneity and surprise.

Then this morning, I went to get water for coffee. And in the view from the kitchen sink, this is what I saw. An island oasis of green surrounded by a sea of dry grass.

 The garden. A remnant of Eden reserved for the nourishment and comfort of mankind. Thanks to the water.

 A closer inspection is more telling of the true abundance. Tomatoes, 6 feet tall and rising, and heavy with clusters of fruit (but resisting the turning to red). Peppers and eggplant dripping with tentacles of yellow and purplish black. Beans challenge the neighboring zinnias in a contest of bloom and beauty. Thanks to the water.

So to keep on the positive side, in this season of dryness, I choose gratitude. Thanks to the well men who came when called, and laid needed new pipe and hydrants. Thankfulness for the water deep under the dust.

I appreciate that water. Perhaps more than most. Because I grew up on the edge of the sand hills, and early learned of its silent life-giving presence beneath. And now the threats to that water are growing  by pipelines, pollution, and politics.  And whether it comes from above or below, it is essential to all of us.

As my Mother often said, quoting my grandmother no doubt, 'This to shall pass.' In but a few short months it is now predicted, we may be lamenting the cold and snow. Because we are human, and it is our very nature to go against our 'Mother.

Pray for rain, if you are so moved. Your prayers will be answered in time. I will lift my glass, now filled to the brim, with clear, cold, water, in gratitude. And the AC. While I watch the western skies with hope, and humbly wait for the rain. Because I am a farmer.

May the rain soon fall softly on your fields, and replenish your hearts.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Feel'in like Rip

Yawn.  stretch.   !    Uh oh.  Where am I?  what day is it?   JULY 1 !

What happened to June?  Was I sleeping?  I'm not tripping on a beard or anything, but I do feel a little like Rip.  Rip Van Winkle that is.  But wait - its all coming back to me now.

Yeah- June was kind of like a nightmare all right. Good, but in a blurr.

There was a trip to pick up items from the show in GI. Didn't win anything, but did sell a piece.

Then packing and the trip to the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival.  That was enjoyable as usual. Always nice to work with like minded sheep and fiber people. Ate lamb 3 times in 2 days.  Taught a class of delightful students, and all of us had a good time. No floods this year, but it was hot. Glad the whole barn remembered their fans. Sales may have been down, but the exchange of info among the vendors was great. Wish we could have come home with less rams, but that's the way it goes.  Picture won the contest again this year, so that was a bonus.

Working on a class schedule for a felted ornament family class at the Lux for December.

Garden has exploded. Tomatoes look like flowering plants, and lots of green fruit. Cucumbers and zucchini need picked every other day. Beans are on the increase. First planting of corn is tasseling. One eggplant, 2 peppers in the bag. Now if the market customers would increase the same.

We did have a first this week.  A customer came back to proclaim we had the BEST Swiss Chard he had ever eaten. I guess thats an achievement. (we tried, but appreciation of even the BEST fell short to our palates)

Fencing is commencing. Slowly though. Of course its always 100 degrees on the days Don has or takes off when we can work on it. And, as is typical for June, our absence has put us behind. The weather predictions are not encouraging.  We have resigned ourselves to a summer of sweat.

Then there was the family reunion. My family. (Well, and a short drive and a few hours with Don's brother)
As expected,' interesting ' is good word for a summation.  And Hot, windy, cramped, stuffed (food).

A few noteable quotes from the weekend:

"Spray them?  I have several times, and they're still here."

"Catch' em quick!"   (kid, chip, napkins, lawn chair, - whatever)

"One, two, three, four!" ( Braydon counting the cabins)

to assembly of ages on the grass - "Have you heard about the chiggers down here?"

yeah. It was interesting.  I passed up my 40th class reunion to be there. From what I've heard, I don't think they even missed me.

It did leave me with a renewed sense of gratitude though. And a deeper understanding everything is a choice. Not just a choice of where we choose to go, or what we do but of who we choose to be.

Whether we look forward or behind.  That its true that you can't control what happens to you, only how you react. And who you are shows in those reactions.  I know if the old debate of 'nature vs. nurture' ever comes up, I now know which team I'll be on.

And now here it is July.( But it looks and feels like August). But first, there are things to do.  Birthdays, anniversaries, more birthdays, county fairs, the Farmers Market of course, and oh dear, more fence.

Must feed my sheep.

Much more in my head that needs to be said. Soon, I hope.

May your summer be as abundant as the blessings 'round here.

No summer slumber, Rip