Friday, July 26, 2013

Last year.... gone

I recently looked back over past posts, and paused to read over "An Oasis of Green" that was posted one year ago.  I intended to post again on the anniversary date, but am a few days late.

What struck me was picture. None of  'Us' has forgotten the long dry spell of 2012. It is often referenced in thought and speech, even now, and not just by us. But I had forgotten the sight of that golden ground. Not sorry I did.

Its interesting how much color affects us. The colors that surround us are both influencing and telling. The many years spent as a painter made it obvious that you can tell a good deal about someones attitudes and outlook by the colors they choose for their living-in spaces. Likewise, the geographic location influences and is painted with appropriate colors fitting and shaping the environment which we habituate. For Us here in eastern Nebraska, summer is thought to be dominated by green. (No, red is for fall, and football) Green grass, green beans ,green fields. But last year, not so. The spring green quickly paled to an unwelcome gold.

I wanted to repost that picture here. But the demise of my computer earlier this year left the transferred  files of pictures scrambled. It is not to be found.  You will have to go back to the original post - July 18, 2012

Or maybe its not all that bad. Many things in life are best forgotten, or at least the memories dimmed. It was a tough year for everyone, but everything looks a whole lot greener this year.

Now thats better. The roses have been blooming almost continuously since May. The sheep are grazing the front patch for the second time. The garden is a few weeks behind due to the clod wet spring, and the market customers are growing impatient for tomatoes, but I don't mind. It's all green.

Yes, its getting dry.  The grass matured and begin to fade.  We  held off  planting the oats for pasture, the failure of last years planting still fresh in our minds. The cracks in the ground widened, and dust clouds trailing the few passing cars on the road became familiar once more. We watered the garden and waited. And then it rained. Only 3/4 of an inch, but enough to regain a farmers faith. And the oats were planted.

With the hay bales lined up on the edge of the field, and the pasture rotation making a second round, just a few showers will get us by. There are ewes to sell that didn't make the grade. (Wool grade, that is) The Keeper lambs are enjoying 'pasture school', being turned out to the back lot for some grazing on the playground. The Feeder lambs spend their days munching and dozing under the trees.All is pastoral here on the farm. And as for Us?  The first tomatoes and corn and green beans are official under our belts.

Here's wishing you all good Mid-summer night dream.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hay- on the 4th of July

So its already the Fourth of July.  My Mother used to remind us that meant the summer was half over. So yesterday, I took time for a quick look back at the first half.

That is, after taking care of the picking and washing of produce, as we held the Farmers Market in spite of the Holiday. Mid wash, Don announced that if I was ready, he would put up my washing station. So we did. Pictures and more on that later.

Our celebration was pretty common day. We went to Market, and a few customers showed up, so it wasn't a total bust. Then we got a sandwich, and drove around town to check out the activity. There wasn't any. At least outside of a few garage-grilling groups of friends and family. So we resigned ourselves to an ice cream cone treat, and went home. There we watched 2 fireworks shows on TV, (much quieter than live), and then a smaller live show courtesy of several neighbors from the front porch.

The significant entertainment came from the hay. The season of grass this year has been quiet opposite of last, thankfully. The grass was tall from all the timely rains.

Yes, it was 5 foot high and rising. So tall and thick in places it was difficult to mow, and harder to get to dry.

So it was raked into windrows, and some turned once, some twice.

How good it is to see how well it has taken hold, considering the drought of last year.

In the early afternoon, we walked out to check on the drying windrows.

It was, indeed, heavy and still slightly wet underneath, especially in the sheltered spots. We rolled some of it over, glancing again at the sky. We escaped the serious rain of earlier this week, and were not looking to welcome more.

While Don continued rolling over the grass, I was checking out the Mulberries.  There are several trees along the north fork of the creek, but the winds have not been kind to the 'berry lover. There were some left, and of course I sampled them all, but found none good enough to inspire me to retrieve the buckets and stained sheets.  Sigh. Maybe next year.

Today, the baler came back, and now 12 more rolls dot the hillside.

With 8 from the smaller field, and the 20 bought en ones in the yard, and a possible 2 yet to dry, that makes a total of 42, plus the 100 small squares of alfalfa in the barn, even the prospect of an early frost doesn't seem threatening.

Just to be sure, I checked last Julys posts before I started this one. How bleak it seemed, compared to now.  Still rain chances for the days ahead. But, then, the garden has begun to beg for water. Only time will tell. The days of July and August have proved to be cruel.

But other things are progressing. The older ewes have been sorted off, and may soon be looking for a new home, and possibly a few more productive years in other folds. Today, we sorted the lambs, now divided into Keepers and Feeders. I winced when I counted the Keepers. Can we really support that many sheep?  Well, we'll figure it out as we go. We made it through the last year.

The old timers had a saying they used to apply to the aged, weak, or run down livestock during the cold last of winter. "Gotta be tough, and hang in there. You'll be ok if you can make it to grass."

It's been a tough year on all of us. But here in the hollow surrounded by fields of corn ever taller, I hold on to the hope that we've made it to grass.

Keep thinking green everyone. And make hay while the sun shines - even on the Fourth of July.