"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Productive Day (Chores)

The past few days we have been enveloped in a thick fog. Visibility has been so poor that we can't even see the neighbor's house across the street. It's chilly and wet and dispiriting after a few days, not to be able to see farther than the length of you arm, hardly.

This morning, however, the fog blew away by ten a.m., and a gorgeous blue sky emerged. The mountains came out and it actually got quite warm. Days like this in late winter always get my blood moving and make me want to work outside. I've been stuck inside with my seed catalogues for far too long - time to get out and do something!

Today I pruned the fruit trees. Or rather, I took the long handled pruners and a step ladder and gingerly cut off a few twigs here and there. I am a very timid pruner. I have a general idea of what a pruned tree ought to look like, and I can recognize a sucker when I see one, but that's about it. Generally I just try to open up the inside a little, and take out small branches that are growing at very acute angles from the trunk or which are crossing each other. The pear trees in particular have a very strong tendency to turn into thorn bushes after a year or two without pruning, and I try to slow that process down, at least. Also, I don't really like being up on a stepladder which is slowly sinking into the soft ground and reaching out past my balance point with heavy, sharp clippers. I can imagine all too well those clippers sinking into my liver when I land on them after falling off my tippy ladder.

Another job that involves sharp blades: we trimmed the goat hooves today. They weren't too bad. As usual, Flopsy's front hooves were grossly overgrown and warped, but they always are. For some reason those two hooves, out of all the hooves on the farm, grow at an amazing speed and want to curl up, as though they were horns. The most difficult part of trimming hooves today was getting the goats to jump up on the milking stand. It's been two years since any of them were milked, and they seem to have lost the knack.

I held the pan of grain up high, above the feeding trough, and the goats would rand with their front feet on the stand and poke their heads through the slats. Quickly, we'd slam the slats shut and trap them. Then Homero would have to bodily hoist the rear end of the goat up onto the stand. I hope they remember soon, because I can't lift their hind ends and I can't ask Homero to help me every milking. Stupid goats.

Last big job completed- the chicken coop is rebuilt. I'll post pictures soon. Homero built it, a few years ago, out of particle board. I keep telling him that particle board doesn't work in our climate, but he buys it because it's cheaper than plywood. Of course the boards crumbled and fell apart, and we haven't been able to contain the chickens for a while now. Finally I went out and bought plywood and had Phil rebuild the coop as his rent for the month of January (Next post: the unofficial farmhand). Last night we locked up the chickens for the first time all winter and this morning collected a couple of eggs. Very tasty.

It feels very good to get some serious farm work done. I'm tired. And grubby. Bath.