Crofting – The Rainy Days

The croft in the rain, looking east

We have had plenty of rain this spring. The grass is greening finally, the birch trees have shed the pink bud cover and are now leafing out in a mild, light, celery green. The raspberry canes growing wild in the East field are covered with minute crinkled leaves. I saw the first dandelion blossom. It is tightly furled, but there it is.

The goats do not go out in the rain. Please do not bother asking; they will not go, thank you all the same. So they spent the day in the barn, crunching hay and vaguely annoying each other about who was in whose favourite spot, and who really knocked the salt block on the floor. We had installed new feed troughs, made from a section of old eavestrough (rain gutter), and they no longer have to argue over the grain pan, but they still try to hog the whole trough. The feed trough made like this, out of old PVC guttering or half sections of pipe, screwed to a wall about head height, means less spoiled feed and less wasted feed. I washed them out yesterday with a mild bleach solution. We have one hay manger in, for Vanilla, and will get the other one in soon. Vanilla’s manger is affixed temporarily, because we are experimenting with the right angle. Goats like to pull their feed down from above, like browsing trees rather than picking it up, like grazing grass. They waste less if it is overhead, as they won’t eat it if it is even merely stepped on by some other goat. They get all offended about “dirty hooves.” To a goat, stepping on the hay is as bad as double dipping a chip.

I wonder when we will be able to get a plow in the West field. Our landlord is willing to lend us a tiller, which is all right for the places that have been tilled before, but it is impossible to break a thatchy field with one. I was thinking I was too late with starting some seeds, but it doesn’t look like we will have a dry field and warm enough soil for at least three weeks, anyway.

The snow gone, I can get to the river embankment. There is one place where I could get down the bank, but I wouldn’t try it unless I was wearing good boots with a treaded sole. I still might take a line down, secured at the top, in order to assist the climb back. I once made the mistake of trying to follow a neighbour’s runaway cows up a steep slope, under pine trees, and thus on a litter of pine needles. I was wearing cowboy boots. I slipped back six inches for every foot I gained.

The river is high, dark, and moving very fast. It is always a swift river.

St. John River, 14 May 2011

I spent most of the day filling various containers with starting mixture, planting seeds, and watering same, then finding spots to put them. I really think a greenhouse is going to be needed next year.

Tomorrow I hope I can finish some sunbonnets I have promised to friends.

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