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Sunday, January 11, 2009

That'll do, Pig

Tools in the potting shed

"It was a quiet week in Lake Wobegon ...." -- truth be told, I have been fighting depression, which might be related to darkness -- it's dark when I go to work, dark when I get home, and only on weekends, when everyone else wants to have meetings, do I get a chance to work on the place. And I tend to get, well ... heavy ... in the winter, because the darkness leaves me wanting to just sit and read ... and eat .. and read. But then my eyes are too tired for reading, so I go to bed early to get away from the food, and then next thing I know, I'm up early ... say, 5 a.m., not early to a dairy operator, I know, but then I have never been a dairy operator. And you can only drink so much morning coffee with all that darkness staring in at you from the the windows.

The weekend has been pretty, though; the big storm that shut down the freeway went well north of us, and all the snow and ice it has dumped is well east of us, so we have had shirtsleeve weather.

Granddaughter stayed the night, so she has been collecting eggs, and making biscuits, and trading storytellings with us, and helped me plant eleven three-year-old Douglas firs. These trees I pulled up from very loose soil in an abandoned place a few days ago, and they had very long roots. So we put them in a bucket and Granddaughter watered them by pumping the new pitcher pump into the bucket, and we took the bucket and a tree-planting shovel and a pair of scissors and walked the perimeter of Stony run, choosing likely spots and digging.

I showed her the way the hole should be a narrow slit, ten inches deep, with the shovel blade turned around toward you, the d-ring resting against your shoulder, pulling the dirt toward you, and the tree, its roots pruned to ten inches by the scissors, is slipped down the back of the blade until its root collar is even with the ground, then the hole packed tight and free of air pockets by shoving in the shovel again a few inches away and wedging it toward the tree.

We gave each tree a little tug to make sure it wasn't loose in the ground. "I used to do seven or eight hundred trees a day that way," I remarked.

Oh, sure, said her eyes.

I had removed a branch from her climbing tree when I fenced through in front of the house, so we retrieved a beat-up aluminum stepladder from our salvage pile and tied it to the next available branch up. She skinnied up into the dark green shadows like a bird.

I unrolled another length of deer fence along the east pasture boundary, pulled it tight with the come-along and wire puller, and set the fence up along the eight-foot posts that had been pounded in last week. It's by no means tall enough for deer, in spite of the labeling, but I'd also bought a quarter-mile reel of seventeen-gauge galvanized wire, and strung two lengths of this along the entire fence, or a little over three hundred feet, down by the driveway and back. The instructions say you should hang flagging on this to warn the deer, but they already know the fence is here, and we're hoping that by the time the garden gets interesting, they won't be tempted to jump the wires.

A new fence that you have done yourself is a satisfactory thing to behold, even it it is a bit bulgy in spots (I'm far from equipped, in gear or strength, to do this perfectly, but, as Beloved says when she inspects, "That'll do, Pig. That'll do").


Beloved took Granddaughter back to connect with her parents who had come to town to attend a weekend event. I came into the house in the late afternoon and rooted around in the kitchen. She'd baked a butternut squash two days ago, but we'd done nothing with it, so I bethought me to make a squash soup.

I steamed some potatoes, apples slices, elephant garlic and leeks diced very small, and peeled the squash, and ran the whole business through the blender with a duck egg that had been pecked, some salt, butter, Italian spice mix, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and enough water to make the whole thing blend. Then poured it into a crock pot and let it simmer on low, while I put in a last shift pruning the big plum tree that had been mislabeled as a dwarf plum (dwarf sequoia tree, maybe).

Then back to enjoy the soup, while thinking about a long hot bath.

That'll do, Pig. That'll do.


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