Good afternoon from a very hot and sticky day here in upstate New York. There’s a heat advisory and all of the animals are hunkering down. This is a nice change of pace from yesterday. It wasn’t as hot, but it did involve some farm drama!
While working on some illustrations, I looked outside the glass doors on the side of the house and watched five pigs trot by across the grass. Shannon was in the kitchen making a large pot of vegetable-based pasta sauces from the garden. She had saved all the jars from various store-bought sauces and refilled them with her spicy tomato/yellow squash/pepper/onion stew. Seeing those large bodies shining in the summer sun was lovely, but a little nerve-wracking so close to a road. People do not expect a pig in the road, and let me tell you something - a pig is a lot more damaging to a car than a deer.
The pigs however didn’t hit the open road. They avoided it because while I am the first person to worry about something horrible happening, the pigs aren’t very interested in pavement that smells and feels like pavement when there are woods, gardens, mud, apples, and fields. Instead of throwing themselves in front of cars, they walked around the yard and snuffled high grass near the geese. Cyrus the old gander hissed and bitched and walked away. I walked out and was very glad these pigs associate Shannon and I with two things: pets and food. They started walking with me soon as I shook the grain bucket. We gave them a pat and it didn’t take much to get them back into the barn. Turns out those metal horse gates that hang on pins can be lifted right off them if a hog can get underneath while rooting and feels the urge to explore in his heart. It’s secure now, which is why I praise the Patron Saint of Baling Twine and continue purchasing square bales in her honor. Fall preparation is in full swing. That’s the natural state of August around here. Summer is pretty much over by my Birthday, July 10th, and every day after that is a slow creep towards the preparation for snow. I’m working towards saving for a hundred bales of hay in the barn and 3 cords of firewood stacked before snowfall. I can’t think of it as a huge problem with a dollar sign solution. But I can think of each small section: a truckload of hay or a single cord of wood as steps to work towards and slowly accomplish. I may be able to get some hay in barter, or some firewood for pork. There’s also dead and downed wood to cut around here which I think we can barter with friends or have a work party towards as people are opened up from summer vacations and travel. My head is just whirring and spinning with ideas towards that sacred time in November, The Days of Grace, where the farm is sitting ready for snowfall with a barn full of hay and firewood stacked for the worse. It feels better than most feelings I have experienced in this life: having a farm ready for months of quiet cold. Only the first time I ate soup dumplings and fell in love can really compare to watching the snow fall for the first time after Samhain knowing you’re prepared and safe. Like a squirrel tucking into her nest and sleeping through the storm. But of course right now it is full summer. The garden is bursting with food, the sky rolls with rain and thunder. We are in tank tops and cut offs, taking breaks to sit in the stream if needed. I am being as mindful as possible about enjoying the heat while it lasts! And I hope you are doing the same. I have a feeling it is going to be a very, very long winter.