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Shedding and Showers

One of the advantages of being up early is getting all the chores done before the rain starts in earnest. That’s how this Monday started. I was outside opening coops and feeding the horses in the blue/yellow light of a morning heavy with the portends of a soggy day. The sky was gray and clouds low. The wind only moved the very top buds on the king maple, and the wounded pigeon that is recovering from a broken wing in my barn was resting on a rafter instead of out stealing chicken feed. Everyone is fed, everyone has shelter, and the mild weather feels like a victory even if it's bleak. Spring bleakness hits different than the fall. The promises are better.

I know Merlin is out in the calm rain, with his just-brushed shedding coat. The ravens that nest nearby steal from the piles of his black hair for their nests. Mabel is bossing him around the paddock, like a proper chestnut mare will. The ewes and goat are enjoying the same breakfast, as everyone still needs hay until the grass starts to truly reach. (I did move their fencing to allow for more pasture to have a chance to thrive away from their cherrypicking.)

The shearer appointment is made. The farrier has already been here. The goat’s hooves have been trimmed. The mare wormed. And the chicken coop was mucked a few days ago. I forgot how much work that was. How moving wagon-load after wagon-load of soggy hay was easier with a 25-year-old back than with a 40-year-old one. But I got it done and the coop is a beauty. I’m sunburned, but happy. An April sunburn is welcome as hell.

I’m low on hay but hope to buy more soon as things turn around. I believe things will. And in the meantime I have adopted a level of frugality I have never practiced before. And while it does sting saying no thank you to every invitation to go meet for dinner or drinks, I’ve actually been more social than I’ve been all winter hosting company here. Friends have been stopping by. Yesterday my friend Jessie came with her new puppy and we drank coffee and swung in the chair hammocks for hours just gabbing. My friend Miriam stopped by with flowers a few days earlier and some co-religionists of mine who are part of the growing community here; we’re already planning Midsummer festivities while I prepare for Beltane at the farm. I’ve never made a May pole before but excited to make one from a locust pole and some ribbon for the kids! There will be a community potluck brunch here on the day. I just hope things are a little greener by then. This place really glows when there’s more chlorophyll.

I have a source for piglets and lambs, and they are in reserve. Now for the work of saving up to purchase them. I have been working outside every day to make the place a little better. I move stones from the pasture to all around the house, making little walls. I plant flowers, buying a $2 seed packet every time I run to the hardware store. Buying a tray of annuals seems like an unnecessary expense but I can swing seed packets. A reader sent me some sunflowers seeds in a note and I planted them, sunflowers I always have luck with it I can keep the young plants safe from the geese!

The garden is slowly getting attention, it is so early for upstate New York but this current heat spike got the whole town outside planting lettuce and radishes and peas. Mine are all in the ground and next will be the kailyard when I can get more seeds. I have potatoes to plant, saved from last year. I have a lot to stay busy with.

And right now as I type this Gibson is asleep beside me, Friday is snoring on an armchair. The cats are curled up, the rain falls gently. I have a freelance article to research and outline, logos to start, and hopefully another sale will come in today and help me catch up on last months mortgage before I get into the danger zone. But what can we do but hope and keep working and take it one day at a time? That’s what I have always done. And I find that the harder I work, and the more I share and promote, the better the chances are I get to stay here another month.

Here’s to the coffee in our own pots, the hay left in our spring barns, the seeds in the wet ground, and the mornings that feel like rain. June will come.

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