Cue up the opening chords to Beethovens’ 5th, the windswept, desolate vista of the beaches of the French side of the English Channel circa June 5, 1944, the be-monickled German Field Marshal peering through his binoculars, waiting, waiting for the Allied fleet which he knows will come. Sixty-nine years ago this week, waiting, waiting for death to come from across the Channel’s heaving grey black waters . . .
Okay, maybe our days are not quite THAT long, but they feel close at the moment. It seems there is no rest, hence the light postings of late. Our days start at 4:30, when the first light starts to break in the sky. We find our bodies need some time to wake up and to prepare for the coming day. Coffee is a food group on our farm, and the three of us ingest about 24 cups in the first hour of the morning. We spend the first hour of the day waking up, checking email, Lori does work related stuff, I work on my course materials for my Greek History class at Linfield this fall.
By 5:30 there’s enough of a buzz to be fully caffeinated; it is time for breakfast. These days that consists of strawberries from our garden, goats milk from our girls, and cereal., maybe an egg, but we have little to spare these days since they are so popular – we can’t keep them on the shelf.
At 6:00 coveralls are on and we are out the door. The green house needs to be open, ventilated, and watered. The covers on the peppers, eggplants, and sweet potatoes need to be removed; the row covers on the cucumbers and melons need to be opened. Morning watering, if necessary, is done by 7:00.
At 7:00 we are letting out the ducks for the day and feeding them. The chickens need to be fed, watered, and their coops cleaned out. The broiler tractor needs to be moved, their water and food changed. Then it is time to feed and milk the goats, and tend the kids.
By the time this is finished we are at the fourth hour of the day. It is 8:30. Time for another breakfast, and to decide what most needs to be done for the day – a half hour, where a thousand questions are considered: anything to be built? Repaired? Cleaned? Do we need a run to the feed store? Is there anything pressing in the garden? How are the animals set for straw? For hay?
There’s no time to lose – by noon it will be too hot to work. The afternoon is saved for errands to town, making cheese, purchasing anything else we might need online or from the store. But since it’s hot, the animals still need to be checked on at least once or twice in the course of the afternoon. They’ll need water. At noon we will need to bottle feed one of our kids and two of our nursing goats who look a bit lean.
This week we spent a couple of mornings cleaning out the garden – a big task since there is still a lot of junk and detritus from last season, and portions of it on the periphery are overgrown with weeds and grass. We mowed, weed-wacked, and scythed our way through it. We don’t want weeds and turf to encroach; we look at and assess all of our crops. The tomatoes look good but wind-blown; almost all six rows of sunflowers have emerged; the leaf crops are okay, but there’s some leaf-miner damage; the pumpkins and squash are up but there is still no sign of the canellini beans planted three weeks ago – I suspect they succumbed to the cold and wet we had about ten days ago.
The afternoons can be quiet from 1:00 until 5:00. Then it is time to think about feeding the goats again, and bottle-feeding our kid yet again. Dinner needs to be made, then we pick up and head back out yet again. By then it is usually 7:30 – dinner prep and goat tending both seem to take a lot of time in the evening. The goat kids need to be taken in and separated from their mothers. The garden needs to be watered one more time. The greenhouse needs to be closed, the beds with the heat loving plants covered. Finally the ducks and chickens need to be put away. It is now 9:30. We are done.
We fall asleep in front of the television after a piece of rhubarb pie and ice-cream, the sounds of civil war and court intrigue in Westeros raging in the background. We drag ourselves to bed around 11; no more Westeros. Just wind. And in less than six hours, it will all start again. And the Channel will once again heave its day of grey-black swells.