Day well done
By CHRISTINE TAILER
One by one, the solar lights flicker on as the day grows steadily darker. We sit on the front porch swing, listening to the creek birds. They seem to grow louder with each passing evening. I feel as though I could sit forever and never move a muscle, for you see, my muscles are reminding me that they worked hard today, all day.
The animal chores have become a bit more complicated of late. The big white rooster has decided to become a bit of a problem. He puffs up his chest, cock-a-doodle-doos and flaps his wings as we pass by. Quite a few times he has come charging across the yard and attacked. He flaps his wings and grabs a hold of our legs, jabbing with his sharp talons. Luckily, my rubber chore boots are tall, and I have gained a new appreciation for their roster armor function, but I am quite sure that this bird’s days are numbered.
After chores, I headed to the herb bed. I pulled weeds by the wheelbarrow full and then ran the tiller between the horehound, horseradish, a few volunteer fennel, the white yarrow, sage and thyme. The scents surrounded me, and even though I kept a wary eye out for the rooster, I felt as though I could have lingered there all day, but the asparagus bed down in the lower field called.
I sat sideways on the boards that line the bed and leaned into the first row of asparagus with my weed-attacking, hand-held tools. Some of the tools are old with well-worn wooden handles. I have been collecting them at yard sales, and several have been given to me by different folk. I smiled to think that weeding time is a spring ritual passed down through the years. I worked my way down one side of the long bed and then back up the other, feeling the warmth of the sun on my back, and the warmth of my working muscles. I paused, not so much to rest, as to savor several tender stalks of asparagus and simply enjoy the day.
I then moved on to the raised vegetable bed, but only after I had pulled the paper cotton cover off of the float beds. The starts looked great, and many were already big enough to plant, but the garden ground was still too wet to work. The soil surface was starting to crack dry, but when I kicked below the top crust, the soil below was still wet and glistening from the past few days of rain.
I have learned from mistake that it is downright difficult to plant starts in damp soil. The surface crusts around the tender plants and the cultivator simply pulls up large chunks of solid ground that easily squish the row of garden crops. Patience is in order.
So I used my old metal rake and pulled the green carpet of weeds off the vegetable bed.
After every five rakes or so, I would stop, lean on the rake and arch my back. My arms felt the ache of a long dormant winter and my back begged to unfurl and fly, but after a brief pause, I pressed on. Four wheelbarrow trips to the large compost pile, and I was ready to fire up the little cultivator.
I pulled the small, sputtering, machine, across the bed. The dark brown soil broke easily. I plan to let the weed roots die out, cultivate it again in a few days, and this bed will be ready for planting. I climbed the hill to the sugar shed.
The rooster was off in the woods with his flock. I got out my bee suit, the smoker and eight supers. I fired up the smoker, and as it sat wafting, I carried the eight supers, in four trips, out to the bee yard. I set one super beside each hive. Then, with suit on, and hive tool and smoker in hand, I made my way into the top of each hive. The bees had all filled up their top deep box.
As I looked down between the rows of frames, I could see that they were all drawn out, and filled to bulging with the bees’ own stores of honey.
I carefully lay a super on each hive, and with inner and top covers, and wind rock back in place, I paused by each hive entrance. The workers were carrying yellow and red pollen into their hives, telling me that their queens were alive and well and laying brood.
It was growing late in the day. Just as I took off my bee suit, Greg came up the hill. He had mowed the grass in the upper field, along our half mile of creek road, as well as in the pasture, and had done those things that only Greg knows in his shop. It had been a long, busy, fruitful day. We sat on the porch swing and watched the rooster lead his flock back down to the chicken coop. It looks as though this rooster has lived to welcome in another day with his morning calls. I wondered, perhaps tomorrow he would leave us alone.
We shall see, but this evening it is beautiful to just sit on the swing beside my husband and be ever so thankful for the day’s work, well done.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.