-Henry Beston, Northern Farm
To get to the barn and the farm at large I must first pass through the well-guarded back gate:
Pippin extracts a belly rub from everyone who passes.
This week I have spent time raking fallen branches and twigs to the base of the trees from which they fell. We've had windy thunderstorms and the trees are shedding the weak and dead branches in much the same way the dogs and cats are shedding fur. The fallen wood mulches down fairly quickly and the larger pieces are good for kindling for the wood stove and also for my garden fencing project if I ever get to it.
While I rake I take any stones that have made their way to the surface and stack them by fence posts. At some point when I find holes I retrieve the stones again and use them for filler. Sometimes I think on a farm much of what I do is move things from one place to another and back again. Horse manure, compost, sticks and branches, stones. There is always too much of something that needs moving and then later is needed again. In a way these are chores of maintaining balance, which is probably why I don't mind doing them.
The vegetable garden is doing very well and with all the rain we haven't needed to water in weeks. We are eating big salads nearly every day and have enough rainbow chard and other greens to feed a small army.
The various squash and pumpkin plants are blooming, the blueberry bushes are laden with tiny blue berries, and the garlic and onions are doing their thing too. The tomatoes and cucumbers are growing, and the herbs as well. Broccoli and cabbage are growing taller. I haven't yet looked to see if the heads are forming yet.
I still have a few things to plant. Sunflower seeds, chamomile seeds, catnip, and I need to pot a Meyer lemon seedling and lemon grass to summer outside and come in each winter along with the house plants.
There is still some weed-eating to be done and fence maintenance. After this next rain moves through today and tomorrow it will be time to harrow the arena again.
We also have a very young tulip poplar that volunteered at the edge of the vegetable garden. It has come back from the frost which killed all its leaves and needs to be transplanted to a more suitable location. We'll need to protect it from deer and equines but since we have lost two huge tulip poplars in the front field to marauding horses and donkeys I'm grateful for this young one that might grow and replace the foliage that gives us so much privacy each spring through fall.
This week I have been able to walk the farm and note what needs doing without going into a panic about how much there is to do and how far behind we tend to be. There are always things that pop up needing attention that pull us away from the ongoing work of keeping things in order.
Again, the issue of too much and not enough and finding ways to balance it all so that what needs doing gets done, what can wait does, and sometimes the things I think need doing take care of themselves without any intervention at all on my part. That's the beauty and possibly the real lesson of living on a patch of land. It's alive and has its own mind and way of being. If you stop and pay attention, especially to the things you think you need to do but don't quite get to, you learn about how the earth and the animals, the wind and the rain, and the process of natural decay often do these chores for you.
It's May on November Hill and it is so green and beautiful!