Saturday, February 20, 2016

Nothing Much

Things have been a bit quiet here lately, as nothing much seems post-worthy these days. The farm goes on as always, with all the usual waves of birth and death that now seem commonplace. There's always more to build (smokehouse, corn crib, icehouse, workshop...), but the farm is starting to feel settled now, as if the big pieces of the puzzle have finally fallen in to place.

I'm often struck by various thoughts that initially seem to be worth sharing, but the enthusiasm fades as I remember that I've already written of them, or remember that people don't appreciate warnings about things they have no desire to change (not that this will stop me from trying!). Some seem to take pleasure in pointing out the many shortcomings and inconsistencies in those who attempt improvements, perhaps seeking justification for their own inaction. Others suggest we're all screwed regardless, so we can do whatever we like with no further consequence. I don't think either group has any idea of the near future that's now developing, enjoying an intentional ignorance that allows short-term comfort. Look away, and be happy!

I've been particularly struck lately by the nonchalance with which people still travel to faraway places on a whim. Their plans are invariably met with encouragement, when my own personal thoughts tend towards the idea that they have zero comprehension of what's already happening (the clathrate release in particular), and being made dramatically worse by their air travel. I keep these thoughts to myself though... most of the time (some family members haven't been so lucky).

The new barn is in regular use now, with the horses spending a good portion of their time in the new tie stalls. It's nice to be able to get them out of the weather without major reshuffling of the cows and sheep, and also nice to have better control of their individual hay consumption, as well as new hay lofts that ease the separation of the different types of hay. The new arrangement means we're capturing more manure -- both a plus for the pastures and a negative for backs already tired from too much forking.

The sheep are lambing again, which means I'm sneaking in to check the descent of testicles, castrate, and dock tails every few days. We have our first bottle-lamb, born to a mother who was sick for a week before and after her birth. Her sister didn't survive, but Lulu is coming around alright now, and regularly inspects my leg for hidden teats. Rachel assisted in the delivery of a monster lamb, born larger than others who are already 3 weeks old. I can't think of anything much cuter than a mob of lambs bouncing around as they like to do, with their exploratory nibbling on clothing, hair and fingers.

This winter's temperature has been all over the road, mostly on the high end. We're tapping our maples this weekend, though we could've tapped a month early in January as others did. We really didn't cool down at all until mid-January, and I don't think we've had continuous freezing temps for more than a couple weeks, if that.

With climate refugees streaming into a destabilizing Europe, a swooning global economy, and oceans now clearly dying in fundamental and irreversible ways, it feels as if many of my life's concerns are coming to a head, some a little sooner than expected. Each month now seems to set a new global temperature record, as does each year. I liked it better when such problems were still theoretical. Perhaps this is just what's needed to rally the masses into belated action. Then again, the opiates of beer, television, and electronic gadgetry should placate everyone for a while yet to come.

The new tool shed is finally enclosed, with a door or window filling the empty spaces in each wall. Trim and battens remain to be completed, but shouldn't take too long. It's already full of our gardening tools, potting bench, tanned (but unworked) cowhides, and empty beehives. I've done my best to keep a nice aesthetic about it without spending too much (total cost is still less than $300, mostly for siding and a purchased door).  There's something very pleasant about the complete absence of plastic or cheaply manufactured materials. Henry is campaigning for completion of the loft so he can live there. I could handle living in it myself, I think. The space would be comparable to our old live-aboard sailboat, which was great. Maybe someday, as maintenance on a "regular" sized house becomes impossible, I will.

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