Sunday, July 31, 2016

bye july

Intermittent light rain today!
I am so grateful. Heat and humidity have been almost relentless since May, and it's been dry, dry, dry.
So dry that in the week before July 4th, I called the police four times to report that thoughtless people (a bit of serious editing there, readers) were repeatedly setting off illegal fireworks near my place. Curmudgeon? Maybe. But the forest didn't burn and my barns are intact.

Speaking of barns, a couple of weeks ago I went out before dawn - the best time to do "extra" chores in this weather - to set up a big fan in the goat barn. The fan is part of a large haul of goodies bought at a farm sale last Autumn. It had been stored safely out of goats' reach in the little stilt barn, hanging from two nails in a rafter. Retrieving it meant teetering on a stepstool while keeping one eye on LeShodu, Betula and Acer - the three biggest goats in the herd - who had been sleeping in the stilt barn til I showed up to entertain them. Each was capable of bumping me off that stool with a gentle "whatcha doin'?" nose-nudge.

Do you find it a bit unnerving when you need all your strength to wrestle with something that's over your head? That big box in the loft, that suitcase jammed onto a closet shelf? It's like a dog chasing a car: when you finally get hold of that thing, will you really be able to control it?

I managed to hang onto the fan and get off the stool without mishap, mostly because even in the relative "cool" before sun-up, the goats were too lethargic to help. This endlessly muggy weather makes the goats either lethargic or cranky. Same here, goats, same here. I move even more slowly than usual, if you can imagine it. And there's been a lot more swearing when things don't go smoothly. (Please don't imagine that second part.)

In the big barn, I attached a piece of stock panel at an angle across one stall to keep the goats away from the fan, then opened the west door of the barn. Campion was the first to investigate:

Followed by Dara and Vinca. By the way, these are both goatcam shots. I kept an eye on things from the house, to be sure my barrier was working. As soon as I was out of the barn, Campion tried to tear the stock panel down, but was unsuccessful. This was a big victory for me; sometimes it takes two or three tries to Campion-proof something. He is tenacious!

The fan isn't on all the time, but when the air is hot and thick and humid, it certainly helps to keep a little air moving through the barn. And I hope it's helping keep the biting flies out as well.

So far this summer, there have been only three days when the gardens have not needed watering. There are hoses set up to reach the big gardens but every evening after regular chores I've been carrying buckets of water to a few small garden areas beyond reach of the hoses. A couple of days ago I broke down and bought one more hundred-foot section. (After extensive research last year, I invested in several sections of 100% rubber hose. And I do mean "invested;" these hoses will be specifically mentioned in my Will.) Money well spent. What a thrill to have that hose carrying the water for me! Simple tools often provide miraculous results.

Here's another miraculous thing: the vegetable plants are beginning to produce. 

French filet pole beans

In the past ten days I have appreciated the first pole beans, summer squash, and cucumber. The winter squash plants are now climbing to the top of the six-foot fence, and at the other end of the spectrum, the tiny okra plants are putting out new leaves. I may not have the abundant harvest I had hoped to put by for Winter, but I am very grateful to have fresh, organic vegetables right now.

Ronde de Nice squash
And tonight I think I can skip watering the gardens.

Piper visited the doggy spa last week, where she is very popular and always has a swell time. Usually she has a professional bath in the Spring and Autumn, but this was an extra trip; the equivalent of buying new jimjams for a hospital stay.

Piper's doctor felt a couple of molars were giving her trouble and should probably be removed. To be honest, I was hesitant; Piper wasn't off her grub at all and showed no signs of discomfort. And as boisterous as Piper is  - and as much as I am in total denial about this - she is not a youngster. Anesthesia always carries a risk.

But I did the responsible thing: trusted my vet and scheduled dental surgery this past Wednesday. It was two hours of surgery in the morning, and poor Pip was feeling peculiar and a bit wobbly when I brought her home late that afternoon. She is feeling much more herself now, but we're still taking things more quietly than usual. I'm hoping we'll be back out for little strolls in the woods this week.

typical provisions for Adventures with Piper
What are you planning for the coming week?
Can you believe it will be August?