Monday, August 24, 2009

Advice for the End of Summer

"Do not postpone for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow;
barns are not filled by those who postpone
and waste time in aimlessness. Work prospers with care;
he who postpones wrestles with ruin.
When the sun's fierce swelter abates
with the coming of Zeus's rains in autumn,
a man's body feels much lighter
because the dog star, now night's lover
much longer, stands only a brief part of the day
over the heads of men, death's fattened victims....

...But when the house-carrier from the ground climbs on plants,
fleeing the Pleiades, then no longer hoe your vines
but sharpen your sickles and wake up the slaves.
Do not dawdle on shady benches and do not sleep past dawn,
when it is time to reap and the sun shrivels the skin.
At that time rise before the crack of dawn
and bring the grain home to secure abundance of good.
The dawn claims the third portion of a day's work,
the dawn gives a headstart for journeys and jobs,
the dawn's arrival sends many men on their way
and puts the yoke on the necks of many oxen.
When the thistle blooms and the chirping cicada
sits on trees and pours down shrill song
from frenziedly quivering wings in the toilsome summer,
then goats are fatter than ever and wine is at its best;
women's lust knows no bounds and men are all dried up,
because the dog star parches their heads and knees
and the heat sears the skin. Then, ah then,
I wish you a shady ledge and your choice wine,
bread baked in the dusk and mid-August's goat milk
and meat from a free-roving heifer that has never calved -
and from firstling kids. Drink sparkling wine,
sitting in the shade with you appetite sated,
and face Zephyr's breeze as it blows from mountain peaks."

- Hesiod, Works and Days

Friday, August 14, 2009

A bigger home for our smallest bird

Before all the chickens and turkeys, before the guineas or the geese, the first and only bird we brought with us when we moved to Ecotone was tiny Lucile, my pet cockatiel, who was actually CJ's birthday present to me last October. Since then, she's been living in a cage, first in my tiny Nashville apartment, and now here in the outdoors. But that cage is just too small, and she seemed cramped in it.

This inspired me to build her something new to live in, and this is what I constructed: a curvy organic shape made of five diamond shape panels of chicken wire, with bamboo poles as perches. Best of all, it hangs from the walnut tree!

You can barely see Lucile in this photo, she is a light-colored speck on the lowest perch. The basket at the bottom of the cage contains her food and water, as well as a brick to help keep the whole apparatus stationary as the breeze blows.

Congratulations Lucile, on moving in to your new home. Maybe now--with all this newfound extra space--we'll be able to get you a boyfriend...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pig Shots

Ruby (1833, b. 3/31/09) and Sadie (1834, b. 4/5/09).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Letting Snoods Lead

This morning I got a few close-ups of the turkeys. The thing dangling from above their beaks is called a snood, and the skin on their face is known as carunculated skin. Eli, the guy from whom I recently learned to process chickens, told me that you can make a turkey go wherever you want if you lead them by the snood.

But sometimes the snoods lead you. After finally completing the first chicken "tractor" - more aptly thought of as a RV, for all you do is lug it around to sleep in - the turkeys soon inspected the structure and decided it was better than the brooder house they'd outgrown. Of course, this was not according to my plan. I'd built the thing for the chickens, which I'd hoped to move out of the barn so as to put the turkeys in their place. After getting everything ready for the transfer - including the harmonica for a parade to the new enclosure and Jen ready with camera in hand - the chickens followed me just beyond the line of their old enclosure where they promptly dispersed into the grass, lost in the confusions of too much freedom.
What happened in the days following was classic farm folly. After having thought out all the possible angles on the fencing and tractors, I hadn't given much thought to the problem of actually moving the animals. How do you move 150 chickens to a place they've never gone? Herding chickens, it turns out, is a lot like herding cats.

The chickens are still loose, often not going much further than their old enclosure lines. I'm feeding them further and further out of that area and into the pasture so they'll get used to eating there, and will move them sometime next week after we get the rest of the tractors built. I continue to find that letting the animals lead me is most instructive.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Growth 2

Sometimes sleeping is growing:

Introducing Maxine, the friendliest and most precocious of our three kittens:

Somewhat confused, we think that the kittens were taken from their mother a bit too early:

The new team:

Farming and Philosophy

Of the Stoics, the cynic Diogenes Laertius reports:

"Philosophy, they say, is like an animal, logic corresponding to the bones and sinews, ethics to the fleshy parts, physics to the soul. Another simile they use is that of an egg: the shell logic, next comes the white, ethics, and the yolk in the center is physics. Or again, they liken philosophy to a fertile field: logic being the encircling fence, ethics the crop, physics the soil or the trees..."