Sunday, November 17, 2013
Sept 28, 2013
The weather in Maine lately has been typical to the autumn. A low in the Maritimes has been reluctant to pass on. The blunt north-east wind has a chill and the clouds in the afternoon have been thick and dark. And when a cloud slips past the sun, the shadow is ominous. It is a nervous light; it influences one's metabolism. In the end it makes you want to hurry. There is work to be done, firewood to be stacked. Chores around the house take on an added necessity. The pump house must be re-insulated, fixed, for it has received quite a bit of attention this summer, new parts, a new pressure tank, and new light bulbs set up to provide heat in the small space on those bitter winter days. The skirting of the trailer must be replaced in places. The air conditioners were removed and stored away awhile ago. The chickens have ceased for the time being to lay; they are saving their protein. I'll have to trick them into laying again with a light in the hen house for a few hours every evening. But I'll wait till mid October, for they have worked hard this year; they are in their prime, and they deserve a vacation. The pigs are hungry all the time. They are oversize for the butcher anyway, and they are troublesomely untrustworthy. They are so big! I am reluctant to put a hand where they can get at it. In the mornings when they get their ration of goat's milk they become ravenously occupied, they dive into their feeders with loud snorts of glee, and while they are clamoring I have a few seconds to climb in the pen with them and drop some hay in their shelter, pick up feeders they have thrown around, and maybe quickly check the fencing. Oddly, even gentle pigs like the ones I have raised this year, are defensive of their territory; but once outside by some means, they tend to be peaceful, and they will be lead around after a fashion, so long as not rushed. I ought to fence off my failed garden plot for them to dig in. I am ashamed of what happened this summer, when much of my vegetable garden fizzled drowned in the rain. A man I met in Home Depot was buying a lot of drainage pipes for his garden. He had had enough. He had ditched his garden, lined the ditches with crushed stone, and now he was laying the pipes. Too many wet summers lately, he vowed. I am embarrassed to pass by my garden, and if the pigs were in it, they'd make short work and soften and grease it up for next year, too. But my horticultural good spirits have died with the season. I am picking corn; the cobs are smallish this year, but prolific and sweet. In a few more weeks these pigs will go to their semi-tragic end. Although they live together, though they come to me when I approach, I will preside over their slaughter, and like all God's creatures, they will die apart and alone. Another thick, dark cloud has darkened, made vague and cold the ground. A shadow crosses the heart. I will not raise pigs any more; I will not plant a garden. I will not participate in this damnable cycle any more! But the long winter coming will re-educate me, and the new spring will recommend the dark, rich soil, piglets will be born, laying hens. A brood of young guinea hens was born this summer! This after many years! The vile despot, the vulture, which was pecking the chicks to death each summer died last winter. The chicks are just now learning to fly. They spread their wings, flapping, take off, circling noisily around the mother hen, and then crash land beside her as if glued in a magnetic field.