Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A man has to know his limits


I always got a big chuckle out of magazines like Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening.

They were chock-full of articles about growing nettles for fiber, roosters for fly-tying hackles or farkleberries for fun and profit.

What they never, ever said was that MANAGEMENT is the limiting factor on any homestead. Somebody has to feed and water livestock. Somebody has to collect the eggs and check to ensure they are closed-up snug for the night.

Somebody has to control weeds almost daily.

Somebody has to patrol fences and clear ditches.

Traditional farm families had a hierarchy. Grandparents and children had regular jobs that were within their capability. 

It is not apparent to us from our vantage point, but a key part of making the traditional small-holding succeed was to delegate to the next generation as soon as possible...or even they could grow into it. 

For instance, an Amish farm might have 20 different "enterprises" on forty acres. Far more than any mortal human can manage. But the upside is that it trained the next generation and those 20 enterprises ensured that money came in every week-of-the-year. From asparagus-to-lettuce-to-strawberries-to-snap peas-to-cucumbers-to-tomatoes-to-sweetcorn-to-melons-to....Christmas wreaths woven from grapevines with dairy cows and goats contributing for nine months of the year.

Today's stupid task was to take the rototiller out to the pasture and grind down the ridges left by the tractor two winters ago. The Captain had just died. Sprite was overwhelmed. We kept his/her cattle over here while Sprite sorted things out.

I moved hay over from Sprite's and fed the cattle over here. While I gained the advantage of the nutrients and seed in the hay the tractor beat the snot out of my pasture. Today I fixed a little bit of that.


This afternoon is predicted to have a wee bit of sunshine. I might be able to get in some mowing.

Or maybe I will not.


I still have apples that need picking.


One of my sisters-in-law expressed a desire to pick pears and chestnuts at the deer lease.

We struck out on chestnuts. They were done and the deer had mopped them up.

We did well on pears. We got a few that might be Gorham and she got about 20 pounds of a variety that keyed out as Sheldon.

I think a few scion of the "Gorham" might follow me home later this year. I find myself gravitating toward later ripening fruit. They have longer picking windows, there are fewer yellowjackets to contend with and the weather is more pleasant for canning or it is cool enough that they can be simply stored in the garage for a few weeks.

This "Gorham" came in a bundle of unlabeled trees from the now-defunct Bear Creek Nursery. The fruit is slightly larger than medium size. The skin is astringent but the flesh melting and "buttery". Good flavor. Tree is of modest size. Ripens last week of September and is edible as-ripened on the tree. Many European pears turn to sawdust and mush on the tree and must be cold-stored for a week and then "ripened" at room temperature. What a pain!

Glove included for size reference

Then, today while I was filling the water tanks for the calves I noticed a bunch of chestnuts under some of my trees. Unlike the trees out at the lease, these fell in their husks and no sane deer wanted to deal with them.

So...S-i-L got her chestnuts.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you on the pasture work. 25 years ago, my wife and I could keep up maintaining 2 1/2 acres of pasture. Cut into 1/3s, it allowed two cows and a donkey rotations. Even with the donkey keeping his 'family jewels' (running the girls about looking for his kicks), fence maintenance wasn't too hard.

    Now, both of us in high 50's, finding the time and energy to keep up is difficult. Two years of injuries (motorcycle accidents) put off work which we really paid for this year. So much huisache grew up. We should have payed more attention.

    We enjoy the outdoors, but our two kids don't. We think we will likely sell out as they will not put in the work we are doing. Oh well.