Soil Therapy

Lenten Rosebud!

Waiting for spring…spring has sprung, technically, and on a nice day we have enjoyed the first buds, the honeybees buzzing, the sheep springing, the horses frisking and the rooster strutting!  However, this week we are back into a grey, cold gloom with snow in the air, snow on the ground, snow in the forecast.  Trying to make the best of it, I transplanted many more tomato seedlings today.  They will move from their tiered “greenhouse” in my family room to the table I have set up in my basement with a growlight hanging precariously above.  If they keep growing at the present rate, they’ll be bearing fruit by May!  Its so rewarding to soak in their spring-greenness and their heavenly, earthy, tomato-seedling-y fragrance as well.  There are a few basil seedlings which will also get a new home, and then I will plant some flower seeds for the cheer of it.

Tomato teenagers

There’s been plenty to do to get ready for spring and summer around the farm.  We very successfully mended all of the horse pasture fences so that we’re ready to move them around.  The current paddock/pasture that they reside in is what we call “The Park” and its status is muddy, contributing to a raw condition that afflicts the horses as “scratches.”  Its something we try to avoid and so less mud is better.  We are working hard to scrape their paddock as it defrosts and to keep the stalls dry – an enormous challenge as our barn is built in the wettest location on our property, with the exception of the pond.  It wasn’t for nothing that we installed a peace-dove windvane atop the cupola when we built it!  In the summer, when we can get to it with some proper equipment, we hope to add about 4 inches of gravel to the stalls and then put rubber mats atop them to avoid the problems of flooding next year.

King (or Queen!) of the Rock!

The sheep are to be shorn on Friday – hurray!  We’ve managed to separate the ram, Balrog, from the breeding group and he spends his days baah-ing and bashing into the door on his stall.  It is rather stressful.  The breeding group has joined the lambs/wethers and everyone is harmonious again.  The shearing-day shall help me to identify if any of them are “with lamb!”  I calculated that, at best, if Maggie were pregs then she would be due on or around May 8, 9 and 10…exactly when I am due to be in Cape Cod at a Conference where I am presenting a workshop!  Oh well, I can only hope that she is pregnant, and the other ewes also, so that having this little ram has been worthwhile.

Balrog misses the girls

Another sign of spring is Greg Dowd’s visit to give the horses their spring vaccinations on Friday.  Hopefully all is well during his visit.  I don’t anticipate any surprises and its always nice to see Greg.  Last year he got stuck on our road and it turned out to be a party of sorts!  Jim had a great time pulling him out with his ’67 Scout…

slightly better runout

I ventured into the evening last night so that I could attend my daughter Sarah Jane’s piano teacher’s recital at Bennington College.  A little sad that no one would accompany me, I headed into the dark and managed to smash through most potholes along the way.  There is no easy way out of our road, either left or right, during mud season.  And if the third-world-roads adventure wasn’t thrilling enough, I got slammed into by a good sized deer as I finally neared pavement.  So sad, always, to confront an animal on a roadway.  I always feel so guilty to be in their space.  Fortunately the deer bounded away and as I observed, stopped, to see that it was not hurt, I was comforted to know that if it could bound and leap along as it did, it was hopefully well enough to heal from any injuries it had sustained.  I hardly cared about the car, though I did note that the drivers’ side door would not open properly.  Alas, another reason to take it in to the garage, along with the recent engine troubles we’ve been having.

Arriving in time to select a seat where I could observe Chris playing, I settled in and quieted down inside.  It wasn’t long, though, before an old acquaintance and her family sat nearby and we chatted a bit.  Without commenting on why, it wasn’t a comfort to see this old ‘friend!’  So I think that there must’ve been some lesson waiting for me in all of the drama leading up to the concert…one day I will realize it.

Chris’s recital was amazing.  I was not prepared for his hour and forty five minute program, completely memorized, which transported me to a very zen place!  He played 6 Preludes from Book II, Debussy, accompanied Mary Cleary, a soprano that sang Debussy’s “Trois Chansons de Bilitis”, then presented Rachmaninoff, Liszt and Chopin for another hour.  I was fascinated and impressed.  I hadn’t realized the brilliance of his company in all of those times of dropping Sarah Jane off or picking her up and being amused by his very dry sense of humor, his low-key presence, his quiet demeanor…I walked away star-struck!  The concert was held in a carriage barn-space which was packed…apparently others were informed of his brilliance, though I was there by accident.

Humbled by such a presentation of hard work, talent, lifetime devotion, I headed home in the hopes that the excitement of the evening would be behind me.  And it was, for the most part, as I arrived home safely.  For some reason, though, I awoke ill last night and have been in a bit of a fog for this grey day.

Hence the need for the soil therapy – not only to upgrade the accomodations for the tomato teenagers, but to be transported into that conservatory world that working with the earth and living plants provides.  I imagine the placard on my door, “Wing and a Prayer Farm, Tammy White – Plant Therapist!”

tomato seedling ready for the growlight