On Seasonality

My view from the milk stool this morning is on seasonality.

I think many Americans have lost whatever connection they may have had to seasonality. The constant availability of produce and whatever cuts of meat we may want has resulted in a loss of respect for agriculture. I’m guilty of it.

While I was waiting for the goats to finish their feed on the milk stand – it doesn’t take long to milk them now as they’re slowing down in production and some of them aren’t being milked any more – I was cleaning out a couple of the raised beds with the intention of getting some lettuce and other greens planted. I’ve been craving greens and the throwing away of those plastic tins that lettuce comes in these days is bothering me. It’s so wasteful. I wish there was something I could do with them.

We’ve had about five days of constant chance of rain. Emphasis on chance. The soil in the beds wasn’t even wet an inch down. We’re dry. We’ve been dry for months now. I’ve done better with the garden this year than I’ve done in many years and I’m pretty proud of that, but improvement is still needed.

Some chard has survived the summer, but it’s been chewed up by bugs. I’m going to cut it back knowing it’ll regrow fresh leaves. As I was standing in the garden, I must have been in a red ant bed because my legs started burning. Sorry ants.

I posted a piece this morning written by Olivier Malric that resonated with me. He writes that “Pastoralism is living with and from uncertainty to generate reliability.” I don’t think a lot of us live in any kind of uncertainty when it comes to our food. What happened during the pandemic with toilet paper and other things was the closest most of us came to uncertainty. 

He also speaks of anthropomorphism. Something I’m very prone to. I’ll admit something – it disturbs me to use the sheep to train Katie. They don’t like it. I do my best to treat them kindly, but if the sheep had their choice, they’d be happier out in the pasture eating grass or chewing their cud. In the grand scheme of things, our sheep spent the bulk of their days doing what they want to – I don’t train for more than an hour, tops each day. While we bought these sheep to use to train Katie and ultimately other dogs, they are still, to Wally and I, first and foremost livestock that we need to take really good care of and as best as we can, not cause them any harm or pain.

That’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve seen videos of people trying to sell dogs wherein the dog or dogs are put in a pen with livestock and allowed to savage them. I guess that’s showing grit, which is important, but there’s such a thing as good stewardship.

What do I know?

Meanwhile, yesterday’s training session was teaching Katie to stop off balance. She doesn’t want to do that. She doesn’t think that’s appropriate. She’ll learn in time. It’s a matter of trust. Meanwhile, she continues to improve. Wally sent me a video he took of her the day we bought her and her improvement is extraordinary. That was in January and I’ve really only been working her steadily since August.

What got me thinking about seasonality was yesterday one of the sheep slipped on leaves and grass and fell. Leaves are everywhere. The summer garden is all but gone. It’s way past time to get fall crops in, but it’s been dry and hot and it looks like that’s going to continue.

Until later . . .