Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Beautiful Evening

  Some nights are more enchanted than others... Some nights hold more in their ethereal grasp than usual. Some nights, the wind will whisper secrets to you when it is most often silent. Some nights are just beautiful. Such was this night.

 Barn chores were done quickly tonight. I slowed my pace and hurried in no manner, yet my hands know the routine so well that it is effortless. Hay was thrown, water buckets were filled, rabbits were fed, goat ears were scratched, the garden was watered... All are things that I take immense pleasure in doing. The air was warm and balmy; so warm in fact, that it has just occurred to me that I left my Carhartt coat sitting on the milking stand... Darn it. I'm going to want that in the morning. All the mud has left us momentarily, and I have had the delightful experience of wearing my Crocs instead of boots! Huzzah!

 My last evening chore now is taking care of the bunnies, who are cavorting in the chicken tractor in the pasture. They've been in there for three days now and I am absolutely tickled with how well they are doing! In all my years of rabbit raising I have never given greens to a rabbit before it was 8 weeks at the least. I was always afraid that they would get diarrhea as young rabbits are extremely apt to do, and die on me. But I talked with Daniel Salatin about his rabbits and really picked his brain while I was at Polyface Farm. After getting all my questions answered, I felt brave enough to try pasturing my own bunnies. Now, on day #3 of being on lush, green, spring grass, the bunnies look extraordinary. They are sleeker, bigger, healthier and calmer than any of my kits have ever been while caged. Evening chores with the bunnies is usually just filling their water and food bowls for the night, but tonight I decided to move them to fresh grass before retiring to the house. It made sense to move them at night, seeing as rabbits are nocturnal creatures, and I'm looking forward to see if it has any effect on their grazing amount, compared to moving them in the morning.

And after watching the rabbits in the chicken tractor for three days, I have decided that I can never go back to cage raising my youngsters. Maybe someday I'll be able to somehow get the adult rabbits onto pasture as well, but for now I'll start with moving the bunnies. They look so content and happy out there... It's fun just sitting on the grass watching them play. :) I like knowing that I'm raising happy animals.

When I finished moving and feeding the bunnies, the sun had set. A small bit of light still filtered over the mountains, but everything had turned to a shade of blue and gray in the dusk. And it was quiet... Beautifully quiet... It was that moment between dusk and twilight that the frogs and crickets had not yet come out, but the evening birds had already gone to their nests. It's not often you catch that moment in time. A waxing moon hung from the western sky tonight. Just a tiny sliver of ivory it was... I tiptoed out to the pasture as much as one can when wearing squeaky Crocs. The animals have grazed the grass down to four inches in height. Just tall enough to brush against your ankles with a velvety feel. I walked on down to Capri's grave and quietly told her how pretty everything was tonight... The apple trees and the lone pear were in blossom and looked like they were covered in snow. I told her how she always loved this time of spring, and I wished she was here to see it again. I spoke a bit more, and then bid farewell to my Goat Song. She has found a darker, quieter nest in which to permanently rest.

 My last pilgrimage of the night was over to the "orchard" which consists of four trees. Three apples and a rogue pear tree. I'm starting to really enjoy pruning, and seeing the results of my work. Two years ago, we severely pruned back our oldest apple tree and the pear tree. We basically took off every fruit bearing branch possible. I sorely regretted doing it afterwards, and thought the trees were going to die; they looked so bad. The two back trees were only lightly pruned. Last year, neither of the severely pruned trees bore any blossoms or fruit. They were still healing from the previous year's "haircut". The other two trees however, bore a decent harvest.

 This year, the difference is stunning. I chose not to prune any of the trees this year, wanting to see what would happen. The hard pruned apple and pear trees have blossomed into a staggering sight. I have never in my life seen so many blossoms on one tree. They look like they bear snow on their strong arms... The blossoms are in such a thick mass that you smile just looking at it. Each perfect, snowy blossom smells like a rose, and when it's about to rain the air is perfumed with the thick scent. The two trees in the back which I have "babied" have only a scattering of blossoms here and there. It will be a scant harvest from them this year, methinks.

 So I have learned now: Hard pruning DOES work, but it has to be done carefully. I'm looking forward to seeing how the apple and pear tree end up doing come September when it's time to pick the fruit. :)

 I left our tiny orchard, smelling roses in the air and watching the moon dangling in the sky like an earring. The Southern wind blew past, laughing in it's wake, and whispering some secrets as it passed... I promised not to tell what they were though. ;)

  Some nights are more enchanted than others... Some nights hold more in their ethereal grasp than usual. Some nights, the wind will whisper secrets to you when it is most often silent. Some nights are just beautiful. Such was this night...


gz said...

A beautiful evening.

You might want to check the apple (and pear) trees after the "June drop" when they thin themselves naturally, and check for fruits that are overcrowded/misshapen. Then thin out again. If you get too heavy a crop, it could set it back into biennial fruiting

Goat Song said...

Thanks for the tip! I'll be sure to do that. :)

Melissa said...

Sounds like such a beautiful evening!!! Hey, guess what I woke up to this morning?? The farmer behind us had a breach in his security system...we had a cow grazing in the field this morning (I thought it was our dog Ranger)!! Quite funny morning and you know you live in the country when you have to call the farmer behind you to report a cow on the loose! =)

Goat Song said...

^Hahaha! Was it the farmer that y'all introduced me to, or was it a different one? How long did it take him to catch it?