|At least the cool summer has been good for the July kids|
Wasn't it the Eighties group Bananarama that had that song, "Cruel Summer?" It really has been a cruel one here, although the weather itself has been almost unbelievably mild. This morning, on August 17 in the upper South, it is 62 degrees and drizzling. That's right folks - 62. The normal high for August, per Intellicast.com, is 87 degrees. The other unusual thing around here has been the rain. We have not had the July and August dry spell that we usually have. Our winter temperatures are not cold enough for long enough to kill off any parasites to speak of. In a "normal" summer, the dry spell causes the pastures to quit growing and the goats (or cows, or horses) eat them down short, so the hot sun can bake the fields and reduce the parasite load somewhat. That isn't going to happen this summer, so I will be deworming does after they kid during our cold snap to reduce the load next spring, and we really need to get some more areas fenced so we can properly rest a field.
|the unexpected - green grass and kids in July|
|Red goat - she was rawhide colored before the copper, and is even redder now.|
Speaking of rice paddies - the other issue caused by the unseasonably cool, wet summer has been that I am starting back to teach and the tomatoes are all still green in the field. Some have rotted on the vine. I don't know if they will ever ripen or the crop will be a total loss, but even if they do ripen, I won't be available to pick them. I spent so much of my summer in that 'mater field, it is pretty disappointing. It was the first year, though, and we learned a lot, and I learned that, barring a few of the steps, this produce thing is something I can do. I have put myself on the five year plan. Each summer, I am going to work on perfecting a crop or learning a new one, so that at the end of five years, if I am burned out on teaching, I can step away and replace the money with the farm. Now, in North Carolina, the teacher pay is almost the lowest in the entire US, so this should be an attainable goal. My children will be old enough I should be able to have all of them at the farm with me and not have to pay for day care, and it would free me to focus on their schoolwork, which will be a pretty heavy load I feel sure. Annalee will be in 7th grade by then, and for her to get into Duke, she will have to be ready to be topping the charts grade-wise when she hits 9th grade. The only way I see us affording Duke will be by her getting a scholarship, so she will also be doing every bit of community service we can do by then, and she will have to do some sort of sport. Chip will be in 5th grade, and Virginia will probably be in 2nd, so all three of them will have homework. Plans aren't realities, of course, but I'll be working it, and we'll see how it goes.
|Fifty, before her demise, surrounded by doelings|
The weather was not the only evil of this particularly cruel summer. I mentioned we lost a really reliable doe to a hay bale collapse. I was at the farm one day, and as I looked around the field, I noticed I couldn't find Fifty. She just wasn't there. I looked in the sheds and then, with growing unease, looked over at the hay pile in the middle of the field. It was about three feet high, and several does were resting on top of it quietly chewing their cud. I told Chuck my concerns and he started digging his arm in under the pile, and confirmed my fears - she was in there. He got the tractor and moved the pile, and she was dead in the absolute center of it, both figuratively and literally. She was a strong doe, so all we can figure is they ate a hole in the center and she had her head in it when it collapsed or the other does jumped on it, and her horns likely locked in the hay fibers and suffocated her, and then the rest of the bale collapsed around her, because she was completely engulfed. That was a real drag.
|The blackberries in the weanling area.|
|Shaw/Iron Temptress buckling|
|Piper (in the background) and her doelings.|
I will be going back to teaching within the next two weeks, and I am frustrated that I must since I am just getting the farm and the house back in order, but I am also excited to start a new year and see if I can improve my teaching. I learned so much last year. When it was all said and done, I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn alongside my students, and I hope this year I can help them enjoy reading more than last year. They look at me and say, "but Ms. Shaffer, we just don't read," and I get that - they live in an electronic world... but I think about the fact that if I wasn't driven to read and search for answers to my own real-life problems, I would never have come across that little blurb about guard hairs and liver flukes. And what if the person who wrote that wasn't a reader or a writer! Even in an electronic world, reading is fundamental. It is what allows us to share knowledge, athough it still seems like I am going to have to make every single mistake myself. *Sigh*