Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ah, the Joy!

Nice! Not worth the effort, but nice.
I enjoy cutting and splitting wood, and making hay.

I've tried to corroborate in my own feeble analytical brain why this is so, and have come up with two conclusions. I'm big enough to do it without it being a painful physical experience, and these two activities are seasonal necessities that bring such satisfaction, once completed.

This morning, it was 18 degrees in D Ville, my home town. I got up and went out on the porch with very little on my largess to snag a log or two for the fire, and to reinforce why I no longer live in WV.  It's cold as hell, with nothing on, at 20 degrees whereever you live!

There it was, in the bright morning sun, at least two cords of fire wood neatly stacked, in the wood shed. I grabbed a couple pieces, one dry, one wet, and a small piece of "lighter wood". Wallah! a nice warm fire, a cup of hot coffee and TDC (that dam cat)in my lap, purring.

All this made possible through experience. The experience of running out of wood and having to buy it, or cutting and dragging wood  through snow covered fields. I have had to root like a pig through the snow and leaves, trying to remember where it left those little caches too small to drag to the house when it was warmer. I got rather tired of being the biggest squirrel on the mountain!

In a former life I was privy to the adoption of some 60 horses these were procured for fun and profit by Annie, the girl's Mama. My job was producing enough fodder for equine dining pleasure.

I was never taken with opening an organic restaurant; however, having bought into the scheme, it was inevitable that I be in the hay fields of WV long enough to provide at least 5000 square bales for winter equine dining pleasure.

Horses are finicky eaters, having taken lessons from  2 year old children. To prove a point, what they don't eat, they use as toilet paper...creating another large mess I did not like to clean up. Why can't they just eat it all, and go outside? i mean the ceiling in the barn was twelve feet high, and by spring it would only be 8 feet to the rafters!

I really didn't mind making hay, once I bought enough junk hay equipment to make it work. The learning curve for the knotters on the New Holland Super 68 hay baler was pretty steep, but I caught on after a few costly service calls.

The old Ford 501 sickle bar was challenging with it's wooden Pittman arm that always seemed to find a rock 20 miles from the dealer. I finally started making them out of oak and kept a couple on the tractor, and old diesel Ferguson 35.

I baled a lot on "halves"... I did the hay and got half in return. All I did was cut, rake, bale, and get it to my barn. The latter was always a good excuse to have a "farm party". Good work to do. Jump in the pond between trips to the field, good food,drink, volleyball and music when the work was all done and hay was in the barn.

The morning routine in mid winter, which started about October in WV, was to get up, plug in the coffee pot, go out on the porch to the wood pile, grabbing a few sticks to feed the Ashley Automatic wood stove. The house had walls so thin you could kick a cat through them. After starting the fire, little girls would come spilling down the stairs on their butts, bump, bump, bump. I would extract daughter Allison from the cat food bowl, telling her, once again, the difference between cat food and Cheerios.

Next was breakfast and water for 60 pair of little beady brown eyes that watched your every move from the time you left the house. 5 to 7 bales every morning and every night. In real cold weather, I'd take the chain saw and cut a hole in the pond for them to drink from. The little Icelandic Horses would keep the hole open for their huge American cousins all day with their hard little hooves.

I would take stock of the hay while feeding, and get that little, Oh Hell. Back on the porch,I would take the snow shoes off, look at the woodpile with the same,Oh, Hell. We usually made it through to grass. Occasionally, we had to borrow a little hay from Geoff and Betsy and pay it back, or get a little wood that wasn't worthy of a good wood stove, but warming.

The point of  this is, while sitting on the front porch at the end of the summer in WV and Ga. with friends, a belly full and a cold one. I could look over the acres, knowing the hay was in the barn and the wood was in the shed. It was very satisfying. All was right with the world.

It's still satisfying, at 70, to look at an adequate woodpile and the garlic nestled in it's bed, a warm pottery shop to work in, and the bright sun of a cold Georgia January morn.

I still like splitting wood, and making hay. I have a hydraulic log splitter and a round baler, now. I still keep a couple of mauls around, and love to hear the "thunk" of a big White Oak round "give it up". "Make hay while the sun shines." "Cut wood in the spring; split in the fall." Simple. Direct. To the Point.

 It's 11:00 o'clock, and it just hit 28. A heat wave in WV, but COLD AS HELL in Ga!

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