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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Silent War on Bench Road

We interrupt this extended period of non-bloggedness to bring you a report from the troops at Provident Heritage Farm where the war to maintain order and civility rages gallantly--unreported on the evening news or documented by historians.  We here in the thick of the battle often lose our perspective--being hunkered down continually in the trenches as we are, but occasionally it is cleansing to give a state-of-the-union update.  This reporter/soldier is reporting tonight from the house deck facing the sunset.  The hawks are swooping, the geese are honking, the horse Sage is munching in the pasture with her sidekick pony, Buttercup, and the mosquito spraying truck is whistling down the road behind me.  Corporal Paco is still at his tasks.  His indentured servant duties today included donning a hazmat mask and vacuuming out our camp trailer--the victim of some spring vandalism carried out by four high schoolers, an illegal entry, and the mischievous evacuation of the contents of a fire extinguisher ALL over the inside of the camper all during lunch break.  C.P. also stained a deck.  He's a workhorse.

The constant battles we wage here usually always involve Mother Nature--she can be mean and unrelenting--appendage-numbing cold, flies with Biblical intensity, wind that carries trampolines to the next farm, hail today, varmints that tunnel in and suck squash plants down into their lairs, weeds that grow at the rate of the speed of sound, rocks that churn up from the bowels of the earth and have to be "harvested" perpetually, mice who scurry across the baseboards of the house and scare the heck out of the troops, and the list goes on.  You get the idea.  We have to maintain constant vigilance.

Almost on cue, the train is passing, and the wind is picking up.  The smell of newly cut hay is wafting gently from a few feet away, and I see that the moon is exactly half full tonight.  But I am still maintaining my post here because I suspect that the bats have moved on.  I want to document that; we have a crew of guests arriving this weekend.  The bats' summer  vacation in our eaves is a non-anticipated annual event.  They themselves do keep the mosquito population  down admirably, but if you go into our loft during the day you can hear them scratch scratch scratching on the other side of the wall.  It gives me the willies. A few weeks ago one got disoriented and came flapping into our bedroom one night!!!  I dove under the covers with no intention of surfacing EVER again if necessary.  Paco tracked it down the stairs and eventually threw a blanket on it and scooped it out into the night.

We spend a lot of time coaxing things to grow here as part of our duties.  Cajole as we will, sometimes Mother Nature retaliates with a chilling frost down Bear Hollow Road mid summer which wipes out all our efforts.  It's a capricious frost, and no one else in the entire valley seems to suffer from it.  Tonight I caught Sage chowing down on some flowers in my English garden that she could reach.  I shouted, "Really??" at her and squirted her with the hose.  Traitors within our ranks...

Another battle in our silent war here is the one we fight with our nearly 100 year old farmhouse.  She's a spunky old gal.  We wage a constant battle to keep her healthy, trim her bunions, and salvage her teeth.  Our vision of her future is often at odds with how she thinks her "golden years" should play out.  Her rock hard stucco walls currently have me baffled.  I want to hang pictures somehow.  She prefers nudity.   Or I find her peeling paint crusted into a corner crevice, or her plumbing backs up, or she leaks water in the basement.  I can understand her incontinence and bowel issues, but last summer when she became completely dehydrated, she forced us to turn back the chapters of time and enter a completely different era!  We were compelled to go nearly three months with NO RUNNING WATER!!!! A nightmare. I could have been semi understanding about having to revert to perhaps the Victorian Era-- mild inconveniences we could have laughed about over tea, but the STONE AGE??????  That hurt.

When I signed up for this duty, the mission was unclear.  The recruitment posters were heavy on the clear air, spectacular sunsets,  fuzzy pasture creatures and skimpy on flies, bats and the deteriorating intestinal tract of Madame House.  But we soldier on.  I tell Paco if not here where, if not this what?  We don't really have a good answer for those questions.  So we put a positive spin on our silent war.  I seek my off duty jollies from puttering  around with my flowers, and C.P. is currently burying himself in the art of fermentation.  Will we win this conflict?  Mother Nature is ahead.  Are we gaining on her?  Can we strategize victory?  If we stay up plotting long into the night...and the bats back off for a while.

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley