Louisa’s turkey and chicken pen sometimes has a frenetic air to it, with chickens squawking, eggs laid hither and thither, turkeys wandering around, and everyone pecking at everything and making a racket. Maybe it is just so many loudmouths in one spot, or perhaps it is the everpresent threat of a marauding hawk or eagle swooping in for a quick kill that keeps things on edge, but chaos seems to dominate.
But something odd has been happening in the pen lately–the place seems steeped in serenity. (Reminds us of an editor we once knew who concocted a headline for a slow news day: “Tranquillity Ran Rampant in Yonkers Yesterday.”) The turkey hens are gently rolling their eggs in the henhouse to keep the pre-hatchlings happy. Chocolate, the lone Tom, is leading the young turkey poults on expeditions around the pasture and spelling the hens on the eggs. Even the chickens seem to have calmed down a bit now that summer is showing its face.
Of course, a couple of days of sunshine in June and a bit of peace and quiet doth not always a summer make, and we’ve certainly fallen for this dodge before, so we’re not breaking out the flip-flops just yet. But if this be summer, bring it on.
The latest news is a new pair of goslings that Louisa has added to the fowl pen.
The young geese seem to be fitting right in, pecking lazily around the yard and mingling peaceably with the rest of the birds, making sort of pre-gooselike honkings at passers-by. We’re not sure of their sex yet–they’re still in that fuzzy asexual stage–but we’re hoping that eventually they’ll breed and add to the farm’s feathered collection. Already, their honks have changed the tone of the pen’s music.
Meanwhile, the rest of the farm is preparing for our annual garlic-peeling party tomorrow evening. Despite the gloomy note of our previous post the party is on. We have about 16 rows of hard-neck garlic left in the field. Louisa and the interns will pull those plants at the last minute and pile them for peeling in the yurt meadow. Rebecca and the interns are already hunting up their favorite garlicky recipes for the accompanying potluck, and our local musicians are tuning up to entertain. By sundown, we expect both the garlic peelers and our barn loft will be stuffed.
The thing about garlic is that it is both strong and delicate. This crop was planted last fall and over the winter we’ve lost about a third of it to bad weather and mould. Most of our guests will go away from the garlic peeling with seconds–bulbs that are fine to eat but have taken up too much moisture to hang in the barn and must be used now. The rest we will haul up into the barn loft where it will hang in the rafters and dry. As it does it will gain strength, reaching its peak potency by the fall and winter.
There is something civilized and reassuring about gatherings like this, with neighbors and friends, grownups and kids, all sitting in a big circle on the meadow on hay bales and blankets, spending an early summer evening working on something so tangible while trading news, gossip and recipes. There will be music and tables loaded with good food. For us, the season tends to divide itself with these events, almost as much as by the weather and crop cycles themselves.
We are not always such a harmonious bunch of course, and to be sure this year’s cool, wet spring has created its own set of frictions and frustrations, both down in the turkey pen and out in the field. But warmer weather and the promise of filling the barn loft with bunches of garlic that have passed through many patient hands seems to smooth things over and bring out the best in everyone.
We’d like to believe this sense of peace and harmony will hang around for the rest of the season. But like the weather and the crops, nothing can be taken for granted around the farm.
This week, we’ll be happy with a single wondrous evening of rampant tranquillity.