April has continued wetter than normal. I’ve planted the peas despite the risk of rot, (due to the garden being more mud and mire than dirt).  I’ve also got the onions in, with each small bulb planted in a hole poked in “weed fabric” I’m experimenting with, (as the less time I have to weed the more time I have to write). Because the fabric is black it absorbs sunshine even when the visible light is largely hidden by clouds; (yes, you can get a tan on a cloudy day.) The soil under the fabric is warm, and each onion is planted in a small pool of warm, brown water. It’s sort of a gamble, but then, farming is always a gamble.

The rain can depress your mood. The mind has a habit of expecting the worst at times. I find myself thinking of the Little Ice Age, when it rained all summer and crops rotted and famine was so prevalent that the average height of Europeans (judging from skeletons) shrank by three inches. Yet if you get too depressed you don’t even try, in which case the chance of famine becomes a certainty. Therefore I try to keep plugging on, and to teach children at my Childcare there is reason to hope, despite mud (which they actually enjoy.)


Though I am cheerful on the outside, I can be crying on the inside. A selfish voice in me grumbles, “But what about me. Why do I always have to be the one cheering everyone else up? When is someone else going to cheer me up?”

Yesterday was a bit like that. Sunday should have sun, but the brief gleam at daybreak had already clouded over and sprinkles of cold rain fell, even as I walked out of church. The sermon had been excellent, but the real world seemed very different from the sanctuary. The time had come to practice what I preached (or had heard preached).

I  took a nap. After all, Sunday’s suppose to be a day of rest. But I still had to feed the goats, in the cold rain, late in the afternoon, and they looked glum and pessimistic. Where they like to hang out under the barn, when it’s raining, is largely now a mire, and they perched on drier rocks and shot me annoyed looks, as if the mud was all my fault.

That’s gratitude for you. Not a single thank-you for coming out in the rain. I scolded them and told them that if they didn’t wise up I’d turn them all into chops and steaks. But then I noticed they weren’t listening. They were looking out from under the barn with what seemed to be hope. A silence announced the pattering of rain had ceased, and they then ignored the grain I was feeding them, and hurried out to sample spring’s first, lush, green grasses. To the west a single beam of sunset escaped the lid of clouds, and the entire scene was changed. (Sonnet time.)

The cold April Wet had me walking brave
But then the rain stopped. I stopped. How the heck
Am I suppose to be serious and grave
Without the rain? My head swiveled. My neck
Craned. All around clouds blazed with sunset.
I thought, “Red skies at night; sailor’s delight”,
And a strange beaming brought play to eyes I met.
A single ray of sun displayed a might
So great it defeats a whole day drenched so wet
The garden became ooze. A single ray
Makes all the difference. In the blackest cave
A mile underground dark is chased away
By a single candle. Though men may rave,
All their rage and all their crazy blindness
Can be defeated by a single kindness.

Seize the moment. Today’s sun may be the only sun forecast for the entire week, but I’ll get the potatoes in, once the sun comes up.

LOCAL VIEW –Details, details…–

Spring can get to be an overwhelming time on even a toy farm like mine. You can’t ask anything or anyone to wait. The Time to Plant is the Time to Plant, and you can’t tell it to wait.

Even if you do plant on time, there are all sorts of things that can mess up your plans. Late frosts, hail, plauges of locusts, fat groundhogs, annoying environmentalists and the EPA may descend and cut down your seedlings. However you will not even have seedlings to be cut down, if you tell the Time to Plant to wait.

You have a chance, and you had better not blow it.

Of course, as a writer, I am always begging for mercy. It may be Time to Plant, but please, please, please give me Time to Write.

There is such a beauty in the Time to Plant, that someone should write about it. Someone should sing a song of praise. Someone should pen a sonnet. Someone should shout thanks up to the top of the blue sky. However it has been my experience that, if you actually do take the time to pen poems, you wind up forgetting to actually plant, because you are too busy thinking up rhymes for “forsythia”.  Next thing you know, it is another time.  It is Time To Pay The Bill Collector. He wants your harvest, and he seldom accepts payment in poems. If you haven’t gotten around to planting anything, then facing the bill collector becomes one of life’s darkest moments.

“But surely”, you naively ask me, “If you sing a psalm like King David, you are offering flowers to your Creator, and His benefit must be clear.”  Alas, I tell you, offering flowers doesn’t always make one a hit.

Spurned flowers 26

Therefore, as I am old and wise, I have learned I had better damn well take care of God’s business before getting around to praising God. I’m sure this seems a very pedantic and pragmatic thing for a poet to say, but, if the Time to Plant is worthy of praise, it is also worthy of enacting.

For, if you really want to see the beauty of planting, and really want to be remotely considered an authority on the subject, shouldn’t you actually plant?

And, if that means you have less time to write, so be it. It will make you a better singer and poet, in the long run.

Not that I don’t pity my fellow poets. We are not appreciated and helped, in a materialistic society.  And there surely will come times that it is true that

Every poet always wishes
That his muses did the dishes

However it is the poets that wind up dishwashers, doing lots of dishes that are not their own. It is part of the process. You need to get down and dirty and plant. In order to write poetry you need to know “you got to pay the dues if you want to sing the blues”, and you cannot harvest without facing a Time to Plant.


Therefore I will have little time for posting. If I was more pragmatic than I am, I’d close down this site for a couple months. However, as I own an impractical side that bill collectors don’t like, I think I’ll opt for very short posts.

Today’s post would be, “Planted some onion and garlic sets. The peas are already sprouting, though most years they wouldn’t yet be planted.”

Then there would be a bit of Haiku, and perhaps a photo of onion and garlic sets.

However, because this is a longer post, I’ll post a longer sonnet.

It is strange how some demand I prove
What only happens once. They cry, “Replicate!”
I bow to their science. And I remove
Once-in-a-lifetime love, and then I wait.

You see, the Red Sea parted only once.
To replicate that is asking too much.
By asking too much some wind up the Dunce,
And rather than wise they wind up out of touch.

What is touching? What has moved your heart?
What honeymoon made the child that you spoil?
Can you replicate that? Can you even start
To explain the illogic which science will foil?

Science wants logic. Does it want hate?
Or does it want love? I still sit and wait.

LOCAL VIEW –Awaiting the Wet–

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We have a flood watch this morning, which seems slightly absurd as it is so dry I’ve have to risk arrest to burn the dead weeds in my garden. (The trick is to burn small patches, so by the time anyone smells smoke the quick blaze is out, and you are whistling innocently and planting seeds.)

I got 40 feet of spinach planted yesterday. Actually it is 80 feet, as I plant a double row, with the rows around six inches apart. Once the seeds come up I thin the plants so they are four to six inches apart, (using the thinnings in a salad). Then the trick is to make sure the spinach gets lots of water, and lots of nitrogen. I have a nice pile of rotted manure, (which the old-timers called “brown gold”), and top-dress the plants away from the stalks. (If the manure is placed too close to the plants they get overfed and turn yellow.)  What you want is the plants to grow at top speed, before the weather gets hot and they bolt.

After spending around fifty years thinking spinach was loaded with iron, and was good for me, I recently learned it also is loaded with oxalate, which binds with the iron and makes it so your body can’t use it. Therefore I’m simply growing it because I like it.

Anyway, half of the time, when you learn of a new scientific study that shows some nourishing thing isn’t nourishing, you later learn that scientific study was done by someone who benefits if sales of that nourishing thing slump.  Both eggs and milk have spent time on the not-good-for-you list, only to be removed later. It wouldn’t surprise me if the study showing Spinach didn’t supply as much iron as previously thought was done by the Broccoli Growers Association.

One thing that is fairly certain is that the fresher a food is, the more nutritious it is.  You don’t want to pick spinach and leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. If possible you want to pick it just before dinner.

I’m also trying to grow some Onions from seed, which I’ve never tried before. Usually I plant little bulbs. I have ten feet of sweet onions and fifteen feet of Spanish onions involved in this experiment.

Usually the soil is muddy in April, but not yesterday. A bit of rain wouldn’t be a bad thing.

One reason for the flood watch is that the rivers and streams are fairly high, despite the drought. This is partly due to the snow-melt, but is also due to something I noticed happens during very cold winters. The level of lakes rises five inches. This occurs simply because the ice gets to be 50 inches thick, and a tenth of an iceberg floats above water, and that lifts the level of the lake a tenth of 50 inches, which is 5 inches. The “top of the water” can be five inches above the level of the outlet, yet not a drop can flow out, as the water is all frozen. As recently as April 1 we were walking on very solid ice on the ponds, but now it has vanished, under sunshine which beats down from the same point in the sky the sun is at in the middle of August. It’s amazing how quickly the ice just fades away, and then the extra five inches of water in the ponds can flow out the outlets, and the creeks and streams and rivers all rise even in a drought.

The snow is gone here, but there is likely more snow left to the north, and up on higher hills, and the weather service wants to cover its butt, when it issues the current flood watch, at a time the soil is getting dry and my seeds could use a bit of rain.