What happened to June?
Like, where the heck did it go so fast? I looked at the calendar today and couldn’t believe that we’re in the last week of June, with only a week until July 4, Independence Day and a national holiday here in the U.S. I suppose part of the reason it feels like it went so fast is because I’ve been busy, and can hardly keep up with everything. This time of year is a challenge, with the urgency of planting season and pruning back the jungle like two monsters threatening to devour a city, all while working 9-5, caring for a few dozen animals (livestock and house pets), trying to keep up with housework and errands, socializing and the holiest grail of all: down time. I’ve written about the juicy jungle growth of June before; you think I’d get used to it but the explosion of vegetative growth is stunning every year. Right now my driveway to
the gate looks like an abandoned logging road, with the salmonberry, thimbleberry, Indian plum, reed canary grass, trailing blackberry, bracken fern, sword fern, filbert trees, nettles, fringecup, manroot (wild cucumber) and Himalayan blackberry creating a wall on either side of the drive, and down the middle the plantain, grasses, buttercup, and self-heal tickle my car’s underbelly as I drive up (and I’ve already weed whacked it once). It looks totally abandoned.
Inside the gate, though, the sheep have kept everything mowed down and pruned back. The piggy BWM boys’ summer job fell through this year (they were usurped by miniature horses), so having the entire flock of nine on site all summer means that I really have to manage the grass crop. I let them out every evening, and much of the day on the weekends, to mow and munch on pretty much everything on the property. For the first time in the three years I’ve been here I haven’t needed to mow or weed whack the grass around the house. The hillside behind the house is almost putting green short (overgrazed, yes, but I’m not trying to grow pasture there). They keep the grass cropped and sample and prune most everything they can reach. They don’t like stinging nettles (unfortunately, as I have a bumper crop every year) but they do like Devil’s Club – a wondrous, and wickedly spiny, 4 – 6 foot high
shrub that grows in little colonies. Thankfully they aren’t mowing that down (perversely, I love the Devil’s club – it has a magical energy). They’ve learned to walk into all their favorite understory shrubs, pushing the plant down as they walk into it, and lowering the yummy leaves to where they can eat them. They’ve kept the salmonberry and sword fern bordering the open area around the house from making further headway in the vegetative master plan to engulf the house. Everything is pruned at sheep’s head high, and the plants on the edge completely denuded as they employ their new trick. Still, it feels like a jungle out there. We had some rain this past week or so, after almost two weeks of solid sun (loved it!), which will help the pasture to recover and regrow. In the meantime they’re in their confinement area and I’m filling hay nets every day. Ugh. I probably should have pulled them off the pasture two weeks ago, given the dry spell we had, but it’s not hideously overgrazed, so will hopefully recover quickly with the recent rain and coming sunshine. No need to hire the pasture mower this year!
I have the garden about half planted. I think I’m even further behind than I was last year, but I’ve decided it’s all okay. Local farmers are harvesting lettuce and kale and onions already while mine are just sprouting. Tonight the soil was too wet and soggy to work after a week of rain, so I wasn’t able to get out there. This weekend will be perfect for finishing up planting and transplanting, and I’ll have a lovely fall garden in two or three months.