Monday, April 25, 2011

In My Backyard

Them's horses.  Just beyond the scotch pines on the west edge of our property my neighbor keeps horses in a corral attached to a loafing shed.  The shed has several pens and a wired-off enclosure with a mare and a cute new foal with a white patch on her chest.  Just beyond the corral, there was a horny stallion in a riding arena egging on the mares to join him for some fun in the sun.  Now there's just a horse wearing a blanket.  My neighbor's horses aren't feeling well.  They picked up a bug going around.  He told me yesterday that even the horses running free down in the flats were looking thin.

"Oughta turn 'em all into cheeseburgers," he complains.  I know he loves those horses. Two dogs accompany him on his rounds feeding the mother and foal, hauling water, forking big round bales of hay with his Massey-Ferguson tractor. The tractor has "Sassy" painted in silver on the cowl.  I thought only sailors named their boats.The dogs are Sarah and Tucker.  Mandy, my girl, thinks Tucker is swell. He's half her size.  He can walk on his hind legs. 

I shoveled s**t on  Easter.  I hauled 5 loads of composted horse manure ( pronounced man'-nurr locally) with a new 10 cu.ft. pull-behind cart. My neighbor periodically scrapes the corral clean of horse apples and dumps it over the fence.  After a year of aging, I take a chance that the seeds and weeds that went into the horses stomachs as hay and come out as poop are decomposed.  Since we use no chemicals and other defoliants popular with local farmers, I sometimes get a nice crops of weeds in my corn patch.  It cuts down on my harvest from a total avalanche of corn to a whole 'effing lot. The rule of thumb (ROT) this year is no manure.  I spends lots and lots for organic composted poultry manure.

Hang on there, it will get more boring if'n you're not a farmer.

I look over the fence at the fresh manure riddled with hay. It's soft and crumbly, pliable to work with but nothing but trouble.  The stuff I'm hauling has been compressed by winter snows, rain, ice and the finest that Southwestern Wisconsin weather can throw at the land. I hope that no one can see me from the highway, working the manure pile with my Troy-Bilt horse so I can fork it in the Huskee cart.

It's one of those days for doing stupid things to your body.  First I dislocate my finger when I catch it in latch of the storm door of the barn.  Don't  ask me how I did it.  Then I throw my shoulder out leaning over to hug the dog. I pull the cart up a hill and back it into the former squash garden.  I pull the nifty lever and the cart flips up and dumps part of the load. Each load of compost has to be helped off the cart.  I pull it forward a bit like the big boys from the gravel pits do with their dump trucks. Three hours of this and I hit my recliner to "rest my eyes" as Grandma would say.

You can't just dump and run.  That compost also needs to be spread with a fork and shovel. Dawn comes out to join me in the fun. Together we spread all those mini mounds over one half of the new onion patch. The soil here is a blend of rock and loam.  It's very close to the artificial berm created to keep the crooked river out of our field.  Way back when, it is designed to keep the river off the highway when it snaked in front of the school house.  The highway is relocated and the old highway is covered in gravel to become a dead end road.  Today,I'll move more compost over the other half while Mandy chases birds and sneaks under the barb-wire fence to smell fresh horse hockey.


T. Roger Thomas said...

A dislocated finger sounds horribly painful!

Gavrillo said...

OK.Busted. I exaggerated a bit. If it was truly dislocated,I would be howling in pain.I'm mostly whimpering now. The latch on the storm door is narrow. Opening the door, I pulled at the latch. My finger caught and twisted as I pulled my hand out.It became swollen and I couldn't close my hand. Today, I can almost meet my palm with the finger...and I can crack my knuckle, an annoying bad habit.