The turn-around point of my dog-walking route is a belt of woodland about a mile and a half from the house, a place of old trees, deep shade, and a kind of close stillness. Thick woody vines, as big around as I can span with my hands, twine and loop up and around the trees.
It is a fine way to spend forty-five minutes, walking with a congenial, well-mannered dog on either side. Holding a leash in each hand, I feel balanced. We got a late start this morning—10:30—but the heat doesn’t seem to bother me as much as it used to. Members of some grasshopper-like tribe kept criss-crossing our path, making a loud, deep-pitched clacking noise. We also encountered half a dozen cattle—steers, mostly, plus cows and a calf or two. Ready strained at his leash, yearning to go after the creatures and put them in their place. One likely-looking yellow steer really took notice, ostentatiously crossing our path and circling around to the side, rather than just moving over a couple of feet the other direction as we passed.
This morning Greg and Daniel took yesterday’s metal load to the scrap yard, and in the afternoon they returned to the home site to load some more. They knocked off around five, took the load to the scrap yard, and went to Mr. Taco. They ate outside, enjoying the breeze with the kind of intense pleasure that comes only after you have worked up a good sweat. Daniel looked through a Truck Mart magazine and considered what kind of truck he might want to buy after he gets his license. He turned sixteen in April but has not yet taken driver’s ed.
Meanwhile, the girls and I drove to Stryk Jersey Farm in Schulenburg to pick up raw milk and cream. Bob and Darlene Stryk have a beautiful place, with a neat, attractive house, tidy outbuildings, and smooth pastures occupied by a buckskin horse and several comely, contented-looking Jersey cows. The Stryk’s Jerseys have appeared in ads for Bluebell Ice Cream.
To make my trip worthwhile, I bought ten gallons of milk and three quarts of cream. Bob, a friendly, energetic man who appears very happy to be a dairy farmer, loaded my cooler and told me about a drop-off site he visits in Seguin, right in the area where I do my regular shopping. Oh, joy! The milk costs more that way, of course, but the price of gas makes delivery the best option.
I told Bob our plans to become farmers, and he asked if we intended to raise chickens for sale and slaughter them ourselves. (We do.) He said there is a good market around here for that. This is the second time someone familiar with the natural food community in this area has volunteered this information. Encouraging.
This evening I spent some time darning Greg’s pants—not in the sense of, “Darn, darn, darn you, pants!” but rather in the sense of mending a tear. Clothing repair is one of the things I determined to study in the year or so preceding our move. I am a competent seamstress and can do an adequate job of mending our things, but I wanted to learn some better, efficient methods. I found a sad paucity of information on the subject—no books at all, and almost nothing online that I hadn’t figured out for myself. The exception was a good, well-illustrated Internet article on darning, something I did not know how to do. With darning, you are basically rebuilding the damaged fabric with thread. You lay down some parallel stitches for warp, then fill them in with weft, weaving your way through, using your needle as a sort of shuttle. It’s slow work, at least for me; no doubt Ma Ingalls could darn circles around me. But I like work like that. It’s a challenge, a sort of puzzle.
Greg has not quite recovered from last night’s karate workout following a full day’s work at the home site. He was glad to drop into bed at nine-thirty.