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  • Julie

MILKING MUSCLES ET AL.


In the time between my last correspondence and this hesitantly sunny July day, I'm happy to say that, among other great feats, I have rediscovered my milking muscles. The house sparrows in the rose bush took themselves from brown-mottled blue shells to gape-mouthed bobbling heads; under threat of barn cats and to varying degrees of success, chickadees and bluebirds built their summer houses outside our kitchen windows. What's more important- a rodent free barn or the safety of our local songbirds? We're a house divided on that front.

A fox picked off wild turkey poults right before my eyes (and flailing arms and cursing lips) the other day. The poultricide was near enough to the road that when I bounded out with one of my Intimidating Hounds, it was with a leash between us. I ran along screaming and gesticulating, only to realize the Intimidating Hound had slipped her fetters at some point and remained yards and yards behind me, lazily eating a patch of hairy vetch.

There have been loons and mama snapping turtles to join us at our favorite swimming holes. And for enquiring minds, that calf did slip-slosh earthside at the tail end of Mother's Day. Nests have been near literally stumbled upon in the middle of cow paddocks and down at the old mill where the earth is soft and crumbly; I've thusly held lectures on that which we cannot morally or legally plunder for home incubation. Unlike the neighborhood hawk, I've decided never to steal a blue jay's hatchling, lest a deafening band of jays makes me their enemy. And then there's that goddamn fleet of roosters led by the menace dictator threateningly referred to as Soup. True as true, you can stanch my bleeding heart with a merciless rooster any hour of any day, even if he's real pretty (and this one's real pretty).

Just a few days ago a streak of perfect peachy-tan flashed in the periphery of my vision seconds before the dogs came completely undone at the big kitchen window. The calf had liberated herself, and in doing so answered the most pressing question of the One Strand of Hot Fence Experiment. In days prior when we had worried aloud to one another that, That calf might be able to duck under that One Strand of Hot Fence, we found comfort in dressing her up as Mama's Girl.

She won't go too far.

She'll be bawling to get back in with Luella.

Well. Edith Applelonia, known affectionately as Ediebaby, daughter of Luella the Family Cow and Hardwood the Absentee Sperm Donor, that girl was electrified by her new circumstances. She huffed and frothed at the mouth. She did not come for snacks, she did not frantically return to her mother when the One Strand of Hot Fence was lifted high in the air, she did not care that she trampled and took a piss on my lovage. She was free, thankyouverymuch, and acutely aware of who had the upper hand. In the end, long after I also began huffing and frothing at the mouth, she just strolled back into her paddock, so damn casually as to make the whole thing seem accidental. It was at that moment that a single file of chickens began what appeared to be a choreographed jump and fly! jump and fly! jump and fly! escape routine, one right after the other, over their fence. Even then I knew it was funny.

This summer. It's felt better and brighter and wilder than the last. Are my eyes just opened wider? Or was it clear we needed it?

#FOLKSTEAD

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