Tuesday, September 08, 2009

forty-one years ago

Forty-one years ago today, I was sitting up on a hillside looking down on a village of thatched huts and rice fields. Several buffalo were being worked out in the rice by a pair of pre-teenage boys.

A cart loaded down with hay being pulled by a donkey came down the road just below the outpost.

I know this because back then I was 18 years old, a medic on a five soldier advisory team living with a couple dozen Vietnamese popular force soldiers (sort of like national guard) , and my job, besides doing those things that you might expect a combat medic to do, was writing down in a journal what happened to the advisory team. I had been stuck with keeping the team log by the team's leader, a twenty-four year old Lieutenant, and I wasn't at all happy about it.

The reason why I was sitting up on the hillside, actually on the berm that surrounded our little outpost, was I was a week behind with entrees in the log and as punishment, the Lieutenant had left me behind to catch up while the other team members drove off to the nearest American base camp for a warm Sunday midday meal.

That's sort of like the farm newsletter.

I'm at least a week (or is it a month) behind and I need to catch up on reporting what's been going on out here on the farm. And what's been going on here is what reminded me of that time forty-one years ago.

What's been happening here is a whole string of early morning attacks. Small attacks, sort of like hit and run affairs. a prime example is what happened just last night.

It must have been about two AM. (for the past several thousand years, I understand, that's when those sort of things most often happen, just as most everyone has fallen into a deep sleep.

They came from the south.

From where the forest is closest to the wire that protects the chicken pasture. No one saw them coming, they (or was it a she) just sort of crept up, and some how, got through the wire and before you knew it, there was screams and howls. The dogs had been up around the greenhouse, A bear has been, lately, knocking down the fence and climbing into the berry patch, and they must have thought he was lurking around, waiting for a chance to break in, again, and finish off the remains of the black berries.

But when the hens started screaming they came running and barking.

I had just gone to bed and hadn't really settled into a deep sleep and with the first scream was out of bed and downstairs, spotlight in hand.

Outside the window the dogs came tearing by, turning the corner of the house and heading toward the chicken pasture.

I jumped into my boots and was out the door.

But, of course, it was too late.

I didn't find the body until this morning, mostly eaten with feathers spread across one end of the chicken pasture to the other.

It wasn't until this morning that I found the body, the remains of a barred rock rooster. Whoever got him had managed to eat most of him, The breasts, legs and thighs were gone.

Sort of like after a family dinner.

I can only speculate what it was that managed to break in but after this happened twice last week I moved a camera down by the woods.

When I check the disc we'll know.

A fox? (or bobcat or coyote or even a owl). Something large enough to eat an entire chicken in just a few minutes.

Something steely minded enough to go through an electric fence.

But before we think about it, lets go through some farm news.

Tomatoes . After I wrote the last newsletter proclaiming the tomato blight had not affected most of our tomato crop it spread to our main crop and began to kill the plants. Late blight does not effect tomatoes but it does quickly kill tomato plants. This means that our tomato crop will be winding down shortly.

Drought. We're really behind on the rain again. I know all of you living in the city have been getting storms but they've almost all missed us out on the farm. For August we got a grand total of 2.06 inches and most of that fell in the first week of the month. Meaning? Less than an inch of rain has fallen out here in the last 30 days.

Spring. And to make matters worst someone visited our spring, the one up in the woods, and dismantled it.

Over the past week I was wondering why the amount of water that was coming down from the spring had dropped, almost in half. Instead of twenty gallons a minute we were getting somewhere around ten.

My first thought was the cause was the drought. It's been so dry I was afraid the spring was drying up. Maybe all of the development to the east of us was effecting the ground water.

So, finally, Friday, I walked up to the spring and found a mess.

My guess is, it was either a rather malicious bear or some simple human was hiking through the woods and came across the spring, wondering what this was with a four inch pipe coming from under a heavy rubber sheet they pulled the rubber off and threw it aside and then, finding large flat stones stacked up in a structure, pulled these away to find out what was under neath.

And then seeing the spring, they decided to pull up some of the stone that went into making the dam that collected the water that went into the pipe.

Oh well. if its not one thing its another. It's time, if you know one, to dust off your dancing shoes and give your favorite rain dance a working out.