Monday, May 21, 2007

Aching all over...

It's a jungle out there and frankly, I could use all the help I can get
Spent the day at the dacha today and without trying to be overdramatic about things, it was one catastrophe after another. I am absolutely exhausted. As to why this is so, the exhaustion I mean, I guess I could be realistic about it and say something like it was a combination of the heat, the amount of work, that I have not been riding my bike because there is currently no bike to ride- all this mixed in with the garden literally exploding with weeds due to several storms over the last week. It was a jungle to say the least.

I mentioned that this year we are cutting back on the plantings in order to save time and work. And money. But nevertheless the truth is that we still basically have the same amount of land to maintain even if we are not planting on it. At the moment we have a grass problem that, because we have already planted, means a year of hacking and hoeing trying to keep the gardens at least reasonably clean. The moment we arrived today though we could see that we were facing a losing battle. I am sorry I need some tools. I would literally sell my body (not than anyone would want it) for a weed whacker. And then perhaps a second sprayer and a pump for the well… No, just the weed whacker.

What is so special about a weed whacker? Well, what I have to do now is hack by hand using that same instrument that everyone uses and has used here for the last two or three thousand years, or at east whenever the bronze age was; I hack with a scythe, (kassah). And let me tell you, using a scythe is really hard work, especially when you are fighting waist high crabgrass and poison ivy. So OK, I agree that I am simply not very good at it. Scything is one of the talents that local hlopsie (workers) learn from the time they are in diapers and so they can actually stand there and do the torso twist at the optimum angle and take the grass in an orderly fashion. I can do it, but I simply do not have the rhythm and swing down to an art form which means that I am constantly getting the blade stuck or working in the wrong pattern and having the cut grass pile up I front of me. And I am not as young as I used to be.

I guess that last point is a pretty big one. Yes, it was hot today but after a couple of hours of hacking grass and trying to dig out a garden for the pickles, there didn't seem to be enough electricity in me to motivate my arms or legs to move. It's very hard to describe this feeling. It's like there is a greater than normal gravity which is pulling you down towards the center of the earth. And really, you would like to simply agree and go with it, but you can't because there is poison ivy everywhere so if you do actually go ahead and lie down, you are going to be even more miserable than you are standing.

I am sorry folks, this is just not the way to go...
Probably the real low point of the day was finding out that we lost all of our cabbages. Up until this morning we had considered ourselves veritable cabbage kings, annually harvesting about three times more than any sane family would ever have even thought of dealing with. And I am talking cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and early and late reds and greens. But this year we made the mistake of leaving our little cabbage seedlings under their plastic cover a week too long and literally, when we looked there was absolutely nothing left. Disheartening. Not the end of the world, it just means we have to buy and this really hurts.

I guess this is really what it is all about. We have the ability to manage our farm and we have brought home a lot of vegetables, fruits and beans and such and having this sort of excess is a very pleasant thing but for sure we don't make money from anything we are doing out in the village. We tried selling apples last year during the greatest apple year since the end of the Soviet Union and found that the market was so flooded it was almost like giving them away. Or it would have been if anyone wanted to take them. It was not just a buyers market it was public ridicule. The same went of cabbages of which we still have maybe 15 3-litre banks sitting in the cellar. So we needed to find a way to add the realities of the current economic situation to our vegetable plantings which is why we cut back. But as we now understand, it really doesn't make any difference if WE want to be smaller; the garden has ideas of its own.

In any case we planted out peppers today and dug out the pickle garden. I cleaned the potatoes a bit and cleaned the bean fences. Next time out we are probably going to put in some chili peppers and whatever cabbages we end up buying. And maybe a few pumpkins just for the seeds. I am still praying that we get at least a few watermelons though we really don't have the climate for it. A little squash, some beets, some peas and green beans and of course the fruit trees and berry bushes. And a weed whacker. Actually, I probably would have pulled the trigger on the weed whacker if I hadn't lost my bike. Nearly passing out on the field only reconfirmed what I already knew; it's both time to get that weed whacker AND I really need to get another bike. Or maybe one is more important than the other. The bike is a need. Maybe the weed whacker is a dream just as having a clean and orderly farm is (only) a dream. But a bike is a need. Absolutely.

More soon…

Oh, and as a special note, greetings and salutations to my new readers in Malta, Great Britain and New Zealand. My stat checkers tells me I am interesting as hell to some readers who seem determined to read each and every post. Draztvui dobre druzia! And thanks for reading me.