The beginning of the month is still hot and humid. There's so much to do, but it's so hard to get motivated. The Littles start going to the lakes with the men to cool off and swim in the afternoons. They return with the cart loaded with firewood, weeds, and grass. The fishing is horrible, but that's to be expected, given the heat.
I get up early every day to let the birds out and get the gardening done before it gets too hot. The beats are looking good, we're starting to harvest peas and lettuce, and tiny peppers and tomatoes have started forming in the greenhouse. The potato plants are a mess of bugs. I pick them off every day and toss them to the birds.
Another banty returns with a clutch of chicks. One is still missing.
The Bigs work on cleaning out the old chicken coop in the mornings, taking load after load of manure to the garden. It always amazes me how we end up with so much manure out of one little building. I spread the manure between my garden rows and pile it at the ends and side. It'll make spreading easier in the fall.
We finish the fence down to the creek on our south side. Our new neighbours get halfway to the creek on the north side before we go over to help. We take them the chicks Husband offered for the fence work. We talk and work together. Arlene is waiting for berry season to start canning. Her garden is doing well.
The weather breaks and the rains come. Day after day it rains and the temperature drops. We start cooking inside again, to take the chill and the dampness out of the house. It's sweater weather in the mornings now.
We finish the fence to the creek on the north side of Mom's property. We start fencing the roadside. We fence around Mom's yard and build gates for her back trails. The tree tops and branches give us enough firewood to finish filling Mom's wood shed.
The blueberries ripen and we start picking every day. More and more townsfolk travel through to go picking in the woods. I put a sign out, eggs for trade. A few people stop and ask about the eggs. Two agree to pick a small basket of blueberries for a dozen eggs. They come back at the end of the day. One man has some tin at his place. He'll trade it for eggs, chickens and a chicken pen.
Husband and the Bigs spend three days carting logs to town, building a little chicken coop, fencing it in, and bringing home tin. We give him four hens and two chicks, along with 3 dozen eggs.
The tin is nearly enough to finish Mom's roof. We decide to take the rest of the siding off the trailer wall that is inside the add a room, and that's just enough to finish it. That also exposes the insulation, which we pull out and put into the new outside wall. It's enough to cover the west wall. Two more to go. Mom has a can of roofing tar, which we use sparingly to fill the old nail holes in the tin. Leaks should not be a problem.
I get enough blueberries to make a batch of wine. Blueberries were the reason I bought the wine making equipment. They're coated with natural yeast, and very sweet, so I add nothing but water to the carboy and hope for the best. I rack the dandelion and dandelion/rhubarb wines.
Husband picks up the newly fashioned hay cutter and practices using it on the way home. He's got a pretty good handle on it when he gets back. It's too wet to cut for winter storage though. The rain has helped the grass though, along with our continued rotating of the cows. The pasture looks like it might last the rest of the summer now.
The boys and I finish the fencing down the road. We build gates for all of the driveways. So long as the critters don't try to cross the creek, they are completely fenced in. The sides of the creek are very steep from winter run off, so I don't think it'll be too much of a problem. We decide to test it with the horses, Mildred and the calves, leaving them loose overnight. The next morning we have to walk to Brother's place to get the horses back. They stayed within the fence, but now have too much freedom.
The rain finally settles down, and after two days of straight sun, Husband decides it's time to start cutting hay. He starts with the north side, beside Arlene and Mel. It's the largest clearing. The boys and I follow along with the horse cart, raking the hay and tying it in bundles. Most of it will be left to dry in the field, as it should, but since we expect this to be a long process, we get started right away. Once the cart is full we take it up to the house. We unload the bundles in the new chicken coop and open them back up. I spread them on the floor in the pens to finish drying.
The boys go back for a second load and I go back to picking blueberries. It takes nearly two weeks to get the clearings all cut, dried, bundled and brought back to the house. We fill the manger in the old chicken coop- the milk room, and cover the floor with thick bedding. We fill the old chicken coop from floor to ceiling for storage. The hay loft above the barn is only half full when we finish. There's not nearly enough for winter.
The elderberries ripen near the end of the month. The Littles do an amazing job of picking them off the stems. I start another batch of wine, elderberry with some blueberries thrown in for sweetness and yeast.
I can blueberries without sugar. They'll probably be our sugar next winter- one of the few hints of sweetness in the long, cold, dark nights ahead.