The broom weed is waste-high and their hands squeeze tight as I help the girls navigate through the tiny yellow flowers that breeze past their eyes. The mesquite leaves are beginning to cover the walkways, masking the cracks in the soil that I once thought only existed in faraway places.
We still pray for rain. The seedlings Abram and Daddy planted all died when we couldn’t spare the water. A check this morning of our elevated water tank concluded that 50 usable gallons remain before we will have to haul barrels from a neighbor. The ponds still have enough for a couple of weeks for the goats, chickens, and trees.
The garden gates are unwelcoming, for a change, as everything has been dead for some time. Even the okra is completely dried up and stripped of its foliage; the annual November sweet potato harvest will not be. It is this way every year, I tell myself, and remember the blackberries and mustard greens and black-eyed peas of early summer? There is talk of pursuing more animals… once another fence is built.
The chickens are starting to lay again as we creep into fall, though the near-100 degree days this past week remind me that summer likes to hold on here – or not, depending on the year.
The goats are settling into their new homes and seem more comfortable grazing around their picket lines. I bookend my days in the kitchen with milk filtering and pail-washing. We are now hay people and I can’t say I mind that sweet smell when I walk past the towering stack of square bales. It smells like summer at my grandparents’ farm and the kind of life I always thought felt real.
I am trying to ease the children back into a regular school schedule and had forgotten how tempting the bikes and homemade kites and never-ending birdhouse building is for one who is seven or nine. Multiplication and reading and handwriting seem important to me but there is this wonderful place called outside, mom.
Truth be told, I’d pretty much always choose outside too.