August 17,2016

Oh, it is far too hot here. Whatever is Western Washington thinking? I have to get up early to do the outside chores, and then hide inside until the evening and the wind off the Nisqually River comes.

The manuscript of Assassin’s Fate is turned in and I am awaiting what I know will be substantial editorial notes. This was a tough book to write, for there was so much back story and so many details to check and double check!  Even so, I am fearful that plot holes, contradictions and repetitions will be discovered. Thank God for dedicated editors  who make my book so much better than they were when they first went winging out to them.  I hear from many new writers who think that editors and writers have an antagonistic relationship.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!

So, in this little gap of time, I am gorging on all the reading I could not do while I was writing so intensely.  I’ll pop up reviews on Goodreads as I finish books and digest them for a few days.  I often find that my first reaction on finishing a book changes a few days after finishing it.

I am also trying to rescue my little farm from both super heat and neglect.  My dahlias have gone brown at the edges. And my pumpkin leaves looked like badly folded umbrellas this morning.  I have to water while it’s cool, both for me to survive and to avoid shocking the plants with icy cold spring water on the hot days we are having.

My battle with the Japanese knotweed continues. I thought I was winning until I had to be gone for ten days.  Now I am not so sure. Back into the fray. Half a league, half a league, half a league onward . . .

I killed the four ganders who had become such a nasty little bro-gang in the poultry yard.  They attacked the ducklings, attempting to crust their little skulls or drown them. Luckily mama duck is a really vicious mama and she repelled the attack by four birds, each one three times her size. But I was done with them by that point. I penned them and fed them corn, their demise delayed over and over by family crises, conventions, and other peculiar events. But on Monday, we did them in. I approached the slaughter with dread and reluctance. I don’t enjoy killing but sometimes there is no other solution.  I’d already tried to sell them off, or give them away.  No takers.  So, to the axe they went.  And then the plucking. And plucking.  And plucking.

And more plucking.  I plucked them over a garbage can. A drift of feathers still escaped and flew everywhere. And the wasps came. And the day got hotter and hotter. But Fred and I prevailed.  Lots of people advocate simply skinning and taking only the breast meat, but if I kill it, I’m going to eat it all. When it came to gutting them, there was a huge layer of bright yellow fat under the skin and in long lumps among the internal organs. Big livers and gizzards.  And two enthusiastic dogs assuring me they’d eat anything I didn’t want.

So now I understand the whole ‘Christmas goose’ thing from “A Christmas Carol” and other stories from that era. What a treat it must have been on a cold and wintry day to roast such a fat and rich bird.  And to have the leftover fat for flavoring all sorts of dishes.  Four birds yielded close to 40 pounds of meat in the freezer. And geese eat, mostly, grass. They range, feeding themselves and keeping the stream clear of choking plants, and acting as watch creatures to warn of predators.

So. That is done.  Slaughter is my least favorite farm task, but a necessary one. A farm has to be kept in balance.  Too many roosters, and one ends up with bloodied birds from natural cock fights and hens plucked raw from constant mating. Too many ganders, and none of them focused on being a good mate to poor Silly Goose.

The hourly gander arguments were also calling in coyotes as effectively as any Pokémon lure.  And the ducks had been terrorized too long.  The poultry yard is peaceful now, with Silly and her mate Edgar sailing peacefully upon the pond.  Edgar was the least aggressive of the ganders, and in a bit of reverse Darwinism, we preserved him.  She seems to have accepted him as a mate already.  When the other four were alive, they were all too busy being nasty hoodlums to mate with Silly.

The beans need picking, the trees are heavy with apples, grapes are coming along. The Cinderella pumpkins are already turning orange. There will be acorn and Hubbard squash. The tomato vines are heavy with green fruit.  It’s a good time of year.



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