It looks like the weather for the next week or so will ensure some good ice. That means I’ll be able to expand my winter industries from just plain woodcutting and chores to woodcutting, chores and fishing.

These are things I do almost entirely by myself, no boy unit, no girl unit, and Maggie works from sunrise until sunset.

The goats have been busy taking care of their kids the last month-plus, but I’m sure milking time will start being a thing in the next few weeks.

The nannies will tell me when it’s time.

Once that starts to happen, things will be simple and solitary no more.

Milking is not just getting the milk. That is just the start. Cheese and yogurt making, bottle washing, heating, rennet, lots of hot water, the daily ritual of each goat — and they are all different.

It’s not that far away. Then it is a mad house.

And I can’t just wander off with my fishing poles and tip-ups. Nope. I have to be home at milking time. And milking time has got to be in the daytime, not at dusk, and not during darkness.

Poor Cow Goat is afraid of the dark and expects to go back to the herd while there is plenty of light left.

We have never had milking time during the darkness, except on the rare occasion. I don’t expect to start letting it go like that old-time farmer who over the decades let milking time slip later and later, almost all the way until 11 at night and 10 in the morning.

You can guess that he was a bachelor and had plenty of electric lights in his barn. So many lights, in fact, that the neighbors a quarter-mile away had to pull the blinds at night.

Anyway, I’ll try to go fishing while I can. To tell you the truth, up until last year, fishing was a social thing for me. John Vincek and I would go out and fish for several hours and fish quietly, with a minimum of talk, and then bring our catch back home to his basement where we would fillet and package our catch together.

We would talk then.

We could process 100 fish in less than an hour working together like that. By myself it would probably take five hours.

Thomas Jefferson remarked on the efficiencies of two working together versus one alone. There is really no comparison, because doing almost anything alone takes forever.

We try to make up for it in the modern world with machines, but you still see people mostly working in teams no matter how advanced the infrastructure that surrounds them.

But, for these several weeks in the winter, perhaps solitude is the best thing.

No outside world, no newscasts, just outside mostly, in the cold. There are still the eagles, the dog and the goshawk as company. They are not awfully chatty, not like goats and people.

I’ll work for a while more, mostly in solitude. It will probably do me good, even if I miss the companionship of fishing quietly together.

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Forrest Hartley lives out toward the town of Day, in Hadley. You can leave him a message at new_americangothic@yahoo.com.


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