It’s hot. The paper says it hit 97 degrees, but we don’t believe it. Still, it’s 8pm and steamy hot. The Bearded One and I recline on opposite ends of the couch, our bare feet and legs touching, a fan blowing. No one has air conditioning up here. Ruby the dog is lying in the cool dirt under the house, and Garfield sprawls on the relatively cool slate floor of the covered porch aka the cat condo.
I can see the thermometer on the deck — 80 degrees — through the latest home improvement, a magnetic mesh door the Bearded One saw advertised on late night TV. One of those things I would never know about or buy, but it is unqualified genius and a genuine asset to the place. Low tech.
Both the gardens and our psyches need some real summer, and it’s here at last. I’m sweaty and exhausted and grateful — even as a distant car zooms by on the dirt road and a dust cloud wafts through the cedars, across the gardens, and into all our open windows. Keeping the farmhouse cleanish, the chicken poop and dust out, is a constant chore, especially in the summer.
“I’m glad we found this place,” the Bearded One says, barely moving his dry lips in his catatonia after spray-washing mildew, dirt, and cobwebs off the exterior siding and the decks for the past three scorching days. He is usually a night owl, but not this week.
“It’s a sweet house,” I say. Then we both close our eyes, weakened by the conversation.
A Hermit-at-Heart built this pole house in 1991, the very first house on the road. There wasn’t really even a road back then.
The foundation is 16 huge poles in a 30′ x 30′ TicTacToe grid, sunk 6 feet into the earth and concreted.
The house is built 4 feet off the ground, which is great for earthquakes and floods as well as accessing plumbing and electric lines. The other advantage was cost, since little clearing of trees needed to be done. In fact, without the tree cover, the house would be so hot tonight we’d be sleeping outside. On Google satellite photos, you can’t find any hint of the house itself.
The vast majority of the year we’re cold and huddled around the centerpiece of the house, the wood burning stove. It can heat all 1400 square feet. The Bearded One has been splitting wood and making kindling bundles on and off for a month now.
Just this week he declared the firewood supply adequate for a year, and then collapsed in the den for the night.
Garfield noses his way through the Magic Mesh door and the “18 powerful magnets” click it shut behind him. “MEOW.” He is little but loud.
“Hey, Sweetie Kitty,” I say and he jumps onto my belly and begins a rumbling purr.
The Bearded One opens his eyes.
“What’s on our minds?” I ask and smile.
“We forget,” he says.
“We’re going to harvest the meat birds this Friday,” I say.
Momma Goose came over this afternoon and declared our 8-week-old Cornish Rock broilers ready to process. They’re losing feathers, and with this heat and their fast weight gain, they could suffer heart attacks.
So early on Friday morning — Momma Goose recommended “first light” which makes the Bearded One very sad, but he is dealing with it — before it gets hot, we’re hauling our 26 birds in the trailer behind our garden tractor (it might take more than one trip) up the road to Momma Goose’s where she and her husband and son will have the rented equipment and will help us and teach us how to kill and dress out the birds to be put in our freezer. We’ll go back and help out with the other families’ birds in two weeks. Ours are going earlier because we fed them a much higher protein food.
“We need to go to Costco and get a big roll of plastic wrap,” I say. “She said we’ll need lots of it.”
“I’ll clean my Alaska hunting knife,” says the Bearded One. “She said to bring sharp knives.”
Garfield gets up and walks over my thighs and rubs against the Bearded One’s thigh. “Hello, Cat,” he says, and then he yawns hugely. It goes on and on until finally his jaw snaps shut and he sinks back into the pillow.
I nudge his tush with my toe, blow him a kiss, and say, “First light.”