It has been a long day. Mushroom harvest is in full swing, along with many of the herbs on which my mother depends for her medicinal practice. I stayed home to help with the harvest, as many of us keeplings do. In this entry I’m going to talk a little bit about the rigors of keepling life.
When there is snow on the ground I help my mother sort the seeds we saved as we harvested vegetables. She will keep the seeds we need for planting in our own gardens and the rest will go to our neighbors and the people who keep here with us. What is left will go into the stores at the Great House for those who need them. I help my grandsire with the moccasins he makes. I mend tack and garden tools with him and my father and Uncle Ardenai. I help feed the many horses that populate our huge stone barns, and I groom and doctor them, as well. Plus, I go to school and I play on a polo team with my friends. (During Chionos and Aellaeno, we play polo indoors.)
During Omphas and Segens the foals arrive, and I am up and out at all hours helping my parents and our horse handlers deliver foals. Sometimes it is bitter cold, and we have a foal or two warming up beside our big old cookstove. The seeds are sorted again and those that go in earliest are started in long, flat boxes which are then placed in sunny windows or under lights to grow. I help turn the soil in dozens and dozens of long beds raised up with stone to warm them, and I add a layer of horse manure and straw from the barns. Often I go out into the sweeps of field and run the equipment used to prepare and plant the thousands of statute acres of grains, grasses and alcibus which Canyon keep and Sea keep produce every year. I help harvest, clean and prepare wild mushrooms and herbs for drying as I did today. And I keep up my school work.
In Latter Segens the horses are turned out, and I do a lot of riding to check on them. The gardens come into production and I weed and water, as well as harvest vegetables and early berries. I work wherever I am needed – training horses, running equipment or helping in the kitchen. I finish my cold season classes, take a short break, and begin warm season schooling. When Oporens rolls around and the main harvest comes to bear, none of us gets much sleep. School closes for harvest, and all of us keeplings and our city counterparts work long hours in the fields and kitchens, preparing the harvest for our families and helping get the excess to the stores in the Great House. It is the busiest time of all, and when I have handled hundreds of pounds of vegetables, fruit and grain – picked, washed, pared and processed – and tossed a thousand or so bales of hay into the barn lofts, I take nothing, not a single slice of bread or steaming pot of phaselus, for granted.