Levin put on his big boots, and, for the first time, a cloth
jacket, instead of his fur cloak, and went out to look after his
farm, stepping over streams of water that flashed in the sunshine
and dazzled his eyes, and treading one minute on ice and the next
into sticky mud.
Spring is the time of plans and projects. And, as he came out
into the farmyard, Levin, like a tree in spring that knows not
what form will be taken by the young shoots and twigs imprisoned
in its swelling buds, hardly knew what undertakings he was going
to begin upon now in the farm work that was so dear to him. But
he felt that he was full of the most splendid plans and projects.
First of all he went to the cattle. The cows had been let out
into their paddock, and their smooth sides were already shining
with their new, sleek, spring coats; they basked in the sunshine
and lowed to go to the meadow. Levin gazed admiringly at the
cows he knew so intimately to the minutest detail of their
condition, and gave orders for them to be driven out into the
meadow, and the calves to be let into the paddock. The herdsman
ran gaily to get ready for the meadow. The cowherd girls,
picking up their petticoats, ran splashing through the mud with
bare legs, still white, not yet brown from the sun, waving brush
wood in their hands, chasing the calves that frolicked in the
mirth of spring.
After admiring the young ones of that year, who were particularly
fine--the early calves were the size of a peasant's cow, and
Pava's daughter, at three months old, was a big as a yearling--
Levin gave orders for a trough to be brought out and for them to
be fed in the paddock. But it appeared that as the paddock had
not been used during the winter, the hurdles made in the autumn
for it were broken. He sent for the carpenter, who, according to
his orders, ought to have been at work at the thrashing machine.
But it appeared that the carpenter was repairing the harrows,
which ought to have been repaired before Lent. This was very
annoying to Levin. It was annoying to come upon that everlasting
slovenliness in the farm work against which he had been striving
with all his might for so many years. The hurdles, as he
ascertained, being not wanted in winter, had been carried to
the cart-horses' stable; and there broken, as they were of light
construction, only meant for folding calves. Moreover, it was
apparent also that the harrows and all the agricultural
implements, which he had directed to be looked over and repaired
in the winter, for which very purpose he had hired three
carpenters, had not been put into repair, and the harrows were
being repaired when they ought to have been harrowing the field.
Levin sent for his bailiff, but immediately went off himself to
look for him. The bailiff, beaming all over, like everyone that
day, in a sheepskin bordered with astrachan, came out of the
barn, twisting a bit of straw in his hands.