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March 26, 2010

What's growing








Blackberry (Arapaho)

March 23, 2010

Things that go bump in the night...

So, at about 3 am every morning Cooper the Cute wakes Dave so he can go out and do dog things. Last night was no exception, his cuteness woke Dave, Max woke up and harumphed his way out with them, bound and determined to get his cookie too. At approximately 3:20 there arose such a clatter of barking and cow bellowing that it was nearly deafening. It sounded like the cow was screaming right outside our window, the dogs were definitely barking the Big Boy bark right outside the window. I groggily got up and went out to see what could be causing such a rukus. It was a bovine, an 1800 lb bovine! A longhorn bull was out by the barn (must have passed right by the window on his way there). He had a smaller steer friend with him, they were over by the fence checking out the cute girls in the pasture (Hattie and Daisy). By the time I went back in for Dave and we put on appropriate bull chasing clothing, the intruders were gone. I could hear in the distance the neighbor's dogs barking so I knew at least which direction they had gone in.
Back to sleep, for a little while--I let the dogs come back in to keep peace and quiet. (once they are awake and in the barking mood, ya know, sometimes they have to bark at bunnies, and things way out in the pasture).
Fast forward to 6 am, time to rise and shine for work! Let the dogs out, make the coffee, stumble about just slightly sleepy. The dogs immediately begin barking again, I know that bark...I look out and there are the visitors again! This time they are between our house and mom's house; please Mr. Bull don't put a horn thru her window! I say something to him (from the porch) that sounds like "Hey! Mr. Ugly! You don't belong here! Scat!" He raised his head, looked at me and began bucking and running toward the barn. Sheesh. I went back in to get ready, obviously he has an attitude and I was not going to convince him to go back from whence he came. The dogs continue to bark in their fevered pitch. They know he and his friend are not our cows!
Dave awakens and calls the sheriff's office, at t his point they are trampling the garden and eating whatever takes their fancy. I begin to really hate them and wish them ill. When I have to leave for work Mr. Ugly is standing in the driveway. He is freakishly huge. I am thankful my car is not red and does not look like a toy to him.
Update from Dave later--he got our girls to the farthest pasture, and got the visitors in a small pen. He said the bull would look sweet for a minute then start tossing his head and acting foolish. They are just not to be trusted or messed with. A constable found the owner who came to pick up his wanderers. Dave said he was apologetic, and promised it won't happen again. I am pretty sure Dave let him know that next time we will just make a trip to the butcher without calling him.
The bull looked like this, with a bigger hind end.

March 21, 2010

Sunshine today

Our last milking for awhile; no idea why I have such a goofy expression, maybe because I am goofy!

First strawberry blooms (will get pinched off).

Milking is going really well, Vera is letting down wonderfully now that Jules is gone. We have been storing up all we can to put off the no-fresh-milk time a little longer.

Cooper, look here!

March 20, 2010

Change, change, change

It seems like we are all about change lately.
I have taken a position with my company in the Florida region, effective June 1! I have been looking online at homes in central Florida, with hopes to land within an hour of the Tampa or Orlando airport. No idea when we will move, that depends on when the house sells and about a million other factors, (we do have an offer on the house and are waiting for their buyer to finalize their house sale--wowie!) Providence moves in wondrous ways, how silly of me to ever forget that, even for a second.
We (collective) are mostly excited about this next phase of our lives and the challenge of the unknown future. Ok, honestly I am excited about it until I think of all the millions of things I need to do, and then I get a little overwhelmed. It will work out, it will work out, it will work out!
We are not planning on taking any livestock with us, though we hope to find a home on a large lot or in a semi-rural area (garden and citrus trees are a must!). We would prefer to live outside of a master planned community if possible, and avoid HOAs. A neighborhood that allows chickens and has 1 acre lots would be ideal. So, we plan to have a non-farming phase of our lives. A friend that lives in the Tampa area has assured me we can find local goods and grass fed meat, milk, poultry. Maybe this next phase is the one where I perfect my French cooking, or we work on our golf game, or go back to school, or take art classes. I don't know about those details, but the move and the lifestyle changes feel ok and I have peace about it. The one downside for me is Hattie, and selling her. It may sound goofy but I really really love that sweet cow and she is a member of the family. It will be essential that we find just the right family for her to go to. Vera is sold and goes to her new family tomorrow. The buyers were not interested in taking Jules so we took him to the butcher on Friday when we picked up the pork. It is great to have nearly full freezers and this time I remembered to ask for the fat, so lard is rendering as I write this.
Daisy is going back to Theresa, I am very glad for that. The 2 ducks, 6 chickens, and 5 barn cats will convey with the sale or be re-homed.
In other farm news: the garden is planted with the exception of the cucumber, and those seeds will be planted next week. The strawberries are blooming, the fig tree is budding out with leaves as is the apple tree. The oak and pines are in full pollen--a yellow film covers everything outdoors right now. We hope to get some bees from Melissa in the near future so we can convey the bee hives with at least one hive-ful. We could take the empty hives and supplies with us, though we have not talked about this yet. So many questions and things to decide.....!
If you are so inclined, please say a prayer, light a candle or send a positive vibe our way, there is potential for a lot of stress in our lives in the next few months. We greatly appreciate the positive support and shared joy of our friends!
Hey, have a great week!

March 12, 2010

Here comes the sun and here comes Spring!

barn roof and springtime sky

first lily!

turtle hunting lessons

the last gray day contrasted by bright peach blooms

first professional pedicure, had the massage too--heavenly!

Cooper smiles!

mmmm, garden greens

three brown cows

The cold dreary weather has been gone for a week or so and I just have to say it makes all the difference! The grass even seems cheerful, even though it is barely taller than algae.

March 7, 2010

Dogs 3.5 :: Reptiles/amphibians 0

The loyal Farm Collies respond very quickly to the master's snakey-dance-cuss-a-blue-streak command! So fast in fact that they killed all 3 rough earth snakes that I disturbed today, and then played with a toad until he was not capable of playing anymore.
Such hunters and protectors they are!
Here is the proper maneuver one employs to celebrate the victory (after rendering the evil spotted-belly toad incapacitated):

And Cooper with snake#2 (in front of his left front paw):

The rescuers with snake #1 (Max is probably saying something like "she will stop all that noise and hopping about in just a minute, for now we get praised if we paw and bite this wiggly thing").

In lighter news, I did get about a zillion carrot seeds scattered (the wind and the dogs helped with that). I guess we will just have to wait a week or two to see how that turns out!
;-) Happy Week All!

Farm and Garden pics

Garden Gnome--trying to catch either raindrops, bugs or snow flakes.

Solarizing the flower/pollinator bed.

Two of the beds uncovered today, they solarized for 4 months--beautiful, rich, weed free soil!
Squash is planted in the near one, bush beans in the far.

Roso de Castro Creole garlic--100% germination!

Roma Tomatoes, nursery grown.

Oregano, wintered over very well.

Brussel Sprouts (only for the cows and I, no one else will touch them).

The garden, March 2010.
Vera and Jules (aka: "leech" or "milk hog").

Hattie and Daisy. I must have a soft spot for cows with white foreheads!

Hattie 3.7.10

Daisy, 3.7.10

She is such a sweet little heifer!

March 6, 2010

The garden begins-- version 11.1

This years garden is (I hope) an improvement over last years. The focus for me is to KISS--Keep It Simple Sis. In that, I am planting bulk (single crop) plantings in each bed. This differs from previous years where many of the beds ended up being a hodge-podge of all types of things I was trying to grow. Part of the reason for the change is just to simplify--we are only planting things we know we can grow, things we know we like, and things to can for the winter. No sweet corn, and only one variety of bush beans. Last year we did not get to enjoy enough of the things we like and I lost patience when untried crops and varieties failed. The sweet corn never seems to make like I would like it to, so I will buy that at a local farm; same with blueberries (pick your own) and several other crops that are available locally--wonderful for me, I don't have to grow everything!
The three types of tomatoes are Goliath slicer, a Roma paste and an Indeterminate cherry, they are all planted as are the bell pepper seedlings; the blue lake bush beans, butternut squash and crookneck squash seeds are sown. The herb bed looks to be doing well, I added in some dill seed, and need to remember to buy basil starts. Spring has sprung today--let's hope we don't get a late frost!
It felt great to work out in the sunshine, it was just perfectly gorgeous out. The dogs helped me as only they can--chasing off birds and squirrels, barking at the cows (Cooper hit the electric fence and is now smarter). I let the cows all co-mingle and explore all the pastures today. Hattie was so funny! She checked the bunks, and then stayed close to the fence line anytime I was in the garden. She remembers how the treats go sailing over! All they got today were weeds, bright green and juicy, they all seemed to enjoy them. Vera was in standing heat and I believe Daisy may be having her first heat--it is spring time! I've noted the heats and hope to AI Vera in 21 days. Daisy will be bred this summer to a friend's miniature jersey bull. I'll draw blood tomorrow for Hattie's pregnancy test. I suspect she is bred since she has not come back into heat. We have a new pregnancy test that we can use on Vera after she is bred, it doesn't use blood or urine, it uses milk!
I have more work to do in the garden tomorrow (weeding and moving fertilizer). I am glad for it, it feels so good to be outside doing chores in the sunshine. I'll try to remember to get pics of the garden tomorrow.
Have a great weekend all!