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September 26, 2010

Her name is Ginger!

Well fans and followers, it is a great day on the farm!
The temperature is lovely, the sun is shining and we have a cow of our own in the pasture!
Ok, so she has been in the pasture for a few weeks, but she is ours now so that makes it all different.
The previous buyer for her was not able to commit so Melissa offered her to us! She is a bred Jersey (bred to a red dexter bull that throws low birth weight calves). She is due in May, has had all her vaccines and tests, has a bangs tag and has had a little time on the lead rope.
This morning I closed her in the stanchion for her morning cow cookies and hay, and locked the other girls in another pasture. She seemed to relax after a few minutes of brushing, petting and cooing. In the pasture she will come for cookies, but is still a little shy about being touched in the field.
That will pass in time. ;-)
She is very sweet and I am on cloud 9!

September 19, 2010

Why I love gardening with black plastic!

The top pic is what I found when I uncovered a garden bed today to plant beans.
It looked a lot like the second picture the last time I saw it. Tall grasses and weeds, and in the heat of summer I did not have the inclination or time to weed it properly so I covered it with black plastic and weighted it down with bricks and old potting pots (it has been covered since early July). I did rake the soil once over to smooth it out just before the pic, but that's it! No weeding for this bed!
The second bed is the herb bed that I didn't cover because I knew there were little plants of oregano and lemon thyme still surviving under the jungle.
What I didn't know was that there was a snake hunting in that weed hide-away too!
See: Garden Adventure blog.

Garden adventure!

So, while pulling weeds today in the one bed I didn't cover with black plastic (didn't want to kill the oregano and thyme that was buried), I had a little adventure.
I am working along the bed (4 x 16') pulling weeds and basically baking in the sun. Max and Cooper are helping, especially Max because he wants to be right next to me in case I uncover a frog or bug that he needs to attack.
I am about 2 feet from the end and and I hear a weird little SQUEEEEK! sound. Max perked up his ears but that's all. I figured it was a frog I must have startled. Well, I stood up to stretch and what of all things but a snake head (triangular shape) sticks out of the chives about 6" from where my hands had just been!
I am really really really uneasy about snakes, and to overcompensate I gave a lecture at a staff meeting once about identifying them (not species specific just poisonous vs. non-poisonous). This guy was in my mind poisonous because of the shape of his head.
I backed away slowly a foot or so and reached for my new deluxe garden hoe. Once in hand I suspended it over him and prayed that when it came down it would find its mark (I closed my eyes for a sec). It did! I stunned him enough to drag it out of the chives (with the hoe of course, I am not going to touch a snake willingly)!
Then I got the hoe positioned on him and tried to push down hard enough to do the guillotine trick. The ground was a little too soft to allow this to work so I did the next best thing--stood on the hoe and took pictures of it to send to Dave (at work) so he could identify the species for me. I was positive it was poisonous because by this time I had seen it did not have a round iris, and the open mouth with fangs was a dead giveaway also. While I had it trapped Max proceeded to try and rip it apart from the tail end, thankfully he left the head alone. I succeeded in damaging it enough that I could get off the hoe and go get a better tool (loppers) to decapitate it. They were dull so there was no quick end to the evil critters life, but I did get the job done and the fang-y part away from the dogs. I let them have the tail end to whip around and kill in their own way.
I eventually got back to the chive area of the herb bed and beat the remaining chives down and around to make sure "where there is one, there are more" didn't apply.
Nope, no more snakes. I did find a couple of inches from where the snake had been, a freshly dead toad with all his legs stuck straight out--I am certain it was his SQUEEEEK I heard--that must have been when he got his dose of neurotoxin poison.
Yikes, I hope we don't see any more snakes this year, Max and I can't handle it!

Wow! I missed you all!

Wow, time has flown. I apologize that it has been so long (3 months) since I last blogged.

It has been a very busy time for us, I'll try to sum it up quickly:
*Job in the Florida region officially started June 1. I fly to Florida or Georgia nearly every week.
*House was on the market until the weekend before school started here-- it did not sell.
*We sold all livestock in preparation for the move.

Two weeks ago our friend Melissa brought over 3 bred cows to eat down our pasture, we are so thankful for that assistance and for the blessing of being able to watch cows again.

Not long after, Dave said we should get a few hens so we can have eggs again. He got the coop up to snuff and I found some on Craig's List--we now have 6 hens!
A couple of days before I was at the feed store buying feed for them and decided on a whim to buy a couple of tomato and cilantro plants. It was not long before I had a whole bed planted with lettuce, kale, celery, garlic, radish in addition to the plants I bought.

The hens had been here almost a week when Dave said "I think you need your own cow"! I had been turning over in my mind for a couple of days how to tell him I desperately needed a cow again! He is so intuitive and sweet.

So fast forward to today, 4 garden beds are planted and we are on the hunt for just the right cow for us. I feel so much better than I have in well, months.

I have not been handling the stress very well, and didn't even realize stress was an issue until about 3 weeks ago when I was getting to the point of snapping at people and feeling tense all the time. The headaches and gastric burn should have been a clue also.

The gardening and re-committing back to the farm has helped me so much. For so long I had distanced myself emotionally to be able to sell the house and it really was beginning to take a toll. In all honesty I don't know what the future holds. I would like to be very close to the Atlantic, and have a small farm so we can have our cow and a garden. I am just that kind of person, I need to be creating in the kitchen, tending to the animals and garden. If we were only a few minutes from the ocean I could use that kind of relaxation too.
The job has been a source of stress, but only on my part with adjusting to the new region and learning to be a hardened traveler. I am certain I could not do this for the rest of my career--the travel part. I am gone from home 2-4 nights a week and often my flights don't get in until very late. This is the hard part--I want to see the kids as much as possible since they will both be gone in 20 months.
And for the record, Dave and the kids seem to be handling it all fine--it must be a mom issue!
So, the plan is to put the house back on the market in Feb or March and see if we sell next summer. If we do, the cow goes with us, if we don't the cow stays.
That's what I call a win-win!

I have some gardening stories from today, but will put those in a different post.
Thanks to all our friends and family for their support!!