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Taking out the Sheaves

December 15, 2014
"What's in the pasture?"

What’s in the pasture?

"Oh, it's the cows."

Oh, it’s the cows.

Grazing season is over here, so it’s time to start hauling the hay to the cows.  Who’s the boss?  The cows or me?


Battening Down the Hatches

December 11, 2014
The calm before the storm

The calm before the storm

On the list today besides the usual chores of cooking, milking, feeding, mucking, fire tending, jerky making, cookie baking, churning, and maybe some sewing…we need to get prepared for the possibility of high winds from the south.  The 100 mph gorge winds don’t touch us, but the south wind?  That’s our weak point. 30 mph to 40 mph isn’t a pretty sight.


Heavy Reading…

December 9, 2014

Gosh, it’s that time of year…when bloggers go AWOL, but farm life just keeps happening.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually have time to finish a book instead of returning it to the library with a bookmark still in the middle.  A girl can dream can’t she?

I like holding a book in my hands, so that becomes problematic in a rural area where the library is 15 miles distant.  When you get the notification that a book you’ve had on hold for months is finally there, you find a reason to go to town.  I’ve had my nose buried in The Big Fat Surprise:  Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz.  Heavy reading indeed.  It’s preaching to the choir for me, but it may be an eye-opener for some.  Beware of people with an agenda, they can shape history, it may not be for the good.

It’s no surprise that beef is on the menu here tonight.  Pan seared chuck roast (in ghee) on a bed of various vegetables from the winter garden.  Leek planks, garlic, rutabaga, celeriac root and stalks, and a good measure of carrots.

Thank you slow cooker, it’s too warm to build a fire just for cooking, and I have chores to do outside.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014
Milk heads

Milk heads

I guess it pays to hang out under the calf buckets…

Our menu?  Roast chicken, dressing seasoned with onion and celeriac leaves, garlicky mashed potatoes, balsamic roasted brussels sprouts, braised leeks, and blueberry pie.  I’m stuffed just thinking about it!

No Bull

November 25, 2014
Reese, 8 days post castration

Reese, 8 days post castration

The rental bull has went home, and the calves have been castrated.

Not that the bull has been a problem on the daily fence moves, it’s more that you have a bull in your pasture.  And you have to be on the alert.  A bull is a bull, despite that some folks swear that they have a tame bull.  We’re right at the number of cows that it hardly pays to keep a bull year round, and it would be a pain to artificially inseminate (AI) the cows.

So it’s a relief that Joey the bull went home.  It was also a relief to see six testicles on the ground in the corral.  I know it really bugs people to think of cutting a calf, but I have to be honest and say I have never seen a bad outcome from the real thing, but I have seen bad results (death from infection, stags, etc.) from banding.  Burdizzo clamps are popular too with the bloodless crowd, and I can just say to each their own.   I have a pair (pun intended) that a friend gifted me, and they are in the box with other bovine related tools I have that probably will not get used.

No worse for wear

No worse for wear

And to make all the DIY’ers cringe we had the vet out to cut the calves, which also coincided with having our old horse put down.  Odd day, corralling calves and putting a faithful companion to sleep.  A day of sure things.  My husband has grown weary of killing our dogs, milk cows and horses when the “time” comes.  And we do not begrudge the vet, a professional, his living.  If I want him to bail me out in an emergency, I need to make sure he gets the bread and butter calls too.  Sure things mean blood in some places and not in others.  As a farmer you steer the destiny of many animals, a botched banding job could mean the sacrificed life of a future cow who gets bred too young by a “steer.”  The bull’s fate is sealed when he is born, not much potential really, even if you entertain the idea of oxen, you still need to castrate.  A heifer can potentially live to a ripe old age unless she is bred too young.  As for the horse, going out without your owner being nervous and twitchy can’t be bad thing.  Cost?  Yeah lets see, six calf nards are much cheaper to remove than two dog nards…and horse euthanasia?  Expensive and priceless all rolled into one.  RIP sweet Willy, we still feel your presence in the barn and the pasture…


Better Late than Never

November 24, 2014

Music to my ears

I always count the garlic planting as my first crop of the new year.

It’s official, the 2014 garden is done.  Well, except dig my dahlias…but that won’t take too long, says she of List. Too. Big. fame.  Bigger things were weighing on our minds than dahlias.  Namely getting the cover off the greenhouses before anymore ice came our way, and getting the garlic in.

The greenhouse covers came off without a hitch last week, so that just left the garlic.  But it’s been nothing but rain, rain, rain since the thaw.  I was threatening to mud the garlic in, mulch and walk away ’til spring.  But today it dawned dry, with the promise of a dry window large enough to get the garlic popped, soil amended, cloves planted, and mulched.

Field boss and children

Field boss and children

Garlic supervisor, year 13

Garlic supervisor, year 13

So as the animals looked on in amusement I worked my way through the seed garlic.

Music to my ears

Music to my ears

Some animals tried to “help”… .  Nothing like a curious pup who has never seen garlic planted before.

This year I decided to only plant Music instead of messing around with the other additional varieties I grew in years past.  This cook likes big cloves.  I know I am probably missing out on some stupendous flavor burst without having a more diverse planting, but I tend to just leave the small cloves in favor of the larger, easier to peel cloves.  It also simplifies the seed selection as most heads have about 6 to 8 large cloves and they are all good for planting.

Now at least one big project is done and I can start a new page in the garden book – 2015 here we come.

Yakkity Yak

November 14, 2014

It is thawing a bit where the sun can reach…chores are a little treacherous without some traction though, and with ice and snow covering the grass, the cows need hay.

Not as cold as some of you folks are getting, but certainly cold enough to bring errant tom cats home for a spell.



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