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The root of it

September 14, 2008

Della is coming into her milk. //" target="_blank">View Raw Image</a> Tonight will mark 7 days since she went into labor.  Each day she has progressively gotten back to her normal self.  Yesterday, she opened the gate that most humans have a hard time with, and came to the house, after crossing the street.  Tonight she kicked off her hobbles.  These shenanigans tell me she is on the mend.  I tied the gate shut today, and sure enough, when she decided it was time to come home, and couldn’t undo the square knot, she bawled.  Things feel right in my world tonight.  Watching her, and Brooks and Lath, cavort this evening was a treat.  Last Monday I wouldn’t have given you a plug nickel for her.  The last couple of days, Della has acted like a career woman, she goes to a different pasture for grazing during the day (better grass) and leaves the kids behind.  At night she is ready to come home and be with the family.  It’s funny to see her acting all business.  She will kick off her kickers in rebellion, and then stand perfectly still, while I put them back on, even moving her leg into position to make it easier for me.  I guess she just has to remind  me who’s boss.   I love that saying “Still kicking” now more than ever.  I’m so glad she is still kicking.

It has seemed hard this last week to deal with Della, and the dead calves.  I feel guilty for over-scheduling, and not having time for something to go wrong.  We try to focus on home and hearth, but there doesn’t seem to be enough wiggle room for unforeseen problems.   Jan commented this weekend, about her husband being a good farmer, and realizing that you can’t get it all done.  He was so right.  My dilemma now, is trying to keep up. 
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These babies are beckoning, they smell so heavenly and are just begging to be picked.  But, I don’t have time.  I’m always torn between harvesting what I have spent so much time growing, or the free stuff, right in front of my face.  And, truth be told, I still have blackberries in the freezer from last year.   So while I don’t want to let anything go to waste, I can’t ignore these brassicas.  The berries will have to wait.
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I’ve been feeling that urgency of fall, and today I picked tomatoes in the greenhouse, it was 90*, but with the sun not being exactly overhead, it was nice.  Three weeks ago, it would have been unbearable, even the dogs were lying in the sun today, I imagine trying to get the sun into their bones.  The swallows have left, and the crows are coming back, the noises of summer are almost gone.  It has seemed for weeks all I could think of was warm weather crops, and the fact that they aren’t ripening, now my attention has turned towards the roots, that I have been taking for granted just like the sun.
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Red Cored Chantenay, one of Della’s grain substitutes.  Getting the grain out of our operation is a number one priority.

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Harris Model parsnip, Della’s other grain substitute.  These winter root crops that we rely so heavily on, have to be planted in May and June in order to mature.  We store the carrots, parsnips, beets and rutabagas in the row, mulched with soil, and dig as needed.

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Joan rutabaga – these are for me!

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Lutz or Winterkeeper beet, a good all-purpose beet for eating, kvass, and livestock.  It stays sweet no matter how large it gets.  I’ll be saving seed from these next year.

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Fall Daikon radish – these are for me and the dogs, we are the only ones who will eat them.  The wind blew off the row cover this summer, and then the deer ran through it and tore holes in it, so some of these have maggots.  It is surprising how hot they become, when they are stressed by insects.  Even the parts that don’t have any holes, are so hot, it makes your eyes water.  I think the dogs eat them just to humor me.

We’ve been blessed with hot weather again, and this bodes well for the garden, but now we are right back into fire danger.  This weekend we have been inundated with tourists, trying to squeak out one last weekend in the sun.  Cigarette butts flying out of their cars as they go by.  Last weekend we saw a couple of scuzz balls walk by with backpacks, and then someone came and picked them up.  This weekend they were back again, so we have decided that they must have a grow operation up the road from the house.  So now besides bow hunters, we have these creeps to tend with.  They are soooo cagey, do they think we don’t notice strangers, walking up the road.  I just hope we don’t run into them while we are picking mushrooms.  I am not interested in what they are growing, I just wish they would do it at their house, not mine.  It is legal in Oregon, you know!  BTW, I’m doing a guest post at Women Not Dabbling in Normal tomorrow, which will be my sugar coated dim view of trespassing in general, at least how I perceive the problem as a rural landowner.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Judi In PA permalink
    September 15, 2008 7:10 am

    I tried to leave a comment the other night about Della but I hit the wrong button, after writing quite a masterpiece and erased everything. My stupidity ticked me off so I shut off the computer and haven’t been on it all weekend. (Not that I was still mad at myself, just too busy!) Anyway, so good to catch up on your posts and really happy to hear good news about Della. This had me concerned as my one milk cow is due to freshen any time now. She’s my favorite of the three and I can’t wait to get back to our routine. We have been sustaining on the dairy goat’s milk as I did not coodinate the freshening to allow myself cow’s milk all year long. All three were dry at the same time! When you don’t use AI, sometimes it gets a little tricky, and basically, I’m not organized enough to get something like that figured out! So, I’m a little worried about “Milkcow”. (I’m so creative with names, that it’s a wonder I didn’t name my youngin’s, “Kid 1, Kid 2, Kid 3 and Etc.” I’ll just trust nature, what’s meant to be, is meant to be with the added philosophy that I have been feeding her right and keeping her healthy so everything should turn out all right. On another note, don’t beat yourself up with puttin’ up your food and everything else that isn’t getting done. Do what you can and remember that there are others in the same boat. Some days, I don’t have a clue as to which vegetable or fruit is the most important to “put up” so I just close my eyes and pick the one that I think is the easiest! Yesterday, I had four canning projects going at the same time and I only managed to get supper on the table! All four are still waiting for me! It gave me comfort today to know that someone out there shares my grief with not getting it ALL done. So thanks, I needed that. Oh, one more thing, those vegetables are absolutely gorgeous!

  2. September 15, 2008 7:33 am

    How do you get the dogs to eat radishes? Raw?!

    When you write about replacing grain do you mean no grain or less grain? If you have discussed this in an earlier post please point me in that direction. Or is this food for new post?

    Also, I would like a time multiplier of my own – surely that’s what you have – to be so busy and still write such interesting posts with the great photos!

  3. September 15, 2008 11:23 am

    Your veggies look great! I’m so jealous of your beautiful brassica and beets– my absolute favorites.

  4. September 15, 2008 2:21 pm

    Your crops look marvelous. Glad Della is back to her old self.

  5. September 15, 2008 4:19 pm

    I am so happy that things are getting back to normal with Della. Isn’t it amazing how quickly animals recover? Know you are breathing a sigh of relief that things are settling back down.

    Blackberries! Ours shrivelled up this year due to a lack of rain. That makes 2 years in a row we’ve had none. Maybe next year? Keep your fingers crossed for us.

  6. September 15, 2008 6:27 pm

    I cannot wait to have more berries here. This fall we are planting LOTS of fruit. I am interested in growing food for out critters and reducing our use of grains so please keep us posted. My concern is winter storage. Fruit flies are horrendous this year even pestering the squash and onions we’ve harvested. Do you till your fields and grow certain things for your cattle? Lastly, I look forward to your trespassing post because we have lots of issues with that here.

  7. September 15, 2008 8:19 pm

    I know what you mean about deciding what is more important and what can go. While it’s always hard to let something go, I tell myself that it is feeding the animals instead. What berries I have missed or passed on, will be eaten by the birds that are heading South or by the ones that hang around.

    Like Kim, we are bombarded by fruit flies and after coming home from a weekend away, I am convinced they must have had an orgy in the house while we were gone!! I am killing one every 15 seconds it feels like! I have to hurry and process the food I am canning and promptly get rid of the waste into the compost pile by the garden. Looking forward to cooler weather, just because there are less bugs when it’s cold!!

    How long do you save Della’s milk until you start to drink it again? I am assuming you drink her milk…

  8. September 15, 2008 9:17 pm

    Judi, thanks for the kind words. I hope everything turns out OK with “Milkcow”. I’ve had a terrible year dairywise this year. Keeps me from being too smug I guess. I’m like you with the canning, I can make plans, but sometimes the priority shifts because of other concerns. Somehow, it always gets done. Most of the time 😉 Too bad about your original comment, the second time around was great!! Thanks!

    EJ – I have a special radish eating breed, no just kidding. They are troopers, and will try anything I offer them. They eat just about all the vegetables we eat, but they only help themselves to the carrots and kale.

    We are trying to wean ourselves off of grain eating animals. A good post about that is called JIMMY CRACK CORN, AND I DON’T CARE. We raise grassfed beef, and our beef cows never receive grain, except as a training tool. As in, when I shake a bucket, they pay attention to me. This comes in handy for moving them down the county road. The dairy cow is a different story. She gets 2#’s of grain a day,which is the equivalent to 1/2 of a coffee can. A friend of mine who sells raw milk, feeds 15 – 20 lbs a day. He has more milk, and many health problems. I could feed more grain, but that would mean more milk, and possibly impaired digestion. I want neither. I’m raising the extra root crops for winter feed for the dairy cow only. Spring through fall, the cattle graze, and when the grass is dormant in the winter months, they receive grass hay, that we put up ourselves.

  9. September 15, 2008 10:03 pm

    Louise, thanks, I always have a hard time picking my favorite, usually it’s the veggie du jour!

    TC, thanks who would think a person would be glad to see a cow kicking. 🙂 She’s not really a kicker, but when she does, she has good aim, so I never milk without the kickers.

    Pamela, yeah it is a big relief, animals are much more resilient than people, that’s for sure.

    Sorry about your blackberries, they are an invasive weed around here. Maybe next year…

    Kim, that’s great you are planting more berries, soon you will have enough to harvest. Fruit flies are not a problem here, I’m learning so much from you commenters. I would never have believed your area would be more bothered by bugs.

    We don’t raise crops for the cattle, just extra root crops for the dairy cow. I planted more this year, expecting to winter 2 dairy cows, but everyone knows how that turned out! We harvest them from the ground as needed. But, our soil doesn’t freeze that deep. But some type of root cellar would work. I’m not talking a lot either, I only grew 4, 90′ rows of parsnips, and two 90′ rows of carrots. These will keep until May, and by then the grass is growing well.

    I decided I better not get too carried away on the trespassing post, since I’m only a guest there, and would like to be invited back. So it kind of turned into a whiny rant instead of a how-to. I guess I really mean a how not-to. 😉 The issues are a never ending source of stress here, I know what you mean. I never know who I’m going to find. The lookout near our house is a dumping ground for bodies, and stripped cars, the worst that happened was a thrill kill at a target practicing site. Lovely thought, those teenagers that shot those poor guys took our road to get back home. I wished life was idyllic like portrayed in the media, but it’s not always true.

    Jenny, that’s awful about the flies. We have maybe 5 or 6, at most. But, I don’t like them, I can’t imagine having them everywhere, they are so annoying.

    I’m not sure what you were asking me about the milk. We do drink it, and after the 5th milking (2 1/2 days), the colostrum is gone, and the milk is white. So I freeze the first colostrum in case a different cow has problems. It’s cold enough to drink in 12 hours or so, but the cream takes about 24 hours to completely rise. You could drink it warm right out of the cow, but I like it cold. It keeps about 2 weeks. Is that what you wanted to know?

  10. September 16, 2008 2:29 pm

    I’m glad to hear Della’s back in business!

    I am writing down the varieties that work well for you – especially the root vegetables. I love the Daikons. I tried them last year. I made a fermented daikon/carrot jar that I kept in my fridge and stuck on meat sandwiches – so good! They have the best flavor of any radish I’ve tried, the flavor is just followed by a *lot* of heat!

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