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Same Ol’, Same Ol’

May 12, 2015
Jane Butterfield

Jane Butterfield

I’ve got a couple, well actually three comments in as many weeks about my blog absence, so I thought I would do a quick walkabout with the actual camera and take some photos in a five-minute stretch.  Everybody is in permaculture zone one right now, so it was pretty easy.  I have to say though you blog readers, if you don’t comment or like my posts, I hardly know you’re there.  So without further ado, here we go.  Jane is the first item of interest I encountered.  I sold her calves, and am milking once a day now and she has put on some weight since winter, even though she is giving 4.5 to 5 gallons of milk per day.  Grass is a magical thing for cows you know, I’ve dropped her grain, her production has climbed a bit and she’s gained weight.  All good.

dryland staple garden

dryland staple garden

The dryland garden is almost all planted.  The only thing left to plant is corn, flint and sweet. And rutabagas just before the solstice.  Planted so far:  Potatoes, carrots and parsnips for Jane, beets, dry beans and an attempt at winter squash, some direct seeded and some transplanted.  It’s hard to explain to folks that I plant winter crops before many summer crops…but I do, and I did.

We finished the refurbishing on the brooder/chicken house/greenhouses. The new little pullets are in the small greenhouse to the left, and the mature hens are in the small greenhouse on deep bedding to the right.  I tried to take a photo of them but it was way too humid and the lens fogged up.  So scratch that.  We aren’t doing meat birds this year, finding that we just aren’t eating much chicken, so until our freezer inventory is cleared out, there is no point in adding more poultry.  Things will be quiet on the chicken front this year.

Opie, Chibs and Fiona

Opie, Chibs and Fiona

Here is our blackberry abatement crew, three Large Black weaner pigs from a local farm.  They also are here to take care of any extra dairy products I have, and I have a lot.  Jane did well raising her calf and one extra to seven months of age, and now she’s helping raise these three little baconaters.  Have I ever mentioned dairy cows are a pretty good thing to have around a farmstead? That is if you like cows, and like to milk…

greenhouse 2

greenhouse 2

Next on the walk is greenhouse two with sweet onions, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and miscellaneous brassicas planted.  One row is left to be planted with melons, squash, and cucumbers.

greenhouse 1

greenhouse 1

Directly adjacent is greenhouse 1 which is where we’ve been spending a lot of time.  Plant starts and our garden is growing here.  Most of the starts for sale have went to their new homes, and we are still seeding for our own use, but not as near the pace as earlier.  When I see the amount of fresh food we have been pulling out here on a daily basis, I always wonder why serious gardeners balk at putting up a greenhouse. If you’re eating every day, your food is coming from somewhere, and most likely grown and transported in ways that you don’t really want to know about.  I couldn’t resist throwing that in there because if one more person tells me that I am using PLASTIC in my gardening efforts I think I’m going to do something bad to them. See?  I’m still here ranting and raving like usual.

full cows

full cows

Cows always calm my nerves, so the last stop on my walk was the cows.  They are full and resting and enjoying our drizzly days.


Always the faithful pup awaiting my return from across the road.  So dear readers if you’re still out there, let me know and toss me a few ideas of what to write about, because from my side of the screen and the camera things look pretty much the same as always.

113 Comments leave one →
  1. Lucy permalink
    May 12, 2015 1:33 pm

    Well, I’ve missed your posts. And Jane looks sooooo good compared to the dairy cows I frequently drive past – only one dairy operation left in our county. Those cows seems to have an existence about 180 degrees away from Jane’s, and it shows……

    And of course my brown thumb means “my” only garden is yours.

  2. May 12, 2015 1:35 pm

    I love vicariously entering into the rhythm of your life, and missed your posts! Thank you for sharing your activities. Oh, I ordered the book about the early Columbia Gorge settlers from the author and thoroughly enjoyed it, as did my 88 yr old mom who grew up in Hood River.

  3. May 12, 2015 1:48 pm

    I’m a regular reader but rarely make comments because with my own farm I get busy too, but since I also have my own farm blog I realize how important those comments are to keeping you motivated to take a minute away from the farm to blog. I really love your blog and have gotten so many good ideas from it, so keep on keeping on! You are not just talking to yourself, there are lots of folks like me who forget how important feedback is to a busy farmer!

  4. Aspenhills permalink
    May 12, 2015 1:53 pm

    I’ve missed the opportunity to follow your farms life. I’m sure that I’m not the only one to notice your absence. I understand that spring is the busy time. Jane looks well. The cows look peaceful. The baconators look hungry. Glad that you are back. When will calving begin?

  5. Bee permalink
    May 12, 2015 1:53 pm

    Nice to have you back, Nita! The pictures on Instagram are nice, but I learn a lot more from your long-hand posts. I second the usefulness of the cow. Maybelle feeds us, her calf, the pigs, the chickens, the cats and the dog, and I can even spray raw milk on the fields and garden. I just hate that two-month dry period. If she has a heifer this year, I’m seriously thinking of going to a two-cow dairy herd. With OAD milking for each cow, I could manage two, I think. There’s definitely a greenhouse in our future; I have the frame from a portable garage, just need to save up enough for a cover. Suggestions for blog topics: more details on how minerals affect cows’ health (and how to tell when it’s a mineral issue rather than something else), using weeds to identify soil health/problem issues, root cellaring Nita’s way, orchard care. And tell me more about using pigs for blackberry abatement!

  6. May 12, 2015 1:57 pm

    I’m reading happily — keep those posts coming! I rarely comment, but read every word and suck in the greenhouse rants and grass mentions happily.

    I’ve been astonished at the difference it makes in our goats to be eating only green grub over the last couple of weeks and I try to apply all the things I learn from your cow to my goats. One of these days, we’ll probably build a greenhouse too, although likely not until after we can easily get supplies back to our core homestead….

    If you need an idea for what to post about, here’s a question — if you could save the cash for a more permanent greenhouse covering than the thin plastic everyone uses on hoophouses, would you do it? Or do you feel the thin plastic is really more utilitarian since solid plastic sheets degrade and lose their transparency anyway? What’s holding me back most from making some kind of greenhouse isn’t the plastic so much as the disposability of said plastic, so I’d be curious to hear your take on the matter.

    • May 12, 2015 2:24 pm

      It probably does deserve a post, but in a nutshell, the plastic can be recycled when you’re done with it. But, here’s what we’ve found. It is supposed to have a life of 4 years…that is only pertaining to light emittance, so we get more than 4 years from installation, there is still plenty of light emittance after even 6+ years, when it finally gives up the ghost for the big greenhouses we use it to put covers on the little ones for the chickens. They need shade anyway, so “poor” light emittance and a few holes are nothing. The stuff is tough. We also use old pieces for covering our compost piles in the winter, in the haybarn under the hay as a vapor barrier etc. So very little has to be recycled because we always need it. As for permanency, once I had a chance to garden in the space that received winter weather with the cover off, I would never go back to a permanent, irrigation-hungry permanent set-up. Eliot Coleman is on to something with the moveable hoopys, the soil is like my garden outside without the cool nights and constant rain. Wonderful. There are some greenhouses down the road with plastic cover like ours, the covers look good and the permanent polycarbonate end walls are now yellow and grungy looking enough that I think I wouldn’t want to spend the money or look at them.

      • May 13, 2015 12:20 pm

        Thanks so much for sharing that. We are going back and forth on what to do for our main greenhouse. I’m glad your back – I always enjoy your posts and grateful for all that I learn from you.
        Jane is a beauty and everything looks great. As always, I’m inspired…

  7. May 12, 2015 2:08 pm

    Sooooo glad to hear from you. you make my day! My house cow is coming from the almost last dairy farm, here in our part of North Dakota. They have had to sell most of their dairy cows and close that operation, i am afraid. Just cost too much to ship the milk! But I am glad to bring her here to our little home-farm. I just so envy your greenhouses! You keep on using that plastic,little lady, it would just get blown to Minnesota here. Glad someone can have greenhouse fun!

  8. May 12, 2015 2:14 pm

    I don’t have time for many blogs, but yours is one I don’t want to miss! I love farming so, but have had to limit my involvement as my strength is so much less now. And I am still involved in the organization we started—SIFAT. (Servants in Faith and Technology, which teaches appropriate technologies to church and community workers from many countries where they have no electricity or clean water, etc. I will be 80 in a month. And I am so happy that I can have my little garden and it is doing well. I am trying some new things I have never tried before. We never heard of them down here in Alabama when I grew up. But your writing about the parsnips made me want to try, so I have them planted. They are about 2 inches high. Each year I want to try something new. I also have some little celeriac up. We’ll see if they will make it in our climate. But I no longer have the animals, and a farm so needs that. How I enjoy your pictures and your blog. I kind of live it with you vicariously. Thanks so much for the joy you bring me reading about your farm adventures some of which I had when I was younger. I do miss it when you don’t write!
    Grandma Sarah down in Alabama

  9. May 12, 2015 2:15 pm

    I am certainly a poor commenter, but I have learned so much reading your blog. I appreciate that you practice balance for the benefit of you, your animals, and your land, instead of pursuing an impractical ideal to its extreme to the detriment of you, your animals, or your land!

  10. Wendy permalink
    May 12, 2015 2:16 pm

    I don’t always post, but I read and enjoy. I have a sleek, beautiful Jersey that I raised on a bought commercial cow (who I also love, but her health from that is not what her daughters is by far) for 10 months. She looks nothing like a commercial cow…in fact most people thing she’s 9 months pregnant when she’s less than 3 LOL The usefully of a good cow is hard to beat. She feeds calves, pigs, chickens and people. And provides lots of photo ops too

  11. Jenny M permalink
    May 12, 2015 2:16 pm

    I was recently thinking that I hadn’t seen a post from you recently. Thank you! A few months ago I actually figured out where you live, and it’s where I grew up! I still have family there and thankfully don’t live too far. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, it truly is of value. Take care!

  12. efrompdx permalink
    May 12, 2015 2:23 pm

    I love your blog! Sorry I don’t comment very often…
    I would love to have an update on the grazing rotation. I see the cows are out of the barn and relaxing in the grass — they must be so happy!

  13. AliC permalink
    May 12, 2015 2:35 pm

    I’m glad you are back and I like your posts on daily routine. Grew up on a farm growing our own meat and veggies in the PNW but am reduced to city living and a couple house plants right now. Your blog reminds me of whats possible.

  14. Rita permalink
    May 12, 2015 2:37 pm

    All still here.

  15. May 12, 2015 2:37 pm

    Love them cute little porkers. How big are they apt to get? (Fanatics about anything annoy me… including topics like plastic! Good response to them!)

    • May 12, 2015 2:46 pm

      Gunta, they are dolls too! Funny little bunch of pigs, verrrry demanding! They already have their “appointment” at the butcher, meant to coincide with Jane’s drying up. So I’m hoping for 200 pounds thereabouts.

  16. May 12, 2015 2:46 pm

    I’ve missed you sooo much! Not much time for the Instagram thing. Love the ‘sink your teeth into it’ substance of your blog!!! Enjoy it all, rants included! Anything COWS is devoured. Pasture, grass, garden, greenhouse, farm life, photos… honestly all of it!
    Totally understand the time commitment blogging takes. My blog too has suffered from the busy days on the farm syndrome. But Nita, we need you & your insights out her in the cyber world of blogging.
    Jane is looking beautiful, so is the garden & greenhouse(s). The baconaters- well that photo just made my day!!!

  17. May 12, 2015 2:53 pm

    I’d love to know more specifics about how you do your dryland garden: how much rain do you get, how are the plants spaced, mulched, varieties selected? I’d also like to know about how you feed Jane. Why do you feed what you feed, how did you get to this ration, how much variance in it is there? Love your blog and always either learn something or find inspiration.

  18. Shirley Wikstrom permalink
    May 12, 2015 2:55 pm

    I too love your posts and have been missing them. Could you me tell what you mean by dry land farming? I have heard people say that they think California’s drought is moving North and if dry land means you don’t water the plants that would be very interesting. Do you sell any of your beef or pork?

  19. VaGirl2 permalink
    May 12, 2015 3:20 pm

    I love reading your posts and I’m sorry I don’t tell you so more often! I live in central VA and I love reading your posts about a part of our magnificent country I know little about. I know you are very busy, thank you for taking time to let us glimpse your beautiful life, I read every one of your posts! 🙂

  20. May 12, 2015 3:44 pm

    Never commented, but I’ve read this blog for many years. I grew up on a hobby farm, my parents always wanted to get to the level of food independence that you have, but only got as far as some vegetables, meat birds, layers and cows. I love reading it, even though I’m a city dweller (and equestrian) now myself. I always love your posts and find them fascinating!

  21. Liz permalink
    May 12, 2015 3:50 pm

    Hello! I have commented maybe once or twice in the past – but I am always reading! You are one of my favorites and I learn a lot from you. I’m just over in Portland on a nice urban lot with a big garden, but looking to make the move to some acreage in the next year. I would also be very interested in hearing more about your dryland garden set-up and the care for it. Also, where do you sell your seedlings? Do you go to a farmer’s market or sell to a nursery?

  22. Bev permalink
    May 12, 2015 3:58 pm

    I am doing the happy dance, seeing your post. Do know that that when you are so busy it is not always possible to post each day. Don’t expect it. You need and deserve to have a break. We are like Sarah, we are closing in on being 80. We have raised everything for so many years. We know our health has a lot to do with what we raise and where it comes from. Cute pigs. Fresh sausage, chops, etc. Yum. Do you have your bacon cured? We even like fresh bacon with salt and pepper. I always made my own lard. The best pie crusts ever. It makes you cringe to to see what is in the can of stuff you buy for baking. Love all your knowledge you share and of course, Jane, the cows and the dogs! Can always learn something new and your pics are beautiful. Love the feedback from everyone else, too.

  23. Bee permalink
    May 12, 2015 3:59 pm

    Hey, Nita, I don’t think you need to worry about whether people are still reading…

  24. Marijane permalink
    May 12, 2015 4:18 pm

    Another commenter coming out of the woodwork to say I missed your posts! I don’t really use Instagram so it doesn’t occur to me to go look for your photos there.

    Those little piggies are so cute!

  25. Susanleurbanfarmer permalink
    May 12, 2015 4:29 pm

    You could write about how you get ready for bed. I’d still read it! I devour every word you write and dream of the day when I can be like you. 😃

  26. barefootfarmflower permalink
    May 12, 2015 4:46 pm

    I was just thinking I should send you a virtual pinch to get you blogging again. Glad to see you were back when I popped back over.

    Your cabbages are HUGE! I didn’t save space in my green house for any brassicas. All tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, greens and a couple melons. We’ve been thinking that a second green house is going to be in next year’s plans. 20X96 seems huge at first, until it isn’t.

    I’ve had a huge population of gnats just show up. They are hanging out all over the lettuce and tomatoes. Is that a typical green house pest?

    • May 12, 2015 5:00 pm

      Yeah, where’s your Instagram photos? I don’t usually get gnats or whitefly because our greenhouses are kinda breezy, and if it’s warm the sides are usually rolled up at least a bit. It’s pretty amazing how fast you can fill them up, I planted way less tomatoes this year, which will be a relief :p

      • May 14, 2015 9:43 pm

        haha- well I dropped my phone on the cement while laying on my back, trying to get a picture of an udder…

        Mine is pretty breezy right now as well. We had a wind storm that pulled back a section and I haven’t fixed it yet. Today the gnats were gone, though so all is well that ends well I suppose.

        I need tomato intervention- I just can’t stop!

  27. May 12, 2015 4:57 pm

    Looks like you have quite a following to me. Your farm is pristine! We are out here and very interested.

  28. May 12, 2015 5:05 pm

    I too am kind of stingy with the comments, but always love reading your blog, and have missed it. Not really a cow person, and have no thoughts of ever getting one, but still enjoy reading about yours. Hope you keep the blogging up!

  29. Eliz baker permalink
    May 12, 2015 5:06 pm

    Will you adopt me?? Will work for food..–I live in the area of Texas that has barely, barely moved out of the extreme drought. .Today– -we are barely out of extreme drought.
    .There is Flooding is other parts–I am so sorry for the homes damaged and lives lost but I am thrilled they now have water in their lakes to supply water, they drink that water, you know. Dallas, Ft Worth…other towns…
    We, however, here in the Hill Country, are DRY.
    our beautiful river, the Guadalupe, is barely moving, barely able to supply a little water to our town. We must supply most from deep, deep wells..Some places the river can be stepped across without soiling your shoes..

    Your gardens leave me speechless.
    I have not planted a garden for several years because I made a decision–do I have water to drink and occasionally bathe or do I try, with poor success to garden..
    And for those who mention you use plastic–let them walk in MY shoes. Are they kidding or just totally out of touch with reality. Do they know where their food comes from.?

    Your greenhouses –a beautiful thing..
    I may have to get cow…we have two chicken… ..
    I love to hear of your life., your garden, your lush fields..A beautiful thing…

  30. May 12, 2015 5:10 pm

    Welcome back! I have missed your posts! I have learned so much from your blog over the years. This spring I am finally getting to rotationally graze the sheep I have dreamed of. Your pasture rotation posts are definitely my favorites. Oh, and anything about Jane. Yeah, and the wood cookstove!

  31. quinn permalink
    May 12, 2015 5:12 pm

    Those are very nice-looking little pigs!
    When I had a couple of dairy goats, the milk was a big part of my pantry but also played a part in raising weaner pigs and laying hens. It felt like such a logical, excellent cycle. Now I find myself in the unexpected situation of having to milk one of my cashmere does! Just once daily, and not taking all the milk even then – just enough to take the pressure off because the kids have a harder time latching onto that side – but even a pint of fresh milk daily is such a treat.
    And I wish I could put up a greenhouse! Plastic and all! But this year I think I’ll have to replace my roof, so no other big expenditures are planned.

  32. May 12, 2015 5:17 pm

    Still here but loving your instagram feed now, too. Question I thought of looking at these photos is about how much of that food stays on the homestead for you 3 and the cow? Are yoou growing extra to sell, or is all that what you need to make it 12 months?

  33. May 12, 2015 5:17 pm

    I too read when you posts. I grew up on a farm and love your posts. Now I just gave a garden and citrus trees. My daughter is married to a fifth generation farmer so I get a touch of the farm life. At 70 It is work just to do a garden and mow grass. Keep up the posts please, love Jane, beautiful girl.

  34. Allisa Imming permalink
    May 12, 2015 5:26 pm

    I did miss you. This year is our first in southern Utah and our first season of gardening! I’m very daunted. But your garden and greenhouse posts inspire us. We’re even considering doing some hoop gardening to gain a month at the beginning of our season. We have wonderful summer’s here but odd winters. We expect a huge rainstorm this weekend and woke up to a one-day blanket of snow last Friday. Pretty confounding.
    As always, I adore pictures of the aussies. You’ve got beautiful dogs.
    Oh and those 3 Little Piggies….ADORE shot! I’m sure they’ll be on your plates soon.

  35. Ali permalink
    May 12, 2015 5:31 pm

    I’ve been reading for about a year but have never commented. I enjoy your blog very much and all the great photos. We just moved from the city to a 7 1/2 acre farm we purchased in February. I am looking forward to a cow one day but decided to start with goats since I’ve never milked before. Would rather get my bearings on something smaller than me:) If you need ideas for posts, just remember there are people out there that are brand new to all things farm life and could use very detailed “how to’s” on, well… everything! I need to learn everything from what is the best way for me to grow a large garden, to animal husbandry, to what grass to plant in a pasture, to orchard care (our house has a 2 1/2 acre cherry orchard). I would also love to learn how to cook on a wood burning stove to save money on propane in the winter months since the stove is going round the clock. In regards to your greenhouse, do you have high winds where you live? A greenhouse is on our summer to do list but my hubby doesn’t think a hoop house will withstand our high winds so we are leaning toward a permanent structure made with corrugated plastic sheets. Any thoughts? Keep up the blogging. We are here!!

  36. Cece permalink
    May 12, 2015 5:35 pm

    Another long-time reader coming out of the woodwork. I read every post. Finally moving to a place with good-sized city lot so I can do some of this gardening business myself! I’d like to hear more about dryland gardening and your permaculture zones and how you determined them. I love everything you write!

  37. foodnstuff permalink
    May 12, 2015 6:21 pm

    Well, I have never commented before but I do enjoy seeing what you’re doing. I had noticed your absence and wondered if anything was wrong, so I’m glad to see you back.

  38. May 12, 2015 7:07 pm

    I’m a fairly new reader, so I wonder what you’ll do with the harvest from your bounteous garden and look forward to harvest time to find out.

  39. May 12, 2015 7:27 pm

    Thanks for blogging again. I know how difficult it is to get things done on a farm and have time to blog. Yours is the first I look for. I grew up on a farm and now own one. Taking the knowledge of rotation grazing you shared has help establish paddocks for my sheep. I do lots of canning and enjoy it when you share the end products of your gardens. Love, love, love to read your posts and view your photos. Yes, many of us are out there waiting for our daily nuggets. Keep being a blessing to your many followers (though some like me never comment). Stay tough and precious!

  40. John permalink
    May 12, 2015 8:34 pm

    As always, we love your blog. I know the feeling of talking to a void, I have managed several blogs over the years and it does feel that way. My wife and I started reading your blog back in early 2012, we just returned from a 2 yr bicycle journey- 15 months of which was spent riding through rural Asia. All families in those parts have a subsistence farm of one sort or another, and there is no wasted space. Even roadside ditches have crops growing in them. Anyway, we decided when we get back we are going to start a farm and have a crack at our own subsistence farm. We bought our farm/ranch in early 2013 in SW Colorado and it has been a lot of work! Plus we have a 16 month old daughter running around keeping things interesting. We have 8.5 acres of grass pasture, 6 cattle, 4 pigs, 150 chickens, and lambs coming soon. And of course vegetables. It’s a lot of work, but we get better and better at it everyday. Here are some ideas for you. Growing chicken feed, growing grains, ways to save work, efficiency. For instance ways to save trips to the feed room. Clever gadgets you invented along the way (I like your old electric fence insulator stuff), opinions on fads such as sprouting, fodder systems, old tech that is new again, kelp, Fertrell…

    We don’t need daily updates. I know how much work it all takes. Once every 2 weeks is just fine by us. Thank you for all of your hard work and know there are plenty of people out there who love reading about your life, even if only as armchair farmers. Our farm blog is simple, I do an update a month. That might change in time, but at least this way I can add content without it being too much of a chore. Who knows where that website will be in 5 yrs? Could be history, or it could be much better. Time will tell.

    Thanks for all you do, there are many of us out there who appreciate you, your life, and Jane. John

  41. treatlisa permalink
    May 12, 2015 8:44 pm

    I’m here too!! Always reading, always enjoying the view from your place… Spring is busy for me too, but if you write, I will read… I always enjoy your blog (and I don’t do instagram).

  42. elaine permalink
    May 12, 2015 8:51 pm

    Hi! I am a new reader ~ Punkin’s Patch guided over here once Sara found out my DH & I were putting up a green house, or hoop house, this spring. (not near as large as yours) Can’t wait to get it up and going. My seedlings are pretty stacked in my sunroom 🙂 Then I’ll have time to read more of your blog! Your place is beautiful and Jane is The Best! Thanks for all the info! Soon to be gardening at 7500′

  43. May 12, 2015 9:03 pm

    Loved the walk around the farm, catching up on all the places and animals you usually post about individually. I don’t comment too often, but I always read your posts – I think yours is one of the first blogs I ever followed. As for you, Full Circle Farm, HFS and others, life here is pretty full, and my blog is taking a breather while I try to stay on top of life out in the “real” world. Your instagram pictures are wonderful, but i never go there except when I’m on your blog…which is when I get notice that you had time to do a post…

  44. Rebekah permalink
    May 12, 2015 9:19 pm

    Has anyone ever mentioned how much Jane’s markings look like fantasy planet map?

    • May 13, 2015 4:58 am

      Rebekah, no but she does have a heart on one leg and a flower somewhere, funny I can’t describe where…I see it every day.

  45. CassieOz permalink
    May 12, 2015 10:21 pm

    Y’know I’ll always read posts about cows (wonderful pic of Jane) and pigs and dogs and gardening and cooking or meal plans. Does that about cover it?

  46. May 13, 2015 12:03 am

    I have a confession to make. I’m glad you waited until today to post 🙂 Not because I don’t like reading your posts, but because I do. Having your post sitting around for days while we got on with our spring clean of alpaca houses and sowing seeds before this expected rainy week while the sun still shone, would have been an unbearable temptation. I like to read your posts and the comments at a leisurely pace, like today after heavy overnight rain.

    I do like to read the regular stuff, although I can relate to the sameyness of it all. I often wonder as I blog the same things I blogged about last year, but somehow it is still new and fresh and reminds us of the regular rhythm of life, always the same and yet ever new.

    Well I guess this rain will have tested our new planting method, which is to follow the contour of the land, an idea that sprang from your frequent reference to keylines, coupled with a bit of an exploration of the concept on the internet. So thanks for stimulating some thinking.

  47. May 13, 2015 2:06 am

    Nice to hear all’s well, things look so very well managed at your farm. You put so much into your blog and your detailed posts, I hope you enjoyed having some time for yourself. But, nice to see you back – I’ve learned so much here 🙂

    I’ve been an absentee blogger myself this winter.

  48. May 13, 2015 2:07 am

    I am still reading and have missed your posts 🙂

  49. Bev permalink
    May 13, 2015 2:17 am

    Hi! We have a small farm in NH. 40 Herefords, 2 Guernseys, 100 chickens, a few pigs. I have been lurking in the shadows of your blog for a couple of years. I have gleaned valuable info from your trustworthy, resource–full blog. I find we have much in common, but you are way ahead of me in understanding the whys, wherefores, how-tos, etc. My daughter has chosen your area to live, and we will be visiting Hood River when she gets married in the fall. I appreciate your blog for so many reasons. Thank you for your efforts in keeping it going–you are a great teacher!

  50. May 13, 2015 3:24 am

    Another faithful reader, commenter not so much. Please keep posting! I need the inspiration. We just moved to our little place in January, only 1/2 an acre, but I´m feeling completely useless. No truck, no tractor and a pasture that´s been neglected for 30 years or pretty much destroyed by construction vehicles and a mountain of infill junk to deal with.

    I´m overwhelmed trying to figure out how and where to put in beds with just me and a shovel.

  51. May 13, 2015 3:42 am

    We have 90 some birds in various brooders. I am selling 10 that were labeled cornish-rock, and are instead leghorns. We like the hardy little brown and EE laying birds, so I am going to take them down to the tailgate swap this Sunday. You need facebook Nita!! Also we are going to be building 2 more turkey tractors like we did last year, loved the design we made for ourselves based on the book you recommended 🙂

  52. Shelly G-S permalink
    May 13, 2015 3:56 am

    I wish I had something profound to say but since I do not, I will stick with telling you that I LOVE your blog, follow it faithfully as my work coffee break companion, and DEFINITELY missed you the last three weeks. As a Fiestaware collector, chicken nut, and gardening fiend, ALL your posts are wonderful in my book!

  53. Chris permalink
    May 13, 2015 3:59 am

    Thanks for posting and the tour of the farm for us….I enjoy your blog and read it as new postings appear!

  54. May 13, 2015 4:31 am

    Thanks for coming back to us! I do have a question about the use of greenhouses…I am in central MN where everyone just throws veggies into the black dirt here, and the only ones who ever use greenhouses or hoop houses are CSA providers. Yet, I would love to utilize one as a season extender (May 15 to Sep. 15 are frost dates) but am not sure how to make it work…any posts you have done about utilizing them, sizing, etc? Thanks!

  55. JessB permalink
    May 13, 2015 4:44 am

    Glad you posted! I’ve been missing your frequent posts since you went to Instagram. It’s just not the same.

  56. Luddene Perry permalink
    May 13, 2015 4:51 am

    I’d have missed your posts, too, if I weren’t so busy with the garden myself :>)

  57. May 13, 2015 5:10 am

    Just dropping in for a quick visit and to say hello! Sometimes the hardest part of blogging is figuring out what to blog about : )

  58. Jack permalink
    May 13, 2015 6:03 am

    I love to read your blog every day, but I often wonder where you get the time to wright so much. I couldn’t blame you if you quit but I would miss you.I have commented in the past when I had something to say. I have my own farm and livestock,and I garden a wee bit. I like to see what other people are doing just in case I can add something to myself. I also love to read other comments.

  59. Jessica permalink
    May 13, 2015 6:07 am

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for 6 years now, and your method of blogging teaches me more about the practical side of gardening and farming than anything else I’ve found.
    I’d love it if you could do a post on your favorite garden tools? Thanks!!

  60. May 13, 2015 6:44 am

    THANK YOU for posting!! Like the other 60+ commenters, I read your blog but don’t always comment. I’m always amazed that you (and the other farm bloggers I read) have time to post considering how much you have to do on your farms! Please post when you can, even if you only have time for a quick walk-through like today, it is very appreciated.

  61. Laura permalink
    May 13, 2015 7:44 am

    I have been missing your posts! Glad all is well. Please do tell us more about your three little pigs. Will they be out foraging?

  62. Molly's Keeper permalink
    May 13, 2015 7:56 am

    I read every post you make, and I have learned so much from you. Actually you and the ladies at KFC have been such an inspiration to me. We live on 14 acres in central MN and have about 4 acres now devoted to pasture and hay for our milk cow, steer and calf. I’ve been working on improving soil and fencing for rotation. I also have a small greenhouse and large garden.

    I would be interested in a post about how you eat from your garden. A menu plan for how you fix all those different veggies. I have a dh and 4 kids who are all big eaters, and I love to grow things, but getting all those veggies into them in a simple but tasteful way is a real challenge. Methods for cooking different things, seasonings, what goes well with different meats and carbs, I would love to hear your ideas.

    I also love all your pictures of your farm through the different stages and seasons. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  63. Susan permalink
    May 13, 2015 8:09 am

    Any thing cow-related! Your farm looks wonderful – love the baconaters…

  64. Barbara permalink
    May 13, 2015 8:11 am

    Thanks for the update. I have missed your posts! Have been following your blog for years, and have not only learned so much, but enjoyed your observations and your humor. We moved from town out to a few acres in Boring last year, and have even more to learn now. I hope you keep blogging, and I will resolve to respond better.

  65. May 13, 2015 8:28 am

    Now that your on IG I’m happier. I like reading about some of the old skills that folks in the city aren’t hip to. And your plastic mulch, how do you put it in, do you have one of those expensive plastic mulch tools for your tractor, or do you do it by hand or what…

    • May 13, 2015 8:50 am

      I’m happier too on IG, much less work and preaching to the choir. I mistakenly thought I could easily transfer my photos and blog with them, what a PITA. Needless to say I am getting good at typing with my thumbs. Good mental exercise for this old bird! Anyway, I’m only using the mulch in the one greenhouse, so we sweat through it, and it’s also a pain, but for a half hour of misery, we are spared many half hours of weeding and since I’m irrigating in there, I am using less water, which is good because that is city water I’m using and while it’s pretty cheap, I don’t like paying for water since we have our own. Downside of the mulch? I lose some space that I could interplant into like I do in the other greenhouse. Miller Organic makes real good use of her hoophouse, I want to live in her greenhouse and have her bring me bok choy kimchi! Fiddlehead just got a fancy machine and they are using paper mulch…lots of ways to skin the cat. You know, a lot of photos that are making it to IG wouldn’t have been taken if I didn’t have a phone in my pocket, so I have to say it’s a better “picture” really of my days on the farm. Blogging is good, but it’s not real time. We never would have stopped to take photos of the timber hitch and pulling those poles into place in the barn, yeah for new technology to document old skills. I think it’s the perfect blend of old and new. And for those who say they don’t do Instagram, I didn’t either until I got a phone but I darn sure looked at Instagram accounts every single day. You don’t have to do anything but look at the pictures, if you want to post or comment then that’s a different story.

  66. May 13, 2015 8:48 am

    Glad your back. I look forward to your farm updates but I know you are busy so I am not one to harass. I have your blog as well as another and several websites set as my home when the browser opens. Your sight is one of the first things I check each day.

    You said that you are milking once a day without the calves? I am new to this but I was under the assumption that you could only milk once a day with calf sharing. Without you had to milk twice. Can you enlighten this rookie?

    I love your greenhouses and plan to add a small one to our place. And yes I do plan to use plastic. Lol The people who question this should probably be asked if they are using rubber/plastic garden hose to water or are they carrying water in a wooden bucket from a hand dug well.

    • Bee permalink
      May 13, 2015 12:54 pm

      Hey, Ned, since Nita didn’t answer this one, I’ll take a stab at it. You can milk once a day with or without calves (I’ve done both). The dairies that have gone to OAD milking report the cows give less total milk (I’ve seen figures from 15-25%) but protein, butterfat and milk solids increase. In other words, with TAD milking, you get more water but not necessarily more of the good stuff. That’s been my experience as well, although I don’t weigh my milk or check for butterfat the way the big producers do. There’s no question it’s easy to keep a cow in good condition with OAD milking, and of course it’s easier on the dairymaid! Depending on how old the calf is, I may leave it with mama pretty much around the clock (young babies), or pen it away for about 12 hours before milking (older calves).

      • May 14, 2015 5:35 am

        Thanks for the information. Learn something new every day.

    • May 13, 2015 2:13 pm

      In addition to what Bee said, what I’m doing is a milking the cow once a day. Meaning she is getting milked once a day only. She’s 9 months into her lactation and is giving about four and half gallons a day. This is not a cut and dried thing, some cows don’t tolerate OAD milking at all, especially if they are mastitis prone. As for calf sharing I never do that. When I have a calf, I keep the cow and calf separated and let the calf nurse after I milk twice a day. I milk because I want the cream, and a cow will hold her cream up for her calf, even though they allow you to milk, they keep the goodies for their babies. I guess I’m not a casual milker, I don’t want to go out, have to cajole the cow to the barn because they don’t want to leave their baby, and only get a gallon or so for my effort. So I’m in charge, and I have a relief milker in the calf if I need one, plus a halter broke calf with a flight zone and some manners to boot.

      • May 14, 2015 5:40 am

        So many things to take into consideration. I’m still working out what fits best for our situation. I greatly appreciate all your posts.

  67. Jeanne permalink
    May 13, 2015 10:11 am

    So glad you are back. I thought you must be working day and night to get your crops in and care for all the baby animals. You can see now many of us look forward to your posts and appreciate your sharing even when we remain silent. Thank you for the inspiring pictures and the useful information. We are on 2 acres near Silverton and have applied your techniques and practices for several years. Could you write about converting a neglected area to healthy pasture? Maybe there is an older post that gives details. We have 1 acre pasture and want to raise a beef steer. Thanks again.

  68. m in nc permalink
    May 13, 2015 10:40 am

    Short or long, I enjoy your posts.
    I really enjoy your gardening pictures / flowers / veg as well as livestock info (even though I don’t raise any myself). keep them coming!

    Winter in NC was cold again this year. I didn’t plant snow peas until mid March (LATE!!). One batch just started blooming last week (white blooms) and yesterday I spotted the purple/white blooms on the other batch (requires shelling).

    A cold front arrived last night so the humidity dropped (yeah – not ready to turn on the AC yet) and this will give the peas a little more time to think about actually producing something edible. I thinking it is going to be a short crop because sooner or later the heat will turn on for the summer.

    The farmall is in the ‘shop’ for work (brother is not a gardner and didn’t understand the timing 😦 )… so I hand dug one set of rows for cowpeas and crowders However, the green beans … etc are going to need some rows laid off. I started the zuchs, straight necks, cucs, hot peppers, and paste tomatoes a week ago. The brick sidewalk gets good and warm and all have germinated but the peppers–> they always take longer. Tonight is going to be quite cool, so some of the little starts will get moved to the garage. It holds the heat overnight.

    M in NC

  69. cookie permalink
    May 13, 2015 10:49 am

    Such a great post! I feel like I just had a small farm visit, ready to get back to work now. Many thanks!!!

  70. Stumplifter (Andrea) permalink
    May 13, 2015 11:07 am

    As if you needed another comment. . .
    Seeing all of these amazing comments brings me to tears. So glad to know how many readers love your blog as I do. Nita, as an aspiring homesteader looking to buy her first farm this year, everything that you write about has value to me. I am well read in Berry, Nearing, Dye Gussow, Logsdon, Coleman, Solomon, Salatin, and others, but yours are the words that inspire me most to strive towards my dreams. Maybe it’s the beautiful images, maybe it’s the plain way that you explain the ups and downs, but I relish and heartily devour each and every post. I have learned and, more importantly, put into practice so many of the lessons and experiences that you have shared. My day gets brighter when I see a Throwback post!
    Topics I can always read more about; grazing and pasture management, stock care, notes from the fruit room, what’s cooking on the wood stove, cooking with wood, phrenology notes, all things Jane and house cow related, setting up and maintaining fencing, your pest management culture, and any photo you see fit(or unfit) for posting.
    Thanks for being you and sharing your most precious commodity, your time.

  71. May 13, 2015 11:13 am

    I always enjoy your posts, they really inspire me!! I am following on instagram but I learn so much from your posts and have missed them terribly!! We are in Sheridan, not far from Belle Mare farm, and are just now putting up a large greenhouse. Our winter garden fed us some but looking forward to picking food daily in the greenhouse come fall, winter and spring. We don’t have irrigation water so our water bill is pretty high in the summer so I’m attempting some “dryland staples” this year with your encouragement and a lot of study of Steve’s book. Please keep posting there are a lot of us cheering for you!

  72. May 13, 2015 11:25 am

    Constantly learning from your posts; they are very much appreciated, and missed, when you need a break.

  73. May 13, 2015 1:08 pm

    Yikes, look at those comments! Well, at least you know folks like to read your posts 🙂 You know me, I like detail stuff; fencing, water, feed, chicks. But I hear ya, you’re always gonna be repeating something at this point. But that’s fine, I can always use reminders!

  74. May 13, 2015 1:17 pm

    Anita, I love your blog, and I read it every single day…..except when you don’t blog. Please keep it up because I think we all learn from you. I’m just a gramma but I still learn, still garden and still can every thing I can get a hold of.

  75. tracy slade permalink
    May 13, 2015 1:41 pm

    I for one am not a fan of facebook or instagram. I prefer old fashioned reading. I’ve missed your blog these last few weeks. BTW this is the first comment I’ve ever sent. Really miss you.

  76. Julia Jobe permalink
    May 13, 2015 2:15 pm

    I once had a priest tell me how frustrating it was to pray for those I was concerned about without my telling him the outcome of the crisis. I guess you have similar feelings. But your blog adds so much stability to my life here in a very busy suburb in Texas. I look forward to hearing about Jane and seeing pictures of your very lovable dogs and your full and productive days. Its a very calming element to my stressful days. Thank you for sharing. Julia

  77. Carrie permalink
    May 13, 2015 2:16 pm

    Hi Nita, greetings from the UK. Having read through 79 comments I’d say there’s little doubt your readers are still here patiently waiting… to read stuff!

    When I remember to go and look, I find the photos on Instagram give me a more detailed picture of the activities that make up your day. However, I’m not sure they teach me anything of lasting value or challenge my thinking, whereas your blog posts nearly always do. And the comments of your community of readers can also be insightful and entertaining; and often you add more valuable info in response to their questions. But yes, because we are supporters – a fan base no less! – I suppose the written blog posts could be seen as mostly preaching to the choir.

    Selfishly, I’d vote for ‘an ongoing chronicle’ being mostly words because I enjoy what you write – and how you write – rather more than I enjoy that which you purely photograph.

    On a mundane level, I’m giving Sweet Meat plants away. This is the first year of using own seed so I thought I’d sow plenty just in case of duff seed. Typical, every last one germinated. Maybe this year I’ll get the hang of growing them! 🙂

  78. May 13, 2015 2:29 pm

    Gee, I must be comment 80 by now. I was going to comment yesterday, but ran out of time. 😉 I would really like to see an update sometime this growing season, of that troubled pasture you had up on the hill. You changed the way you were grazing it.

    All pasture growth is triggered by rain, so wondering how and when you graze this troubled area. Being on a slope, I imagine there must be small windows in which you can graze this area. Have you had to move cattle out before finishing your full rotations, if it gets too wet?

    I know living on slopes myself, you don’t want heavy cows on them in the wet, with the potential of falling down. My grandfather had to put down his prized Jersey milker, who fell into a ditch and couldn’t get out. On the second day of trying to get her out, the exhaustion and pain of not being milked, took its toll and he did the kindest thing by putting her out of her misery.

    I wrote a post about some of my grandfather’s experience with cattle:

    In it was the tussle between the old ways and modern conventional farming. While he didn’t maximise his production every year, like conventional farmers hope to do, he was able to weather his cattle better through some difficult drought years because of his experience on the land. What are some of the old ways you have learned, which is often shunned by conventional farming practices? I know there are some things you happily adopt (ie: electric fencing for rotational grazing) but what are some old ways you simply won’t give over to modern conventional practices.

    I say this because my grandfather was able to take plump cattle to the sale yards consistently, when the majority were showing signs of drought. If troubled weather patterns will be our norm into the future, these “old ways” may make the difference between dead cattle or living. One of the main things which consumed my grandfather was observing the weather patterns. All decisions hinged on that. It meant he had to be flexible, which modern conventional farming, doesn’t like to do.

  79. May 13, 2015 4:45 pm

    I seldom comment, unless I have something to say. But I check every day to see if there’s a new post. Once I’ve looked for the post, the next stop is to see if there’s new photos on IG, which I have bookmarked. So I am consoled with looking at the photos on IG, but it’s the posts I most enjoy!

  80. May 13, 2015 6:11 pm

    I am terrible at commenting (which is funny, because as a blogger I know just how welcome comments are) but wanted to chime in to say how nice it is to see your post here!

  81. May 13, 2015 8:15 pm

    Your blog is the only one that I consistently read! We used to live in Bend but have moved to CO to live near family. Apparently, my husband John wrote in as well and made several suggestions for posts. I know you’ve done posts on making butter. I have been making butter from our local grass fed dairy milk but consistently ends up smelling like Parmesan cheese, even if I don’t let it sit out very long (4 hrs max). Any suggestions? More posts or re-posts about cow health, birthing calves, etc. If you know what causes poopy butt in baby chicks and how to avoid it, that’d be great. I’ll check out the Instagram thing. Never been on there before. Look forward to more posts!

  82. May 13, 2015 9:19 pm

    I did make a comment, but it went AWOL, so just to say that the only reason I was glad you haven’t posted in so long is because I was so busy doing my own planting that I wouldn’t have had time to read them properly and I do like to do that and read the comments. I have learnt a few things over the time from you, so thanks

  83. Claudia W. permalink
    May 13, 2015 10:22 pm

    Hi Nita! I moved to the Pacific Northwest at the end of January. I’m up in Washington, way north of you, but still on the same coast. I learned a lot from you before we moved here, I have been following you for a while now.
    I always knew I wanted a farm, since I was five, and I now own a small five acres. We have horses, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, geese, and chickens. Someday, we will have sheep, for the wool. The goats are for the milk, for soap mainly, but cheese as well. Eventually, I want to do meat chickens, some for the dogs, some for us.
    I do plan on starting a garden, but I figured that I should watch my land first to see what, where, when and how would be best. So far, I’m leaning toward small, raised beds. We are right on top of an old river bed…I have about six inches of soil at the deepest on top of river rock, besides I can get down and dirty, but getting back up won’t work, my hips and knees are ridiculous.
    There is so much I don’t know about the gardening, well, maybe I should just say farming in general. I am learning some stuff day by day. Anything you do with gardening is a big plus for me…
    I hope you will continue to write on your blog. You are an inspiration to me and a wealth of information…practical information…
    Thank you!

  84. Norene Bennett permalink
    May 14, 2015 4:39 am

    I’m with so many others…I am faithful to read your blog daily (one of just a few that I really, really make sure I check every single day!), but I very rarely post anything. I’ve been concerned about you these last weeks, praying that life hadn’t dealt you a blow. So glad you’re okay! I’m in SW Virginia, so our climates differ a lot, but I still am intrigued by your decisions and want to adopt many of them. Please don’t think we’re not interested!

  85. mica permalink
    May 14, 2015 5:14 am

    daily reader here too. Jane is so beautiful, your photos always relax me

  86. Paula permalink
    May 14, 2015 6:37 am

    Hi! I really have missed you and it was so good to read your wonderful words again today! I have learned so much from you and you have really raised my appreciation of the art/craft of raising food and being a good steward of the land. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

  87. Phillis permalink
    May 14, 2015 10:15 am

    I don’t mind “same old, same old” at all. it is the cycle of life and never really the same.

  88. Jan Graham permalink
    May 14, 2015 2:49 pm

    Wow, I get to be reply 100!!! You are on my daily list. I have been reading your blog since Jane was a baby. (I love Jane). Keep up the good work. Hugs

  89. Joyce permalink
    May 14, 2015 3:10 pm

    YIKES! I thought the line “the long-hand blogging would come to a screeching halt once I started posting photos to Instagram” meant that, like oh so many bloggers, you’d tired of blogging. I decided to accept disappointment gracefully.

    Your thoughts and insights keep me going on my own little farm (6 dairy goats, 8ish chickens, 1200 sq’ garden space).

    I also had the impression you had a healthy batch of commenters. I had no idea you felt you were talking to no one.

    Please, continue! Every daily detail helps me keep on handling my daily details.

  90. May 15, 2015 5:55 am

    I cant imagine my day without the insight and guidance from your blog. I want a small farm because of you I think I can do it. Canning I think I can and now I do, I follow your recipes. I love Jane. I love the puppies. Please don’t stop.

  91. sblisster permalink
    May 15, 2015 6:49 am

    I don’t know if I’ve commented before, but I do love your posts. They’re very aspirational. I would love to see how you figure out the logistics of rotational grazing different groups (or maybe you keep them all together). I’ve got a tiny herd, but as it grows, it’s a challenge to know who goes where (beef vs dairy and calves, bred and freshened cows, and steers/heifers).

  92. Lorrie S. permalink
    May 15, 2015 2:07 pm

    I too, and it would seem a bit late, wish to express my appreciation to you for the window into your farm. I always learn something and your posts are definitely sustenance for my soul. I thank you for your time and effort expended in creating this blog!

  93. May 15, 2015 5:04 pm

    I stop by about once a week and you are an inspiration.

  94. bgf permalink
    May 16, 2015 2:05 pm

    Great to read a long post again, Nita! I love your IG account, too. Following your day-in, day-out is always interesting. Thank you for all the time you take to document and teach. We farm and homestead (for 15 years now), and I still learn something new everyday.

  95. Deb permalink
    May 17, 2015 7:10 pm

    This is my first time posting, however, I have been a long time reader. I think I have been reading your blog for at least 2-3 years. I love reading about Jane, the cows, the pups, your gardens and food preservation. I grew up in the Columbia Gorge near The Dalles, and love reading your blog as I know you are not too far from the area I grew up in. I am now in a small town near Seattle and my husband and I are in the process of setting up a small farm.

    I love reading your posts as I learn so much. I hope you keep blogging as you have a very nice style of writing and a gift for taking beautiful pictures of your farm.

  96. bunkie permalink
    May 18, 2015 3:40 pm

    Just commenting to let you know I’m here and reading and so much enjoying your posts! Nothing to suggest…your posts are the best!

  97. May 22, 2015 5:46 am

    It has been fun and educational to watch Jane mature. I have only really handled beef cattle until we got our Jerseys. Condition is different. Nice to see the changes in Jane through the year and as she grows and it’s nice to see the contrast between Jane and your main herd.

  98. Nicole permalink
    May 24, 2015 1:52 pm

    Love the update and have missed the posts. So nice to get a walk around the farm.

  99. May 26, 2015 10:03 pm

    Ahh piglet called Fiona…….

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