Archive for March, 2012

Milking season

Last night, while thunder rumbled and lightning popped across the sky, Julia gave birth to her second calf. This time she had a heifer. Because the heifer is a Jersey/Angus cross, she’s about the size of a small labrador retriever. She’s also a dark chocolate brown.

She’s beautiful.

This morning I fed Julia some grain and tied her loosely in her stall. While she ate, I milked out about a quart of colostrum. The little one had taken the rest. Then John and I got the stall cleaned up, rebedded, and properly fluffed.

Mother and baby are doing just fine.

Julia seems quite contented in her stall, keeping watch over her new baby. Looks like she'll produce quite a bit of milk for us this year.

Here's the latest addition to our farm, all hunkered down and sleepy after a big breakfast.


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Springing forward

In our neck of the woods, March doesn’t come on like a lamb – more like a stampede of lambs.

Two weeks ago the spring peepers began their rhythmic chorus and a few days after that, the turkey vultures coasted onto the scene, spiraling and circling in the air currents above the farm.

The daffodils and tulips I optimistically planted in November are coming up beautifully. Thin green daffodil stems are topped by tight, yellow-tinged buds. The short, squatty tulips haven’t progressed that far.

Already, the bed needs weeding.

Garden seeds are toasting their toes on a greenhouse heating mat, covered with a clear plastic tray lid, waiting to burst through a moistened sterilized soil mix. There are 18 plum tomatoes, three heirloom Black Russians and three hybrid slicing tomatoes. In cells next to the tomatoes are six green peppers and six Anaheims. The rest of the 72-cell flat is filled with kale.

Starting seeds is my favorite part of gardening. All promise. No weeds.

All the while, Julia’s been growing rounder and rounder. Her sides have bulged so much under her spine and hip bones that she’s turned a rather triangular shape. I came home tonight to find her contentedly chewing her cud, curled up in the comfort of her deeply strawed stall. She lumbered to her feet when I showed up in the doorway, and then she groaned a bit as she ate her dinner. I guess carrying an extra 60 pounds is starting to take its toll.

The string of mucus sliding down her backside was enough to earn her a midnight visit. We’re officially on baby watch countdown.

I’m a typically heavy sleeper, until it comes to midnight barn checks. I can wake up at midnight on the dot without an alarm clock. Tonight, guided by flashlight, I’ll be serenaded by the peeper’s song. If I’m lucky, I’ll also hear Julia’s soft, urgent moo-moo-moos signaling another spring arrival.

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