Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mornings with Mavis

Mavis is a hard working farm dog.

When I am working in the morning with the herd, this is what Mavis does:

When I go to the office, here is what Mavis does:

When I am home in my office, here is what Mavis does:

When Mavis visits another farm, this is what she does:

After her exhausting mornings, she takes a nap.

And snores.

Lucky Dog

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snow Storms & Sprouts

Yesterday morning I was axing through the permafrost to find power cords and chopping ice with my favorite garden tools.  There was no electricity to the cow side of the farm.  The fence charger was not making its usual clicking noise and the water tank heater was taking an unnecessary vacation.  The cows were lined up for a drink and I was determined to get them one.     My garden tool is always under my truck seat and I have found hundreds of uses for it over the years. My favorite use is to actually garden with it, but this winter it has helped me dig trenches thru the ice and chop up the ice flows in the water tank.

They all got their drinks and I filled the tank up before I left for work.

And.... checked on the status of their red block of mineral salt.
All animals MUST have salt and this herd goes through 50 lb blocks of salt as well as 50 lb loose bags of red mineral.  Each cow has her preferance.....

Part of this tub is a bit singed from the barn was 20 feet away from the barn, the heat was so intense.  Its a momento of a bad memory.

This morning the barnyard was turned into a winter wonderland again with the snow coming down fast and fluffy.

I would rather have it snow than get the miserable rain that other states are getting today.   Since we now have no barns left for the cows to get completely out of the worst weather ( wind and rain ) I pray constantly for just snow!

Apparently I now have a rather large following of church friends, blog pals, village folks, girl friends, relatives, store owners, library guests, tractor dealers, mechanics, animal rescuers and co workers also praying with me.   So.. if you are really wondering why its snowing so much up here in the northeast, its not climate change, its "Prayers for Cows."    Please join in and pray for snow and NOT wind and rain.

The cows and I thank you.

The cows like the snow.  They lay down and chew their cud while it is snowing.
Snow is an insulator and actually keeps the cows warm when it is on their backs.

This is Red Sox Faith.    #1 snow lover.   #1 Red Sox Fan.     Born 4/4/04
She is the reason the BoSox broke the curse.
She desperately wants a Red Sox hat.
She continually gets in my face about it.
Someone told her the Red Sox have a game next week.

Here is the Friday Morning Cud Chewers group. They meet before 8 am and chat and chew for 2 hours.

For those of you who continually ask me how the old Jersey cow, Susan, is doing....she is alive and well.
I discovered she loves those really big thick carrots.
I thought she was deaf and semi blind, but when I showed up with a fat carrot I found, she trotted right over to me and ripped it out of my hand.
I have not been able to find those fat carrots since!  Made a special trip to WalMart and came out empty handed.

Ohh, here she is again, asking for a Red Sox hat.......

By now you should all be very familiar with this nose.
Its Gwen asking for her graham crackers and a smooch.
She's not into hats...

After I watered the cows, counted heads, checked on the calves and fixed a fence, I headed home to shovel.
As I changed clothes I saw I had some visitors around my truck looking for cracker crumbs.  There are several large flocks of all male turkeys that have been recently frequenting the mailbox, my truck and my compost pile.
Handsome brutes.  Always a pleasure to see them or their tracks.

Last weekend I returned to the best indoor Farmers Market in Vermont, in the extra tiny village of Groton, and got another lesson on how to grow nutritious sprouts.

They are all delicious and I tasted every kind of sprouts and shoots!!

And I tasted them in a variety of ways:  just plain by the handful and mixed with cream cheese on a cracker or piece of bread.
Too darn yummy to describe!

As a farmer I have an insatiable desire to GROW things.
Flowers, vegetables, fruits, cows, poultry, you name it and I want to grow it.
Since this winter has been like an evil energizer bunny, I need to grow something NOW!!!!!
So these sprouts have really got my attention.
They come with a demo at the Farmers Market and simple directions, PLUS the personal email address of the CSA farmer if I have questions and an affordable kit which includes a special screen on the lid of a ball jar and 2 kinds of seeds. I chose broccoli and the very tasty peppery radish seeds. I picked my jar from the 3 attractive demo models.

This complete kit was $4.00

I forgot to take a copy of the reasons sprouts are so GOOD for you, but I took a photo instead.  click on the photo to make it bigger so you can read all the great info.

I came home and started my broccoli seeds in the jar and while I was at it, I also started some lettuce seeds I had.

This is what the broccoli seeds looked like this morning..and they have grown even more since the photo!

I am planning on a really fabulous salad in a few days!!

And.....I think I am going to get a few more jars and do a little more mass production!!! 

We are Growing!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ms. Smudge

Name:  Smudge 
Age: DOB August 2010

This calf was here with her herd when I moved my herd to this farm in September 2010

Occupation(s): Mischief maker, Centerfold, Networking expert, Official Field Greeter, Cow teaser and Arobics instructor.
Outstanding Qualities:  Photogenic, Independent, Comical, Plays Well With Others

She may be small and dainty, but her personality is Big and she is a real survivor.

In a short 6 weeks this remarkable calf has escaped a barn fire and a fatal barn collapse.

Her elastic personality serves her well.

She is easy to photograph and finds her way into the majority of my photos.

No matter where I aim my camera, she is there and posing with her friends.

left to right: Panda, Smudge, Shorty

She often gives me that cute  "nose up" sign.

When I pull my camera out of my pocket she stops what she is doing and waits until I am done clicking and then walks off...with her bff.

She occasionally hangs out with her Aunt at the local watering hole and is not afraid to socialize with adults and chew some cud.

And she loves loves loves being out in snowstorms.    Her activity level increases with the speed of the falling snow.   Smudge initiates a game of  "chase me around the barnyard" and behind the Club house shed.  She gallops over snowdrifts with half the herd trying to follow her as she does a lap around the field.

Even though she is the smallest heifer, she leads the pack of August calves.
She is the "boss calf."

Where she goes, the others follow. She often leads the afternoon walk to the watering hole.  As I get out of my truck she starts heading my way with her pals.

And every day I watch Smudge wrestle with a few adults.

She runs circles around them and then comes back and.....

Butts head...and sometimes stays in this position for 10 minutes.

I haven't seen any of the other calves do this.

Smudge is always aware of people entering "her" barnyard and field and often comes over to sniff a guest from a safe 10 feet away.   She is very independent and takes every opportunity to make sure everyone knows it.

Except during bath time.... when she complains and whines just like any other kid who does not want anyone to see her being washed by her mom in public.

We are lucky to have her.

the Ranchers Prayer

Jake, the rancher, went one day

To fix a distant fence.

The wind was cold and gusty

And the clouds rolled gray and dense.

As he pounded the last staples in

And gathered tools to go,

The temperature had fallen,

And snow began to blow.

When he finally reached his pickup,

He felt a heavy heart.

From the sound of that ignition

He knew it wouldn’t start.

So Jake did what most of us

Would do if we were there.

He humbly bowed his balding head

And sent aloft a prayer.

As he turned the key the last time,

He softly cursed his luck

They found him three days later,

Frozen stiff in that old truck.

Now Jake had been around in life

And done his share of roaming.

But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked –

It looked just like Wyoming !

Of all the saints in Heaven,

His favorite was St. Peter .

So they sat and talked a minute or two,

Or maybe it was three.

Nobody was keeping’ score –

In Heaven, time is free.

‘I’ve always heard,’ Jake said to Pete ,

‘that God will answer prayers,

But the one time I asked for help,

Well, he just wasn’t there.’

‘Does God answer prayers of some,

And ignore the prayers of others?

That don’t seem exactly square –

I know all men are brothers.’

‘Or does he randomly reply,

Without good rhyme or reason?

Maybe, it’s the time of day,

The weather or the season.’

‘Now I ain’t trying to act smart,

It’s just the way I feel.

And I was wondering’, could you tell me

What the heck’s the deal?!’

Peter listened very patiently

And when Jake was done,

There were smiles of recognition,

And he said, ‘So, you’re the one!!’

That day your truck, it wouldn’t start,

And you sent your prayer a flying,

You gave us all a real bad time,

With hundreds of us trying.’

‘A thousand angels rushed,

To check the status of your file,

But you know, Jake , we hadn’t heard

From you in quite a while.’

‘And though all prayers are answered,

And God ain’t got no quota,

He didn’t recognize your voice,

And started a truck in Minnesota ‘!


- Bill Jones

Monday, February 21, 2011

Urban Homesteaders Day of Action

Someone copyrighted the words “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading."  

Lots of conflict has occured over the past 4 days because of this.

In an act of solidarity I am listing the URLs for the actual facts of what has happened.

The facts about the copyright problems:

Lots more information

If you are an urban homestead or urban homesteader, read the info and jump on board.

In honor of all my fellow homesteaders and farmsteaders I planted lettuce and some sprouts today.   Its time to plant and plan.

Out of Space

I guess 1500 photos of good cows and Vermont rural scenery was too much for Blogger to keep up with. 
I ran out of photo storage space today and I am unable to upload any more photos at this time.   

I did just purchase 20 GB of additional photo space, so as soon as its upgraded, I will be posting many photos of Smudge and telling her long overdue story.

Have any of you run out of photo storage space? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cold Cow Noses

Elder and Queen of my herd, Google.   

Googly's daughter Gwen

Some noses are cuter than others......

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sharp Predictions

It was a 'brisk" MINUS 25 below zero at 7 am here in the wilds of Vermont.
I checked on the cows early this morning and all was well with them.

However, the pump head was frozen.  I shoveled out an area until I found the extension cord to the heating tape and discovered that the weight of the snow had disconnected the 2 cords.  I plugged it back in and in 30 minutes the pump was warm and I could pull the handle up.

Then the pump nozzle exploded into 2 pieces and almost took my knee cap off.
I went to the local hardware store to get a replacement part and finally got water to the herd.

I hoped for an easier experience later in the day when I returned again for the evening watering.

As I slowly drove down the road this afternoon to water the herd, I noticed something fall out of a tree on the side of the road ahead of me.

It looked like a big snowy birds nest may have been knocked loose out of its branch by the storm of last week and finally fell out onto the snow bank and then slid onto the road right in front of me .

However, as I drove by the snow covered "nest" it moved......and started walking........

I hit my brakes and stopped.

Granted, I needed a distraction from the latest disaster at the farm, but not a weird one that I couldn't explain.

I grabbed my camera and started following it.

As it walked, the snow dusted off it and it became more obvious what this unusual creature was.  I looked up into the nearby trees to see if any more of these "nests" were going to fall out of the sky and into the snow banks below.

After I made sure my new friend was safely off the road, I continued to the farm and watered my cows and chatted with a few folks who stopped by.  I told them of the unusual creature who fell out of the sky and into the snowbank.
Their eyes widened as I told the story.  I was thinking they thought I had gone off the deep end, considering the events of the last 7 weeks, but no...... instead they told me............there is a saying in these parts of Vermont that "if porcupines fall out of trees in February, then cows will be out on grass by May."


That if you actually SEE porcupines fall out of trees you are supposed to eat picnic eggs, (otherwise known as deviled eggs in civilized areas) so that the hay fields will have higher yields.

Ok, I admit to being gullible.....but..... I DO know that my cows need lots of hay in the winter, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen so of course I came home and told my bizarre story.  

Next thing I know my 94 year old housemate is boiling eggs and mixing Miracle Whip.

She takes this porcupine-falling-out-of-tree thing very seriously!

The fields in this area WILL have high yields and sweet grasses!!!!

And I got to eat real picnic eggs in February, all thanks to a very unusual meeting with a solitary porcupine who fell out of a tree.

Move over Punxsutawney Phil, theres a new boy in town and his predictions are geared towards farmers!!!