Thursday, March 31, 2011

Northeaster Coming!

Big snow storm coming.
Just when I thought we had a decent chance of making it to April without any more "moisture."
Predictions for this area are 8-15 inches.

Snow is still better than rain.

I also have a cow that is about to give birth.
As the storm approaches and the barometer continues to drop, I got a feeling she is going to calve in the worst of it.

I feel really bad for this car owner.

Just when she could just about get in her car and possibly drive it out of the snow bank in a few more days, more snow comes!

This block of ice engulfed her car while she went on a 2 week vacation in February.       We got about 40 inches of snow in 15 days. 
And the snow plows helped a bit as well.

So when you start to think you are having a bad day, imagine coming home from a sunny vacation all tanned and happy and not being able to find your car.  And not being able to drive it.     For weeks.

And when the neighbors told her where the car was, she didn't believe them.
But she hit the security lock button on her key fob and there was a dim sound from deep under the snow.....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Santa's Reindeer

If I had any doubt that I actually lived at the freezing, blizzardy North Pole this winter, it was confirmed yesterday.

Santa's beloved deer were prancing and dancing around my house and in the fields.

Led by Prancer, Dancer, Donder & Vixen.

Rudolph was looking in my bathroom window and scared brave farm dog Mavis half to death.

With thousands of acres of farm land at the top of this mountain range, this IS the perfect place for tired deer to recover and recreate after a very difficult winter.

Santa's team has been practicing their running, jumping and "take off" techniques as they race across fields, streams, forests, fences and farms.

They have left their magical manure piles around my truck, by the mailbox, plus the compost pile ( they love eggshells! ) and in the driveway.

I wish the little lonely yearling deer that is now sleeping with my cows, would hook up with this larger group.  I am so afraid that she is going to teach my impressionable heifer, Jillian, how to actually walk over the fences like she does!

Santa's deer are obviously use to having their photos taken.

They pose whenever they see me with my camera.

So if you have ever wondered where Santa's hard working team goes after Christmas to recover...... now you know.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet Sights

 Spring is a very romantic time of year. 

As the days get longer, the snow melts and the birds return to find a mate.

On my road trip the other day I saw this pair of geese enjoying a stream of melting snow in a field.  Did you know that Canada geese mate for life ?

As I drive I marvel at old buildings, especially farm buildings from the past.

Corn cribs are rare in these parts, so I usually stop and take a photo.

My grandparents had a garage identical to this, built around 1930, so of course I had to have a photo.

Then I turned my head to pull back out onto the road and saw this directly across the street and swooned........

I was speachless as I snapped 200 photos.  So I will let them do the talking:

They do not make places like this anymore.

This barn did NOT collapse this winter!  Most barns did.

Real craftsmen built this barn and farm house.  It will last a few more centuries!

Then I saw this sign........

There are 27 more photos at this link:

You must see the photo of the INSIDE of the barn!!!

Someone buy this place and invite me to dinner!!

Making maple syrup is a centuries old tradition here in Vermont.

Thousands of people of all ages and walks of life are tapping a few trees in their backyard or woodlot and boiling down the maple sap to make fresh maply syrup.

To get the Vermont label Vermont maple syrup must have a minimum of 67% sugar.

All other states require only 66%.

My farmer friend tapped 6 trees this year and dragged an old gas stove outside and hooked a propane tank to it and was boiling his sap all day today.  His barnyard smelled so sweet!   It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of Vermont Maple Syrup.       It is long, hard and precise work.
The rewards are worth it.  Especially on ice cream or pancakes.

Everywhere in Vermont the great cattle herds are basking on the hillsides in the sun.

These are my neighbors good looking Herefords.

He has many cow/calf combos for sale this year.  He is enjoying a population explosion of lots of new calves this spring.  He actually found a bull that all his cows liked....and it shows.

Everywhere in my travels there were spring calves enjoying the sunshine.

I really liked this Ayrshire calf.

Every road I was on was muddy and every tree held a sap bucket.

Rural Vermont roads were lined with buckets.

As usual, all roads lead back to the herd.     Lined up and waiting for their snacks.

Home Sweet Home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mud Season and other scary things....

Just when you think you have survived the winter then mud season hits.

Vehicles get sucked up by the mud and end up in ditches, stuck deep in the mud or with tie rods broken in multiple pieces.

My truck suffered a bit of a bruis'n yesterday. 

Every dirt road is an intense obsticle course.

Most people put away their vehicles and just drive their tractors the month of March and April around here....

We were down to just 1 roll of hay last night.      Scary.

Luckily, the hay fairy came in the morning and deposited a good amount of the favored green food that my cows are so attached to.

The load was dumped at the other end of the field where the cows are now eating, making it easier to roll a bale directly to the round hay feeder every morning.

While I was taking photos of the cows chewing their cud, an unexpected vistor stepped out from behind the rolls of hay.

Sadly, this is the only remaining deer (a yearling) that remains of the original group of 6.   Four were killed by coyotes as they struggled to cross the deep snows in the fields and one was hit by a big truck on the road.

She did't seem interested in the hay but wanted to visit with the cows.

Mavis was barking her head off so she stayed her distance until we drove off.

Then she easily walked over the fences and joined the herd.

Lonliness does strange things to all species.

It was very dark and overcast this morning, I hope it doesn't rain.

Panda the calf was taking a deep nap in the hay.  Oblivious to the deer.

Gizmo is looking more and more like a young bull.
He is also telling me which cows are in heat.

He also tells me when he wants his cinnamon covered graham NOW!

How I wish I could cut that dang diggleberry off.  I hate seeing it.  It really ruins his photos. 

He won't let me close enough to do it.     Yet.

I am so very proud to announce that this good bull is going to be a herd bull for a small Simmental herd on the western side of Vermont.    Near Burlington.  Home of the University of Vermont (UVM).  Not far from 5 colleges and dozens of frat houses.

He will be going to his new job at his new farm with his paperwork, photos, family tree and at least 2 boxes of cinnamon covered graham crackers.    When mud season is over.

He better send me frequent updates.
TailGait Farm Graham Gizmo.  Our first home grown bull.
Vermont born, raised and grazed.

10 minutes after I finished watering and "crackering" the herd it started snowing like crazy!

6-10 inches are coming our way.

Mud season has been temporarily postponed as now we are right back into winter!

The robins are NOT happy!

Life in Vermont.    Wonderful.  Beautiful.  Unpredictable.  Perfect.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cinnamon Cows

Early this morning it started snowing gentle fluffs of flakes as I headed down to the farm to water the herd.

Now that "most" of the snow is almost gone, Farmer Chip was able to roll a big bale of hay all the way to the maple tree end of the field for the cows to eat.   This will give the over used end of the field a chance to dry out from 4 straight months of feeding hay in the same 2 areas near where we had to line up all the big rolls after the barn fire.

The horizon looks so different with 2 huge barns missing..

I really do hope the worst of the winter weather is behind us.

Although I know April is usually erratic and extreme weather can happen at any minute.  Calving season is always a challenge.  

For now the cows are content to chew on the sweet summer hay, lick the sweet spring snow and bask in the sunshine......

Until....... I pulled out the special CINNAMON covered graham crackers that Auntie Sonya brought for the herd.

Then there was a mad dash for me at the fence.

How they know the difference really amazes me!

I can not find cinnamon covered graham crackers up here, only the regular honey ones by Nabisco.

This herd strongly prefers the Cinnamon kind and KNOWS the difference by the rattling of the crinkly paper!!!!

Shy, quiet, mild mannered Jillian hip checked her brother Gizmo to get to me first.

The Gizman had to do some quick manuvering to get a few crackers before the big cows came and pushed him out of the way.

Listening to them crunch crackers always makes me hungry, so I came home and made a big salad and used some of the lettuce I have been growing to add to it.  DELICIOUS!

( Don't tell Faith, but an Irish leprachaun sent her a Red Sox hat... )

Late this afternoon when I returned to water the herd, the snow had melted and they were all a little muddy from their naps.

The maple trees looked red at the tips and the sunlight was making them very happy.

I enjoy looking at the rainbow of tails in this herd.

Each one has a story to tell.

Friday, March 18, 2011

As The Snow Melts....

As the Vermont glaciers start to recede, many things are revealed.

The past 2 days have brought with them:

Great foods, a book I won in the mail and my favorite farm catalog.

Its time to order ear tags for the new calves that will start being born next month.   The toughest decision this morning was--what color?

The sunlight has been different, longer and at a different angle.  It feels good to me as well as the birds who hopscotch across the tops of silos at old family farms.

Of course the new sunlight light feels good for the eagles and hawks who inhabit this rural area...and dine on silo-hopping pigeons...

The snow has melted so much in the past 2 days that I can actually SEE windows in the barns.    The heavy snowfalls buried all the windows on the area barns since December.

40 new cows are moving into this barn with their new owners as soon as the snow melts and the road is accessable for the livestock hauler and their movers.      They will love all the windows!       A new farmer is coming to town and she is bringing her entire herd~!         I can hardly wait to meet the whole crew!

Stone foundations from 1735 have been revealed as the snow melts and small patches of grass are exposed.       I can smell the soil.

There is just enough wood to make it thru April.     5 cords gone already.

Our tiny village town meeting was this week.
Held in a garage shared with "Petunia" the antique fire engine.
16 Villagers came to vote and discuss important items.
Democracy is alive and well in Vermont.

The cows are no longer standing on 7 foot snowbanks.

We can look each other in the eye now.

The fences popped out of the snow this morning, nice and tight.

Its amazing what that zip fencing does.

As the snow recedes it also reveals the ugliness of the winter.

The remains of a burned barn.  The remains of a collapsed barn.

Two very scary things I had to do this week:

Park my truck under a thousand pooping pigeons

and walk into this building alone

Good thing I saw these happy birds on my way home.

They give me hope.

Its Maple Weekend and all the maple sugaring shacks are open all over Vermont and New Hampshire.   Go visit your local sugar makers!