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Crop Spraying

The Goblin Child and I went for a ride today. As nice as it was sometimes it seems like more work than it’s worth. Coyote hadn’t been ridden for a very long time so I thought it best to mess with the saddle. We rode south along the pivot that is part corn and part wheat, this is important to remember for later. Along the fence we went to the other end of the field and back enjoying the beautiful day.

Back in the yard we noticed a huge bull snake crossing the road and stopped to admire him. Colored like rattle snakes they pretend to be one when threatened but are actually completely harmless, beneficial really, something all those silly people who kill them just because they are a big snake need to remember. The gigantic (maybe three foot long?) snake slithered along and strangely enough came to a garter snake that happened to be crossing the same road and slithered right over it.

As we watched in fascination the sound of an airplane reached our ears. The Goblin Child loves airplanes. They fly very low over our heads more often then seems normal. We wave to the and say “Hi!” This one flew in low and looked like it was getting lower. And lower. I really was starting to get concerned. It buzzed the fence we had just been riding down and sprayed a grey cloud of chemical onto the wheat then left.

The wind was blowing out of that direction and I could see the cloud drifting closer. Tying Coyote to the bumper of the pick up we left him to fend for himself as we rushed inside hoping to get The Goblin Child out of the worst of it. It was already upon us so the attempt was futile, I am sure, hope, it isn’t as bad as I was envisioning.

After putting the child down for her nap and setting Coyote free I sat down to rest for a bit when I heard again the roar of plane engines. I looked out the front door in time to see the plane swoop over the house. I am terrified of airplanes. Of planes crashing onto my head or into the house as I sit inside unsuspecting. I saw La Bamba as a child I remember the kid smashed on the play ground. Not to mention all the times it actually happens. I couldn’t stay in the relative safety from chemicals of the house I had to be able to see if it was going to hit me. So I stayed outside.

I did have a few qualms about leaving the poor innocent child sleeping in the house I was to scared to stay inside of but decided she shouldn’t have to miss her nap because I am neurotic.

I decided that this of all times would be a good time to trim OD’s feet, don’t know why then,  but he was good for it. Trimming came to a halt every round as he buzzed over our heads barely clearing the trees in the yard. It was horrifying, it was fascinating. I no longer cared about the real or imagined threat of noxious fumes I just wanted to watch. I held my breath as my heart palpitated every time I thought for sure he must hit the power lines this time. He dove to within feet of the field heading straight for the lines then pulled up hard to miss them by what seemed to be mere feet. He was insane, he was an artist, most amazingly he is still alive, I don’t know how.

Yes, Justin, we are Still Here

My brother keeps asking if I am okay, are we still alive out here? We are, it has just been incredibly busy for the last month or so. The cows are getting fed daily now. Not that they weren’t a daily nuisance anyway, with having to move the pivot all the time, but now we’re back in the feed truck for at least an hour every evening.  Goblin Child is a BIG help. Pretty soon we are going to have to start sorting pairs I’m sure.

The rest of the busy I have brought upon myself. I am a silly girl who apparently likes to feed things. Jenny is being cut back to two feedings a day. Poppy, poor Poppy, I am trying to get her fed enough for her to feed both those big calves I am asking her to raise. Being quite cheap (read broke) I am feeding her as much grass as possible. I need to keep her up close where I can make sure the little black calf is getting fed so she can’t go out with the other cows. Every day at, least twice, I am out picking grass like an idiot to get her a five gallon bucket full to go with her cake.

The starving horses want some of that green grass too, so I am letting them out one at a time to graze in the yard. I try to keep a close eye on them, if they get into one of the corn fields I will be in big trouble. Three times a day, when I am home at least, I have to walk clear down to the far gate and switch them around.

The chickens are in their tractor now, they need fed and moved once or twice a day. All these things would, and do, take so much less time without my little helper. What fun would they be to do without her though?

The child and husband seem to think I should be feeding them too, so people meals need to be cooked.

It has been snowing every couple of days. Big blizzard type snows. That tends to slow garden planting down. Not corn planting though. They got done with that just before the first big snow. The Goblin Child had a blast sitting in the tractor with her father as they did something to the soil. Preconditioned? No, that’s what they do to calves.  All I know is that they weren’t plowing. They are never plowing and it doesn’t sound intelligent to those in the know if I say they are. Anyway, she, who hates to ride in the car, sat happily in the tractor all day as they went around and around. They took a blanket along and she even happily lay down for her nap on the tractor floor. So glad they could have their bonding time. She must take after her father, I always hated driving a tractor. Mine never had air-conditioning and a radio either, that might make a difference.

I have been working back at the school a lot lately. The school year is coming to a close and with everything being so crazy they needed some extra help. Goblin Child loves day care. That makes life both harder and easier for me. I swore I would never put her in day care that I would raise my own child. Not pay someone to do it for me. Its like training a horse, one rider makes a great horse. Of course a second rider can find holes the first one missed. She learned to push her chair in after getting up from the table, I know I didn’t teach her that. If it were up to me I would keep her home with me, homeschool even, I hate having to talk to people. She is crazy social. She wants desperately to play with the other kids and talks to anyone. We will continue to try to fit our schedule to both of our needs.

Cade and Ava have been spending every other weekend up here this spring. They are technically staying with their grandparents but mostly that means they spend a lot of time playing with us. The new swing set is coming in so handy. Goblin Child, miss socialite, loves to have them to play with. Jenny does too for that matter. This weekend it is only Cade, I wish I could have taken him with us to day care he is lonely without his sister or The Goblin Child to play with.

I am writing this as I take a break for corn planting. Not in the field but in the garden. My gardener husband is still hard at work out there. The sweet corn is his baby and we are running late this year with all that snow. Potatoes got planted at Easter along with the onions, since then other than two store bought cabbages, we have not touched the garden. Every year my gardener husband sits down with his companion planting chart and decides where everything should go. He lays out such nice neat rows carefully measured. In my little garden I toss things in randomly, it’s a wonder that he puts up with me.

I think that pretty much covers what we have been up to since when ever it was that I got around to this last. I said I was going to do a better job of keeping up this year than last but I don’t think that I am.

 

Weeds

weed
noun
noun: weed; plural noun: weeds
  1. 1.
    a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.
verb
  1. 1.
    remove unwanted plants from (an area of ground or the plants cultivated in it).
Origin
Old English wēod (noun), wēodian (verb), of unknown origin; related to Dutch wieden (verb).
          As I was weeding in the greenhouse the other day I was forced to question my definition of a weed. I happily yanked up the Kosha and pig weed but all the others gave me doubt. What exactly qualifies for weed status? The definition seems simple enough.
In reality though even pig weed is edible, it needs cooked and I don’t think I feel like trying it so that was an easy decision.
We planted the Strawberry Spinach a couple of years ago, it has been coming up in a weed like manner ever since. I have even found it growing happily in our yard. It gets little, rather bland, red berries and the leaves are good in salads. Should I pull all of it? Leave a couple of plants? It is so hard to decide.
Purslane is very edible. We have even gone so far as to pick some, just never got around to throwing it in a stir fry. It is so horribly, well, weed like that it has to go.
The hardest decisions come when I spot the dark purple leaves of a baby pepper plant. There are green ones too of course but the purple are awful pretty. All of the seeds dropped from last years plants seem to have taken off and are thriving. If we had tried to plant them they would have frozen if they came up at all.
Intermixed with those are the tomatoes. They too are coming up to early, it’s still freezing almost every night, but nobody told them that. These are things that we are purposefully planting. Struggling to grow even. Everyone of them have very legitimate uses. Do we cherish one plant and kill another? It seems so wrong.
Can you tell the weeds from the desired plants? I have trouble deciding sometimes. For the record, I didn’t pull any pepper or tomato plants. I especially didn’t pull that nice little Mulberry tree in the last picture.

Farewell Buttercup, Hello Poppy

Buttercup is dead, long live Princess Buttercup*.

Buttercup, by the way was my mostly dead bottle calf.  She is now completely dead, poor thing.

On the bright side my cow, Poppy, had her calf! A big, gigantically huge, bull calf. She had the big boy all by herself, quite a feat for a heifer. I had been hoping for a heifer calf, all the more so when I spotted the bright white calf from a mile away. He is adorable so much prettier than these boring black calves. Unfortunately the market for white calves with brown spots is limited. Those boring black calves will bring way more with no more difference than color. Oh well, it seems rather callous to be thinking about eating the poor boy already but I’m not sure what else there is to do with him.

He and his mother are both sweethearts though. She has been a great mother for a first timer. Calm and taking good care of her calf. Or should I say calves? Hopefully I should say calves. She is a milk cow. She has lots of milk. My hope was to adopt poor Buttercup onto her but that didn’t work out. I kept saying that once she had her calf I would start looking for another calf to help keep up with all that milk. I would see one advertised and think about calling then remind myself that I was waiting for her to calve, then I would find a calf.

She had her calf Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon a neighbor stopped by to pick up a wandering cow. He and my husband walked her up from the corrals. They just happened to look in the old falling down horse barn. There, in a barn in a pen that hadn’t had cows in it for almost a week, lay a calf.

What can I say, it’s a God thing.

The three of them are locked in the barn toasty warm out of this nice week of spring snow. Poppy is proving to be a great little cow. She walked into the chute as nice and quiet as could be the first time, not as happily the second but that is to be expected. She let the orphaned calf nurse without kicking, in the chute at least, and let me milk her with out kicking me and breaking my arm. I do like to look on the bright side, I was imagining it the whole time I was knelt under her. After the little guy had drunk his fill I got three cups of Colostrum out of one quarter. I don’t know anything about milk cows but that seemed pretty good.

Colostrum is good to have on hand. I carefully labeled it and saved it in the freezer for the next sickly thing like Buttercup.

Like with horses everything needs trained. I am trying to make the chute a pleasant, or at least not miserable place to be. No hotshots or even overly strong encouragement to get in and I keep corn and/or cake in front of her along with her calf. The calf the she likes and knows is hers that is. That black thing is not hers! She is going to be spending a few more sessions in the chute. Or she may just not accept him at all.

We are working on rewarding the right behavior. In this case letting the calf nurse with out head butting the poor thing. The reward is Cake! Who doesn’t love cake? After spending a whole two minutes working on it she happily accepted cake from my hand and even from the hand of the Goblin Child. Although The Goblin Child isn’t sure she want’s to have her hand nearly devoured by a wet slimy cow mouth. As long as she has a steady flow of feed into her mouth she is willing to put up with almost anything.

It will be a long process with no guarantee of succeeding, but having such a sweet agreeable little cow sure makes it easier.

* You know, Princess Buttercup and her mostly dead hero Westley? Princess Bride? She was a girl I couldn’t very well name her Westley.

Starting to Garden

Well, it’s official.

We put the tomatoes out in the greenhouse and the potatoes and onions are planted. The garden is started. We found time on Easter to get the root plants in the ground. Had to hurry while the moon signs were right (some sarcasm intended). I am having fun planning some cool forts for the kids in the garden. We will have to see if they work and if encouraging them to play in, or even close to the garden is just a really bad idea.

The tomatoes are tucked away nice and cozy inside their Wall O’ Waters. On the south wall of the greenhouse spinach, lettuce and radish are coming up nicely. Garlic in both corners and Peas along the west wall. Still to come are the carrots, south of the tomatoes, and peppers to the north. Cucumbers and Kohlrabi along the north wall. I’m exhausted just thinking about it and that’s just inside.

My Herd

All the kids were up for Easter and since Ava didn’t have school Monday they stayed an extra day. Mondays are the day we have company so we had a full house with all four children running, or crawling, underfoot.

Easter

The Goblin Childs first real Easter. Between us being sick last year and her being too little to remember much or have any idea what was going on.

We all gathered up at the big house for a noon time feast and then the fun began. Aunt Shannon, always the cool aunt, had a great new way to dye eggs.

Random Picture Post

Again a Cattle Person

My heifers way back on sale day

My heifers way back on sale day

I spent a decade of my life working on a ranch. I did the whole cowboy thing. I started colts and showed horses.

Then I completely reinvented myself. I became a farm wife and mother. I brought my horses with of course, I would never give up my ponies. Coyote was an excellent ranch pony but I don’t think he misses it. I don’t either, for the most part. The riding was nice but as the Goblin Child grows older we are having more opportunities for that. What I did miss was the cows, sure my father-in-law has cattle but it’s not the same as having your own. So I have rectified that.

I bought a cow!!!

Three actually. My father-in-law was kind enough to sell me two heifers this spring. It was a spur of the moment thing. The calves were going onto the semi headed for the sale barn and I thought, “Hey those will be cows some day”. I chose two nice round fat looking ones and he agreed to sell to me.

This morning I just got back from picking up Poppy a first calf heifer due to pop anytime now. She is a tiny little red cow a Jersey Normande cross. Jerseys as everyone knows are a milk cow and Normandes are a dual purpose breed. She was bred to a Normande bull so the calf will be three quarters, I am pulling for a heifer.

It will be years before I see anything back from this hefty investment but I an just happy to be a cow person again.

Because we Weren’t Busy Enough Already

As it stood I had one small rotten Goblin Child that I spend all my time trying to keep from injuring herself, the house or the animals. Another smaller neighbor child who has been spending Mondays with us*. The goat, forgive me Jenny Drum, is on a five times a day feeding schedule. Garden time is getting closer every day, can’t wait, and I am refinishing the kitchen floor.

Have I mentioned that it is backbreaking labor that is nearly killing me? That may be a slight exaggeration, I only work on it maybe three days a week for a couple of hours at a time. Those are a really hard couple of hours though. My housekeeping is lackluster at best. I am trying to keep up with it along with all the other things but the time I spend on the floor is the time I would usually spend cleaning, you know nap time. I fear the house is all a shambles.

A certain small child keeps letting the chickens out. Last time we herded them in to the chicken coup then caught all but one and the rooster and put them back in their mobile cage. The rooster ate the remaining hen. To be more exact, he was way over enthusiastic in his amour pulling all the feathers from the back of her head then the skin and most of the meat. It is really disgusting. She is alive and seems quite healthy but I am keeping her separate from the other hens, I think they would finish the job. Now there are two bunches of chickens to feed and water.

So who doesn’t need one more thing to take care of?

Shortly before our latest snow blew in my father-in-law asked if we knew anyone who wanted a bottle calf. There was a calf who appeared to have been abandoned, it had been standing in about the same spot for the last week and was thin as a rail. He must have figured it wouldn’t survived the storm.

I didn’t have any calf milk replacer but I had goat milk.

We started right in getting some food in the poor things belly. The dock of its tail stood clear up with not a drop of meat on its hind quarters. It stood with back hunched and its poor little belly shriveled to nothing. I still doubt, every morning when I go to give it its morning bottle, that it will be alive. So far so good though.

The calf gets to live with the goat for now at least. They can be buddies and I wont have to worry so much about the goat being lonely.

The Goblin Child experienced her first, that she remembers, thunderstorm last week. Like the bears in Brave, thunder was cool not scary and we spent lots of time emulating it.

*I have realized that having a child has not suddenly made me a baby person. Give me a calf or a colt any day, I still don’t know what to do with a people baby.