drying off the cow

    Rain has been throwing a pipe wrench into our plans for the last several weeks.  Farm work depends heavily upon the weather.  The tomatoes, peppers, basil, and other hot weather plants, are in flats on the greenhouse steps, waiting for a break in the weather to give the raised beds to dry out a little.  Shawn has braved the mud to weed and mulch the onions and garlic, but the transplanting will wait for the sun. 

   Something is always overlooked, and S-3 pointed out two days ago that the  pumpkins, watermelons, and squashes, which should have been started in the greenhouse two or three weeks ago, were still in their seed packets.  We rushed out and started some pots, putting them on the small warmer we keep for germinating hot weather plants, and we will direct-sow as many more, when the weather shifts.  Right now it is grey, rainy, and about fifty degrees fahrenheit.  This delay may cost us heavily at harvest time, because these, like many garden plants, require a certain number of days to maturity, and  a late planting may fail to mature before fall weather puts a stop to growth. 

   It can be difficult to know what work to turn to when our plans to work outside are foiled.  The guys spent a good deal of the morning around the breakfast table, sorting over the designs for our chicken palace, trying to reconcile the ideal with the possible.  We are very happy with the sawmill, which will save us a bunch of money on all the large timbers for barn and chicken house, but the boys are universal in feeling that it is uneconomical to mill two by fours.  Each log must first be squared, with consequent loss of width; then the cuts for each piece of lumber require more loss of useable lumber.  They estimated the number two-by-fours necessary to frame the small building, and their cost, and decided that, subject to their father’s agreement, it would be a savings in labor to buy those boards.  Square footages were calculated for siding and roofing (another purchase), and some phone calls were made for pricing.  Later people worked on the new shelves in the pottery studio, and milled an interesting knot into veneers.

   Isabel is only days from being dried off.  This is the one- to two-month period of non-lactation we allow a cow before she calves, so she can rest up and put all her energy into calving and freshening.  It also gives the milkers a break, especially the guy who gets up at six every morning while his brothers sleep for another hour!  We will be hard put to it to manage without our ususal two gallons of milk a day, unlimited cream, and fresh mozzarella, but we do have lots of butter and grated mozz in the freezer, we are thankful to say.  The guys will probably be drinking a lot of iced tea and lemonade over the next month and a half anyway, since, when the rain stops (touch wood) it will be time to think about the haying.

   All our little flocks are well.  The SS pullets are about five weeks old, and went out on pasture in a stock-panel tractor on Saturday (and if you look at the floors upstairs, you can see that the vacuuming didn’t get done that day).  The CRX’s are in the shed out back, where they are under the united care of Mom and S-4, which sometimes means they get forgotten.  They go through twice as much feed as the three-weeks older SS pullets, and water proportionally.  They are not the most attractive birds, outgrowing their feathers so the pink skin shows through, but they dress out to a fat and tender six pounds at nine weeks, and we love them.  The turkey poults are doing nicely in their small tractor down by the creek.  The RIReds, little knowing they will soon be obsolete, are laying a gratifying three dozen eggs or so a day, and we are backing up.  Sponge cake is made here almost daily now.

One thought on “drying off the cow

  1. Great writing, Beth! I am so glad to be finally checking out your website! We are now raising chickens and putting in a large garden here in Hawai’i. Blessings to you, Anna

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