Friday, February 25, 2011

Birth of a Calf

This is pretty much how we found Tess at 6:30 in the morning, though there was just one hoof out. I had checked on her at 3:00 am, when she looked just the same as the night before.

And within an hour, he was out!

She jumped up and immediately started licking him. Fortunately the sun was just beginning to come up - it was freezing.

Within 10 minutes he was already attempting to stand up, and 20 minutes later he stood all by himself.

Just 45 minutes after birth, he was ready to explore his new world.

And then he got flattened, but we won't think about that...

He now lives in the stall most of the time, and I let him out three times a day to nurse. If the weather is nice, I can leave him out in the pasture with Tess.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The New Calf

The sun was out for all of 20 minutes today, during which the little calf got to run around outside with his mom. Because of the cold and wet I have to keep him in the stall, but I let him out to nurse four times a day.
He seems to be doing just fine after his stepping-on three days ago.

I've been milking Tesla twice a day, in addition to what the calf takes. She gave about 10 quarts at each milking so far, but once the swelling in her udder goes down she'll start producing more.
By Friday her milk will have transitioned from colostrum (super rich, high-protein milk with antibodies for the calf) to normal milk.

She's constantly mooing to him and licking him (a bit too much, judging by his expression!)

We're still trying to think of a name for him. Somehow it keeps coming back to Flap Jack...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Baby Calf is Here!

Tess had her baby - a bull calf - at 7:30 this morning. Unfortunately she stepped hard on his abdomen soon after - we had our vet out and he gave the calf painkiller and antibiotics. We still have to wait and see, but he seems okay. We have seen him poop/pee with no blood, and he is 100% active and alert and he has nursed, so he just might make it. I'll keep you updated.

The first two photos are from this evening, so you can see he looks alright.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tomatoes are up!

When I actually have tomato tomatoes, I'll have a lot more exclamation points...

The first tomato seeds sprouted a couple days ago, just 4 days after I planted them. I planted 8 seeds of each variety (of the seeds I had already; my Pinetree order just came yesterday(!)). The seeds are nice and cozy in the greenhouse with a heat mat and a cover, and a space heater for tonight since it is dipping into the 20's.

The greenhouse, pre-tomato seeds.

Garden in Progress

Here is the main garden on our property. It lies on the south side of the barn, next to the greenhouse. It's the perfect spot for warm-weather crops such as tomatoes and peppers, because the wall reflects a lot of heat back into the soil, and the structures help to lessen the wind. Most days this spot is at least 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the property - maybe even 20 on a really hot day. It's not huge, but I can cram a lot in here!

I spent at least 12 hours forking up the sod (this garden just sat for the past two years, growing grass and weeds), and picked out all the horsetail roots and quackgrass runners by hand. Hopefully that will make weeding easier in the long run. The quackgrass is relentless - it can send runners 4 feet through the soil and pop up a new grass plant every couple inches. Even a tiny piece of root becomes a new plant.

Then, to be absolutely certain no weed will thrive, I covered the whole area in wet newspaper. This is the foundation of a 'lasagna' garden. The theory of this gardening method is that by laying down newspaper or cardboard, then alternating layers of compost, leaves, straw, grass clippings, etc, the weeds underneath will be smothered and the worms will start to work through all the sod. After a season, everything will have broken down into really rich soil, and both the newspaper and sod will be gone. But I wanted to be on the safe side with that quackgrass and pulled it all out. And I smothered everything, just to be sure!

Here is the garden, covered in newspaper, with a little compost just to hold the paper down overnight. I'm using partially composted horse manure.

And then a layer of rotting straw. Yum!

Then a good thick layer of the compost. The area where the manure pile was needs to be finished.

Next I'll cover it up with black plastic until it's time to plant (March/April for broccoli, lettuce, beets, etc, and May/June for tomatoes, peppers, squash and cukes).

I let the cows do all the work in the other area (you can almost see it behind and to the right of the barn). We fed their hay in one spot all winter, so they've tilled it, pooped in it and churned it up with a bit of old hay for good measure. Come May I'll rope it off and plant squash, pumpkins, and melons there. And maybe some potatoes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Help me, please!!!

(garden flowers, 2005)

The sun is out, the grass is thinking about growing, and spring is just around the corner! (at least I keep telling myself that...)
This can only mean one thing: time to garden!
I have big plans this year to smother every bare bit of ground with more tomatoes, peppers, cucurbits, and bizarre new greens and flowers than ever before. I'll actually be home all year to tend the garden, and our wonderful neighbor will be working with me in the greenhouse and on both property's gardens. Tragically, most of my old seeds were just that - old - or had gotten damp at some point. So new ones had to be ordered. Thus began the problem. Two seed catalogs and dozens of hours later, I had ordered 100(!) different types of seeds. What on earth was I thinking?

Follow my blog in the coming months, and we'll both find out one way or another...

In the meantime, here's The List:
(Seeds were ordered from both Pinetree Seeds and Baker Creek Heirlooms.)

Type Variety

Flowers Celosia Flamingo Feather
Flowers Cleome Rose Queen
Flowers Cosmos Carpet Pinetree mix
Flowers Cosmos Sensation mix
Flowers Four o'Clock Marbles Mixed
Flowers Impatiens Butterfly mix
Flowers Love-in-a-Mist Persian Red
Flowers Marigold Golden Gem
Flowers Morning Glory Kikyozaki mix
Flowers Nasturtium Gleam mix
Flowers Nicotiana Scentsation mix
Flowers Petunia Prime Time mix
Flowers Rudbeckia Rustic Colors
Flowers Snapdragon Brighton Rock
Flowers Statice Mix
Flowers Sunflower Pacion Gold dwarf
Flowers Sunflower Tithonia Fiesta del Sol
Flowers Zinnia Cut and Come Again mix

Amaranth Opopeo

Beans Jacob's Cattle

Beans Jade

Beans Romano

Beans Royal Burgundy

Beets Golden

Beets Early Wonder

Beets Chioggia

Broccoli Pinetree Mix

Broccoli Broccoli de Rapa

Broccoli Romanesco

Brussel Sprouts Long Island Improved

Cabbage Tronchuda loose head

Carrots Cosmic Purple

Carrots Rainbow Mix

Cauliflower Snow Crown

Cauliflower Green Harmony

Cauliflower Cheddar

Chard Bright Lights

Chard Fordhook

Corn Incredible

Corn Argent

Corn Honey Select

Cukes Homemade Pickles

Cukes General Lee

Eggplant Lavender Touch

Eggplant Longship

Fennel Florence

Greens Wrinkled Crinkled Cress

Greens Rossa di Treviso

Greens Arugula

Greens Rose Orach

Greens Seedling Pea

Herbs Pinetree Basil Mix

Herbs Chervil

Herbs Anise Hyssop

Hot Pepper Pimento de Padron

Hot Pepper Corne de Chevre

Hot Pepper Birds Eye Chili

Kale Nero di Toscana

Kale Redbor

Lettuce Pinetree Mix

Lettuce Pinetree Winter Mix

Melon Ineya Asian Melon

Melon Golden Midget Watermelon

Onions Barletta Pickling

Onions Red Long of Tropea

Peas Super Sugar Snap

Peas Knight

Peas Carouby de Maussane Snow

Pumpkin Small Sugar

Spinach Space

Summer Squash Striato D'Italia

Summer Squash Summer Squash mix

Sweet Pepper Jimmy Nardello

Sweet Pepper Lipstick

Sweet Pepper Georgescu Chocolate

Sweet Pepper Ashe County Pimento

Tomatillo Green

Tomatillo Purple

Tomato Cherokee Purple

Tomato Japanese Black Trifele

Tomato Green Zebra

Tomato Woodle Orange

Tomato Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge

Tomato Rose

Tomato Pink Accordian

Tomato Gajo de Melon

Tomato Amish Paste

Tomato Costoluto Genovese

Tomato Cour di Bue

Tomato German Red Strawberry

Tomato Ananas Noir

Tomato Pink Grapefruit

Tomato Sun Gold

Tomato Polbig

Tomato Sub Arctic Plenty

Tomato Striped Roman

Winter Squash Black Futsu

Winter Squash Australian Butter

Winter Squash Vegetable Spaghetti