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My Farm Journal

November 20, 2010

I love mornings on my farm. This morning was particularly beautiful with a soft mist hanging above the pastures. The temperature was cool but not freezing, birds were singing and the sun was breaking through the trees in a golden glow. My Rodeo Girls....

I've been eating out of my garden still this month. Amazingly, the Bibb lettuce I seeded in August just keeps producing. This last week I cut broccoli from the plants I direct seeded in August, and this weekend I'll harvest some Chinese cabbage. We've had several heavy frosts but they just keep going. For Thanksgiving I'll harvest the spinach I seeded the middle of September. Unfortunately, the green beans didn't make it. I seeded them August 16th. They grew just fine and bloomed, even started setting little beans. I kept them covered with floating row cover over metal hoops, but the killing frost was still too much for them.

Two (Damn) 'PossumsVery sad news to report. My Border collie, Katie, contracted hystoplasmosis from snuffling around in the chicken house after rats. Her immune system couldn't handle it and the infection got in her blood. Within 24 hours she was gone. We are always very careful to wear masks and eye protection when cleaning the chicken house, but I never thought about the dog being at risk. I miss her terribly. She was only five years old.

It's been a bad month for pets all around. My oldest cat, Walter, who's been with us 10 years, has cancer. So, it looks like I will loose two pets this month. I still have plenty of cats, five others in total, and all outside cats. I've been feeding them on the back porch so I won't attract rats in the barn. Unfortunately, that's not working out so well and I know have possums on the porch. Cat feeding is moving inside.

Late Summer, 2010 - It's been a quiet summer on the farm. The cows have been on pastures, the rains have been good, and everyone is settled and content.  Pictured are some of the new additions to the farm. Meet Bootsy, Tigger and Pipster, three rescued kittens that join Walter, Nico and Katty Kay as mousers on the farm. It's been a long time since I had kittens around the place and these three have given me plenty of belly laughs this summer with their antics.

 

One sad bit of information to report. Uno, the last of my Angora goats, died during a really hot spell  He was 14 years old and had become very thin, so I knew his time was short. My brother and I buried him at the edge of the garden. He is missed everyday by both me and the chickens. He was their great protector.  


July 4, 2010
- It is high summer and I love every minute of it on the farm.  The last couple of days have been wonderful with cool nights and low humidity. This morning it is humid and heating up by the minute. The garden is growing, I’m keeping up with the weeds and looking forward to tomatoes, zucchini, wax beans, and for the first time, broccoli Raba. A Lady & her Calf

 

I know my spring lettuce crop won’t last much longer in this heat, so I was in the garden at 7:00 am to pick.  I’ve cut several batches of the oak leaf mix the last few weeks; this was the first lettuce I planted at the end of April. It is beginning to get a little bitter, a sure sign that this crop of lettuce is nearing its end, and a good time to make wilted lettuce.

 

If you’ve never had wilted lettuce you are missing a delicious old time favorite. I had it for breakfast this morning but we usually serve it at lunch or dinner as a side dish. It’s easy to make. Here’s the recipe:

 

3 or 4 strips of smoked bacons crisped fried

Hard cooked eggs, one per person

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

A large handful of mature leaf lettuce per person, washed and dried

1 teaspoon of sugar optional

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Fry some bacon in a large deep sided skillet. When the bacon is crisp remove it from the pan and pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings. Add the lettuce to the hot pan and sprinkle it with the vinegar. Make sure the lettuce is fairly dry and watch for splatters. Toss the lettuce in the pan over medium heat until it begins to wilt. It will remind you of cooking fresh spinach. Very soon the lettuce will be reduced to hot cooked greens.

 

Remove lettuce to a serving dish. Slice hard cooked eggs over lettuce and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Crumble bacon over lettuce and serve warm.

 

June 30, 2010 - One of my neighbors needed to pasture three of his beef cows and since I have plenty of pasture  three cows, two calves and a bull are spending the summer with my herd helping to eat down the rampant growing pasture.  Two of the cows came with calves, but one black Angus cow that had been badly hurt in a fight with another cow (yes they fight), and was crippled in her hindquarters, did not have a calf. The neighbor figured she hadn’t been able to get pregnant because of the injury.

 

The neighbor is a retired bucking bull rider who now raises bucking bulls. The bucking bulls are still at his place. The beef cattle are bred for docility. The bucking bulls are bred to buck. It’s not always good to mix the two types of animals together.

 

Lady, the crippled cow, was not able to keep up with the herd. She stayed in and around the barn while the rest of the cattle ranged across 60 acres of pasture and woods every day. Since she was so near the house I could easily keep an eye on her and it looked to me like she was pregnant. As we went into June I was sure of it and every day looked for a little black calf. I did honestly wonder if she would have trouble delivering the calf because of her crippled hip and was glad she stayed near the house.

 

June 16th, 2010-7:00 am - as always at this time of the morning  I feed and water the chickens and let them out of their house for the day. As I came around the west side of the house on my way to the chicken house a flash of white caught my eye.  I looked hard at what I was seeing, not registering at first what it was. Lady was standing in the woods next to the chicken house and standing with her was the wildest looking calf I’d every seen. This was not the black Limi/Angus cross calf I was expecting. This one looked like something else entirely. Its body was all white but it eyes, ears and nose were black. More black was painted down its sides and its two front feet had little black boots. It reminded me very much of a Brahma bull.  It was a good sized, well muscled little calf and Lady appeared to be doing just fine. She’s a very good mother and it has taken me two weeks to get close enough to take his picture. I call him Diablo (the devil).  His owner will no doubt have an official name for him. He’s very active, running and jumping and having a good time. I think he’s going to be a great bucking bull.

 

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