Monday, June 28, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Three bull calves drinking milk from this 'New Zealand style' calf nurser
Dusty on a dewey morning
It is an overcast afternoon. The clouds carry on in an apathetic way, as though they forget they're raining, but it's too late to stop. Garth and I walked to the barn where the cows were all gathered. Lucky and Dusty were lying together at the open door (we named the three bull calves after the 'Three Amigos': Lucky Day, Ned Nederlander, and Dusty Bottoms). The two nursing mothers lay with their calves. The newest one (still yet un-named) has the intense and stricken look that comes with being born. The whites of his eyes are still visible. He is as tall as 'Borg' at the hip despite being a week his junior. His legs are long and gangly. There were a few chickens making their way along the edge of the barn and he stood up and stumbled over to them, inadvertently chasing them away. He has a couple of white spots here and there, a testament to the vast genetic possibilities latent within even something as carefully managed as a cow with a pedigree. If we decide to raise one of them as a bull, it looks from here like 'Borg' is the better candidate. He is entirely black and compactly built, but there is much to be seen.
While two heifers would have been quite fancy, and one out of two would have been grand, I am not discontent with our lot. How could I be, when the dams are so well and their calves are beside them?
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
On the morning of June 19th, we awoke to find a new member to our herd! We named our new bull calf Borg as a nod to the 18th century philosopher and theologian, Swedenborg. Every dairy farmer hopes for a heifer (female) calf which would become a future milker, so we were a little disappointed with a bull calf, but it was exciting to have a new addition regardless. Borg's mother, Juno, has been very protective of him, and will paw at the ground in warning if she feels we are getting too close. If anyone has seen the high-spirited energy of puppies, they will recognize the same playfulness in a baby cow.
Here is a picture of Juno and Borg. These black cows in a dark barn have been hard to photograph, but I think this image captures them adequately.
Friday, June 18, 2010
In March, when we were making soil blocks and planting seeds I had a fantasy of harvesting vegetables from our garden for our table. I did not picture a thriving population of slugs and snails enjoying them first. They seem to prefer the brassicas (kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli) but they are gaining on the potatoes and the rhubarb. This region, like many areas on the East coast, suffered a tremendously damp and cool summer last year which may have given the slugs a leg up (they need one! HA!). But this could also be par for the course around here. I just don't know. My only recourse is to head up the to the garden in the evening with 2 cans of 'natty ice' and begin pouring.
I have placed bowls on several of the beds they like to congregate in. Crouched near the ground with wafts of cheap beer surrounding me, childhood memories of late night wedding receptions and big hair flood in. I leave these bowls of beer out overnight and come back the next day, horrified and amazed by the abundance of creation.
This photo, as impressive as it is, is a week into this routine. The first night I did this the bowl was full, FULL with a crusty top, of slugs. I take them down to the chickens who, after walking over and through them a few times, gorge themselves. If I eat an egg from a hen who ate slugs, who ate the kohlrabi I planted, I am still 'harvesting' from my garden by a circuitous path. So I suppose right now the slugs are winning in the timeline, but ultimately we can't lose.
If anyone has experience with vast numbers of ravenous slugs and snails and has had success by a different method, please fill me in. I do like vegetables.