America is in chaos, just coming out of stay-at-home orders after a virus got out of control, police are murdering black people with impunity, but here on the farm, peace mostly prevails.
So far this Spring, we have 7 lambs on the ground, 3 of them boys, have bought a new Leicester ram lamb, Walter, to be our flock breeding ram, although right now, none of the ewes like him. They bite him, chase him and knock him off his feet. So my current sympathy is expressed as “Poor Walter”.
Hope had a heifer calf 9 days ago, Henrietta. She’s a feisty little thing, and comes with mum to milkings, but today, she pee’d in the milk parlour. Oy, going to have to train that out of her. I shouldn’t say it out loud, but haven’t had to clean cow poop out of the lower barn in so long, I can’t remember when I last did. And today, Ruthie didn’t kick !! She is a lovely, pale coloured Jersey cow, with a formidable udder, and the most cream I’ve ever had from a cow in 10 years of milking. She even prefers people company to cow company, but I figured out why she was sold. She hates having her teats touched. I don’t take it personally, I’ve seen her kick her calf off too. Now that we’re in the green season and they’re not eating hay in the lower barn enclosure, their udders and teats aren’t caked with mud, so it’s quicker and easier to wash, strip and dip them. Especially as they’ve learnt to walk the gangplank into the lower barn instead of wading their udders through 1½ ft of sloppy, poopy mud. Spatch was born on October 27, 2019, which makes him just over 6 months old, and I’ve been fighting with Ruthie in the milk stall all this time. It wears thin, and I’m covered in bruises, scratches and have had my toes broken, twice. But I’ve changed tactics, wash her from the back so she doesn’t connect when she kicks, but that does leave me in a prime position to be stepped on, ie broken toes. Did you know they don’t make farm waterproof boots with steel toes ?? Suppose I should just be more nimble.
Oliver, our polled Jersey herd bull is still a sweetie. I need to check how old he is, think about 6 years old and although he huffs and puffs at me sometimes, he doesn’t paw the ground or threaten me. Any men near the pastures, different story. They’re competition. Herbie won’t go into their enclosure, I have to move them and shut an electric gate between them if Herbie needs to go in, like to drop brush into the woodpile for burning. Thor, the black Scottish Highland bull is a year younger than Oliver, but is totally laid back. They both move when I stamp my feet and say “move” but I’m careful not to lose sight of them or not pay attention. Oliver is about 2,000 lbs of muscle and testosterone. Spatch now lives with them too, took a bit of time, and moving mum in with them too to stop the other 2 bulls from chasing him. Now I let Ruthie in with them when I want him to strip any remaining milk, and on days I don’t have to milk.
There are currently 32 FrankenChickens in the side chicken yard, they’re about 5 weeks old already. I’ve had demand for them with the shortages of chicken in the grocery stores. Processing end June, and they’re all bespoke. I don’t usually do meat chickens at this time of year, it’s hot and there are flies and mosquitoes. But there is demand, so maybe I can grow my market while making a little money. They’re organic, so I have to charge a little more to cover their very expensive feed.
Installed a new colony of bees on Sunday, without being stung. Wasn’t stung when I installed them either. That’s a miracle, but I wore double pants and shirt, duck taped my pants leg bottoms to my boots (had to duck tape a tear in the boots too) put my bee hat and gloves on, and wriggled the empty box I had over the package box loose, and then put the 2nd deep super, a queen excluder and a shim, and then 2 shallow supers for honey for us. Still had a mouse make a nest in the new box which was waiting. I hate mice. They always invade my hives. This time I screwed a metal reducer with 12 bee-holes over the front entrance, with a feeder taking up the last few inches. That’s empty now, but I’m leaving it in place to try and keep the mice out. Should be getting another 3 hives later in June from the same guy I got them from last year, but bought one package early so that they could pollinate my fruit trees. So I have honey to spin out in the garage, and some in the comb too. It’s on the to-do list.
My hoophouse made it through the Winter intact ! Sounds silly I know, but after a storm broke it the Winter before, I’ll take it. It’s like a sauna jungle inside. Need to get in there next with the weedy whacker. Lost 2 blueberry bushes this last Winter, but bough 2 replacements from Menards yesterday, covered in little green berries. We’ve had an abundant asparagus crop this year, the first time I’ve had enough to sell, even after a late frost hit them and I lost everything that was above the ground.
Egg production is in full swing too, and I have a steady demand, so that’s good.
Last Autumn, I planted about 400 bulbs, so this Spring was pretty, tulips and daffodils. The freesias, ranunculus and sporaxis I planted earlier last year haven’t come up. But the snowball bush is in full flower, even though they’re small balls, the forsythia gave a gorgeous yellow show for nearly a month, the rhododendron is just starting to flower, my remaining one after the Sheila incident, the smokebush isn’t dead like I thought, and the roses all made it and are greening nicely, although I haven’t seen any buds yet and it looks as if the peony could flower for the first time too.
The hummingbirds are back, when they arrived, one sat on the shepherds crook outside the French doors and sang for his meals for the next season. I asked Herbie if he heard him singing to me. They’re fairly demanding. If their feeders are empty, he’ll fly up to my bedroom window and hover until I see him and go down to refill them. There are more than 1 family who spend the season here, and it’s fun to watch the juveniles grow up.
Hopefully tomorrow I can cut the hay, as the weather seems fortuitous for the next week. But then again, that can change.