Saturday, March 26, 2011



As with any seasonal change, we are busily trying to wrap up winter while scrambling to prepare for spring. Though the calendar may say it is spring already and it was 55 and sunny this morning, in a span of 45 minutes it was snowing/hailing/ice pelleting sideways. We are not quite far enough away from winter.

I can see it is frustrating for Lloyd and Nathan to not be able to get much farming done because of the weather. They really want to get spring grain in the ground. In a desert climate, I never thought I would wish for less rain.

We had two pair of Canada geese visit us for a week. Growing up in the valley, these birds were everywhere and you could watch their V formations moving steadily across the sky. Over here, I have heard the familiar honks only a few times so imagine our surprise when the geese flew low right over the shop honking wildly then circling back around after deeming our pond (which is normally little more than a damp depression) to be a suitable place to stop over.

The heifers finished calving out earlier in the month and we have since walked them over to the Big Hay Shed to be with the rest of the brood herd. Simple Susan was delighted to have more calves to dote on.

The first batch of chicks are already four weeks old and are out scuttling about on pasture. I've nearly forgotten about how messy and smelly they are to brood and I'm looking forward to the next batch of fuzzballs.

The snowdrops are on their way out and I had my first crocus bloom a few weeks ago. I can't wait for the daffodils, they have been blooming in Portland for weeks but our season comes several weeks later.

We are currently overwhelmed by eggs though that is to be expected with 80 some chickens running around. We will be adding more members to the CSA in June so that increased demand should help level off the supply. Packing eggs is still a tedious task and lordy help me if I slack off for a few days and end up with several hundred eggs to pack.

The sunroom is full of seedlings and the cold frames in the garden are full of delicate little leaves. I can almost taste that first salad.

Each day brings a new triumph.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

White lashes and a pink nose


Now if that isn't a cute calf, I don't know what is. This little bull is a spitting image of his papa. #52 calved him out alone in the puckerbrush and brought him in at feeding time to show off. That's quite a different scenario than how her calf 'Sparky' entered the world last spring.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Snowy sunset


A storm moved in fast this evening, covering everything in several inches of snow in less than an hour. There was the slightest peek of a sunset between the two systems. My poor crumpled laundry line has a few months yet to recuperate before endless baskets of summer laundry make their demands.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Farm friends

Steve, Angela and S. came out to the ranch for a visit recently and we all had a great time together. S. fit right in as a perfect country girl and helped roll out pasta, gather eggs and of course keep all the stock company. She became fast friends with Frieda (though who doesn't when a 10lb turkey crawls into your lap for pets) and would dash outside at the first squawk to be with her B.F.F. (Best Friend Frieda). I really enjoy having kids out at the ranch; they are so enthusiastic to do anything with the animals that they leave behind a trail of boots, coats, gloves and bewildered parents.

S. desperately wanted to pet a calf. No luck this time around but I am sure she will try again next visit.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More calves

Last year I had issues trying to keep track of all the black calves. This year, I'm trying to keep all these splotchy faces straight. I take lots of photos to help with field identification.

Monocle's little heifer

#54's little bull

Sorefoot's bull calf

Postal and her bull calf. This little one came out back legs-first. There's no way he would have made it if Nathan hadn't intervened. That's one big calf.

Monocle and her heifer

This little girl stands out from the crowd. What a pretty face out of mama Dirty Face.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Baby calves

As per request, here are a few of the new faces around the ranch:

This little heifer out of an all black cow was brand new when we showed up to feed. Her mama licked her clean but she still has some crazy hair.

This little heifer calf is almost a week old. She got off to a very rough start. When Lloyd and Nathan went up to feed on Monday, they noticed Muzzy was having some issues calving and had one foot sticking out. It looked like the cow had been trying for a while and we assumed the calf was probably dead but Lloyd managed to pull the calf alive (a very big heifer that was breech so she came out with her back legs first) and get it toweled down a bit and bedded it down next to mama.

When we checked the pair a few hours later, the calf wasn't doing very well. I forgot to mention that Monday the temperature hovered around zero with a 40 mph wind. That leg that was hanging out in the wind was very cold, possibly frozen and the calf was not able to stand up to nurse. When her ears started to freeze solid, we hauled her down to the house and put her in Lloyd's sunroom. After a good brushing and towel dry to fluff up the hair for insulation and a bottle feeding, they loaded her back up and took her up to mama and hoped for the best. Next morning she was still alive, was using her back legs, had been up to nurse (much to the cow's relief) and seemed pretty perky.

Occasionally, she is not so coordinated in the back end but that doesn't stop her from tearing around at high speeds with her tail up in the air. She is super friendly and loves to play chase. She seems like a healthy, happy calf but her ears are all droopy from the cold and that makes her look a little dopey. Nathan gave her the nickname "Simple Susan". Maybe she is a little simple from oxygen deprivation, maybe it is just her silly ears, but the name seems fitting.

We are entering our second week of calving at the Big Hay Shed so stay tuned for more cute calves.