Posts Tagged ‘January’


mama drinks, baby follows


Writing time has been hard to come by this week. Calves keep coming, two and three a day most days. Brad tagged the sixty-eighth one this morning. We had our first coyote victim a few days ago, a three-week-old calf, healthy and strong. The men loaded their guns, watched and waited. A family friend fired at one I spotted in the field behind the house; we hope he gut-shot it, but at such a distance we can’t be sure. Brad goes out after dark and searches, hopefully running off any that might be around. Another three-week-old calf was dead this morning, this one by the hay bale, with no observable injuries. It may have gotten trampled, or perhaps it simply died. The mama wanders the field, calling. She comes over to us at the fence when we walk past and follows us, bellowing, as if we might lead her to her calf. She is called “Lumpy” for her swollen face; the vet gave her a shot of antibiotic last October for her apparent infection, but too much calcification surrounds the mass and she isn’t improving, which may be somehow related to her calf’s demise. She may have to be culled. The harsh realities of herd management…

Virginia Willis ordered a hundred pounds of grits this week, so Brad will spend all day tomorrow milling. At least the weather has been decent, if a bit warm for the season. The field roads are still puddled and mucky; Steve (a friend of my father-in-law) worked on moving some gravel around with the skid loader this morning to smooth out some of the bigger potholes.

The frogs are loud and plentiful with such mild temperatures and wetness. So far it really hasn’t been a proper winter at all, even for Georgia. I wonder about crops: have the peaches and pecans gotten the cold they need? The apples? Will we get bitten by a late snowstorm after the blueberries have set flowers? What about the strawberries? So much vulnerability. Perhaps I am thin-skinned, but it irks me when I hear people joke about global warming. It seems to always be the same people who complain that their groceries aren’t cheap enough. Which way do you want it? Crops are our livelihood. If that doesn’t matter to you, perhaps you should stop eating.

froggy bog (highest water level; stays dry most of summer)

We’ve been diversifying our homeschool process over the past week. Although we are unschoolers, I was delighted to win a year’s worth of materials from Oak Meadow  and have been incorporating many of their ideas, particularly in keeping artistic materials more handy and using them myself. We will spend tomorrow at the Tellus Museum with other homeschoolers. The kids and I all are excited to see friends, and I am excited to have an outing planned that won’t involve too long of a drive. With so much to do at home, it gets hard to leave…

Tom rests high in the hay barn, enjoying safety from Zen, the cat-tormenting dog


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Another powerful thunderstorm last night brought four more calves this morning. With forty-one born now we’re getting close to the halfway mark. Lightning struck close enough to shock Roger at the field gate, sending blue arcs into the air, and the concomitant thunder shook the house hard enough to rattle a copper knickknack off the windowsill, sending it crashing onto dishes in the kitchen sink. All the low places are flooded again, and thick grey stratus blankets the sky horizon to horizon. January has always been one of the wettest months here, but the strength and fierceness of these storms is usually reserved for later in spring.

One calf, 235, appeared to be missing this morning. Carter (my father-in-law) found him on the wrong side of the fence. Back in the herd, all calves accounted for, each endured being followed around until Brad had seen that all were nursing. With mamas and babies all paired up he could come in from the rain and worry about something else.

January with its frequently inclement weather finds me staring at length out windows and thinking. This year I have new medicinal gardens to create, some raised beds to build for a few just-for-us crops that are too labor intensive to produce on a large scale, and then our market and CSA crops to plan. I grew up with a backyard garden but ensuring enough beans come in at once to fill perhaps four hundred boxes is completely different territory. Surveying our back yard, at least five 4 x 8 beds will fit easily just below the patio area, and can hold strawberries, annual herbs, and perhaps a few vining plants that need support. These will make good test plots, too, to reduce the investment risk on a few first-time varietals I’m curious about. I pore over catalogs, make lists and calculations. I struggle to cut enough from my wish list to be economically reasonable while still growing what we want to eat. I am not yet decided…

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