Friday, July 30, 2010

Joyance (a real word- look it up)

It is difficult to believe that July is wrapping up already!  This month has whizzed past, maybe because we have been so busy. I haven't had much time to blog, but I have documented a  few memorable moments and accomplishments that I will jumble together in this final hodge-podge post for July.

One of the 50 Freedom Ranger chickens adopted the guineas as his buddies and formed a ballet troupe.
The Freedom Rangers grew surprisingly fast! So fast, that we will already be harvesting them next week. Here is one at 10 weeks old, 5 pounds.  They are easy-going,  friendly birds.  They are not very adventurous, rarely roaming beyond the pasture just outside the loafing shed. But that's perfectly fine with me--they haven't done any damage to the flowers or garden like our free-range chickens did last year. They have amusing, kazoo-like voices.
We found a great cedar pergola on Craigslist that fits perfectly on the deck (a recycled section of the rowing club dock)  of the  granary.  Grapes or wisteria will eventually  clamber over it.
Cadence's exuberant edible & medicinal flower garden in front of the granary has been blooming crazily this month.  There are sunflowers, borage, lilies, nasturtiums, runner beans, calendula, echinacea --just to mention a few.
Katrina, daughter of the dairy farmer across the road, stopped over with Jonna  and another friend to visit the critters.  It's not every day you see  3 beauties in fancy sundresses traveling dusty gravel roads via 4-wheeler.
Louise, our pretty gray hen, hatched out 6 darling chicks.  She braved the elements in an outdoor nest tucked in the daylily border (where I wouldn't find it until it was too late.)  She is a very attentive and protective mother--here, she ruffles up and guards her chicks from the scary muck boots.
The five remaining turkeys (we lost 4 to the great-horned owl) have grown quite large and are very funny characters.  They are curious about everything and like to be with their flock, the people.  They learned how to untie shoes, biting onto the laces and pulling.  They like this game and will play it repeatedly.
Despite our attempts to train the turkeys to go into the chicken coop at night, every evening they roost on the bench by the patio and we have to carry them one-at-a-time to the coop.  Probably they are big enough now to be safe from the owl, but we don't really want  them roosting on the bench anyway--they make an uninviting mess.
This felt like a Real Farmer experience:  I ordered bull semen via the Internet to breed Lariat and LaFonda. It came in thin straws,  frozen and immersed in liquid nitrogen, delivered in an insulated storage tank via UPS.  When it arrived, my dairy farmer neighbor let me store the straws in one of his  liquid nitrogen tanks so the transport tank could be returned.
Lariat went into heat two weekends ago and we called the Artificial Insemination technician that our neighbor recommended.  Because a  cows heat cycle is only about a a day long, the AI guy is always on call. He showed up  and it took him about 10 minutes to warm the straw and administer it.  If all goes well, Lariat will have a calf at the end of April! LaFonda should go into heat this weekend.
The sires we chose for Lariat and LaFonda are mini breeds-mini  Dexter for our Dexter, Lariat, and mini White Park for our Jersey mix, LaFonda. Our reasoning was that we have such small acreage, our pastures will better support mini cows. As novice farmers we are also a bit nervous about calving and we figured there would much less likely be problems if the calves were small breeds.
It has been a great summer for butterflies. We are seeing lots of monarchs and  swallowtails. Lately, during our evening walk thousands of yellow sulphur butterflies are  fluttering above the alfalfa fields, and clustered along the edge of the road. As we walk they swirl around our ankles like confetti.
We have carved out a bit of time to enjoy with friends by reducing the number of weekends we are participating in the Farmers Market. Although we love being part of the market, summer is much too fleeting and we need some precious, free weekends to accomplish some farm projects or just relax with friends on the patio. Last Saturday was a perfect evening of fantastic food and wine (one bottle made by Jim) and song with friends  Carla and Jim, Pauly and Ann.
We've been enjoying our sun-gold cherry tomatoes for a few weeks, but finally got our first three large red garden tomatoes a few nights ago.  So many are coming that soon we will be struggling to keep up with them.  Let the tomato marathon begin!
One last tribute to our dear steers,  Lasso and Reuben.


katiegirl said...

Love this post! The freedom ranger looks like a big boy. Good luck with them! Our broilers will be processed this week as well. Good luck with breeding the girls! I can't wait to see your calf pictures! The arbor for the granary is beautiful, as is the medicinal garden!

Vic said...

Great shot out on the patio. That photo says summer to me!