Tuesday, October 11, 2011


My posts have been few and far between this month; it probably seems like nothing must be going at Squash Blossom Farm  this  October.  Au contraire !  Life is crazy-busy.  Let me catch you up on a few things.

The  days have been unseasonably warm, sunny and dry - absolutely beautiful.  There isn't much left in the parched pasture for the cows, however, so they are already eating hay.
I missed both Lariat and LaFonda's heat cycles in July and August when I hoped to breed them.  Apparently the crazy hot weather in July caused a lot of cows' hormonal systems to be confused.  I had pretty much  resigned myself to not breeding them this year because I didn't want them to be heavily pregnant in the heat of the summer.

But then they both came into heat simultaneously last week and I called up the AI technician on impulse. I had already ordered the semen, which was being stored in a liquid nitrogen tank at the neighbor's dairy farm.  Eric, the AI guy, was quite impressed that LaFonda  came trotting over when I called her.  Lariat was very cooperative as well.   Erik said that both cows were at the perfect point to be bred, so both cows should settle.  The calves will have the same sires as LindyHop and Jitterbug and should be born around the 4th of July.  I have to figure out what to do with my growing herd -- 6 cows will be too many for our little farm!
On the garden front, some things are still growing strong.  Lots of various kinds of peppers are still coming, beets, chard, a few zukes,
and we are still collecting a bushel of tomatoes a day!
I have been roasting tomatoes for the freezer like crazy,
drying tomatoes like crazy,
and even freezing them whole, the way my friend Katherine suggested. I have also taken a bunch to the Community Food Response, where they were very appreciated.  I think i am done with tomatoes now --  the rest of the crop will go to the food shelf this week.
The fall crops in the high tunnel are looking lovely. Last night we harvested our first fall spinach and made a wonderful salad with hard boiled eggs from our own chickens and roasted  beets from our garden.

This morning as I was watering and weeding, it almost felt like spring. It was warm and  bright and green inside the greenhouse and I could hear the migrating robins chirruping.  A high tunnel garden would be a great remedy for Seasonal Affective Disorder!
Sadly,  few days ago we lost a keet (guinea fowl chick) that had  fallen into the  stock tank and drowned. Then, the next day, two more of the remaining three keets were missing and I could not  find a trace of them.  Sad and baffling.
The following morning, as I was gathering eggs and feeding chickens I heard peeping coming from within the wall of the coop. There is a wall of particle board with shelves mounted on it that does not go quite to the top of the wall. The keets must have tried perching on the edge and fallen behind. The wall was not easily deconstruct-able, so we attempted a number of strategies to rescue the keets.  We tried using the long-handled grabber I use to move sticks out of the way when mowing, we lowered a little platform to elevate the chicks, and finally Rog resorted to cutting a hole in the wall with the sawsall. (Then he  covered the opening so it can't happen again)
Those lucky keets were very happy to get out.  They pushed the huge turkeys aside and ate and drank ravenously. Then I herded them out to their moms in the pasture. The two hens were both hovering protectively over the remaining chick and seemed pleased to have their prodigal keets back.
The turkeys are going to be harvested tomorrow.  This is always such a sad event  - turkeys are such gentle, funny birds.  But they are getting huge and we don't want to make the mistake  of letting them get too big like we did a couple a years ago --we ended up with several 50+ -lb birds, dressed.
The toms are quite impressive, spending much of the day  displaying. They fluff out their feathers, and their faces turn vivid red and blue.  It seems like they are showing off more to each other  than to the oblivious hens.
The ducks may miss the turks. We raised them together as babies and they still hang out together.  It is so hard to believe the ducks and turkeys were tiny hatchlings just three and a half months ago.
On a completely different note, I have been hired to paint a 75-foot long mural on  a storefront. The place is the Barlow Event Center,  a new venue for live music, great food and drink, dancing, theater and other fun events in several remodeled store fronts.  I have been lucky to have perfect weather the past week to  paint the windows. Here you see the first 20 feet or so, in progress. I have about 20 feet to go and must get to work now.  I hope to finish today!


Becky said...

Wow! So many wonderful things going on on your farm! You HAVE been busy! I love the mural! Did you have to paint it from the inside or is the paint waterproof?

Marcia said...

Love reading about your farm. How are you managing it all without your interns?

katiegirl said...

I can't wait to see next year's calves! The spinach looks perfect! And I agree about the turkeys, they're such great animals! Can't wait to see the rest of the mural.

Bethany Ringdal said...

We're glad you got the keets out! How is the single keet? We've been thinking about her, although we can't get our hopes up too high. They look so different already! It's such a joy to see how things grow in just a few weeks. Thanks for keeping us posted =).

Also, we covet your tomatoes. And chard. And Spinach...!!!!!