Monday, July 16, 2012

Calf and Tomato Update

The new bull calf (three days old) is healthy and adorable.  Mostly all he does so far is sleep and eat, but he is cute doing both.  Tonight,  it cooled off a little bit after a miserably hot day, and he was quite spunky, racing up and down the compost pile and  making his poor mom follow him all over the pasture.  He is not  so wobbly any more, leaping and bucking and  racing back and forth around his mom.
Lariat has a long-suffering mom expression  on her face as he nurses.  Her back teats are still very swollen and probably pretty uncomfortable. I have been giving her raspberry leaves to help reduce swelling.  Yesterday evening, I  let the  big cows in the pasture with her and the calf. It was a bit scary at first -  they were rather rowdy, pushing in to see him.  Lariat made herself a body guard and tried not to let them too close.

After supper I realized I hadn't seen Lariat near the cow fountain, so I took her a 5-gallon bucket of cool water and she emptied it in one big slurp. I guess she was too concerned about protecting her calf to get a drink. So, I have been taking her buckets of water and bits of hay and grain to make sure she is getting enough sustenance.  Tonight she brought her calf into the middle pasture with the other big cows, and she drank at the fountain, so everyone must be settling in with the new member of the herd.
Today my key farming goals were  doting on the cows and staking the tomatoes.  I am both proud of and embarrassed by the tomatoes, which had  become an impenetrable jungle in the high tunnel. I had no idea they would grow so huge so fast!  Many of them are much taller than I, possibly over 8 feet if stretched out.  I don't know whether to blame the  thick layer of compost or the occasional fertilizing with excess raw milk.  This is the "before" photo.  My goal was to forge a path between the two rows of tomatoes.
There are so many big, beautiful tomatoes coming!!  When I planted them I drew a map of which of the 8 varieties I planted where, but now they are so tangled together I will have to wait for them to ripen to figure out what most of them are.

My new favorite garden supply is  velcro tomato tie tape.  (you can see  wrapped it around a vine toward the bottom left of the photo.) It is soft so it doesn't  cut into the tomato stem, yet strong. You can cut it to whatever length you need and it can be repositioned.   I worked my way down the center aisle of the tomatoes for two hours, pinning up the unruly  vines and  pinching off the suckers.  It was SO HOT and sweaty in there -- a 90+ humid day, and then add in at least 10 degrees for the greenhouse effect.
While staking, I found the first two full-sized tomatoes of the season ripe and ready to  harvest (probably "Earliana.") We ate them for supper tonight, in BLT sandwiches made with Rog's wood-fired sourdough bread, homemade butter and dark red leaf lettuce from the garden.  Oh, yum!!
The "after" photo.  I ran out of velcro and didn't quite make it to the end of the row, but now the high tunnel is nearly navigable. I also discovered a huge clutch of chicken eggs hidden in the dense tomato jungle.  Dang chickens!  Tomorrow I must poultry-proof the high tunnel so they do not destroy our tomatoes!
You wouldn't think staking tomatoes would be such dirty work.  It's actually not dirt, but  a stain from the tomato plants.  I have now scrubbed my hands with soap and a hand brush several times, and taken a shower and washed my hair, yet my hands still look pretty dirty tonight.  Guess it will have to wear off.


Annnightflyer said...

Oh my gosh look at that,yep I do believe you got maters!

HelenB said...

You might want to check out Daphne's Dandelions
about solanine poisoning. At the moment, she can't eat tomatoes, peppers, eggplant etc. because of the large amount of solanine she absorbed while working with tomato plants.

Annnightflyer said...

Oh congrats on your the new baby.i forgot to post that earlier!

Jenny said...

Your new calf is beautiful! You can try milking moma-cow to help her with swelling. Love your tomato jungle! I also get green hands from working on them but found that rubbing a bit of baking soda and lemon helped get rid of the stains.