Archive for the ‘Springtime’ Category

New spring grass

We wrapped up calving on April 13 with one last heifer calf I named Jessica Rabbit, then began rotating the newly-expanded cow herd on spring grass on April 26th.  Hopefully next year it will be the other way around, and the calves will be born on tall spring grass to mothers that have grazed for a month or more already.  It worked out fine, though, with six healthy calves born unassisted and no complications.  Two heifers, 4 bull calves.  A good start for the beeve inventory.

April whipped by, with all the livestock caretaking activity.  Now May is nearly gone too, having been filled so far with spring cleaning and preparations for visitors come to help build a little horse barn.  Now the barn building is in full swing, so I need to close the calving chapter here and get back to regular posts, to document what’s going on right now.

Sigh.  Wish I had a ghost writer to log on here and post for me some days.  I post Facebook status updates regularly because they are so quick and easy, but they aren’t the same as journaling here.  So we’ll work on that.

Today is my 52nd birthday.  I hope to get a couple of roof panels on the pole barn with the able assistance of my barn-building buddy, sister Linda.  The weather’s cooperating so far, so off we go…

More later.


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Iris cristata

We got back from the Farm late last Saturday night, escaping the onslaught of rain heading up from the South that turned Derby Day into a mudfest.   Of the eight days there, four were entirely rain-free, which is as good as it gets, though we made good use of our time, rain or shine.

My primary project this trip was restoring (sanding, grinding rust, and painting) the 19 corral panels I’d hauled down from the pastures in February and stacked in the shop.   They’d been out in the weather for years, and were rusting in many spots and badly in need of a good coat of Rustoleum paint.  I regret not taking before and after pictures, as the transformation was amazing, and made me feel good about spending the time and effort to do the job right.

I didn’t get them all done, just 7 of the 19, but I’m all set up now with my grinder and sawhorses and techniques, so everytime we visit I’ll try and knock a couple out, so that when I’m finally ready to set up the round pen/handling pen, they’ll be ready too.  What a lot of work it was!  I started by washing them down with a sandpaper sponge to get as much dirt, rust and oxidized paint off as possible, then took the grinder to every last little rust spot, then applied a coat of primer to the bare metal exposed by the grinding, then a lovely green coat of Rustoleum.  Laid horizontal on sawhorses at waist level, the panels were easy to work on, but the enamel paint had to dry overnight or all day in between coats, which was the bottleneck of the whole process.

So I was grateful to get done what I did, and most of it was inside shop work while the rain came down, a very good use of time.

We had a couple of sunny days following the rain, which allowed me to finish pulling fence posts up on the pastures, removing the last of the ill-placed and unused lanes and gates that surrounded the Big Pond.  We never could figure out why the old man had set everything up so close to the pond, the ground was mucky in spots and not even close to level.  I’ll find a better place for a handling pen and loading chute as the design of things unfolds, and yes, it’ll be a lot of work to set it all back up again, but I’d rather do that than keep using a setup that makes no sense and doesn’t work well.

I spent a day fixing and cleaning house and shop gutters, right before the big deluge came, before we left.  Good work to get done before loads of rain arrived.  And we found someone to mow the grass, which is a blog post all in itself, about meeting neighbors and being embraced by the local community.

A good visit, all in all.  My camera came out only once, I regret, to take pictures of wildflowers in late-April bloom.  I think I got lazy about photojournalizing my work projects, which I’m kicking myself for, but the work got done, whether you have pictures of it or not. 

The wildflowers were astonishingly beautiful.  More photos to follow.

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Spring Green

Oh what a difference a month makes.  The trees are finally wearing their fresh new leaf outfits, unblemished yet by insects or dust, and the view heading up the hill past the garden/barn spot is now an emerald rhapsody of dappled greens kept sparkling like jewels by the steady spring rains.  I am curious to know what wildflowers have bloomed and gone by the time we get there in late May. 

There’ll be time enough in the near future, I know, to explore for myself the myriad inhabitants of Kentucky forest, creek and meadow as each season takes center stage; for now I must content myself with doing homework, learning what I can from books and the internet to identify grasses, trees, weeds and flowers I am as yet unfamiliar with. 

My native landscaping knowledge was of High Country western flora – Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona.  As a twenty-something citizen naturalist I knew every shrub, tree and flower around the northern Rocky Mountain region by their proper latin names and common tags as well; now I am an illiterate pre-schooler as I walk through my fields and forest, yet to learn the alphabet, much less read the book of diversity that surrounds me.  It will come, though, in time, that familiarity.

Two weeks from now I’ll be in this picture, clad in muddy work boots and  jeans, doing farm work in the warm May sun.  Two years from now will be the last Spring on the farm I’ll have to miss in its entirety, the last time I’ll ever have to wonder what mystery wildflowers spring to life on the forest floor in the month of May in south-central Kentucky.  Time enough, ’till then, to read and learn.  The flowers and the jeweled leaves will wait for me.

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Starting the Garden


This is the third summer Alene and Bobby have put in a garden on this 1/4 acre back of the shop building, a little stretch of grass that borders the creek as the road starts up the hill.  They hadn’t gardened for several years, said it was too much work for what they got out of it; but for some reason they decided to pick it up again.  Bobby loves potatoes and onions and tomatoes, and his family always grew subsistence gardens in his childhood years.  I also think my constant mention of gardening in San Diego got them thinking it wasn’t such a bad idea for a couple of old retired folks, to tend to a garden and knock a little off their grocery bill.

The first summer, 2007, was a very dry one, and they went overboard with how much they planted, so they ended up pouring a couple of swimming pools worth of water into it – the water company actually called to ask if they had installed a pool, their useage had jumped so high!  But they got lots of Blue Lake green beans, corn, potatoes and tomatoes out it, freezing the beans, storing the potatoes in the shop and eating the tomatoes fresh.  Swore they weren’t going to garden anymore, though, with the watering being so costly, but you know how gardens are.  Like birthing babies, the pain and effort fades eventually and all that’s left is a hankering to do it again.

Last summer they planted some potatoes, tomatoes, squash and beans, keeping it down to a couple of rows.  I think they finally discovered a “right size” approach that gave them some fresh food without being too much of a hassle.  So, this year they’ve got potatoes, onions, mustard and turnips in again, with some tomatoes growing in pots up by the house, and surely some summer vegetables will make their way in sometime this month.  I’m very happy they’re gardening again, and enjoying it.  

Alene wrote just this morning that the potatoes and onions are up and looking good, despite the cool weather and rain.  She’s measured 18″ of rain so far this year.  Granted, it’s the rainy season, but that’s still quite a lot of rain for four months.  The garden site is well-drained though and gets good sun throughout the day, so it shouldn’t set anything back too far.

I’ll put my kitchen garden somewhere else when I get there in 2011, as this scrap of relatively flat land is destined to have a small barn built on it and paddocks fenced for the horses, so they’ll be close at night while I’m living down near the road in the little house, working and building the barn up on the hill.  It’s a fair stretch of road to the top, and I don’t like the idea of my critters being up there at night so far away from the watchful ears and nose of the farm dog.

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Alene sends pictures almost every other week – her photos are not what mine would be, but I’m so fortunate to have her there to be my eyes, I won’t apologize for poor resolution or lack of composition; these pictures are precious to me, my only glimpse of all that I love and long for from half a world away.

The dogwoods have started  flowering now and soon will be a riot of white against the pale new green leaves of the overstory trees behind them.  One day not too far from now, I’ll be there to see their transformation for myself; until then, these ordinary photos keep my heart and mind tuned to a certain hilltop farm in south-central Kentucky, where the sun rises on bright spring-green pastures and sets on hardwood forests tinged with spring white.



 It has been a wet Spring thus far, with more than 4″ of rainfall by mid-April; 15″ or so for the year to date.  The forest will be exploding soon with life and the pastures are already at grazing stage, 8 – 10″ of tender, succulent young grass and clover.  Too bad I do not have any hungry sheep or cows to begin rotating through them yet…  It would be a good time for lambing, calving and foaling, with lots to eat and rains bringing more growth every day.

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