The spring seems to be heavy with expectations and plans, and full of hope and stress and scratching your head and peering down at seeded rows and looking for the carrots. It’s about waiting and crossing your fingers and being surprised by how many weeds there are already, and looking at your tomato transplants and worrying. It’s about driving by or visiting other farmers and comparing, and noticing – “did they plants their cucurbits before that big rain, should we have our beans in by now?” The spring feels momentous, like everything could still go wrong or everything could still go like you planned it, and you’re not sure which way things will fall yet (but, of course some things fall one way and some the other). The spring is the rising action, the flowers but no fruit. The longest days and still getting longer.
We are feeling pretty good about things here on Sandy Meadow Farm. We have all of our big, early plantings in; pretty much all that is left is dry beans (due to go in tomorrow), and our fall storage roots and cabbage. We did our big seeding of winter squash at the end of last week and it looks as though it is starting to germinate. We opted for direct seeding into plastic, instead of starting transplants, mainly because we don’t have the greenhouse space for growing that many seedlings (we are growing about 2/3 of an acre of squash) and we thought we could get away without using row cover if we direct seeded. We also bought a brand new ground driven sprayer, and we hope to really put it to the test this year, given it is the only new piece of equipment we have ever bought and the most expensive. I should have taken a video of the sprayer in action, but didn’t think of it at the time. I will next time, though, its kind of cool to see it in action if you’re into ground driven sprayers.
The horses and cattle have been out to pasture for that past couple weeks, which is really great, mainly because they are all much happier. But, it also means that we have to buy less hay, we don’t have to clean manure out of their stalls twice a day and the cows are cleaner and making more milk.
That is a lot of our crop ground, the other day Pheonix and I were standing in the spot I took this picture and he said, doesn’t that look good, people are going to drive by and be like, “look at that their getting something done over there.”
Fast calf out on grass.
There is Pheonix with the potato planter we borrowed. Last year, we made the furrows with the team, walked down the furrow and dropped the seed by hand, and then closed the furrow back up with the team: three passes altogether. The planter did all three steps in one pass. Much faster; It planted about 1,000 lbs of seed in about 6 1/2 hours.
The next thing was the clothesline. It was quite the undertaking. It involved four trips to the Community Market and a lot of messing around with, but we are both pretty excited about it. There she is in all her glory.
On midday Friday, Frannie gave birth to a healthy heifer calf. The delivery went smooth and the calf got up pretty quickly and with a little help started nursing right away. But, her afterbirth didn’t come out within the first couple hours like it should. When I went to get hay on Saturday morning, she still hadn’t cleaned, so I asked the farmer we get hay from for a shot of oxytocin. We gave her the oxytocin as soon as I got back (around 9am), and an hour later there was still no sign. We called the vet and he suggested calcium, and after that still no sign. We called the vet back and he told us to wait a couple days and call back if she still hadn’t cleaned. So, at this point, its been 24 hours and we have a retained placenta on our hands. The main risk here is uterine infection so we kept her area really clean and bedded her with fresh hay and just hoped it would come out on its own. Yesterday morning we went out to water and check on her and she seemed to have a hard time standing, was pretty wobbly and hadn’t really eaten much hay; which, is a sign of milk fever. So, we gave her more calcium and she seemed to be feeling better after that. When we went back out again an hour or so later, her afterbirth was most ways out, and what a relief! We definitely learned from this experience though, next time we are seeing the early signs of a retained placenta we will give the oxytocin much earlier. Oh, and we named the calf Fancy.
Yesterday, we used another piece of borrowed equipment to lay plastic for winter squash. It came out pretty good, and was kind of fun to do.
It’s finally been feeling like spring here the past couple of weeks and what a relief after a winter like last. We have been busy here on the farm, getting all the ground worked up, getting everything cleaned up, moving the animals to their summer home, seeding, and harvesting some greens from the greenhouse. It’s kind of crazy how it all comes at once. The horses have been working hard and most of the big field work is done. Yesterday, I spent most of the day cutting up potato seed, which we will plant this week. Norma Star and her Calf are doing well, and we are expecting Franny to give birth any day now, fingers crossed for another heifer.
Norma Star’s sweet heifer, Maple Star, born in March.
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