March Kids

Our spring kidding season is underway, and we’re off to a shaky start.

Fannie was the first to kid. A first-time Mama who almost died last winter, she’s a strong healthy doe now, but the least-tame goat in our herd. She repays my saving her life last year by running from me whenever I’m around.

On Friday I saw her out in the pasture in labor. After giving her plenty of time to kid I went to check on her, finding her walking around seemingly unconcerned about the hoof that was hanging out of her. Getting a closer look I saw not just a kid’s hoof, but also a nose and mouth. The kid’s tongue was hanging out of its mouth and clearly this was not the way it was supposed to arrive. Assuming it was an unfortunate stillborn, I  caught Fannie, pushed the kid’s head back in a little so I could reach in and find the other hoof, then pulled the kid out. He hit the ground squealing, perfectly healthy.

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Fannie’s baby, after his reluctant arrival

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Then yesterday morning at dawn I discovered that Carrie had kidded, another first-time Mama. Despite having warm deeply-bedded barn stalls available, she dropped the kid in the dirt, in the cold. When I found the kid she was freezing cold and barely breathing.  I brought her inside, cleaned her, and warmed her up with a blow dryer. Soon she perked up.

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This is how we roll on White Flint Farm

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Then I caught her mother and milked some colostrum from her, which I fed the kid with an eyedropper. I locked mama and baby in a stall together and now the kid is walking around and nursing fine.

It rained all night here, with temps in the thirties. I went out twice overnight to make sure no one had kidded in the freezing rain. Luckily they hadn’t. Will be heading out again in a few minutes to check on everyone.

Hoping it goes more smoothly from here on out.

On an entirely different subject, I can’t read WordPress blogs on Internet Explorer these days. I’ve googled the problem but found nothing. Chrome works fine, but I have my bookmarks on Explorer and don’t want to transfer them to Chrome. Anyone else having this problem? Any tips for what to do about it?

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The Price

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

—Henry Thoreau

Our Clouded Hills

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And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant Land.

William Blake

Thinking About Taters

A couple of days ago I sowed our raised beds with lettuce and tatsoi. The tentative plan is to start planting our transplants in a couple of weeks. Between now and then, if the weather cooperates, we’ll plant our potatoes.

We’ve planted lots of varieties over the years, but beginning last year we decided to just stick with one, our favorite–Yukon Gold.

I also experimented with a new planting method last year and it worked well (and saved lots of labor). This year I plan to plant the entire garden that way.

We also stopped saving our own potato seed. For many years we had planted only saved potatoes from the previous year. But we came up short a couple of years ago and I had to buy a bag of seed potatoes in order to finish and the seed we bought significantly outperformed our saved seed. It could have been a fluke that had nothing to do with our seeds, but that was enough to cause me to start buying seed potatoes again–influenced as well by the fact that a 50 lb bag of seed potatoes costs about 15% of our retail price for potatoes. We usually still have enough leftover potatoes to plant our garden if some catastrophe happens and seed isn’t available, but that is no longer our first choice.

If at all possible I’ll plant on St. Patrick’s Day, the traditional day for planting potatoes. But with rain in the forecast next week that might not happen. Either way, I’m looking forward to having them planted.

Humble and Kind

Corny maybe, but I really like the message in this song.

Humble and Kind

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key is under the mat
Childhood stars shine, always stay humble and kind
Go to church ’cause your momma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be a waste of time
Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got moutains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind

Don’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why
Bitterness keeps you from flying
Always stay humble and kind
Know the difference between sleeping with someone
And sleeping with someone you love
I love you ain’t no pick up line so
Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got moutains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind

When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
Let that summer sun shine
Always stay humble and kind
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin’
Turn right back around
Help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

Rightful Liberty

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Thomas Jefferson

Commencement

We’re off to a good start, I think. My (admittedly unscientific)  planting schedule calls for our spring vegetables to be planted “March 1–as soon thereafter as the ground can be worked.” Some years that qualifier carries us all the way into April. But yesterday conditions were perfect. On another record-high day I shaped up the beds and planted. Beets, English peas, arugula, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, spinach and bok choy–all direct-seeded.

The transplants aren’t ready yet, of course. Those were started weeks ago and because there’s no way to predict then when the soil will be ready, we aimed for mid-March. So we’ll be adding collards, broccoli, romaine lettuce, Chinese cabbage and more kale a few weeks from now (hopefully). In about a week we’ll sow lettuce mix and tatsoi in the raised beds.

In the past we’ve had large 3 spring gardens. This year we have only one. I’m excited to see how the experiment works out.

We’re reducing to one large summer garden as well, although we will have a separate watermelon patch and a large garden devoted to eggplant and acorn squash. Likewise we’re shrinking our usual 3 fall gardens down to one. Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes and purple hull peas will continue to have gardens of their own, as will garlic and onions beginning next year.

In some cases we’re reducing the number of varieties we grow. Too often in the past we grew things that we not much more than novelty items. There wasn’t much interest in them either here or at the market. We used to grow a yellow-fleshed Moon and Stars watermelon for example. They were pretty, and there were a few people who seemed to prefer them, but we preferred the taste of Crimson Sweet as did the vast majority of our customers. So why waste space on the Moon and Stars anymore? Besides, if we grow only one variety then we can save seeds. Growing more than one results in cross-pollination and makes that impossible. And for you Moon and Stars fans, hold your fire. I’m glad someone is growing them. They’re a great old melon. But there’s no reason we all have to grow them and, as I said, for seed-savers it’s necessary to just pick one melon and go with it. Whereas in the past we usually grew over 100 different varieties of things, this year my guess is that we’re going to be down to about half that (but I haven’t counted).

So it feels good to be underway. Within a hour or so of me finishing the planting a soft steady rain commenced. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.