Childrens’ Farms

Check out this interesting article about how Dutch urban planning has included petting zoos and “children’s farms.” HERE

Most of these are not true working farms, and are surely inferior to the real thing, but much better than allowing children to grow up without any connection at all to farms and farm animals.

Some excerpts from the article:

Amsterdam is something of an urban jungle, with apartments stacked tightly in three- and four-story buildings, and streets are congested with cars, trams, buses and ever-present bicycles — about 800,000 of them. But thanks to Dutch tradition and some clever planning, almost every city neighborhood has either a petting zoo or a children’s farm.

Thanks to these local farms, my daughter, who has grown up entirely in the city, feels perfectly comfortable around farm animals.

Michele Hutchison, an author of “The Happiest Kids in the World,” a new book exploring why Unicef in 2013 rated Dutch children highest in the world on measures of happiness, said that many of the ways those children are being raised today may look old-fashioned, but that this is more of a conscious choice by contemporary Dutch parents to resurrect old-fashioned family values: fresh air, nature, unsupervised play.

“Dutch kids’ parents played outside unsupervised when they were young, and now they consciously try to allow their children to do the same,” she writes.

Done

Last night I wrote the final scenes in my novel. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was doing research for a book about local history when a newspaper story from 1918 sidetracked me. On January 19 a story started coming to me (inspired by the article). I began typing it a few days later and now it’s done: about 70,000 words. The story, called Jim Wrenn, begins in the mountains of western Virginia, proceeds to a mill town on a river in the Piedmont and ends up on a nearby farm. The story occurs between 1909 to 1942, then jumps forward to 1995-96. I’m no Tolstoy by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it’s a pretty good story.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with the darn thing.

On to more interesting news: we’ve only had one new kid since my last update, but she’s a real cutie.

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Lots more on the way.

 

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?

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.