Friday, April 24, 2015

Penny, the very, very, VERY pregnant heifer

Penny is officially due to calve a week from this Sunday.  I surely hope she doesn't have to wait that long.  

Here's what Penny looked like as a baby, back when we had a contest to name her:
That was before the incident that messed up her ear.  The lesson she taught us was this:  NEVER let any dehorning paste get on any part of a calf's body except for the immediate area around the horn buttons.  

Penny can hardly walk at this point in her pregnancy because her udder is so huge with milk (and edema).  I have been keeping her in the big lot for the last couple of days, fearing that she might give birth early; we never want a cow giving birth in the pasture where a new calf can (and often does) fall into a canyon.  Because Penny was raised alone, she doesn't mind being kept by herself, although Grace, the lead cow, protests Penny's absence often.  Cows are herd animals, so Penny's silence seems very strange to me.  I think perhaps she is the first cow I've owned that doesn't mind being by herself.  Just like me, she's an introvert.

I've been putting Penny in the stanchion twice daily, right after I'm done with Grace, so she will adapt quickly to the routine of being milked (or of having to allow calves to nurse her that she didn't give birth to, alongside her own baby).
She has always been very good about letting me handle her udder, but she's somewhat touchy nowadays, what with the swelling.  

Her rear udder is as tight as a balloon.  At least she is going to have good-sized teats for hand milking.  By the way, I have never heard a farmer say "teats" the way it is spelled.  It's always "tits".  Sorry, but that's the truth.  

Poor baby.  She doesn't even want me petting her, lately.  

Can you see the milk dripping from her teats?  This has been going on for a week now.  I guess there's just not enough room for all of it to stay in her udder.

By the way, I realize my header picture needs replacing.  I'm hoping to get a good picture of Penny with her calf when she has it (God willing all goes well), and I will use that for a header picture.

The garden

Never have I been less enthusiastic about a garden than I was this spring.  I considered just skipping the whole mess, since the weeds are likely to take over by July.  Then I decided to simply make a smaller garden so that if (when) it fails, it won't be so MUCH of a failure.  

In spite of my lack of enthusiasm, I find myself walking the rows at the first light of dawn to see if anything new is happening in my sandy soil, and I can tell you that plenty is happening:  Cliff has been eating fresh radishes all week.  In another week, if we get the predicted rain today or tomorrow, I think the spinach will be ready to start harvesting.  There's a row of green beans up; it was at first a perfect row where every single plant germinated and came out of the ground, but the cats decided that area of the garden makes a perfect potty place and scratched several young, barely-out-of-the-ground plants up.  Meh.  Who cares?  It'll all go to viney weeds anyhow.  The beets, potatoes, carrots and onions are doing fine.  Just for the fun of it I planted some multi-colored carrots, as well as an ordinary orange variety.

I planted two good-sized tomato plants early on, planning to cover them at night if frost was predicted, but I only covered them one night when it wasn't supposed to frost, but was heading for 34 degrees.  That was too close for comfort.  Those plants have blooms now.  There is some sweet corn I also planted too early, just a small planting, that is doing great, about two inches tall.  I've also done a second planting, but that one isn't up yet.  I had great success last year planting smaller areas of sweet corn every two or three weeks, and I'm doing that again.  It's great to have a steady supply of sweet corn coming in!  

I was going to have maybe six tomato plants this year.  Enough with the over-abundance!  I can buy canned tomatoes at Aldi's.  Well, that was the plan, but I ran into the two large plants at Ben's, and then I went to a tractor swap meet with Cliff and ran into some healthy, Amish-started smaller plants at a good price.  Oh yes, and early on I pre-ordered some varieties I've never tried from Burpee (at an outrageous price, but you only live once):  Big Daddy Hybrid, Brandy Boy Hybrid, and Cloudy Day Hybrid.  Three plants of each (sigh).  Then yesterday I called and added another variety to the order that sounded interesting, a Russian heirloom variety called "Black Krim".  So I've done it again, same thing I do every year with tomatoes.  They are my first love when it comes to garden vegetables, and I guess I will always get carried away with them.  One year I found a friend to take my excess tomatoes.  She is now doing her own gardening, but maybe I can find another needy person if it turns out to be a good tomato year.
HEIRLOOM. Medium-sized, very dark maroon beefsteak, with wonderfully rich flavor.
Customer Favorite!
This medium-sized, very dark maroon beefsteak, with wonderfully rich flavor, originated in Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea with perfect "tomato summers". Extremely tasty.

Seasonality: Mid Season 
Fruit Weight: 8  ounces
Fruit Bearing: Indeterminate 
Days to Maturity: 80  days
Sun: Full Sun 

So yes, I've done it again.  Bitten off more
than I can chew.