Monday, December 21, 2009

The Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year has finally arrived; the days will be getter longer and longer, better and better from here out.  Generally December 31st is the last day of the year, the time to take stock and think over the year to come.  Today, the Winter Solstice seems like an appropriate day to reflect, assess and to plan.

In the barn this afternoon the cows are milling about waiting for their evening feeding.  The herd has grown larger.  Boo had a heiffer: Fleuracita.  Andy had a bull calf:  Teddy.  And Dinah 2.0 had a heiffer on January 1st:  Luna.  Lily remains calf-less for the year although with luck she was bred last month for a fall, 2010 calf.  

Dinah 2.0 has been moved to the smaller single stall for her imminent calving. She was expected to give birth on Friday, but alas is still pacing the paddock and stall, looking ever more pregnant. I too, have been pacing the paddock and stall, ever more nervous.  

In the back paddock, the bull pen, is Joe the new bull that was brought in as a day old bull calf in the first week of January. Although he is a handsome beast, he seems to be lacking the necessary ammunition for his tasks.  I expect it is simply his youth and by summer will be shooting more than blanks.  

It was late last year when I decided to leave the raw milk trade behind and concentrate on making cheese from the milk of these glorious Jerseys.  The creamery was remodeled and new equipment was brought in.  I must say that I expected it to be a far, far easier transition.  A rocky road is a much more apt description.  Now that the end of the year is upon me I can say that I have made some outstanding cheese.  I have also fattened up the pigs with buckets of less than outstanding cheese.  Many times in the past six months I have stood in the creamery and opened package after package of Dinah's Cheese and held back the tears as I dump them into the pig bucket, each one a little small, a little wet, a little dry, too salty, not salty enough or just plain bad.  Although it would be naive to say that I don't expect to discard cheese any longer, I am hopeful it will be rare.

The vegetable gardens were completely transformed this February from the muddy field of crooked rows to a tight, concrete raised bed garden.  The first season was a bit shaky as the poor quality soil produced few vegetables.  Quickly the beds were filled with wheel barrows of rich, loamy compost made from the muck and straw of the cow barn.  The coming year will be a delight of healthy vegetables.

As this is the shortest bit of day light today, my time is tight.  In a moment I will head back out to the milk room and gather the milking equipment to milk the ladies.  In the creamery are racks of cheeses made this morning, draining on the tables and needing a bit more attention.

My goal for this coming year:  a bit more discipline in the blog department.  I was gently pushed by a friend last night into bringing bits of my farm life to those who need to know a bit more about this farm as they live their lives in the city.  A challenge I can take on for sure.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you updated - I find your transition into farm life and getting used to all its intricacies most fascinating! I'd be lying if I didn't say I was just a wee bit jealous too! ; )


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