It's almost June and we are back at it! Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Farmer's Market season for us. We sell at the Boxed and Burlap Farmers Market every Friday morning from 8 - 1. It is SUCH a fun group of vendors, and really is a fabulous variety of products. The unending rain and cold temperatures have thrown a wrench into our flower production, so we won't have any flowers ready this first week. It's extremely disappointing, but so far out of my control that I have to let it go. There are many people FAR worse off than we are from severe weather this season, so I'm not going to complain about it. We are looking forward to a fantastic season with even more flowers this year AND we can't wait to introduce some new products throughout the summer.
Since I last wrote, we lost our sweet Patsy and her unborn calf. We found her early one morning, a few days after she had gotten stuck laying down in the pasture - I wrote about it here. That same thing happened the day that she died - it looked like she could not get herself back up for some unknown reason. Anthony and I were completely devastated. We didn't sleep more than an hour or a two at a time for weeks after she died, because we had to keep checking on the other three cows. Patsy was only three weeks from calving. We had cameras installed on the barn and an alert set up on my phone every time there was motion detected. My poor brother came to visit at the height of our craziness - we were sleep deprived and sad and nervous. We understand that this is what happens when you farm, but this experience really knocked us to our knees. It has taken us a long time to work through it, but the successful arrival of three new calves has definitely helped.
A few days after Patsy died, Anthony made a video about her and what she meant to us. It's a heartbreaker and I asked him to put it away for a while so we could try to move forward. But I think it's such a sweet tribute and it was important for him to make it to help him get through it all. Watch it below:
June was the first cow to calve. We could tell that she was acting differently that afternoon, but still nothing around 9:30 that night. Anthony decided to do a nighttime check once more, just before we went to bed. He called me from the pasture. I could hear him running and since we were both so emotionally raw and traumatized from Patsy, I panicked and asked him what was wrong. He yelled "I was shining the flashlight out in the pasture, saw three sets of eyes and THEN I SAW ONE SET OF LITTLE EYES! WE'VE GOT A BABY OUT HERE" I ran outside and this is what we saw. June did a great job and did it all on her own. (thank goodness)
Meet EmmyLou, the smallest and the first born this year. She has a HUGE personality. Even though she's the tiniest, she's the leader of the three babies.
Next up was Loretta - she also gave birth to a heifer calf and we named her Tammy Wynette. Her long legs and light brown coat are beautiful!
Dolly was the last to calve. We were able to see it happen, unlike the other two and I can tell you this: I'm OK with not seeing it again. Dolly was pretty big and about a week past her due date and it took her a while to push that baby out. She gave birth to a bull calf, and did it on her own, but it took quite a bit of effort and was pretty stressful to watch. We were wondering how Dolly would act with her baby and she was at first EXTREMELY protective - she wouldn't even let the other calves or cows around her. She's loosened up a bit and everyone - for now - is a great big happy family. Meet the boy:
These calves are half Angus and half Wagyu. We are turning our bloodline over to Wagyu, so in two years, Tammy and EmmyLou will give birth to full blooded Wagyu calves. These heifer calves are now permanent members of our herd. Dolly's bull calf will be raised for beef. This was the whole purpose and goal in our minds when we first became cow owners. I know it will not be easy, but it's part of our business plan and will be something we offer from our farm. He will be around for about two years. Yesterday our vet saw him and said he would be beautiful for showing. People often said the same thing about his mother.
As far as the OG of the farm, Gigi has made a full recovery from her winter injury of dislocating her elbow. She's got a little hop to her step now and is a bit slower, but she still jumps in the UPS truck every time it arrives and is anxiously awaiting the opening of the pool.
The barn cats have been set free and LOVE being out and about. It is so much fun watching them explore the farm. The cows are especially curious about them. Fingers crossed they stay away from the road and start getting rid of our rodent population!
Sadly, none of our bees survived the winter, so we've got new bees and so far, so good. We've got a few hives at a new off-site location.
We can't wait to see what that honey tastes like and how different it will be from the honey on our farm.
I am always trying to be better at balancing work and fun - I am not that great at it, but Anthony definitely has it figured out. We've started making time for more off-farm activities and I am so ready to enjoy life outside of the farm this summer. I say it every year, but this year I KNOW it's going to happen! Pictured below is the first of lots of visitors to the farm this year. My sister Cathy joined us at a Mumford & Sons concert in Milwaukee.
My sweet little brother Mike offered to come out again this year from Las Vegas. The deal is - we pay for his plane ticket and he comes and fixes/builds/teaches us how to fix - whatever we need on the farm. How completely generous is that? Keep in mind, he did this for all three of his sisters this year. I know he worries because we have so many things that need work, but that's just how it is with a property like this. I LOVE the fact that I can walk around our farm and see all of the things he has helped us with. The coolest thing was that he brought his drone and took lots of pictures of our property. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay him for everything he has worked on. I'm thinking I can start with sending him a fancy bottle of Rum, though...
We *FINALLY* got the chickens we have been talking about for three years. We have 37 little (well, not so little anymore) chickens running around in a small pen in the basement right now. We are getting everything together today to move them out into the big time - the chicken house! I was starting to think it would never happen. We got them much later than anticipated due to the polar vortex, so they won't be laying until August. But for now, they are endlessly entertaining and adorable. Even though they poop everywhere - chicken poop is MUCH more manageable than cow poop. And WAYYYYY smaller. As I've said before, farming is mostly about cleaning up poop and trying to keep things alive. That's it, in a nutshell.
Of course, the thing that I'm most excited about this Summer are the flowers. I'm trying some new varieties and have added many more. I'm hoping the weather cooperates and the bugs don't suck the life out of both me and the flowers. Wish me luck! We've had some strikingly beautiful blooms so far this year.
We are overjoyed at being on the other side of calving season, baby chick season and the snowy season. It's time for flowers and Farmer's Markets and FUN! Anthony and I have been toying with the idea of turning our farm into an event space, so this Summer will be filled with painting and planting and improving and lots and lots of dreaming. So cheers to a long, prosperous and beautiful Summer - I know we all really deserve it. I would love to hear all about your Summer plans!