The hillsides have filled in with green finally, the bright spring greens of new leaves set against the dark needles of the evergreen trees. These dry spring days have given us plenty of opportunity to clean up fields from last fall’s harvests and to prep for this summer’s crops. The soil in the vegetable field has baked itself dry in the heat and sun, making planting and weed control easy but not giving the new transplants and tiny seeds much to grow on. We’re excited now for tomorrow’s promised rain.
The vegetables are way behind schedule this year. The garlic is small, the peas newly germinated. The asparagus is up though and plentiful. Lettuce and arugula should be ready for harvest next week. We’ve collected ramps, also called wild leeks, for the share tonight. Though much smaller, you can treat them similarly to cultivated leeks in the kitchen. They are more pungent and have a stronger flavor, so keep them wrapped up tight in your fridge until you use them.
New Calves on the Farm
We had the first two calves of the season last Thursday. A bull calf named Grant and a tiny heifer named Giselle. Our Jersey, Walnut, had her calf on Sunday, another heifer we named Winona.
Walnut was directly out back of the bank barn that day. I went downstairs to do some work in the basement, opening the back door up for fresh air. I could see Walnut alone at the bottom of the field pacing the fence and turning circles in the grass, looking as if she wanted to get out of the field, away from the other animals. She had been bagged up for days, a sign that the birth was near, it looked painful for her to walk her udder was so big. I told James and he came down with his binoculars, which we traded back and forth the entire birth to see up close.
We’ve always maintained a hands off approach to our cows when they are birthing. We check on them often when we think they are getting close. After the calf is born we watch to make sure they have had a good drink of colostrum, the salty, protein-rich, immune-boosting milk that is first produced by the cow. And make sure that the mom is up and cleaning her baby, that she passes the afterbirth. The cows are healthy, and strong animals, luck and good genetics have been on our side so far. It was fun to watch the entire birth, about 25 minutes from when the first shockingly white hooves were visible until the legs were most of the way out. Then in an instant a huge gush of water shot the calf tumbling into the grass. Two huge black eyes stared up at the binoculars, a bit dazed at what had just happened. Walnut stood immediately and turned back to begin cleaning her baby. Winona was up on shaky legs within eight minutes of her birth, and was walking within ten, already looking for milk.
In the Farm Shares
In the veggie share: Asparagus, ramps, potatoes, garlic, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, dried sage, wheat berries, whole wheat flour and dry beans.
In the meat share: All cuts of pork and beef, half and whole broiler chickens in the freezer. Lard and leaf lard are available.
- Full and By Farm: Spring Has Finally Sprung (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: Sprouts (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: Sugaring Season (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: New Calves (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: Dreaming of Spring (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)