This is the last pick-up of the regular season share, and a warm one it is. The perfect day for washing up roots outdoors. Whoops, that was the last farm note. Today we are grateful the water is still running and the animals are up and about—wearing their silky fur coats and thick hides. They are much better suited to this than we are, all bundled up with face masks on and warmers in our gloves, wishing for indoor projects. Today’s high of 16 is going to feel balmy after the cold start. Still, I’m not sure that all of the roots will be washed this evening for pick-up.
We separated our final heifer calf from the main herd this week. We now have a small band of four roaming the field behind the silo and barns. Heifer calves begin to cycle young—far too young to carry a calf to term and far too small to be mounted by a large bull. Some years we have pulled the bull out of the herd, a liability to keep in our under-built barn, this year we decided to pull the heifer’s out. This girl, Giselle, was a challenge. She has lived her life up till now out with the beef herd, fed and moved everyday with the herd, but never handled directly by us. Certainly never haltered and walked a half mile down the road.
Our herd is far off in the fields this winter, down an icy, snowy path, not easily accessible by truck, trailer or cattle panels (none of which we own anyhow). We decided to make a corral with the large round bales that we feed out. There were plenty of animals interested in checking out the corral, several interested in sticking around to munch on the edible walls. Giselle and her mom were not two of them, they knew who we were eyeing, and trotted away from us anytime we got near. After many, frustrating attempts, we succeeded in getting the right animals in, and the other animals out.
Josh jumped on Giselle, trying to hold her down, she looked more like a bucking bronco than a young calf. Cara and I circled around, attempting to figure out how to involve our bodies in the fast moving scene of elbows, knees and flying legs. We finally got her down sufficiently for James to wrestle two halters on her, one clearly was not going to be enough. Eventually all five of us headed off across the field, acting as one giant, disjointed organism—the calf in the center and two people holding fast to each halter. Mom and baby heartbreakingly calling to one another. Half of the time she was on a tear and we were struggling to keep up, then just as quickly she would stop, un-moveable. She would lie down exhausted, we would slowly relax our white knuckled grip on the lines, and then without a blink of the eye she would be off again, the rest of us flying off the ground, tethered to her by the halter ropes like strings on a kite. Almost four hours later we stumbled into the barnyard—thirsty, winded, bruised. Vowing to never move an animal this way again, years into farming and still learning valuable lessons.
In the Farm Shares
In the veggie share: Winter squash, shallots, leeks, white, blue and fingerling potatoes, radish, kohlrabi, turnips, celeriac, garlic, red and white onions, green, red and savoy cabbage, carrots, beets, vermont cranberry beans, wheat berries, whole wheat regular and pastry flour. We have a fresh batch of ruby red kraut started up, it is still a few weeks out, but coming soon. As are more varieties of dry beans and cornmeal.
In the meat share: Pork, beef, broilers and stew birds in the freezer. Stock and organ meats from beef and chickens, lard and leaf lard.