Friday, April 30, 2010

Another new calf . . .

The third of our three heifers freshened a couple of nights ago.  Lucky and Smarty Pants are done and trained, now we will have to start getting Dolly into the barn and get her used to being milked.  I hope she is a dear like Lucky and not a drama queen like Smarty Pants!

Finally got around to taking pics of the new calf today, but they are still not uploaded.  Funny, by the time the fifth calf is born, it is getting to be old hat.

We thought we were done with new arrivals until late June, but it looks like Buttercup isn't taking her full two month rest.  She freshened in July last year, and I expect her calf to be born well before June 1.  Maybe I'm wrong, but she is looking very ready!

But I'm not.  I'm exhausted.  We are putting in two new pastures, with a total of 12 paddocks in them. This has required planning, meeting with the contractor, picking up materials and taking them to the job site, and making a drawing to fax to the contractor.  Time consuming, and hauling around 5-packs of six-foot T-posts is hard work.

Making more paddocks was not optional.  We need more fodder for the girls.  April was extremely dry, so dry that I had to tell the people who subscribe to my garden produce that their first market basket will be a couple of weeks late.  No rain means no grass means less milk and hungry cows.  So I'm opening up new frontiers.  Off to Middlebury to pick up locust corner posts Sunday.  That wood doesn't have to be treated, so it is good for organic farms like mine.

We will put in two large pastures, one divided into four paddocks, the other into eight.  So that means a dozen days of rest for our other 18 paddocks, and they really need it - and a good rain.  It's threatening right now.  I watered, Phyllis washed windows and lit her grill - we've done everything we can to tempt the rain gods to pour it on.  Now it is just up to them!

Will try to get the new calf's picture uploaded soon.  But tonight I need to crash.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Smarty Pants

Caramel's mother, Smarty Pants, is a new mother.  She is also a super mother.  For the past few days, we have had to hide Caramel when Smarty Pants comes up to be milked.  And of course we had to give Caramel a little treat to keep her quiet while mom was walking past the hidey-hole.

Sunday night, it took four of us to milk her.  Monday morning, there were three of us here.  Monday evening, Kathy and I handled it alone, but it probably added 45 minutes to our milking time.  And in the process, I was shat upon - probably the worst in my three years of doing this.

Androo came down again yesterday morning, and it went pretty well with the three of us.  Last night Kathy and I went at it alone again, and by the time we were done, we were smiling!  Smarty Pants behaved the best she has so far, AND we left her calf out when we brought her in.  There was a little fussing, but we got her in the barn.

For some reason, she demands a great deal of attention during this whole process, more than any cow I've ever handled.  It is interesting, how different these girls are.  Smarty Pants is responding to much loving, face scratching and patting.

Monday morning when we were done milking, Kathy thought one quarter wasn't milked out, but we took the milker off rather than having her kick it off.  So while Smarty Pants was standing in the holding pen outside the barn, I went up to her and starting milking out that quarter by hand.  Now understand, there were no restraints on her, no one was cuddling her or scratching her, and she just stood there and let me milk her! 

You could have knocked me over with a feather,  She was enjoying it - being milked by hand in the great outdoors.  I said to Kathy, "What, she thinks I am Heidi, milking her in the meadow?"

So now I am milking out each quarter just a bit by hand before we attempt putting the milker on her.  Last night, we got her milked in a reasonable amount of time.  She didn't kick the milker off once.  My clothes didn't have to be soaked to remove manure stains. One of farm life's small pleasures.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mamma Quattro buried her new little one . . .

I think the hay ended up on Junior just because Quattro was burrowing into that hay with vigor!  She is very hungry, having just given birth and milking like crazy.  For whatever reason, it is just too, too cute and I had to pass it on.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's a boy!

Last night Quattro FINALLY had her calf!  She has been waddling for the past two weeks, and her udder was so full that we brought her in to the milking parlor and milked her out just to give her some relief.  We fed the milk to the two heifer calves, Blossom and Caramel, who were very grateful.  (They are such little piggies!)

Tonight we finally got Quattro and her calf up to the nursing pen.  No wheelbarrow to bring this little tyke up!  He came on his own, running part of the way.  He is sturdy and strong, and he is the spittin' image of his daddy, Sam.  Lyn, one of the milking crew, calls him Junior, and it has stuck.  Very appropriate name.

Junior will go to live with two others on our milking crew, Misty and Cameron.  He will have a good life there.  They are careful farmers and understand animal care.

Here is a pic of Junior.  Of course, Misty and Cameron will rename him, but Junior seems better than Hey You for the time being.

Isn't he adorable? 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The perils of farming

Smarty Pants is the mother of Caramel.  She is a first time mother, and she is getting very hard to handle now that she has been separated from her calf.  We keep the new calves close to the barn.  All of the moms stop to see their kids on their way into the milking parlor.  Usually, this is good news.  It seems to relieve their separation anxiety a bit, and if they stand there and moo, so be it.  There is usually much nose touching, and then things are okay and the moms go into the barn without protest.  Within a week, it's one kiss and they walk on by.

Smarty Pants is obsessed with getting back to her child.  It is heartrending - one of the more unpleasant things about this business.  But that is how it works.  The kids get plenty of milk and plenty of attention, but it is from us, the milkers, not from the moms after those first three days in the nursing pen.

Smarty Pants is a real handful.  I milk alone in the mornings.  Yesterday I just simply could not get her in the barn.  She is very aggressive towards Lucky, for some reason. Maybe because Lucky is so small and so easy to push around.  I left Smarty Pants in the holding pen while I milked the other cows, including Lucky.  Then I put Lucky out into the holding pen and tried to move in Smarty Pants.  She tried to gore Lucky.  I got them separated and put Lucky into the hay mow, anything to get them apart quickly.

Then I began working on Smarty Pants to no avail.  Lucky was making waves in the hay mow, and there was no way to keep her in there if she wanted to walk across the walkway and into the milk room!  I saw her nosing in a bag of kelp.  I grabbed a bucket, thinking I would fill it with kelp and keep her distracted while I got Smarty Pants into the milking parlor.

I leaned over to stick the bucket in the bag of kelp and Smarty Pants decided to go for kelp at the same time.  Her horn caught me under the left eye.  Thank goodness I had my glasses on, since she knocked them off.  I shudder to think where that horn would have hit if I hadn't worn my glasses.

Androo showed up for his work day and helped me get her in.  I milked her and headed out for the doctor while Androo finished the chores.  Gotta love women doctors!  First thing she said is, "Stitches will leave a scar.  Let's glue you together so that it heals neatly."  So I am super glued together. She said I would have a shiner, but it's not too bad this morning, just a little discoloration under the eye.  A little swelling - time for another ice pack before I head out for market.

Farming ranks pretty high on the list of dangerous occupations.  I was reminded of that yesterday morning.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nancy Saville

We lived on a small lake near Peoria, IL for a few years.  It was about 600 acres, big enough to water ski, but small enough to be pretty private.  One of the first people I met was Nancy Schulte.  We became best friends.  Nancy was impossible NOT to like.  She was always happy, always saw the bright side of things, and talked a mile a minute.  I've been accused of talking too much, but I couldn't even hold a candle to Nancy!

She always wore two different earrings.  She went barefoot, seems to me it was year round.  Okay, not in the snow, but the shoes came off as soon as she was in the house.

Here's a pic of Nancy and me working on one of our projects.  Her son Jo sent it to me today.  I'm still trying to figure out where we were and what we were doing.  I know for sure we were having fun.

Nancy had beautiful gray hair.  With hair like that, bring on the gray!!  She had a body of a woman 20 years her junior, and she wasn't afraid to flaunt it.  She really didn't care what people thought of her, including me.  She was a self-motivated woman who had a hard life and never once complained about it.

I'm glad she met Bob Saville in her later years.  He was the love of her life.  They married and they traveled, and they did what they wanted to do, always with each other.  They were smart enough not to wait to enjoy life.  They enjoyed it to the fullest and they enjoyed each other.  They were like two teenagers.

About four or five years ago, I noticed Nancy wasn't talking as much.  In fact she was barely talking at all, and she had to stop for a breath frequently.  She told me she had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.  I had never heard of it.  Of course I Googled it and found out it was even worse than she had told me.  But of course, I thought to myself, if anybody can fight it and win, it's Nancy!

About six months ago, she asked me to come out and visit, and I could tell that she wanted to see me one more time.  We couldn't find a day to hook up.  I don't know why.  Maybe it was denial on my part, maybe on hers too.  The one day I was coming back to Illinois in the near future didn't work for her.  We both just let it drop. 

In one note she told me that if this was her life, then it could be over any time.  She didn't have the energy to do anything, and she was sick of hauling around an oxygen tank.  Then she started talked about this stem cell treatment in Mexico.  She and Bob scraped together the money and headed out.  She had one treatment and walked out the door - no oxygen.  She raved about how well she felt.  She could walk, she could talk.  We had one long Skype phone call, just like the old days.  No pauses for breath, just Nancy chattering away!

She and Bob rented a trailer on the edge of the desert, I think.  I don't remember exact location.  They were happy, were enjoying life.  She was to go back to Mexico in six months for another treatment.

Tonight I got an email from Bob.  He never sends me emails.  Nancy does.  The subject line read "Nancy."  I started shaking, my heart felt heavy, I opened it and there it was.  Nancy died at 7 am today.  The world is a lesser place without her.

I shall wear two different earrings tomorrow in honor of our friendship.

I love you, Nancy, wherever you are.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The new calf

The new calf is named Caramel.   I named her for her beautiful caramel color.

This morning I went out and fed her a bit more colostrum by hand, then milked the cows.  After I was done, I gave her a bit more colostrum.  While I suspicioned that she might have already eaten on her own, I hadn't seen her suckle.  The first 48 hours of a calf's life are very important, and she must get colostrum in order to get her own immune system going, now that she is without the protection of the womb.

When I was done cleaning up, I went back out for one more visit with Caramel.  She was standing, wobbling slightly, by her mother's side and going for the udder.  For once, Smarty Pants was standing still.  I got a few flakes of hay to keep her occupied while Caramel groped around.  Finally, contact!  No doubt of it, Caramel knew what she was doing.  I watched her for a few minutes, smiling the whole while.

Farming is a hard life.  I get tired.  Yesterday was a case in point.  I needed my Sunday off, and I didn't get it due to Caramel's birth.  After a long day, I brought in six quarts of milk and was skimming off the cream for my coffee and maybe some butter if I didn't use it all up for my cuppas.  I was exhausted, and as I turned from the counter where I was skimming, my sleeve caught on the pint jar of cream and overturned it, down the front of the stove, onto my kitchen rug.  I know, don't cry over spilt milk.  But it's okay to cry over spilt CREAM, isn't it?  I cried.  It was just too much.

This morning, when I saw Caramel latch onto her mother, when I knew she was going to be okay, then I knew that it's all worth it.

New calf

The new calf is not suckling.  Mother is not sure what to do.  I should think this would be instinctual, but this is two heifers that have freshened, and neither one would let their calf nurse, both very concerned and loving mothers, but just not catching on to the nursing thing.

I hand fed the calf last night, got about a cup and a half of colostrum down her throat.  I also allowed the older calf to be in with them, in the hopes that the bigger calf would latch on and Mama would get the drift.  I'm about to head out this morning, just waiting for sunrise.

I'll check to see if the goose came back, too.  It is not looking good.  The food I put out for her is untouched.  The three geese that we penned up by the pond to lure her back home are so happy that they are not making much noise.  I deliberately annoyed them a couple of times to get them talking some goose talk. 

It troubles me that she is out there in the wild.  I hope she is all right.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My day off

On Sundays I try to take it easy.  I am milking in the mornings, since we need the extra milk to feed the new calf.  She is on a nipple bucket now, drinking two gallons of milk each day.  Also, both Blackie and Lucky have a lot of milk, and their poor overfilled udders need the relief of being milked twice a day.

So I knew I would have a couple of hours of work this morning, and the greenhouse would have to be checked.  I hand water in trays - no automatic watering system in there.  I figured by 9:30 I would be settled down with my bacon and eggs, a big cup of cafe au lait and one of the three books I set out this morning before I left for the barn.

The cows don't usually pee or poop while I'm milking.  This morning, there were two poops and a pee.  Lots of cleaning to do, and it slowed down the whole process.  We are having an open house next Sunday, so I started working on some walls and the concrete pad in the holding pen since I had gotten into the groove.

At 9 am, I took the milk cows back to their paddock.  I am pretty sure that Quattro is going to calve very soon, but she was fine.  I went back to the barn and finished up and was in the house by 10:00.  I had to do a load of clothes, thanks to the morning gifts from the girls.  While it was running, I went out to the greenhouse and took care of the plants; by then the clothes were ready to hang on the line. 

There was a calf in the pasture with the dry cows!  What, did Quattro have her calf?  But she was in with the milkers, and this calf was with the heifers and the dry cows.  Did her calf get under the fence?  It was already on its feet, so it is a strong one.  I then noticed Smarty Pants hovering around, and butting away any visitors except Sam, the dad.  She had her calf!

I hopped over the fence and checked it out.  Another heifer!  And a beautiful one at that!!  She definitely looks like a Guernsey. 

I called Kathy and she came over to help me get mother and daughter into the nursing pen.  Mom will stay with her for the next three days.  Our first calf is still in there, but we partitioned off the pen so that she would be by herself, since Smarty Pants is being extremely protective of the calf, more so than some mothers.  We will be checking to make sure the new calf nurses.  Sometimes heifers are a little confused about what to do with that first calf, even though they appear to be a good mom.  I will go out after milking this afternoon, and between the milkers and me, we will make sure she latches on to her mom.

It is now 3:55.  I gobbled a couple of pieces of bacon while I was waiting for Kathy.  The books are still sitting there.  The clothes are on the line and have to be brought in and folded.  I will have to go out to make sure the calf is nursing around 5:00, and getting her to latch on to her mom may take awhile.

Perhaps it will be a slow evening.  Perhaps I will have time to pick up one of the books.  Or perhaps not.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The wandering goose

I took food and water down to Androo's geese this morning.  The goose is back.  I didn't see her, but I heard her, very definitely.  She is hanging around, and that is good.

Next step - leave Androo's geese in the pen another two days, then open up the pen so that she can join them inside the pen at night.

Last step - try to figure out who is dating whom!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The grand experiment

Still no geese.  And the female hasn't been sighted in over 24 hours.  Today Androo and I built a fence around an old trailer that sits beside my pond.  Then we put cracked corn in a bowl, threw some straw in one corner inside the trailer, got a big bucket of water and headed over to his house to pick up his three geese.

We brought them to the new pen and unloaded them.  They will be making goose noises, and our hope is that they will attract the two missing geese.

One thing we think happened is that we didn't get the pairs right when we split up the geese at my house on Monday night.  The geese ran in two different directions.  Had they been mates, they would have left together.  So my guess is that each of them is trying to find their true mate.  They will probably show up at Androo's tonight, while Androo's geese are now here at my house.

If the goose (the female) shows up but no gander (the male), then Androo will leave one of his ganders for her.  If the worst happens and nothing comes of this, then all three geese will go back to Androo's (and probably with wrong mate but hopefully they will get over it).  And when I buy a new pair in August, when Mattie says the next ones will be ready to leave home, at least I will have a proper pen.  So much for letting them run.  It just didn't work, not with all of the ponds and wetlands around here, and of course without the proper mate.

Many lessons learned.

Tomato hammocks

One of my readers has asked me to post a picture of my tomato hammocks.  I learned about these from the book No Work Gardening by Ruth Stout.  It's a great book, in and out of print from time to time.  If you can find a copy, and if you like to garden, then it is worth the investment.

To make the hammocks, pound in two 6' T-posts, 30" apart, every seven feet.  Then get some metal rods (I got some from the hardware store and had my auto mechanic cut them to 30" for me) and insert them in the T-posts about 18" from the ground, the length of your row.  

Now you will lay 36" chicken wire, sometimes called poultry netting, over the posts, supported by the rods.  Then repeat this process putting the rods in 34" from the ground.  You should now have two horizontal layers of chicken wire at 18" and 34" for the tomatoes to grow through.

I use 2" netting for three reasons - it is cheaper, it's easier to install, and the tomatoes will grow up through it easier.

To finish the process, I heavily mulch under the row well before I am taking tomatoes out to plant.  I do not move the rows - they stay in the same place year after year.  If you use mulch properly, you are actually building new topsoil every year.  The mulch doesn't have to be turned under - just let it lie on top of the ground and compost.  Ruth Stout has much to say on that subject, and she kept everything in her garden in the same place for decades.  No rotating.

I let the plants die off in the hammocks.  By the following spring, they are very easy to pull out of the hammocks, since they are dry and brittle.

In each seven-foot section of the row, I plant five plants in a "W" shape, inverting the "W" in every other section.  That is, the tomatoes are not put in a row exactly in the middle, but are alternated, with the three at the top of the "W" closer to one side, the two at the bottom of it closer to the other.  Since I save seeds, I plant three of each variety together, and take seeds from the middle tomato plant.  Even though tomatoes are not prone to cross pollinating, it assures the the plant you got your seeds from had neighbors of its own kind on both sides.

You might have to tuck in a stem or two here and there.  Some of the bigger plants will want to spill into the walkway. I have two 100' rows like this, and I mow between the rows. It's nice to have a lawn to sit in while you are picking.

I've been using this method for five years now, and I highly recommend it.  In fact, I highly recommend just about everything Ms. Stout recommends in her book.  Smart woman, was Ruth Stout!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Still no camera.

Still no gander.

It appears that the goose is living in the wetlands between my and my neighbor's farms.

I am sad.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why farmers walk with their heads down

While I was married, my then-husband felt it was his duty to improve me, often telling me how to talk, dress, cut my hair, pick my friend - and how to walk!  He criticized me for walking with my head down.  Yes, he was right, I often did that.  I really did try to keep my head up and look straight ahead, but it didn't feel natural to me.

One evening we were at my mom and dad's farm, and when we left, he criticized the three people in the car because he could smell manure.  "Who has manure on their shoes?" he queried.  We all looked.  We were all clean.  Then my daughter quietly said, "Have you checked your shoes?"

Since all of us swore our shoes were clean, what could he do but stop the car and check his own shoes?  There, on the bottom of one shoe, packed neatly from the front of the heel all the way through the arch, was dog poop!  We tried hard not to laugh.  I don't think we succeeded.

I said, "Now you know why farmers walk with their heads down."

Here's another case in point.  This evening, the milkers told me that they saw a goose in Paddock #17.  I headed down there with some bread.  I want the gander to stay here, and I'm not above bribery.  Still only one of the pair is to be found.  And as I said, I was pretty sure it was the gander.

He didn't want the bread.  He half flew, half walked away from me, out of the pasture and into the pond.  I watched him swim away from me.  He wasn't tempted by the pieces of bread that I threw his way.  I turned to leave, with my head down, of course. 

There on the ground, about three feet from the edge of the pond, was a magnificent goose egg!  I would have missed it if I hadn't been looking down.

Obviously, the one that is left isn't a gander!  Androo has a goose and two ganders, so I may be buying one of his ganders, but I continue to hope the old boy is going to come back home.

A ten-egg day - sort of . . .

There are ten hens left in my flock, plus of course Buster the rooster.  I have been waiting for a day when 100% of the flock laid eggs.  Finally, yesterday, in the midst of all of the excitement about the new calf and a new pair of geese, there were ten eggs.

However, it wasn't quite like I expected.  These are weird hens - hens that lay eggs at my feet on the ground outside the Moop, for instance.  Read about that one here: Jewel laid at my feet.  So should I have been surprised by what happened yesterday? 

I could see the nest was really full (when I have 50 hens, will they all try to lay in the same nest?), and I excitedly counted them out - one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine - once again, so close but no cigar.

Then I turned to leave the Moop and saw that egg #10 did in fact get laid yesterday.  However, the hen was obviously perching when she did it.  One smashed egg directly below the perch.  Sigh . . .

But still, it was a 100% 10-egg day, wasn't it?


Goosey Goosey Gander where shall I wander,
Upstairs, downstairs and in my lady's chamber
There I met an old man who wouldn't say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.

Yesterday, Androo and I went to an Amish farm near Nappanee and picked up our geese.  Andrew got two ganders and a goose, I got a pair.  We stopped at my place first and managed to wrest the pair out of the cage in Androo's car.  Driving 35 miles home with five geese in a cage was an experience.  I will spare you ALL of the details, but it was noisy!

My two geese took off, wandering around and honking mightily.  It scared the calf.  I had buttoned up the chickens first, since I didn't really want to deal with a poultry competition.  The two of them seemed okay.  I let the dogs out.  Tashi ran at them, but I commanded "leave it" and she left them alone, came back to my side.  Then the geese headed down towards the creek.  One took off to the east, the other to the west.  

I didn't see them again.

I slept poorly, waking up several times and wishing I had put them in the barn just for the first night.  This morning at daybreak, I heard a goose honking.   I think it was the gander (the guy).  He was honking at his reflection in my sliding glass door onto the lower level patio.  I went outside and he ran from me, but hung around the patio door for about a half hour.  Then he disappeared again.  I suppose he is looking for his mate. 

I hope they find each other.  And that they both find the farm!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Oh, happy day!

This morning at about 7:15 a.m., Blackie gave birth to a healthy heifer calf.  Mom and babe are doing fine. Note that Daddy Sam is in the top picture.  Aren't genetics funny?  Daddy is a Guernsey, Mom is 3/4 Dutch Belted (but without the belt), and along comes daughter with her own unique markings!  So much white on her - big surprise!

She is already running.  She has gotten shocked by an electric fence.  Sounds bad, I know, but if she hadn't, she would be running around in the wetlands about now, as that is where she was headed.  If she had made it under that fence, we would have had a merry chase on our hands!

Kathy came down to help me get her moved to the nursing pen.  I will check hourly today to make sure that the calf suckles. We will keep an eye on both of them there for three days.  There is a small shelter in the nursing pen just in case it rains.  But this little darling is so big and so robust that I think she will just dance in the rain!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More sad news . . .

We have been waiting anxiously for Lucky's calf.  We raised Lucky from a calf - she is out of Rosie - and were anticipating becoming "grandparents."

Saturday morning, as I was nearing Madison, WI to attend a raw milk symposium, I got a call from Androo.  He told me that Lucky had had her calf, but he feared it was dead.  The body was getting cold.  Even though I knew it was hopeless, I told him to try to clear the calf's throat, breathe into its mouth and call me back.

He did all three.  There was a blockage in the calf's throat, which he removed.  He covered the nostrils and tried to get some breath into it.  He called to tell me he was sure the calf was dead.  It was a very large bull calf.  Perhaps if one of us had been there as Lucky was having the calf we might have saved him, but it was not to be.  Androo buried him near the creek.

Rest in peace, little boy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The bias against raw milk.

Eighteen people in southern Michigan recently became ill with campylobacter.  All 18 of them had drunk raw milk from a CSA that gets their milk from a farmer in Middlebury, IN.   "CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  The CSA members are shareholders in the dairy herd that provides the milk, and so can legally drink milk from their own cows.

There are 900 families in this CSA, representing a few thousand people who drink this milk.  Let's say that each family consists on average of three people.  That is 2700 people getting this milk.  Eighteen people got campylobacter.  Two thousand six hundred and eighty-two of them didn't.  The milk was immediately tested.  It tested negative for campylobacter.

As usual, the government inspectors, in all of their wisdom, said, "It's the raw milk.  Case closed."  Even though there was no campylobacter in the milk, even though the vast majority of the people who drank this milk remained healthy, it had to be the milk.

Of the 18 people who were ill, eleven of them attended a potluck where Caesar Salad, made with raw egg, was served.  No eggs were tested.  As I said, the case was closed, the culprit identified, and no official looked any further.  It is said that as many as 70% of supermarket chickens contain campylobacter.  We all know to cook chicken thoroughly, but what if the cutting board isn't properly cleaned and then is used to cut up an onion for a salad, or a knife is accidentally used without being thoroughly washed after touching raw chicken?  None of those things were looked into.

Between 1990 and 2004, a CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) report shows a much greater risk from consuming the following foods:

31,496 illnesses, 639 outbreaks from produce (38%)
16,280 illnesses, 541 outbreaks from poultry (20%)
13,220 illnesses, 467 outbreaks from beef (16%)
11,027 illnesses, 341 outbreaks from eggs (13%)
9,969 illnesses, 984 outbreaks from seafood (12%)

And yet raw milk remains the "problem child."  

Here are some more statistics I looked up after this latest attack on raw milk.  I was interviewed by a local TV station, I read these statistics during the interview, and they were ignored of course.  Why did I think it would be any different?  Anyway, chew on these figures.

Since 1992, here are some causes of death in the US.

Raw milk - 2
Radish sprouts - 3
Spinach - 5
PASTEURIZED milk - 620
Automobile accidents - About 680,000
Alcohol related illnesses - About 300,000
Alcohol related accidents, homicides and suicides (some of these are included in auto accidents) - About 400,000
Deaths related to smoking - About 7,225,000

If you are worried about drinking raw milk because you think it might kill you, I will ask if you are driving a car, if you smoke or spend time around people who are smoking, if you take a drink every now and then.  I will also ask if you are eating produce, poultry, beef, eggs and seafood. And finally, are you consuming pasteurized milk, spinach and radish sprouts?  If you can answer "no" to all of these questions, then I suppose maybe you had better stay away from raw milk.

Now I am going to the kitchen and having my morning glass of homemade raw milk kefir.  Ah, the stuff of life!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Losing things

I bought a great new camera that has been taking the pictures for this blog for the past three months.  It is lost.  I cannot remember the last time I had it, but it would have been fairly recent.  Thank goodness I upload my pictures frequently, so if it never shows up again, at least the pictures are safely copied to my hard drive - except of course for the last few pics I took.  I wish I could remember what they were.  It might give me a clue.

I will have to lose something else in order to find it.  My Nourishing Traditions book has been lost for a couple of months.  I found it tonight while looking for the camera.

So I will need to lose something else that is equally as important, and when I am trying to find it, there will be the camera - I hope.

Tonight's picture was taken with my old camera.  It isn't dark because of any fault of the camera.  It is that it is late, and the light isn't very good in the greenhouse.  It is after 10:00 pm and I just got in the house.  Both Androo and Allen helped me tonight.  Even with their help, there is still a long way to go.

Monday, April 5, 2010

There was only one compensation.

Tonight the neighbor brought me 86 bales of straw to use for mulch in my garden.  He gave me a good price, and included delivery.  I told him I would have someone there to help unload it.  Allen said he could come over and help.  It was a good thing, because Androo was milking tonight, and it was the first time since the milk cows, the three pregnant heifers and the yearlings were all together.  How would he sort out the five milkers from eleven animals, he wondered?  I told him I would help.  And of course, that was the exact time the neighbor showed up with the straw.

I went down to the garden and showed Kevin and Allen where to put the straw.  I walked over to a spot south of the compost heap and pointed with my toe.  Then I joined Androo to bring in the animals.  By the time I got down to the garden, they were on the last few bales.  They didn't stack them where I indicated they should go; the neighbor, in his infinite wisdom, decided to stack them within a few feet of the fence - a fence that was installed to keep the chickens out of the garden.

The pile of bales is about five feet tall; the fence around the garden is about six feet tall.  There were several chickens running around on the bales of straw.  Why none of them went over the fence I will never know.  I went to the house grumbling to myself.  Then I decided that the bales had to be moved - and right now.  If just one chicken figured out that the bales were a great launching pad to get to the dinner in the garden, it would be all over.  They can easily fly over a six foot fence, but they have enough to eat without that much effort.  But now, of course, they were provided with a beautiful ladder of straw!

I went down to the garden and began moving bales.  Androo came down and helped with the last dozen or so.  I was really grumpy.

But then I came in the house and steamed the first stems of asparagus out of my garden while I whipped up some homemade Hollandaise sauce.  Yes, that was compensation enough at the end of a frustrating evening.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Exhaustion is setting in . . .

There seems to be no end to the work.  I don't know where to begin - or when to stop.

I truly do try to make Sunday my day of rest.  I didn't do too badly.  Went to church, then visited with a good friend afterward.  She has the most wonderful strawberry bed, and mine took a hit during the winter of 2009, with temperatures reaching 26ยบ below zero.  I left her place with about 30 plants.  Okay, that is another job, isn't it?  But when I came home, I didn't plant strawberries because I realized that I had forgotten to plant more basil on the last "leaf" day.  I had a half hour before the calendar said it was time for "fruit," so I ran out to the greenhouse and put in enough seeds for about 200 pots of basil, three stems to a pot.  By the time I was done, calendar had flipped to "fruit" and I began potting up tomato seedlings.  I had to print up labels and then was interrupted by another leak in the water line that had to be dealt with immediately.  In the end, I only got 60 tomato plants potted up.  There are about 1,500 more waiting for me.  Sigh . . .

Potatoes will go in Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, root days.  I'm going back to Phyllis's for our monthly handwork circle, a pleasant time, always.  I'm knitting a pair of socks - well, I'm only knitting ONE sock right now.  Two at once would be quite a feet - I'm mean feat - wouldn't you say?  Androo will be planting the last of the Ailsa Craig onions that we started in the atrium in January while I am relaxing with my friends.  There have to be a few days like that, hey?

It is raining a bit again.  Perfect weather for all of those plants we put in on Friday.  While I wish I could call on the elves to plant and seed while I sleep, I will settle for the continued cooperation of Mother Nature.