Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Daughter

Juliette reading in a tree
Tomorrow is a special day around here.  Eleven years ago on the 26th of February in my home in Austin TX, 
I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Juliette.

Smelling the flowers
My last child, my only girl. I actually cried tears of joy when my mid wife said "it"s a girl". To this day I feel a 
twinge of guilt that I did not cry for joy when I was told, "it's a boy" two times earlier.

Now believe me when I say I love my boys with all my heart, I would give my life for them, and my God they are the funniest people I know. They are blessings with out measure..... but they aren't girls. 

And in my family there had been a curse... the worst kind.... one where all the girls had only boys and the boys, had only girls!!

So I hadn't even dared to entertain the idea that I could even have a girl child when lo and behold here she came!

From early on Juliette was sure of herself, confident and maybe a bit bossy.

And she understood me, in a way my boys  just

 I recall one day when my husband didn't give me the wanted compliment.I was upset that I was married to such an idiot. He had no idea what the problem was, then out of this babes mouth came " she's mad because you didn't tell her those pants look cute" 

OK, now you know why I cried tears of joy? Right....

The down side to this is the pain I feel when she is sad, because along with her understanding me, I understand her and when she gets her feelings hurt and cries it breaks my heart. I want her to have everything she wants, I want her to always be happy and to be loved.

But more than that I wish for her to reach her full potential, she is one smart cookie. She said "I don't think I want to President, I used to but, you get blamed for everything, and it seems like a pretty stressful job" 

I think she wants to be a large animal vet instead....... I told you she was smart.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Planting

Cute little fingerlings
Valentine's Day, the day for love. Going out for romantic dinners, wine, candles...right?

Well, maybe for some, and if you had a Valentine's day like that, wow! Good for you. Me? What did I do for Valentine's Day? Well, I planted my potatoes.

I have been wanting to get this done for a few weeks now... so my Valentine's day gift to my husband will have to wait for a few months 'til I harvest.

Potatoes are a fun thing to plant in the garden. The part we eat is actually a specialized stem. If you look at a potato, you will see the "eyes" which are where the shoots will form, the "eye brow" is actually a leaf scar. Anyway, it is from each of these eyes where a new shoot will form. The potato part will form under ground along the main shoot. So as the plant grows, you want to keep covering it to promote potato formation.

OK, so now you're a potato professor, let's go on.

Usually, I purchase seed potatoes from the nursery or feed store, but this year I just purchased a bag of organic fingerlings from the grocery store. I liked the fact that there were purple, gold and red in the bag together. Also, I prefer to just plant whole small potatoes instead of cutting up bigger spuds and planting only eyes.

I purchased my potatoes, put the bag in a dark, cool place for a few weeks and waited until they started sprouting. Then I knew  they were ready to plant.

Normally I just plant  potatoes in a bed like any other crop, plant the seeds and cover with soil. But this year I wanted to try planting in straw. Now I do not have straw but I do have lots of hay. So that is what I used.

Loosen the soil by hoeing.

I first had to prepare my bed, so I hoed and loosened up the soil that was in the bottom of the garden box.

Potatoes like a soil rich in compost, and I do have that also!

I amended the bed with composted cow manure and Epsom salt.
sprinkle some Epsom salt and work into the soil

Epsom salt adds Magnesium to the soil. I believe magnesium is low in most soils, so I almost always add it when planting.

When ever I add amendments to a garden bed I hoe it in evenly through out the bed, then before planting I rake the bed out and remove any rocks, sticks or just anything big.

Next the planting! Just space potatoes evenly in the bed.

Cover with straw, water and wait til they sprout!
As the tops grow up, they should be covered to promote the production of baby potatoes.

rake the soil smooth and level

space the potatoes in the bed
cover the potatoes with straw or hay and water
I also planted a bed in the traditional method as an experiment, I will keep you up to date to see which method works best.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Follow Your Heart

What to do next
Everything I do is pretty much a result of following my instincts or my heart. I married a man who in many ways could be considered a bad match, but my heart said yes. I have kept  my kids out of public school because first of all it was what my heart said to do, now it is what their hearts say to do.

And of course this farm. I just wanted to spend my time this way. I couldn't face the city any more, I couldn't keep on doing all the things I did when I lived there. I honestly felt depressed in the city. So we moved out where we would have a  little room, and I just started doing things that I felt moved to do. I never really considered that one thing would lead to another, it just happened that way. Like stepping stones leading down a hidden trail, and I am still hopping from stone to stone and not sure where the path leads.

So this weekend when I was walking around looking at all I want to do here, things that aren't getting done it hit me like a wall. Cancel the Spring Sessions. Wow, once I felt it, it was done.
I know in a way I will be letting others down, maybe there were some families who will be disappointed, some who will be a little angry. But I feel the need to work on this little old farm and that is what I am going to do.

I have seeds to sow and beds to get prepped.We have a calf coming, and I need to get read up again on how to help with the delivery if need be, I need to be able to be up all night to help and to milk a cow with too much milk. I have a greenhouse sitting here that needs to be put up, I have a grey water system in my head that is screaming to be made by the summer. I have so much inside begging to be born, things that have to be done.

Because foremost, before all else, Novellas Farm is a Farm.

We love to have children out here, and experience the joy of this life, but this year there will be only Farm Days and Morning Sessions offered, a few here and there. If you did want to attend the sessions, consider doing some of this on your own. I am no different from you, get a small engine, try to build a small cob structure, get some wood and try to build something small. Just do it. If your heart tells you to do this stuff,
then just do it, listen to your heart.
Mattie getting shots to help her get over mastitis

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Typical Day

Novella enjoying birdseed with the chickens
Here  at Novellas Farm every morning starts in pretty much the  same way, I get out of bed, hit the bathroom, pull on jeans, shirt, boots and jacket.

Then it is straight to the hay trailer for a load of hay, I put this into an empty plastic garbage can, (never used for garbage) and trudge down to the cow yard. Each animal has her own feeding trough, and each of them
needs an enormous helping first thing in the morning, It is as though they have been starved for days, I am not sure what goes on down there at night, but it evidently burns a lot of calories.

Next it is to the green house where the chicken feed is kept, I get a can full of feed for each coop, pour it out along the inside of the fence, where they line up and have breakfast. Fresh water for all... feed the chicks and water them, and then....

 I go back up to the house for a cup of coffee and to start getting my milking supplies together. Hot water for washing, towels for drying, large container of sweet feed/ alfalfa and of course....more hay.

On my return trip to the cow yard, the cow that is to be milked is ready to get into the stanchion and get her
feed, the milking  is just an incidental on her part, for her the whole experience revolves around the feed she will receive while being milked. Needless to say the cow that is being dried off is in a state of envy. She stands at the fence shooting daggers at while I  feed the lucky girl in the stanchion. Of course at this time I also give the other cows..... more hay.

I love this picture, Novella at one of her feeding stations
After milking, and these additional feedings one would think the animals would be ready to take a break from eating, maybe walk around, look at the sites, maybe just stand in the sun and enjoy the morning, but no...

At this time they will all leave the cow yard and head up to their feeding stations by the garden. if there is something they find acceptable they will consume it. Other wise it is off to the compost pile to check out what morsels may have deposited there, normally they will find something to suit their fancy. Then a quick trip to the chicken yard to eat any thing over looked by the hens.

Next stop is the bird feeders, if the feeder has been filled recently a cow is able to hit the feeder with her head and make seeds drop out, this is also an acceptable feed for the cows, so I have found. If it happens to be spring or summer the humming bird feeders will be visited as well, several times a day for a refreshing "treat drink".

Finally, branches that may have been over looked on previous foraging expeditions will be examined and ripped free of any greenery that may have escaped them earlier.Their long tongues are very much like a giraffes, and it is only the fact that their necks are short that entire trees are not bare.

Finally around this time they will decide to rest, and of course ruminate, which in a way is still eating.
Laying down and ruminating always seems like a nice way to spend time, if I were a cow I think I would
spend many more hours doing just that. Interesting fact, their gorging is actually an evolutionary adaptation,
these animals being prey benefit from eating as much as possible as quickly as possible at one time, ruminating( regurgitating and chewing of cud)  is done later while in a safe place.

If there is one thing a farm teaches a person it is the true meaning of routine, the animals force a person to surrender to the routines of their lives. It makes a person look at the rush of the outside world and cherish
the wisdom of this simple life.

Novella about to get a leaf
Thank you Novella!