Last week was a little foretaste of things to come. It got up into the 90’s during the day, which was enough to make us a slightly miserable, but the evenings were pleasant still. Our neighbor said a few weeks back, “in the summer it cools off at night. You know, by 9pm it will only be maybe 90.” He wasn’t joking. So we are trying to relish these evenings that actually cool off enough that you can really technically say they “cooled” at all.
The heatwave made our calf put off from her bottle, which was not what I was expecting. Then I realized she was drinking more water from the trough and probably filling up on that instead of milk. I suppose if she was nursing from a cow she would have switched to nursing during the night, just as cows graze during the night when the weather is hot. But maybe not. Maybe calves just don’t grow as well during the hot times of the year. Who knows? Probably every other person with cows–I’m still pretty wet behind the ears.
The chickens spent all day under their coop, and only came out for water and some half-hearted scratching about, panting and holding their wings away from their bodies. We had thought of moving them back into the ten acres out past the barn soon, but there are no trees to speak of out there; I think the shade closer to the house will be a better location for now.
These are our Australorp ladies, and one of four roosters (only supposed to be two, one of which was killed by the dogs, but as it turns out we have three more to replace him!). The creature who looks as though his head is a small self-contained firework was formerly Espencina, free gift of the hatchery, and is now “Puffhead”, king of the coop. Well, kind of. He gets chased by the hens sometimes, and his crow sounds like a woman in pain, but he has chutzpah. Little things are always bold.
And here is the Andalusian rooster formerly known as Queenie 2. I guess he is a different kind of Queenie. So is Queenie 1, who is a doppleganger for Queenie 2. One of them is bigger, otherwise they are twins. They have a very Roosterly crow. That stereotypical “down on the farm noises” kind of crow that is really lovely and rolling. And they should be quite big when full grown. They are already trying to mate with some of the hens, but they don’t have that little, “hey, hey hey, I’m the rooster here I come!” dance thing down that kind of alerts the hens to what is going on, so it hasn’t been working out very well for them. The hen in the foreground here is one of two remaining Black Stars–very elegant, light boned hens with bright eyes. I would like to get more one day.
And here is Snow, one of our two Andalusian hens. There were supposed to be five, but we didn’t get one that we purchased, and two of them turned out to be roosters, so two it is. Handsome ladies though. I want more of these as well, when I have time. They are really stately birds, and will lay white eggs.
And here are the goats, getting bigger (almost big enough to wean off the bottle), and doing goat things, which mostly involve weird acrobatics and dangerous ideas. Because that is the goat way. If it is even remotely climbable, they will climb it. If it is even remotely eatable, they will eat it–unless it’s something really soft and tender like arugula. They much prefer twigs from the trees. Or young tumbleweeds. Or my shorts. Fibrous things. And Olive likes to graze kneeling, something totally unexpected. But then again, she is a goat. My assumption about the tree eating? Probably has more minerals in it because it’s roots reach so deep into the soil. We are learning that our animals crave minerals and will eat all sorts of odd things trying to get them.
My wildflowers are finally blooming now–hurrah for that! We need more color out here. It’s so damn brown already. the flowers really help; I go out and look at them and feel better. Yellow lupines were a pleasant surprise. I was expecting purple.
And here is the other thing I like to look at. Well, some times. The tomatoes are all dying of a black spotty disease, and the cilantro bolted in this recent heatwave, but other than that it’s fun. The arugula is going wild so I am feeding the extra to the chickens, who love it. And the radishes turned out rather spicy, so I am feeding those to the Mexicans nearby, who love them. And I tore up my peas, which were afflicted with white flies, putting in watermelons instead. There is rumor that watermelons do very well here. I am trying not to get my hopes up, but they are up, what can I do? And so are the watermelon seedlings. My beans are next, because they look quite stunted. I may give them a couple more weeks, but maybe not. I could put in more watermelons. In the heat of the summer, half a blender full of dead-ripe watermelon, topped off with an equal amount of slightly softened vanilla ice cream (the dairy makes that), makes something called a “watermelon cream”. I first had it at a southern food restaurant, and it is now a staple of my summer diet plan.
The oriental mustard and southern collards are doing well, and the summer and winter squashes are doing well too. Zinnias are poking up and so is borage, but the strawberries look pretty wimpy. Hopefully next year they will have picked up a bit. Cucumbers are accounted for but not doing too much yet, and the corn is up but I am not expecting much from it. There is not enough room to plant enough to do anything, I just wanted to plant some so badly! the pepper plants all look stunted. I am thinking of putting in a separate pepper and tomato garden on the warm side of the house. More room for watermelons!
p.s. As for the suffering, in case you worry, it is mostly quite trivial. If you feel inclined to do anything helpful, how about coming down to babysit so we can have a date–or sending one of your college age children to be a milker here. That would be even better. It will be good for their character and by the time they have graduated to farm manger they will have some of the biggest guns around and a really quite dapper arm and neck tan.