Friday, January 19, 2007

Camping Cow Capitulates

There was a whole lot of bawlin' goin' on last night, as the cow camping in the woods suddenly decided that she missed her half-grown calf; and vice versa. I guess she had gotten to a place where she could see the rest of the herd and she didn't really like the solitary life all that much.

Anyway -- I tried several techniques to get her to come to me up in the woods. I had a bucket of grain with me, and got her to follow me down the road to the closest gate. Once she got through the gate, she had no interest whatever in the grain. She knew that she now had access to the rest of the cows and went running to them in the pasture. The mother and child reunion was joyful, and there was a whole lot of nursin' goin' on before she dived into the hay and water.

Well, she'll have some nice memories of her vacation to ruminate over...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Secret Lives of Cows

So -- the day you worry about goats having babies, a cow goes and has a new calf. It looks like a heifer and is at least a day old. Mama came steaming up when the baby got upset to have a human trying to look her over. It's a little black Dexter/Angus. Cute, as usual.

I spent part of the afternoon riding around the fenceline, looking for fallen trees. Some (genius) left an old gate to the woods open, so there's a cow living in the woods who has evidently forgotten how she got there. This is the same cow who managed to break into a hay shed last year and get trapped under a round bale. What can I say? She's a free spirit.

The ice storm is on the way. How we'll round her up, I'm not sure. The terrain is too steep and tree-filled to do it with the Mule. It'll be an "on foot" enterprise.

Backwards Weather

Two days ago, a sweatshirt was too hot for working in the garden. It was T-shirt weather.

As of yesterday morning, at 20 degrees F., it was T-shirt, sweatshirt, two pairs of pants, gloves, scarf, and heavy jacket weather. Naturally, the goats are making labor sounds in the barn. We're expecting snow and ice later today, so the chances are good that they will start in for real then.

In this morning's New York Times, Verlyn Klinkenborg recounts his cross-country car trip, where the mideast was flooded and he encountered snow in California.

This morning, I read an article about Walmart selling bogus organic produce, which some of you many be interested in.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Farming and Eminent Domain in Virginia

Here's a story I just read in the New Farm Newsletter about Stoney Lonesome Farm in Gainesville, VA.

It paints a rather bleak, but very realistic story of the struggle of Virginia farmers to continue to exist in rapidly developing areas.

'Seems to me that lack of comprehensive plans which recognize the need for small family farms, especially those that use organic methods, is important in an age of energy crisis. The notion that our nation can be reliant only on huge factory farms and extensive trucking of produce across the nation is muddle-headed hogwash.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ode to the North/West Wind?

...O, thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:
Wild Spirit, which art moving every where;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, O, hear!

It's bleak, cold, and very windy. The wind woke me several times during the night and has finally died down a little. I can see the snow on the tops of surrounding mountains, but we just have occasional flurries this morning.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Local Agricultural Politics

We interrupt our regular ag blogging to insert some ag political news from the region:

The first hot topic around these parts has to do with the ability of local Virginia wineries to continue to distribute their own wines in the region. It seems that in 2005, a federal judge decided that the VA wineries had to use and pay distributors, as they had an unfair advantage over vintners from other states.

You can read about it, here and here.

When we first purchased this farm, my husband wanted to start a vineyard and winery. We did a lot of research; learned that the topography and altitude was perfect; and took a tour of wineries in the State to learn more.

It seemed to me that the capital outlay would be massive and I was, and still am convinced that grape growing cannot be done organically, so we shelved the idea.

Others in our area have gone ahead, at great expense and labor, to create very nice wineries and steady farm income -- a laudable feat -- only to have the big boot of government come down on them from above. Public opinion seems to be on the side of the farmer/vintners for now, and hopefully, the laws will return to allow self-distribution of Virginia wines. That would promote one solid new agricultural industry in the area and, in effect, protect a lot of agricultural land from development.
The second topic getting a lot of attention in the region is the application of “biosolids” (sewer sludge) on cropland. You can read about it here.

It seems that farmers have the right to do this in Virginia, even though in my opinion it is simply a stupid risk to take on food crops. New federal laws regulating the ocean dumping of sewage seem to be pushing corporations and municipalities to try to find new ways of dealing with sewage disposal. This is a big problem throughout the country and I hope that good solutions will eventually be found. In the meantime, I’m wondering if large flower farms might have better use of the stuff than farmers growing food crops and/or cattle forage.

Now, if they figure out a way to make BIOFUEL out of "biosolids" the problem will be solved!