Saturday, April 18, 2009

Signs of Spring

I went out to check on the asparagus I planted last weekend. Nothing so far. But one of the raspberry bushes I put in along the fence has one leaf bud. And it looks like my new strawberries survived last week's snow just fine.

I thought I'd have a productive Saturday. But it was 65 degrees. There were bicyclers coming through town from every direction. There's still snow on the mountains, but the valley is bright green with new hay. So I went on a walk with a neighbor to enjoy the sun and breeze.

After that, I had a book (a really nice biography of John Muir) to deliver to a nice man who chopped up a tree that was down in my yard. His wife showed me their old rock house, their hen house, plans for the garden and landscaping projects.

Then I picked up my order of artisan bread from the town baker who has a big pizza oven in his garage, admired his kids' newly-acquired garter snake, rescued from a snake-fearing neighbor.

On my way home from Jim the baker’s house, I saw more signs of Spring. Here's a 3-week old colt trying its legs.

Here she is with her mom.

This little town has family farms interspersed with the houses. I think just about everyone has animals of one kind or another. I, myself, resisted the urge to buy some baby chicks last weekend at the farm store. Aren't they cute?

It was Easter weekend too! Three or four laying hens wouldn't hurt anything, would they? My neighbor said there would be plenty of people willing to help me build a henhouse. But around here, they buy the chicks in the Spring and kill them for the pot in the fall. I don't think I could kill a chicken. I'd have to find a way to heat the henhouse for the Winter.

Here are some mother and baby goats that live around the corner. One of them came up to the fence and tried to eat my pants.

Liz is expecting a baby and I promised her some pictures of mom and baby animals. So here they are, Liz.

I took a drive up the hill to the dairy farm, looking for baby calves with their mothers. They had plenty of babies there, about 25, I'd say. But they separate the calves from their mothers, since the mothers are milk cows. This one is a Swiss Brown, which farmer Jeff said will be ornery, given half a chance.

Here's the youngest calf they had -- just 3 days old.

They gave me a tour of the farm, which has 93 milk cows. The cows were huge -- the largest one weighs 1400 pounds and produces 57 pounds of milk every day. There have been lots of articles in the papers around here about the plight of the dairy farmers, with milk prices low and hay prices high. But I didn't hear any complaints. I think these farmers like what they're doing. They knew the quirks and "freckles" of their cows.

In the milking barn there was a constant parade of cows. Fourteen of them were attached to milking machines at once, and moved out after 20 minutes or so. I definitely have been getting an education about farm life. It's funny -- I spent a lifetime learning things about literature, computers, music, art, eastern plants and birds, and children. Now I discover that I could spend another lifetime learning about a totally different part of life -- Utah plants and bugs and geology, the cross-fertilization needs of fruits trees, breeds of cows, milking equipment, ways of building fences, what to do with manure, how to mix feed for animals. I only get one life, though.

Whenever I walked toward one of the cows, I noticed that she was expecting food. I guess that's what we humans are good for. Who really needs a pat on the head, anyway?

They say we'll have more snow before the warm weather is here to stay. But my neighbor came over this afternoon and we sat and chatted and fed the fish in my pond until the sun was low in the sky. Another neighbor helped me plant a couple of fruit trees last Saturday ... it got dark and we had a rambling conversation about our younger days, whether pine or spruce trees are easier to grow, Easter egg hunts, the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, the value of spare time ... and we looked off into the cool field of a million stars hanging over my house.

Happy Spring, everyone!


NutmeggerBetz said...

I loved the pictures! You've got spring all over in Utah - it's still waiting to move into Connecticut. I'll bet Liz's baby will be even cuter than those sweetie pies!

tdeaton said...

Love the baby animals and, of course, the girl who is with child! Hey, you can do chickens--they are always my favorite. A light bulb outfit can warm them in the winter. Noticed you were warmer this week than mid Ohio too. Nice.