All things are fleeting, the Buddha said. Like the seasons, everything changes. Appreciate the pleasures of the moment, for that is of real value. Walking our beagle George through the field of mustard blossoms, hearing the bleat of babies on the farm, it's easy to be happy in the moment. It's springtime.
The face of spring
The farm staff love the black and white babies this year! Previously, neither father was black and white. These are new buck Holstein's babies
Seasonal cheese. We make ricotta with fresh milk only, never frozen. So there isn't any ricotta in late winter because the goats are pregnant. If you've never had still-warm ricotta fresh from the dairy, come now!
Yesterday was brilliantly sunny and a perfect day to try for the ultimate photograph of our FarmPaint colors. We were thinking out of the box of course, so the aerial helicopter camera arrived. After strict instructions not to hover over the goats so that they all went into premature labor, the helicam took off - but crashed into a paddock with engine failure minutes later.
So, back to earth. We collected our giant easel and painting to pose in front of the farm.
Yes, looks good. Now let's get the best shot.Never work with animals.They want to work with you.They will taste a new and exciting thing. And scratch their bottoms on itYes! Goats approve the FarmPaint. See that scratch on the brown? That was No. 24And in the mustard field
American Alpine goats were bred from goats of the French Alps. In the wild, goat hooves wear down naturally on rocks and by constant traveling over huge distances. On the farm, we have to trim their hooves frequently to prevent painful distorted growth and foot rot.
Roberto is patient and skilled with the goats, but hoof trimming can't be rushed. Roberto distracts the group of goats he will trim with a special snack in the loafing barn's food alley. It's a constricted space with little wiggle room. He ropes the goat so that she can't dash away suddenly. It's a good time to check the width of their identity tag chains around the neck, because the younger goats have thickened and need a looser chain.
There are quite a few hooves on the farm and they all constantly need to be trimmed, so we replace our hoof shears frequently. It takes several days, with some goats being perfectly still and others frisky. But until we move some mountains to them, they will have to take their turn in pedicure alley.
The neglected apples and pears in the old orchard were heavy with fruit last year, but badly needed pruning to thin out the canopy and increase the quality and sweetness of the fruit. Hoping that frosts are over, we've pruned the orchard this week, making huge heaps of wood for chipping. We will use the fruit for autumn farm dinners and preserves, but most will go to the local restaurant.
Making huge heaps of prunings, to chip and put on paths in the secret garden
Beekeepers Gary and Teri, who can manage over a hundred beehives a season, checked on the hives in the orchard last weekend, with good news. Most of the bees were healthy and active. Gary and Teri will be back every two to three weeks now to check that each hive still has its queen and usual brood, and keep an eye on mites.
The creamy-white patch above is a preparation of essential oils added to curb the exponential spread of the Varroa destructor mite. Gary's commercial beekeeper friend is trying this particular method out, so it's worth a shot.
Gary and Teri use various mite controls, including freezing. They will add certain frames to the hive sized to encourage the queen to lay drones (males) rather than worker bees. Mites enter the brood cells and lay their eggs after the cell is capped. The eggs hatch with the bees and leave with them, feeding on adult bees. The mites seem to prefer nesting with the longer-lived drone broods, so Teri and Gary will extract the drone frames, freeze them to kill the mites (and the drones, but no need for all those males) and then return them to the hive, where nurse worker bees will clean up the dead and detritus and the cycle can begin again. A lot of work - and it certainly isn't their day job!
The farm honey bees - enjoy our honey later on this year