Lucy Countdown

8/25 9:15 p.m. PST update — imminent … probably before sunrise …

8/25 a.m. update — still waiting. Udder full … so David thinks tonight or tomorrow morning.

8/24 p.m. update — still waiting. As a friend just wrote … “will she heifer get on with it??”

8/24 a.m. update — still waiting. Our vet say’s “She’s a heifer, they hold on to it.”

8/23 update — now 1 day past due date … still waiting! Increases likelihood of a bull calf, or so we read.

Lucy’s due-date is tomorrow(8/22). Here are a few photos walking around the ranch and of Lucy’s progress toward becoming a milk cow.

  • a jersey heifer in a brown field
  • a picture of a cow's face with big brown eyes
  • a rooster and a hen
  • picture of the hind quarter of a milk cow
  • picture of a pregnant heifer's big stomach
  • picture of the back end of a pregnant heifer
  • a barn, windmill, trees, pasture and garden

We are definitely watchful and prepping for birth. We have a friend coming today to help us around the ranch and to be present for the calving.

Poor Lucy must not have any room left in her stomach because (gross alert) she is pooping everywhere. She even poops laying down now. This is new behavior and really prolific in the last few days.

If the calf is born on blue moon, I wonder what the name should be? We first thought “Lucifer” (as in chip-off-the-old-Lucy; a term of endearment), but it has some connotations that might not be appropriate (and has nothing to do with a blue moon). We’ll have to wait and see — we like to get to know the new animal a little before we name it.

Note: Lucy is very grumpy today — shaking her head a lot and pushing things out of her way.

Capturing Summer’s Bounty

… so we can eat and drink it later!

Today we made apple cider and froze beans.

Yesterday, David canned pickles and tomatoes and dried peaches.

A few days before that we made pesto.

And then there were tomatillos.

In this post, we have a few pictures of the food goods and apple prep, as well as a short video clip showing the cider being pressed.

This is a bumper apple year, so this is only the first of several batches of cider. We are hoping to have hard cider ready for family guests in September!

  • quart jars of preserved pickles and tomatoes
  • a bowl of apples, cutting board and knife on table and bucket of apples nearby
  • buckets of apples and bowl of apple on table next to a small machine
  • a colorful bowl of beans, green, yellow and purple
  • a green melon cut in half
  • a bowl of colorful pasta
  • a bowl of green tomatillos
  • a pot full of tomatillo mush sitting by a grinder

Above: pressing the juice out of the apple crush to get cider

Today we had five, 5-gallon buckets of apples. Cider yield was 7 gallons.

I would love to get that old apple crusher and cider press working because we have a lot more apples to do this year. If you missed that post about the press, check it out by clicking the above link! I really do need to get it working because we have been using that old chipper for ten years now and I have to hit it (many times) with a rubber mallet to get it to run again. For a moment, we thought the chipper was going to give-it-up this time, but more wacks with the mallet and it sped up again.

We have also been showering summer produce on neighbors and friends. The basil has been especially bountiful — giving away 5-gallon buckets full. Lots of cucumbers, beans and squash. Melons just starting.

Turkey Fort Knox?

…. will it work?

(*morning update to this post: it worked so far … see video of fox, below*)

The beautiful young turkeys were ransacked this week. A fox got 5 of them. Very sad.

So we constructed a newly fortified fortress, complete with hot wire and wire mesh bottom/top. We have a security camera watching as well. I hope this does the trick … the loss of five more is not in our plan.

Here’s what turkey Fort Knox looks like:

  • several turkeys inside a fortified, metal pen
  • electric fence near the bottom of a fenced enclosure
  • electric fence wire near the bottom of a kennel
  • turkeys in a pen

Since we have a flock of new, layer chickens in a pen close to the dogs, we had to put the turkeys behind the goat stable, out of dog protective range … that was all the fox needed to scream “buffet!”. I hope the fox screams tonight when it touches the hot wire!!

Our message to the fox: NOT YOUR TURKEYS!

Fox attempting midnight raid on Turkey Fort Knox (1 of 2)

Fox attempting midnight raid on Turkey Fort Knox (2 of 2)

Melon Time!

One of my favorite things about summer: the sweet melon reward after the long wait and period of nurture, from planting seeds in greenhouse pots in April … to now!

Over the years, I have settled on a few favorites — all very sweet, most very crisp. Here is a sample of this week’s crop:

A sweet helping of mixed melon accompanies every breakfast now until the melons quit producing … usually sometime in late September.

We have to take extreme measures to protect melon plants from gophers in the garden. All are planted in boxes with wire mesh bottoms or in wire mesh cages. Otherwise, it’s so disheartening to see melons begin to mature after many months, only to see the entire vine die within days because gophers dined on the roots … and they will do it, without fail, if the plants aren’t guarded like Fort Knox.

Here’s a Very Informative Site with Descriptive Maps and Details about Local Wildfires

It is produced by Zeke Lunder. He lives in Chico, CA.

His recent posts about the nearby Dixie Fire are excellent sources of accurate information.

In his post today about the Dixie Fire, he talks about smoke and fire behavior, about fire backing down hills after fierce runs and how the lower-intensity behavior can be beneficial.

We watched this first-hand last year during the Bear Fire/North Complex West Zone on our own ranch. No one wants fire, but here in these forests it can be beneficial with low-intensity, in combination with grazing and other management practices, if it is controllable.

Basil, Garlic, Cheese …

… mix with olive oil and presto! We have Pesto!

Every year about this time, we have buckets of basil, braids of garlic and blocks of cheese. This is when we make one of our favorite food ingredients: pesto. We previously posted the recipe here.

Today, we made 20 batches for freezing and later use. We may make more later.

We do re-use our storage containers and were happy to see by the dates on the lids which we keep scratching through that we’ve been doing this regularly since 2009.

Here are some photos of this year’s process:

  • a bucket full of basil leaves
  • two jars of shiny, large garlic cloves
  • a food processor next to containers of grated cheese, garlic and basil
  • Four plastic butter tubs containing portions of freshly-made pesto
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