With a Moo Moo Here

Two ninety degree days to start the week? We were ready to soak up the sun: time for weeding, time to finish plowing for the year, time for crops to ripen, time to trellis the tomatoes and cover the melons, time to separate last years calves (now teenagers) from the mama cows.

        Monday morning we had our water bottles full, our sun screen slathered - ready. After a harvest morning, Dan and all three apprentices went out to the "apple tree pasture" to separate the calves. Calves are ready to separate when they've pretty much stopped milking, and when their moms are usually about to need to focus on new babies. We don't want them taking milk from new calves, or breeding with the older cows. Here was the plan: build a corral, feedall the cows inside it, then let the big moms out one by one by opening and closing the gates at the right moments. If all goes as planned, you end up with only calves in the corral, herd them into the trailer and tow them home to the pastures near the barn for the summer and fall. I wasn't there, but I heard everything went according to plan until a calf pushed his way out, sending us farmers tumbling too! Time to settle down, re-group, for farmers and cows.

     Tuesday morning in the early morning calm it went according to the playbook. Then Karen and Dan worked together moving and settling the calves, moving the moms to a beautiful pasture we call "Middle Earth," and making sure everyone had water and good fences. That might sound like the end of the story. Our neighbors know the next thing that happens after the calves are separated is a large amount of Moo-ing.  Everyone's in a new place, and asking "Where did you go?"

    The next morning Sunny and the crew were beginning the lettuce harvest at 6 am, and there was a cow, relaxing at the bottom of the lettuce field. Where are the rest? I headed for Middle Earth to check on them. "Moo!" said another cow, from the other direction. "Over there!"  said Ellen. Sure enough, there was a second cow, walking herself back up the hill, to the apple tree pasture. "Hello cows,  this way, you live in Middle Earth now."

  After breakfast they'd escaped again, and Rebecca led them back, but each time we got them to the gate, another cow would slip out and off they'd go. And then a third showed up at the old pasture! Most of the time, when we move the cows we set up neat little alley ways for them to follow. These walks were free-form, just us and no fencing for guides, calling and following the two cows towards Middle Earth. "Come on cows, this way moms, here we go! Oh yeah! Come cows!" ... and then ... away they'd go back again to the apple tree pasture. Eventually we needed to moooo-ve on.  We electrified the fence around the apple trees, leaving those three where they so clearly wanted to be.

    Cows are animals like us - they need daily care and alsosometimes urgent! attention!, whereas vegetables have quieter demands. But it was time to get back to them. We couldn't plant anything in the heat of the early week, so we focused on plant care, weeding and harvesting. The cultivating list got shorter, how nicely the corn cleaned up, the tomatoes trellised, and all the while the cows kept insisting - "we are the theme of the week!!" On Thursday, Boston shares were harvested and delivered, and a calf wanderedour of the pasture and through the PYO fields. Pickers (including my mom) reported the sighting, and we gently nudged him back in.

    In-between cow escapades, we were watching the weather and the approaching rain, timing our planting day around it. Friday! We split into two crews, harvest and transplant, and then the harvesters became transplanters too. All hands on deck. We left those three cows to relax in the apple tree pasture, and one must have missed the rest of the herd because she made the journey over to "Middle Earth" on her own. In went last week's corn planting! In went the celeriac, celery, red kale, lettuce, fennel, raddichio, scallions, parsley. We were tucking in opportunistic sunflowers at the end of the day, feeling the deep breaths of plants-in-the-ground. With those deep breaths Dan, and Sunny and Rebecca went out to walk the lonely moms back to the rest of the herd. I started this newsletter. A noise in the parking lot! Was it a "Moo?" No! Humans! They did it! What a week. Everybody on the Moooo-ve. Grateful for the sun that helped us get a handle on the weeding and the rain that helped us catch up on the planting. Grateful for cows for the punctuation!

Your Farmer,
Zoe
(for Dan, Karen, Abbe, Rebecca, Sunny and Ellen)