Gender-bending chickens, farm updates, and some really big news!

Do I look happy, or what?!?  I DO! Photo by the amazing Shem Roose. Check him out!

There’s lots of news to report from the farm! Here’s the dispatch from the slow-living fast lane…

Silky the ROOSTER, in his splendid, frilly white glory 

First up: scandal in the hen house! After several eye witnesses reported seeing our most fabulous, flamboyant chicken, Silky, engaging in a “special kind of hug” with some of the hens, and crowing at the break of dawn, it has come to our attention that our most glamorous hen is actually a rooster! Cock-a-doodle-doo! The ladies seem to love his sensitive side, because we’re getting more eggs than ever. Little Red, previously known to be the only rooster in the bunch, is coping, albeit reluctantly. All’s fair in love and poultry!
Omelets galore! Thanks, Silky! 

Hay season: In the words of the great singer/song-writer Corey Conant, we’re hayin’! Ranny, Dave, Bus, Brado, Ryan and crew are making hay while the sun shines, as the saying goes, but literally, too! There’s nothing like the smell of fresh cut hay, but the days are long and the boys are pooped. (Listen to this song -- so awesome, so catchy, and basically the soundtrack of RM's life right now. Corey, you rock!) Pick'em up and throw'em down! Looking forward to getting all that hay in the pile!

Bees gone wild! Was it something I said? My bees have swarmed, and they took their honey with them. Here today, gone tomorrow. My hives are a ghost town. I’m going to buy some more bees and try again, but not until next year.

We love you, Gram!
Power to the people: I’ve taken a new job, working to promote Agriculture in the great state of Vermont. I sure do miss my free time, and my weedy gardens are proof! But I’m glad to be making a difference. If there’s one thing I learned from Gram Conant, if you want something done right – do it yourself. Look out, Montpelier! PS: We love and miss you, Gram.

We’re getting hitched: I’ve saved the best for last! I’m making an honest man out of Ransom :-) We're having exactly the type of wedding we wanted -- a small dinner and ceremony with our closest friends, parents, sibs, and their partners. We're so exited! The big day is in just one week. Say a prayer for sunshine, and drink a toast to our happiness. I’ve found my mate, and it’s for keeps. 
Big Dave (my to-be father-in-law) hayin'!


Oh, Baby!

Baby Eleanor Roosevelt-Cow, me, & nurse Moe (sans sweater)
I am a woman of a certain age, but not a mother. Life is complicated, you know? And timing is everything. So while I hope to be a mother some day, for now I just dress my dog up in little sweaters (hey, it's cold up here!) and hope my eggs aren't drying up in the meantime. (Is this post too personal? Mom, are you reading this?)

But here's the thing: when my mommy friends tell me I couldn't even imagine the miracle of birth, I just smile. Because while it is true I have never brought a human infant into the world, I have helped welcome several cows. And that really is a miracle, every time.

Someday perhaps I will get organized enough to post a video of a Holstein birth, but for now you'll have to just imagine it. Picture the 1400 lb Mama, making small, huffy breathing sounds, alone in the maternity pen, almost as if she'd attended lamaze classes. Cow mothers are almost always silent when birthing, until the final moments, when sometimes they bellow as they heave and push. They usually give birth on their own, unless there are complications, in which case the farmer will assist by reaching inside to turn the baby (if the calf is breech) or help by pulling (often the case with twins, which tend get stuck in the birth canal).

I was a very big baby, almost 10 lbs. And my brother was over 10 lbs (Thanks, Mom! Still reading?). But that's small, compared to a baby Holstein, which typically weighs-in at around 100lbs at birth. Within just an hour of entering the world, the babies are up on their feet, testing out their wobbly, knock-kneed new legs. Mama looks on, sometimes licking her baby when not anxiously lapping up fresh water to rehydrate herself. It's a tender moment, and then it is over. Almost as if it were nothing at all. Cows are gentle, but they are not sentimental.

But I am. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be the girl at the tail end of a cow, covered in birthing fluid, pulling a stuck calf out with every ounce of strength in my body. Nor did I know one day I'd be crying tears of joy in a puddle of placenta, exhausted and relieved when a new born we were sure wouldn't make it comes out breathing like a little champion.

It's a miracle. Every time. And then it's over.
That's just life on a farm.

(PS: Mom, if you are still reading, you're a trooper. And you'll make a wonderful grandma someday.)