The City Girl Farmer

Rosie Had Her Baby
February 8, 2011, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Cows | Tags: , ,

Rosie had been looking very uncomfortable for several days.  Think whale.   Her bag had been full for a little over a week and the ligaments next to her tail head were relaxed for about the same amount of time.  Baggy vulva, too, and her gait had started to look unstable.  Two days before the calf was born, I took some pictures because I was so convinced it had to be soon. That was Thursday night.

I checked on her Friday evening before I went to bed and she looked pretty much the same as she had the night before.

Rosie's rear end

Rosie two days before calving


Saturday morning Jon went out around 8:00 a.m. and informed me that there was no change in Rosie.  I thought, “Great!  We’ll have bacon and eggs for breakfast and then go out and do the barn chores and milk Tiddles.”  I was still in my jammies anyway.  When we were done eating, I began to clear the table and Jon went out again.  He came right back in and announced, “There is a little calf standing next to Rosie in the corral!!”  That was at 9:30 a.m.  Obviously, there had been a change in Rosie; just one that had gone unnoticed!  So I hurried and got dressed and here are some pictures of what I found.


Rosie and her new heifer calf

Newborn calf


Rosie’s little heifer calf was born around 9:30 a.m. on an unseasonably warm winter’s day, January 29, 2011.  We reached a high of 74 degrees that day.  Unfortunately that great weather didn’t last long….



Fighting the City Girl
November 16, 2010, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Cats | Tags: ,

Every once in a while our rather idyllic life is spoiled by something sad, like an animal dying.  It is one of those hard realities of farm life.  I”m trying to fight the city girl that I was for over 40 years and learn to take these things in stride.  Old habits die hard, though.  Today I was going out to give the calf his bottle and milk the cow when I was loudly greeted by our latest batch of barn kittens.  They are almost 8 weeks old now and quite adorable.  They came running to me, meowing. Only this morning there was a ‘meow’ that was louder than normal.  I almost ignored it but it was really loud and insistent.  I quickly counted the ones that had greeted me and noticed one was missing.  So I followed the noise and found her—alive, but crushed under a cinder block that landed just above her pelvis across her back.  Now if this cat had disappeared to be coyote or hawk food, I wouldn’t have batted an eye but when I lifted the cinder block and watched her crawl away dragging her hind end, I was really upset.  I picked her up and brought her inside to be cuddled and comforted by the kids while I tried to figure out what to do.  I even called the vet to see if we should just put her down or if there was a chance she could recover.  I had already decided that this cat was not going to the vet.  Barn cats adopt us—we can’t adopt an infinite number of veterinary bills.  After talking to a vet tech who was not very reassuring, we decided to keep her inside for the rest of the day and then make a decision.  When all else fails, procrastinate!  I am happy to report that she is much improved.  So much, in fact, that I put her outside with her siblings again.  She has one rear leg that still isn’t quite right, but I’m optimistic she’ll recover.  The whole ordeal has left me kind of depressed, though.

All is right with the world again


Note:  I have learned that cats do not fear large animals with hooves that could crush them into oblivion.  This particular kitten has been stepped on twice by a cow that I have observed.  Each time I wince fearing what I might see when the cow finally decides to move.  Each time I’ve seen a scared but alive kitten run off to a corner, just to be back at the next milking waiting to be crushed again.  I suspect that one of the cows kicked the cinder block accidentally and kitty was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Harvesting Lettuce Seed
October 21, 2010, 6:15 pm
Filed under: Garden, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I’m afraid my garden suffered from its usual late summer neglect as I burned out on weeding and making my children weed early in August.  Most of my lettuce did not come up or was killed by the days of hot winds we had in the spring.  Despite the awful growing conditions prevalent in my garden this year, some plants came up and actually produced.  I decided since the garden was already suffering from a great deal of neglect, that would let those plants go to seed and see if I could save the seed for next year’s garden, which will be in square foot boxes!

Lettuce that has gone to seed

When lettuce seed is ready to harvest, little tufts that are somewhat reminiscent of dandelion seed will appear at the top of the plant.   If you pluck those you will find that they are rooted in a tiny cup full of lettuce seed.

I gathered some and put them in ziploc bags for use next year.  Check back next spring to see the results of my first seed saving project.  Who needs Monsanto, eh?

Lettuce seed still on the plant

Lettuce seed

Update on the Square Foot Garden
October 21, 2010, 5:39 pm
Filed under: Garden | Tags: ,

It’s working and I’m sold.  If you recall, this garden was planted sometime during the second half of August (!) just so I could try it and see.  The empty spaces you see in the picture are where the radishes that have already been harvested were planted.  Thanks to the great weather we’ve had this fall (finally WE got some of the global warming), the green beans are even producing!

First square foot garden

Green beans in October

Meet Tiddles
September 17, 2010, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Cows | Tags: , , , , , ,


Tiddles is our new milk cow.  It was no small project adopting her!  I bought her from a dairy farmer in Wyoming.  She was supposed to have come in August but there were several delays and she ended up being a month late.  I hope the new mothers in my life will forgive the analogy but the whole process has really reminded me of having a baby.  She’s been here five days now and the day she was delivered all I could think about was when the cow would finally get here and of course, it took forEVER.  Once she was finally here, everything changed.  All of a sudden a few more hours each day are sucked out of my schedule as I figure out the new routine.  I’m sure that as the muscles in my hands become re-accustomed to milking we’ll shave some of the time off.   In the mean time, I feel somewhat overwhelmed.

I finally have a bit of extra milk, so it will be yogurt and cheese time very soon.  For now we have all the most creamy, delicious milk you could want to drink.   Thomas made coffee ice cream today and tried out the milk shake machine I inherited from our neighbor.  Mmmmm.  THAT’s why we do this.  It just doesn’t get any better.

Disposing of Summer Squash

I am having the same problem I do every year with zucchini and yellow squash—there’s TOO MUCH!!  I have wanted to try my hand at preserving vegetables without canning or freezing since you never know when you might have to, right?  Also, canning and freezing both rob us of the health benefits of lacto-fermentation. I don’t want to get off on to that topic, but it is a good thing to invest some time learning about it.

Chopped squash, garlic, chives & thyme

Anyway, I decided to use up some of my yellow squash this way to see how it worked.  I added some garlic, chives and thyme, all from the garden.  It took almost no time and all I added was salt and filtered water.  It looks pretty and I’ll update once I have a chance to taste it.

Update: Broke into the jar to taste and it was quite yummy. I could really taste the garlic and thyme. The squash itself was very reminiscent of pickles.

Vegetables in the jar

Vegetables floating in salt water

Some Thoughts About the Flu

One of my good friends sent me an e-mail and suggested I blog about some of the things we do to keep people (and animals) healthy around here.  With flu season approaching, I thought it was a great idea.  So here is what I think and what we do.

Did anyone else notice that the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic never materialized?  Remember the “avian flu” from the year before that was supposed to be a pandemic too?  Is anyone else suspicious that this is fear- tactic marketing designed to make vaccine producers wealthy?

I don’t want to minimize the impact on an individual who succumbs to a flu virus.  At best a person is extremely uncomfortable; at worst it can be deadly and each year we experience deaths related to flu viruses in the U.S.  A flu pandemic would have devastating consequences if it were to occur but I question whether or not receiving a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family and I think you should, too.

When I started researching essential oil therapies I came across a remarkable claim:  tea tree oil kills antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria.  That statement piqued my curiosity enough to actually invest in some essential oils and try them out.  We are far from doctors and veterinarians where we live and I thought it might be nice to have something near at hand.  So far, we have made it through one flu season with no one getting the flu.  Colds have been averted, and when we have become sick, symptoms have been mild and short-lived.   I have been extremely pleased with our results and I’m going to share some of the recipes we have used over and over to maintain our health for the last year and a half.

For the stomach flu:  15 drops of lavender and 10 drops of Chamomile and 5 drops of Thyme mixed into two tablespoons of carrier oil.  I use grapeseed, but you can use olive oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, pretty much anything you have in your cupboard that would qualify as “food”, not mineral or motor oil for you bachelors out there!  Rub this on your abdomen 3 to 4 times a day.  I also drink a cup of warm water sweetened with a teaspoon of honey with one drop each of lemon and eucalyptus oils.  This drink is very soothing and has helped me on days when I felt I was coming down with something but no real symptoms had materialized.  I was unlucky enough to have had the stomach flu this year, but I’m convinced this drink is why it did not last long.

For upper respiratory infections:  15 drops of Thyme and 15 drops of Eucalyptus oil in 2 tablespoons of carrier oil rubbed on chest, back and at night, the soles of the feet which are then covered with socks.  I will also put these oils into a diffuser and diffuse them in the room.  It smells good and it can keep some of the other family members from getting sick.  If the patient also has a runny nose, I add Anise oil to what I diffuse.  I also have put these oils on tissues for the sick one just to hold near and inhale.  All of the oils I have mentioned have anti-viral properties.  If you have a viral infection, that almost sounds like a cure, doesn’t it?  But I digress.

If you are serious about avoiding the flu in the first place, probably the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to check the growing research that indicates how Vitamin D deficiency is making us vulnerable to everything from the flu to cancer and get your Vitamin D levels checked and fixed.  If you get sick anyway my two favorite online essential oil vendors are Ananda Apothecary and Mountain Rose Herbs. Ananda Apothecary is located in Boulder, Colorado and I always get my oils shipped to me in 2 days with no special shipping expense. Maybe that’s because I live in Colorado, though. 🙂 You can expect to pay around $10 for a 12ml bottle of each of the oils I’ve recommended. If you consider how much over the counter drugs cost (which do nothing to heal a person), I think you’ll find the cost reasonable.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble to find and mix your own ingredients, go to and place an order.  😀

As a final note, I would cut the dosage in half for young children.  Essential oils contain the chemicals of the plants they are made from.  More is not always better and with some essential oils using more can be dangerous.  There is a reason they can kill viruses!  Please be prudent.  Remember, I am not a doctor—just a city girl that moved to a farm.

New Garden Idea
August 7, 2010, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Garden | Tags: ,

I’m so excited to try this and so happy to have heard about it. A gardener friend of mine turned me on to this and if half what the book promises is true, my gardening career is saved.

I love fresh produce and each year for several years I have planted a small garden. Each year in August I finally give up overcome by the weeding task. I never plant a fall garden. Each year I wonder if it’s worth it. We have such a short growing season and we are not blessed with an abundance of water.

Just as I was counting the cost once again, these were the promises I found:

  • little or no weeding
  • 50% less water
  • 5 times the harvest of the equivalent space in a traditional garden

So the boy and I put it together yesterday, mixed the soil and planted for the fall.

New square foot garden

I’m excited to see if all my gardening dreams come true.  If they do, we’ll build a bunch!

Our Latest Addition
August 5, 2010, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Cows | Tags: ,


We welcomed a little Jersey heifer calf to our farm about three weeks ago.  If all goes as planned, we will have a full-grown cow in milk to keep her company in the not too distant future.  🙂

The Latest Train Wreck
August 5, 2010, 3:22 pm
Filed under: Chickens | Tags:


We lost eleven chicks in one day.  ELEVEN!!  I called the hatchery thinking that this last batch was the last I would order from them.  It turns out that I accidentally ordered the wrong bird.  They tell you on their website that these birds can’t handle the altitude above 5000 ft.  We’re at 6503 ft according to Google Earth.

You might be wondering why it would matter.  Well, these chickens have been bred for meat.  They gain weight as fast as possible, using as little feed as possible, for as short a time as possible.  Great idea except their internal organs, particularly their hearts can’t keep up.  So my four-day-old chicks died of heart attacks.  Ah!  The wonders of agricultural science!

I ordered 25 birds and I can expect to have zero survive.  I’m going to see if I can salvage them by putting them on a feed with a lower protein content to try to slow their growth.  We’ll see.

I was warned some time ago by a software engineer turned rancher that there was nothing like this life, but not to deceive myself.  There would be train wrecks.