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Spring Fever

May 12, 2009

IMG_1353Spring doesn’t really get old.  How could it?  By the time it arrives you have been waiting for what always seems like too long, and it is usually fashionably late with a typical, extravagant entrance and subsequent faltering presence.  But once it has set in, once the warm afternoons, thick grass, cool breeze, cow pies, flies, flowers, baby calves, asparagus shoots and late nights anticipating frosts have taken hold there is no turning back: you’ve got spring fever.

Most other folks on the farm have a much easier time embracing this season induced fervor for life and growth.  The chickens grow and eat with a new ferocity, they have all feathered out and are itching to get out into the real world of the pasture and see what this whole foraging thing is all about.  The horses can’t get enough of the green grass, the smell of the fresh air, the soft ground under their hoofs…all except those infernal flies that never seem to leave the general vicinity of their head.  Even the slow-moving organisms like the trees have suddenly burst into action, throwing all their energy into new leaves and blossoms that then attract the buzzing cloud of insects after their sweet nectar.  But perhaps most striking of all is the flagrant desire to mate.  Even our two male horses who are geldings (they are basically eunuchs) still sniff at the other female horses manure, as that is usually the best indication that a mare is in heat.  And then there are the cows.

IMG_1334The cows have been calving for the last three weeks, and we now have seven new baby calves gleefully chasing each other around the pastures between vigorous bouts of nursing.  And even with all this birthing and focus on their newborns the cows still go into heat.  When I walk by one of the pastures where the cows are grazing it is not uncommon to see a few cows trying to mount and hump one another with varying degrees of success.  Apparently, cows will mount each other when they are in heat, and if the cow being mounted does not run away or “stands” then it is the one in heat, but if the cow clearly does not want another beast on its back then it is the mounting cow that is in heat.  I for one, have a hard time being that open about my spring feelings, though it might be convenient to be able to literally smell attraction.

IMG_0579Even our old friend time seems to have been snared by the spring bug, and here we are in the middle of May and it seems like only yesterday that the snow was covering most of the south wall of the greenhouse, remember those days?  Those were the days when the natural markers of time seemed to be telling me to slow down, take my time, learn to listen.  IMG_1393Somehow time has forsaken those patient words and seems to be lost in its own hurry to get life moving again.  The blur of signals that tell me time is flying by is staggering when I stop to try and focus on it, but most of the time I just marvel at how high the grass is, how many weeds have popped up in the garden, how far along the spinach is, or that the peas have finally bloomed, whispering sweet-nothings about the long awaited arrival of their first offerings.  However it is still only spring, and the rush of summer is still many weeks away, and time has occasionally looked over its shoulder and reminded me of those long winter naps, which have since been replaced by occasional, twenty-minute power naps.

IMG_1400Despite summers absence, the war on weeds has officially begun.  You can’t stop them, though they will try to stop you.  Fran says that without a sense of humor they will inevitably defeat you.  After an entire afternoon of digging up Twitch Grass with a pitchfork I decided that there must be a market for this abundant plant, and I could somehow make my fortune with one of its hidden, marketable traits.  As it turns out Elytrigia repens (Twitch Grass) has been used for many years as a herbal remedy to bladder and urinary troubles!  We haven’t made the tea from its roots yet, but there is plenty of it to go around.

I have added a short clip of one of our newest calves, just minutes after he was born.  You can see his mother licking off the mucus and birth membrane while the calf gets used to the strangeness of existence.  After no more than three hours this calf was up, nursing, and walking around!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Miss Melissa permalink
    May 13, 2009 5:02 am

    I really enjoyed this. I forgot how clearly you can feel a season change. Sf is lacking a true spring! i’ll just have to have mental spring…

    • Itinerant Farmer permalink*
      May 14, 2009 7:44 am

      Yes, being in a northeastern climate helps accentuate the change from winter to spring, but I think it is the closeness with the changes that gives them such an impact. Who knows, maybe spring in SF has its own subtle way of letting you know, I for one however, never had the time to notice.

  2. May 13, 2009 10:12 am

    “The strangeness of existence”…, oh, man, all that is awesome!
    And the paragraph about time is so beautiful…

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