The Older Brother’s Spring Yankee Farm Report

Hiya, Fat Heads!

Been awhile since I’ve got to sit in The Big Chair — trying to remember what all these buttons do.

As Tom mentioned, The Middle Son and his amazing girlfriend told The Wife and me a couple of months ago that they where going to get married. We were thrilled. Then they told us where they wanted to get married. Here’s a hint from this post from about a year ago:

I’d been adamant for the last several years that I wasn’t coming back. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here. House facing the Gulf (we actually have two houses this time to accommodate all 15 people), The Wife and I doing most of the cooking, everyone else doing most of the cleaning, hanging out on the beach, watching the shrimp boats go out with the dolphins trolling behind them for the freebies that fall out of the nets.

It’s just that we’ve done it several times and I was done. I kept arguing that I didn’t want to have a one destination bucket list. This year, The Wife pointed out that this would be the first time The Grandkids would be able to come, too, and wouldn’t it be great to see them at the ocean for the first time.

n.b., folks — there’s no actual defense against that one.

Yep. Back to Dauphin Island. Turns out there are other things besides “The Grandkids first time” that there’s no defense against. It’s becoming a family joke. One of the folks I work with suggested maybe I should look in to buying a burial plot down there, since that seems to be where I always end up anyway.

It will be a great and joyous time, and it’s coming up fast — the end of this month. Tom and Chareva and their girls are coming, lots of the rest of the family, a few good friends — around forty people or so at last count.

And I’m never going back. This time I mean it (Ha!).

As Tom also mentioned, my responsibilities in preparing for the occasion essentially consist of showing up. This is an approach I mastered early on, and every semester urge the young men in the Economics class where I am a guest speaker to adopt. The key, as I serendipitously discovered with The Wife (who was at the time The Fiancee), is to take a job about 700 miles away shortly after you’ve bamboozled your betrothed into accepting your proposal. So then you essentially can’t be involved in any of the decision-making for the wedding – photographer, venue, dresses, tuxes, food, entertainment, etc., etc., etc.

But, as I explain to them, “guess what — YOU DON’T GET TO MAKE ANY OF THOSE DECISIONS, ANYWAY, because it’s not your day. It’s hers!”

You get the exact same amount of decision-making power, but you don’t get dragged all over to various vendors, shops, and venues, and then have to give your opinion before being told the correct answer. You just have to fly in a couple of days ahead of the wedding, get your tux fitted, do the bachelor party, then show up for the wedding.

It’s a beautiful system. Pass it on.

Anyway, it’s to the point where Spring looks like it may stick around now, and I took a trip out to Linda’s farm last week and thought I’d share some pics. I’ve been dropping in once in awhile to get some eggs, but things just seemed to pop into full season this past week. Here’s the front pasture, really greening up now.

Linda and her sister Kim took the “pick up the old grocery store produce once in awhile and compost it” approach we were doing and really got serious about it. Here’s the current work area, which should be next year’s compost…

… and here’s part of this year’s compost from their efforts last season. There’s another three or four mounds this size off to the side. Black Gold!

Linda’s hedge trimmers/weed eaters have had their annual maintenance and are all primed up for the season.

Here’s Tartar, our cow who’s now given us our third calf after getting out of the “freezer” and into the “breeder” column by surprising us with her first calf a couple of winter ago.

Here’s this year’s calf. It’s a heifer and Linda named her “Tofu.” She got a name because I think we’re planning on keeping her as a breeder also. The Oldest Son has been wanting to get in on a share of a cow, and this will give us two breeders for four families (1/2 a cow each per year, hopefully) instead of three families splitting one cow a year.

Here’s last year’s bull, who will be heading to the freezer in late fall after getting to spend the Spring and Summer on pasture.

Linda’s second set of “bacon” is also coming along nicely.

After three months of maybe being able to get a couple of dozen eggs every other week or so, Linda’s egg layers are in full production mode. I’ve been getting 6 or more dozen a week, and she’s got other customers.

Our next batch of 100 day-old Freedom Ranger chicks arrived via Post Office the first week of April, so these guys have about another week in the coop/brooder until they get moved into the “tractors” on the pasture, where Linda moves them daily and they can get sunshine, organic feed, bugs, new grass and fresh water every day, and generally “express their chicken-ness” until mid-summer. Then The Oldest Son and I show up, bring the Whiz-Bang Chicken Plucker out of the barn, and start re-stocking the freezer.

Finally, we’re on the verge of being able to get real milk again. A couple of Linda’s milk cows calved recently, and will have “extra” pretty soon. This one should be having her calf any minute!

So, Spring is finally here and we’re looking forward to this year’s supply of beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and milk — knowing and respecting where every bite and drop came from.

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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20 thoughts on “The Older Brother’s Spring Yankee Farm Report

  1. Linda

    So nice to see you again, Older Brother! I am mightily jealous of that black gold! Having been crippled by statin drugs and walking with a walker, I had to give up my compost operation. Now, I’m buying the stuff, and paying someone to help me with my plants, but at least I’m getting fresh veggies this year! Those are also some beautiful cows! After years of looking, I have finally found some “pastuered” eggs that are in reasonable distance for me to get. They are a rare pleasure after grocery store eggs for years and years!

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother

      We feel a little desperate when Linda’s chickens slow down over the winter and we have to revert to store bought. What’s funny is when we get some more farm eggs and put one in the pan next to the last one from the store’s carton. The difference is literally night and day. Hope you’re making some progress — I know the statins knocked you down pretty hard.

      Cheers

      Reply
  2. Dianne

    Nice to see you back, Older Brother, and congratulations to your family. Dauphin Island sounds like a lovely place for a wedding — a friend of mine likes to go there too. But if you and Tom both take time out for the wedding, who will keep the blog going for those days? Y’all do realize that some of us really are addicted, don’t you?

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother

      Oddly enough, we’re going back almost to the week as the same time last year; and I also signed up for the Abe’s Army/Amble again and have just started forcing myself to get out and walk/jog/run, so I’m sure between that and the festivities there will be some kind of a post out that week. I’m leaving the island Wednesday, but Tom and Chareva (last I checked) were planning on taking the whole week as their summer vacation. He tends to get careless about not locking the blog up when he’s on vacation, so I maybe can sneak back into the big chair.

      The Older Brother

      Reply
  3. Charles A. Johnson

    I’m curious as to the economics of paying someone to pasture/graze your cow. Can you tell me how you much pay her per month or year or maybe a ballpark? My wife and just bought 20 acres in Missouri and are considering something like this.

    Love the photos and your fill-ins for Tom.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother

      We pay Linda 70 cents a day per cow for pasture rent, so that averages out around $21/month each. She doesn’t charge for the calf the first three months since she’s not eating any grass. If she has to get hay for the herd over the winter (this year was pretty light), we pay our share of that, too. There are occasional miscellaneous other expenses, like if she gives them apple cider vinegar with their water for a few weeks (good for their health generally, and seems to really cut down on the flies in mid-summer), vet visits (to check for pregnancy), etc.

      [It’s amazing how cheap big animal vets are. We get Tartar looked at when the vet’s there for the herd that Linda rents a chunk of her farm out to — I think it cost like $10. No wonder most vets want to stay in town where they can charge $$ to clean Fifi’s teeth and give out diabetes scrips!]

      In a well-managed pasture with a good rotational grazing program, you should be able to work up to about one cow per acre. If you’re just going to let them roam over the whole area, probably half that or less. If you’re interested in seeing if you’re interested, read some Joel Salatin and/or check out The Stockman Grass Farmer. You can get a free issue of Stockman here. If you’re seriously interested (but I think that might involve more than 20 acres), check out the books available on the same site.

      Read some Joel Salatin anyway. My favorite is “The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer.”

      Good luck!

      The Older Brother

      Reply
  4. Linda

    So nice to see you again, Older Brother! I am mightily jealous of that black gold! Having been crippled by statin drugs and walking with a walker, I had to give up my compost operation. Now, I’m buying the stuff, and paying someone to help me with my plants, but at least I’m getting fresh veggies this year! Those are also some beautiful cows! After years of looking, I have finally found some “pastuered” eggs that are in reasonable distance for me to get. They are a rare pleasure after grocery store eggs for years and years!

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      We feel a little desperate when Linda’s chickens slow down over the winter and we have to revert to store bought. What’s funny is when we get some more farm eggs and put one in the pan next to the last one from the store’s carton. The difference is literally night and day. Hope you’re making some progress — I know the statins knocked you down pretty hard.

      Cheers

      Reply
  5. Dianne

    Nice to see you back, Older Brother, and congratulations to your family. Dauphin Island sounds like a lovely place for a wedding — a friend of mine likes to go there too. But if you and Tom both take time out for the wedding, who will keep the blog going for those days? Y’all do realize that some of us really are addicted, don’t you?

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      Oddly enough, we’re going back almost to the week as the same time last year; and I also signed up for the Abe’s Army/Amble again and have just started forcing myself to get out and walk/jog/run, so I’m sure between that and the festivities there will be some kind of a post out that week. I’m leaving the island Wednesday, but Tom and Chareva (last I checked) were planning on taking the whole week as their summer vacation. He tends to get careless about not locking the blog up when he’s on vacation, so I maybe can sneak back into the big chair.

      The Older Brother

      Reply
  6. Charles A. Johnson

    I’m curious as to the economics of paying someone to pasture/graze your cow. Can you tell me how you much pay her per month or year or maybe a ballpark? My wife and just bought 20 acres in Missouri and are considering something like this.

    Love the photos and your fill-ins for Tom.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      We pay Linda 70 cents a day per cow for pasture rent, so that averages out around $21/month each. She doesn’t charge for the calf the first three months since she’s not eating any grass. If she has to get hay for the herd over the winter (this year was pretty light), we pay our share of that, too. There are occasional miscellaneous other expenses, like if she gives them apple cider vinegar with their water for a few weeks (good for their health generally, and seems to really cut down on the flies in mid-summer), vet visits (to check for pregnancy), etc.

      [It’s amazing how cheap big animal vets are. We get Tartar looked at when the vet’s there for the herd that Linda rents a chunk of her farm out to — I think it cost like $10. No wonder most vets want to stay in town where they can charge $$ to clean Fifi’s teeth and give out diabetes scrips!]

      In a well-managed pasture with a good rotational grazing program, you should be able to work up to about one cow per acre. If you’re just going to let them roam over the whole area, probably half that or less. If you’re interested in seeing if you’re interested, read some Joel Salatin and/or check out The Stockman Grass Farmer. You can get a free issue of Stockman here. If you’re seriously interested (but I think that might involve more than 20 acres), check out the books available on the same site.

      Read some Joel Salatin anyway. My favorite is “The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer.”

      Good luck!

      The Older Brother

      Reply
  7. Kathy in Texas

    “knowing and respecting where every bite and drop came from.”

    That’s the best part.

    Welcome back.

    Reply
  8. Kathy in Texas

    “knowing and respecting where every bite and drop came from.”

    That’s the best part.

    Welcome back.

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother

      I sure could. However, that would be one more thing I’d have to learn! I took the pics with my iPhone while strolling around, then shrank them with Paint since my favorite old utility (Photo Gadget) doesn’t seem to be available for the last couple of generations of Windows revenue enhancement releases. Plus it was a pretty overcast day. If I end needing a “mission critical” photo, I’ll probably just have The Oldest Son do it. My niece is a pretty accomplished photog with a nice camera, so any posting from Dauphin Island should be at a higher standard.

      Cheers!

      Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      I sure could. However, that would be one more thing I’d have to learn! I took the pics with my iPhone while strolling around, then shrank them with Paint since my favorite old utility (Photo Gadget) doesn’t seem to be available for the last couple of generations of Windows revenue enhancement releases. Plus it was a pretty overcast day. If I end needing a “mission critical” photo, I’ll probably just have The Oldest Son do it. My niece is a pretty accomplished photog with a nice camera, so any posting from Dauphin Island should be at a higher standard.

      Cheers!

      Reply

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