January. We start the year in the midst of the snowiest winter I’ve experienced since moving to West Virginia. We get a foot of snow at once three separate times, with plenty of other snow in between. I try to learn to drive in it. Mostly, I stay home and enjoy being much better prepared than I was during our first winter here. I know now that there will be days, even weeks, when I can’t get up the driveway much less down the road. I am stocked up.
We bring Mr. Pibb, Rhett, and Eclipse home to our farm as our new bucks, and Clover has a racy affair. I’m determined to make this the year of farm babies. Bring on the cuteness!
February. It snows and snows and snow some more. Have I mentioned the snowing? We lose power. Again. For days. But this year I have a generator. I can watch TV and run the fridge and freezers. What I can’t do is go anywhere, between high water and ice.
I continue to obsess over Clover’s love life, and her life in general. I want babies!
March. Do you see that?!
There’s GREEN upon the land again!!! We bounce in excitement. And while I’ve been focusing all my attention on the lusty love life of Clover, the sheep surprise me with babies of their own! WE HAVE FARM BABIES!
I tell Clover she can relax now. (Not really. I WANT MORE BABIES!)
April. I’m given the most unforgettable birthday present of my life.
A COW! I name her Beulah Petunia and learn to milk her. I learn to skim cream and make butter. My random efforts at cheesemaking turn regular. A cow changes your life–challenges you, tests you, exhausts you, rewards you. And best of all–
Best of all–she’s pregnant!
May. I need more babies. I get ducklings and chicks and guineas. And one insane puppy.
I’m baby crazy.
It’s green, green, green, but between babies and launching Farm Bell Recipes, the garden is gonna get planted late….
June. As much as I love my farm babies, I love my own babies more and June is the month one of them grows up. Ross starts Navy boot camp June 17. I feel as if he’s disappeared into a black hole as I wait anxiously for letters, news, anything. I send him a questionnaire, desperate for word.
I make plans to go to his boot camp graduation with my mother.
We fence a new pasture for the sheep and I wait and wonder about Clover and Beulah Petunia’s impending deliveries.
August. Clover comes through and has two little bucklings! As exciting as that is, it’s overshadowed by the experience of my son’s Navy boot camp graduation.
Weston, Morgan, and I travel to Great Lakes, Illinois for the event and get to spend a few days with our new sailor before he goes to South Carolina to begin nuclear submarine training. It’s one of the most wonderful weekends of my life.
September. Beulah Petunia does it! And I have a baby cow!
I am so knowledgeable about baby cows that I can’t even figure out if it’s a boy or a girl, but a farmer friend comes over to help. IT’S A GIRL! I name her Glory Bee and wallow in her splendor.
I have no idea what lies ahead.
October. I discover that I have the worst baby cow in the history of baby cows.
Dateline: Stringtown, West Virginia.
WOMAN BEATEN BY BABY COW
A woman, reportedly beaten by a baby cow on a farm in the boonies, declined to comment on the incident that occurred late Tuesday. Officers arrived at the scene after chickens in the area filed a disturbance call. A goat identified only as ‘Clover’ stated to officers that the woman had been harassing the baby cow before the beating and that she was known for her inability to control animals. “It’s embarrassing, really,” Clover said. “But at least she makes good cookies.”
Officers attempted to question the woman about the reported harassment, but she fled the scene in chore boots. A calf halter was taken into evidence. The case remains under investigation.
Embarrassing news reports are the least of it, and getting a halter on her is just the beginning.
November. Another of my babies shows signs of growing up. After five years, my high school senior plays his last season of football.
I’m surprised by how sentimental I feel considering this has always been the game I loved to hate.
I spend most of the month struggling with angry cows as I try to find a balance between keeping mother and baby together–and milking my cow at the same time. I finally work out a reasonable compromise with Glory Bee. I let her milk mommy sometimes, and she lets me lead her around by her halter. She might turn out to be a good cow, after all!
We end the year much as it began–with way more snow than I expected.
And the promise of more babies as Sprite, Fanta, and Nutmeg all show signs of being pregnant and due to deliver sometime over the winter. I think sometime next year Jack and Poky will give me a baby miniature donkey, too.
This photo goes down as the favorite photo of the year.
And as for my babies, I’m looking forward to the holidays with all three as my sailor comes home.
This was a roller coaster year of amazing highs and difficult lows. We hosted our third Chickens in the Road Party on the Farm and started making plans to expand next year to a workshop/retreat weekend along with the party. Farm Bell Recipes launched and grew into thousands of recipes and members. With the help of the generous donors to the Ball Blue Book Project, I gave away over 60 BBB’s this year. I learned to make soap! And milk a cow! And together with New England Cheesemaking, I began a challenge to make a new hard cheese every month. The Chickens in the Road forum continued to grow and this year, for the second year in a row, the forum year ends with gift and ornament swaps between members. The community that has grown up here astounds me. There is so much generosity and warmth and knowledge in those of you who visit here. Thank you for making the choice to spend time here and make friends here. I appreciate you so much.
I got my year of farm babies. I learned so much–and have so much yet to learn. A farm is a mysterious mixture of magic and hardship, much like life. You never know what lies ahead, just that it will be happy, it will be sad, it will be worth the experience. It will be an adventure.
This is my now.
Come with me and we’ll find out what happens next together!