Monday, May 25, 2009

pasture rotation, farmers markets, and fiddles

By 8:30 this morning I'd already let the sheep out into their new pasture, bottle fed a goat, drove to Hebron and back on a hay mission, and was bitched at by a goose. Most people I know haven't even had their first cup of coffee (being a holiday and all). I however, had already slung giant bales of dead grass over my shoulder and fell through a rotten board in a hay barn. Thank goodness I was wearing knee-high boots, or I'd be cut up all to hell. I've learned farmers wear certain things for a reason.

My three-day weekend's been full of hard work, but I am starting to see the signs of repose up ahead. Thanks to this May's killer efforts, things are coming together and soon the workload will be lighter. The sheep are eating grass almost exclusively. Yesterday I moved all their electric netting to a fresh pasture and they were thrilled. Their new digs has trees, hillsides, and trees! (They love the shade and rubbing their backs on bark.) It was a bigger job than I anticipated. It involved lots of cursing and untangling Finn from unplugged netting while he followed me around the field.

But frustration aside, their rotation was so worth it. Usually I have to bribe them back into their pen at night but last night they ate so much they just trotted back to their little barn and went to bed. Easiest gate shutting in CAF history. And who doesn't like going to their beds at night, knowing those in their care are tired and happy?

The garden is almost entirely in. I planted 5 rows of corn, 12 plantings deep. That's nearly 60 stalks of sweet corn all by the wrath of one hoe over three days! My back still feels it. But it was the last big planting job. Now my time is open to just weeding and watering, tending and taming. Finns nearly off the bottle and is eating grass like crazy. When he's not on such a feeding schedule, I'll have time to possibly run back to visit my family for a weekend. I miss them.

So, with all that work put in—I decided to hit the Dorset Farmer's Market with Finn to celebrate. The kid was good at the market (generally speaking). He walked on his leash, and followed me around the stands. You'd think a girl and her pack-goat-in-training would be a novelty, but this is Vermont. He was one of three goats there...

He did try to jump on a bread table once, but I stopped him and bought some focaccia in apology... No bakes goods were trodden in the making of this blog post.

Looks like it's going to be a fine day. The sun is out, the sheep are already chewing their cud, and the garden will shortly be watered. Once that's done I think I'll finally hit the river and get some fly fishing in. Nothing wrong with ending your weekend chasing rainbows.

So thrilled to see so many new fiddlers out there! You won't regret it, and just wait till you're playing Blackest Crow on your porch. That song, and so many other mountain ballads, fill your heart up. You'll see. Before you know it you'll have a dozen tunes memorized, and you'll be ordering Gid Tanner CDs from Elderly. I can't wait to hear about your first tunes. You guys who are learning need to keep me posted.

...Speaking of Elderly, I see they have a bunch of vintage fiddles for sale in their used section. Some are reasonably priced too. If anyone of smaller stature is still looking—I though this one was nice. Too small for big hands, but perfect for a petite woman or younger teen. It's kinda pricey ($225), but in the land of violins, not bad for a great European handmade instrument. Click here to see her.

18 Comments:

Blogger Tara said...

I was actually going to ask if a smaller adult (like myself) should consider a 3/4, but too late. I've already ordered the 4/4. I suppose if I find it cumbersome, I'm not out much cash and can always trade, er, down.

May 25, 2009 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

3/4 is too small for most adults, you can look into a 7/8ths though. Romania puts out some damn nice ones for smaller ladies

http://www.violinslover.com/

May 25, 2009 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Open 2 Awareness said...

Jenna, Finn is absolutely adorable! I love goats and the idea of having one has a pack animal is brilliant. How did you come up with this idea? Obviously if there were others at the market then the idea is catching on! I've read that you take Finn to work with you and he's obviously in your car...........how does one go about toilet training?!?! Silly questions, I know but I had to ask! Your book has been a huge inspiration and a return to my roots. I was born and raised in rural Nebraska and I am just now learning how cool it is to be a "country kid". Thanks for the reflection, is is beautiful! Robyn

May 25, 2009 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger K. said...

Hi Jenna,

I was wondering about your corn and your obsession with pumpkins. Have you ever tried planting a 3 sisters garden? I haven't done it myself, but if I remember correctly, you first plant the corn on little hills, then beans to climb around the corn, then squash as ground cover. I was wondering if you have any experience with this, it just somehow struck me as something you might be into.

Wish I could join the fiddling, but I have a new guitar I'm still trying to learn. Maybe next summer...

May 25, 2009 at 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jenna,

Has Maude been bred, and has Finn been neutered yet? If he hasn't you may want to consider having that done when he's 6 months to a year. Goats, even this adorable little guy get, let's say rather pushy, when they grow into their own.

May 25, 2009 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Greentwinsmummy said...

whoah that was wierd reading that..you went to a Dorset Farmers market? I live in Dorset....England! lol I never knew there was a Dorset over the pond x x x & you took the goat,that is SO brilliant :o)
GTM x

May 25, 2009 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Finn will be banded soon. He's not going to stay intact. I am hoping he'll be able to live with the sheep soon. RIght now keeping him in his kid pen is proving challenging.

May 25, 2009 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger ammamcp said...

I'm enjoying your blog immensely. Getting me going on how I can start where I am ( So Cal suburb ).
As far as the fiddling, I never did actually learn a song in my couple of months of lessons all those years ago, but I was working on Boil the Cabbage. Think I'll learn that first.

May 25, 2009 at 6:11 PM  
Blogger Dawn Dutton said...

How can one goat be so dog gone cute?
Good luck with the fiddling! Can't wait to hear how you all do at it... best of luck to all who try....
Dawn

May 25, 2009 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger quail feather said...

I love following your blog, it's really inspiring, and helping me re-think some of my attitudes about farming and hard work, I'm a farm girl at heart but didn't want to admit it, thanks for the push.

May 26, 2009 at 1:27 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

What albums or youtube videos would you recommend a newbie fiddler listen to for getting into the spirit? What are your favorite tunes?

May 26, 2009 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger MistySeptember said...

Great Question Kimberly Ann, I was going to ask a similar question.

Finn is so darn cute!!! I desperately want goats, but Dh has limited me since we have like 20 animals. I'd love to have dairy goats. Maybe some day :)

May 26, 2009 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

In college, we did some coursework on rotational pasture. Basically, the soil requires a certain amount of nutrients, and when the animals spread "their manure" around the pasture, the soil can get the nutrients from that. For some reasons, the soil might have too much of a certain nutrient - in most cases it's phosphorus - and many agronomes recommend rotational pasture in order to spread the manure around and give fields that might have enough phosphorus a rest, otherwise the excess leaches into the water system. Anyways, that's a soil science lesson for today!

May 26, 2009 at 11:28 PM  
Blogger Rita said...

Finn is so handsome - it sounds like he had fun at the market.
I had a good time last saturday walking a goat on a leash, something I have never done before. I volunteer with the local animal shelter and a goat was picked up as a stray. After I held her while one of officers milked her, I decided that she needed to stretch her legs. It was fun until it was time for her to go back in her pen. She stood up on her back legs and let out this loud noise. An apple changed her mind. I am in love and want to take her home so badly.

May 28, 2009 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

Oh my! I was trying to tune my new violin (it's never been played before, so really out of tune) and the bridge just popped off! Scared me to death!!

May 28, 2009 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

KA- no worries, you can put it back in place yourself, or if you're not sure where to line it up (I use the line in the middle of the F-holes) take it to your music store. they'll do it for little or no charge.

May 29, 2009 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

I learned the power of rosin. Couldn't get my new fiddle to make a sound until I remembered that the bow needed rosin. 'Bout blew my eardrum out when I had it rosined up! Yippee, I can play the first half of the D scale now. :-) (don't ask about the second half yet...)

June 2, 2009 at 3:17 PM  
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