Friday, February 27, 2015

Live long and prosper, Mr. Spock

All of us were saddened today to hear of Leonard Nimoy's passing. That's the kind of news that makes you stare out the window for awhile.

Nimoy, of course, is remembered for his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series. As confirmed Trekkies -- and as products of the original show, however hokey by today's standards -- we all went into mourning when we heard.

There was something so magical about Spock. He inspired countless young people into the fields of science or engineering. His calm, rational, sometimes rigid character illustrated both the weaknesses and strengths of human emotions. So it is with very genuine human emotion that I express sadness at his passing.

Not long ago I saw an advertisement featuring both the younger and older versions of Spock which absolutely cracked me up.

As one fan wrote, "There is no death, just a new beginning. Godspeed on your journey Mr. Nimoy. The worlds a better place because you were in it."

May we all Live Long and Prosper. Godspeed indeed, Mr. Spock.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meet Ninja

Doubtless you've all been waiting with breathless anticipation to learn what we named our new surprise calf. So... meet Ninja.

Of all the wonderful name suggestions you folks supplied, we wanted to wait and see what "fit" this little guy, and somehow Ninja worked. After all, he's black and snuck up on us... right?

Ninja spent the first week in the barn with his mama Shadow. This offered maximum shelter for Ninja and unlimited food for Shadow.

Little Lucy came over to meet the newest herdmate.

But Shadow, still in the hormonally-protective stage, intervened and distracted Ninja away.

Poor Lucy. "Wait, come back! All I want to do is play!"

Now admit it, doesn't he look like a little baby Ninja?

A week went by, and while Ninja didn't know the difference, Shadow was getting cabin fever from being cooped up. Plus the barn was starting to get messy.

But we had to wait until the little guy was old enough to castrate (i.e. testicles descended), and we did that dirty deed yesterday. (For those interested in the technical details, see this post.)

Then we could remove the cattle panels blocking the animals in the barn, close the driveway gate, and let Shadow and Ninja have the run of the yard area. (It's still too muddy to let them down in the woods or feedlot.)

Although he'd spent his first week making little dashes around the inside of the barn, this was Ninja's first opportunity to really stretch his legs, and he galloped here, there, and everywhere... with poor Shadow racing after him, mooing in concern, milk-swollen udder flopping from side to side.

He also spent a lot of time meeting various herdmates through various fences.

Amy was particularly anxious to make Ninja's acquaintance.

(It's moments like these I always try to keep the camera in my pocket.)

Every once in awhile, Ninja stops to fuel up.

Shadow is proving to be an excellent mama, calm and attentive.

And I must say, it's nice to have a baby around the place again.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Big Brother is back

I saw this article on Drudge yesterday: Feds: America Should Adopt ‘Plant-Based’ Diet.

It seems in an effort to "transform the food system," your benign friends at the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (which set guidelines as the basis for government food assistance programs, nutrition education efforts, and for making "decisions about national health objectives") want to track your every move and every calorie.

Specifically the opening paragraph reads: "The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television."

In case you're in the mood for a little light reading, the Committee Report is here -- all 571 pages of it.

All together now: BIG BROTHER IS BACK.

Due to the "urgent" levels of obesity in America, the DGAC is calling for diet and weight management interventions by “trained interventionists” in "healthcare settings, community locations, and worksites."

Great... now your boss gets to weight you in every week.

If that's not bad enough, the DGAC also calls for "policy interventions to 'reduce unhealthy options,' limit access to high calorie foods in public buildings, 'limit the exposure' of advertisements for junk food, a soda tax, and taxing high sugar and salt items and dessert."

And they're going to do this by "the use of economic and taxing policies to encourage the production and consumption of healthy foods and to reduce unhealthy foods."

The Committee acknowledges the increase in screen time as a contributing factor toward obesity. And what's their solution? Is it to ban personal electronics or television? Of course not. There would be riots in the streets. Instead, they recommend “coaching or counseling sessions,” “peer-based social support,” and “electronic tracking and monitoring of the use of screen-based technologies” as a way to limit screen time.

This is getting creepy.

And of course we all need to eat less meat to “maximize environmental sustainability” out of concerns for climate change. Oh, and "'altering individual and population dietary choices and patterns' would be necessary to meet its sustainability goals."

All together now: BIG BROTHER IS BACK.

I wonder how many people understand these new regulations as just another aspect of taxation and control? I mean, is there anyone who honestly believes the government has our bests interests at heart when it proposes stuff like this??

I have a single, simple response to these kinds of guidelines. Ready?


Friday, February 20, 2015

Longing for the garden

Unlike the nasty and apocalyptic winter the poor folks back east are getting, we're having mild temps and (at this moment) no snow.

I took this photo of the garden on December 31 when we had a few inches of snow and some bitterly cold temps.

But for the last few weeks, temps have risen and hovered in the 40s. We're even getting sunshine sometimes. As such, the gardening bug is biting, long before we can rationally think about doing anything productive. This photo was taken February 16.

I walked around the garden the other day and began deciding what to plant where.

The beds with straw on them are where I planted the multiplier onions a reader sent last fall. I'm anxious to see how well they grow.

There are five other tires in this section. Last year all eight tires were planted in potatoes. You're not supposed to plant potatoes in the same spot two years in a row (for fungal reasons, I understand) so I'll have to come up with something else to plant here -- probably carrots.

Here are the herb tires. They did very well last year and I'd like to put in more, particularly for basil, of which we use a lot.

Last summer these tires held miscellaneous items -- tomatoes, beans, broccoli, Brussel's sprouts, etc. This year we'll be planting every tire in this section with potatoes.

We still have room for lots more tires. This particular spot is between the blueberries and raspberry bushes. We plan to put four to six more tractor tires in this area with blueberry bushes in them.

Here's the garlic boat. Last fall I planted it full of garlic and buttoned it up with hay mulch. No need to do anything with it (except water, as needed) until next summer.

I peeled back a bit of the mulch and confirmed yes, the garlic is growing. I anticipate a bumper crop.

The strawberry beds.

They may look dead, but there's growth.

By contrast, here's what they looked like last summer.

And yesterday (from the same angle).

I planted two beds of carrots very late in the season last summer, but they grew very well. However I decided to leave them unharvested and let them go to seed (carrots are biennials).

I didn't mulch them, but they wintered well and have a bit of green growth at the top.

The pear tree...

...has buds.

The pond is brim-full.

These are the corn tires. We had a nice corn harvest last summer and plan to at least double the number of tires of corn this year.

Wanting to do something garden-related, I decided to start clearing the corn beds. I figure if I work at a nice easy relaxing pace, I'll have the whole garden ready to go by the time spring rolls around.

It might be too early to plant anything, but it certainly isn't too early for weeds to take deep root. I made sure to dig out every possible weed as I went.

Dug up lots of worms too, an excellent sign.

While I worked, I was serenaded by robins, sparrows, and blackbirds...

...while overhead, flocks of swans headed toward the lake.

An ant's nest in the yard had these large specimens clustered around an opening, moving very slowly.

I can't claim spring is here because the weather could flip-flop at a moment's notice. But neither are we buried in snow like the poor folks back east. So I'll enjoy the mild weather while we have it, and dream of the garden to come.