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"So much time and so little to do...strike that reverse it...this way please."

From early February till now, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. As often winter is a slower time on a farm, this notion for here proved only contrary for 2022. Vegetable seeds for planting were ordered and some garden field work began. Hay feeding for the cattle continued on, both in morning and afternoon. The main variance for February and early March was my intent of over-seeding about 40 acres with perennial grass and clover seeds. As good fortune goes, my wish was granted when Mr. Robert Helvey showed up on February the 12th to lend us his aged 1996 4-wheeler with an attached Herd Seeder on the front. We got to work and from that point forward it seemed like any spare moment went to the over-seeding project. The Kodiak 400 had been non-mobile for at least the last two years and despite the quick spruce up it had been given in order to run, Robert was clear to say that it was not the newest on the block and that we were to remember that of course. With that, there were a few imperfections that were encountered. The pinnacle being, seeding the back hill side without functional brakes or a transmission that slowed it down enough to make it feel like the brakes were not needed. I sure had to plan out my route so my descent would not get out of control. Diagonals and contours proved to be the downward way of choice. Since we were planting two different types and sizes of seeds...grass seeds and clover seeds, I had to run over everything twice because of the seeders settings and luckily when I was doing the first round of sowing with clover seed the descent downward was normal and controlled. To start the 4 wheeler, one would have to turn on the key, then push the start button and hold the brakes, while at the same time bending over underneath the back wheel fender and pushing on some taped up wires. It seemed to spew quite stinky fumes that permeated my clothes, but since I was always on the go it did not seem intolerable to my immediate nose. Again, I was just grateful to be able to get the 40 acres over-seeded. I was in it for the completion and because of that all the hiccups were dealt with and tolerated. Dad would mix seed often while I was spreading and he was the one that was able to address any problem we encountered with the 4 wheeler and figure how to troubleshoot. Eastenn Dutch always was in it for the ride and quite enjoyed the mechanical problems and the challenge of getting it running again.

Along with spreading seed, we worked a lot in the "airport field" spreading spent hay around since this had been our hay feeding ground since January 10th. Then on February 22nd-24th we received record amounts of rainfall that turned every spot of ground soggy, no spot untouched. For a few days, it seemed like every where you stepped was a shallow wet weather creek.

Spinach, Cabbage, and Onions were planted. The Spinach direct seeded, while we started the cabbage and onions in trays.

Just as the over-seeding project neared completion, our calving season started. On March 6th, a Sunday, upon our morning hay feed to the Daffodil paddock we found our first new baby calves. There were two, a heifer calf and a bull calf. Coming from G15 Mamma and L9 Mamma. There is a picture of G15, a baldy, with her calf, which was named First Sunday. What a moment, when that first calf is seen. We had been watching the cow's milk teats and vulvas for the last couple of weeks and we had our beats on which cow would birth first. As of today, March 26th our new calf count is up to 23 and all mamma cows and newborn calves have been really well. What is unusual this year is that the heifer calves are way out numbering the bull calves...16 heifers and 7 bulls. Generally, it is more of an even 50/50. Of course we still have about 30 to go, so it very well has time to balance out. All the calves thus far have come from our new purebred angus bull, Weigh Up 2008, and it will not be till mid April that we will see calves from our other new purebreed angus bull, Acclaim 944. All of the calves have been Angus black or Baldies (Black with a white face).

On March 12th, mother nature played quite the trick to keep us on our toes. On Friday, the weather was sunny and warm, then overnight a wintry blanket of snow was layed and by the afternoon on Saturday the windchill was 12 degrees. Since we knew what was predicted we put up temporary alleys and got the cow heard from the east rolling lacy field to the barn yard paddock. We wanted to be prepared to be able to get any birthing Mamma Cows into a stable in the advent. As the windchill was to dip into the single digits and the temps were to be in the low teens, this is a little cold for a new born calf. It is hard for the Mamma to ever get the calf licked and dried off, especially on the ears. Sure enough, calves # 5, 6, and 7 came that afternoon/evening/night. All Hereford Mamma Cows (Red and white faced), G10, G23, and G9. G10 was not the best to have to get into the stable. She is not a personable cow and is very protective of her baby calves. It was a struggle and seemed scary at times. She wanted to attack anyone who was in the pursuit. She raises really great calves and interestingly enough, her saved heifer calf from last year, Dot Spot, is so personable that she will come up to me and kiss my face. In fact, she is my favorite Heifer calf from the 2021 caving season. In the end though, we did get her and her calf into a cozy well bedded stable with hay and water and I know she appreciated it even though it seemed like she did not. Then G23 had her calf and we used our handy dandy measuring tape roll to scurry and shuffle them into a stable and that went well, as she is a very mild and docile cow. Around midnight, we could tell G9 was in early stages of labor, so we made the decision to get her into a stable before she gave birth. She seemed to actually like the thought and went in the easiest of all. Dad went out to check at 2:30 am and she had successfully had her calf in the stable. I went out at 5 am to check on all and it seemed like we had done our best and all was well. Three new Angus black calves, 2 bulls and 1 heifer...Rodeo Roscoe, Spring Up Stable, and Snowwhite Sparrow. Despite the few adjustments and the loss of sleep, we were glad we made the effort to do what needed to be done. This is just an example of one of the situations I wanted to avoid by pushing our calving season to March and April, but seems like all and everything is always possible in the most unexpected times.

This cold snap even temporarily damaged some perennial grasses that had made the most progress in growth. One could see this as there were brown patched spots throughout our fields. Of course this is not permanent damage, but for certain unexpected damage at this time of the year. The annuals of rye and triticale took a little bit of tip burning as well, which takes extra energy to recover from. The Spinach completely succumbed, and it is what I call super hardy. Lastly, cabbage starts did not even make it in the greenhouse. Now though, the annuals are really starting to come on and the tip burn does not seem to have affected the big picture. As far as the vegetables, we just re-planted and are waiting for the new rounds of germination.

Here after the cold snap, we sure have had some beautiful spring days. We welcome spring and say our farewell to winter. That pure golden magic is here and the best way to show it is through some short video captions of the large cow herd with the new calves. I also recorded L2 Mamma Cow giving birth. Even though the caption is 20 minutes, the actual birth happens within the first 4 minutes.

Eastenn Dutch has been very into a project of his own lately...getting the old International Farmall Cub out of the tractor shed and seeing if he can get it running. He had to pump up tires, move an old wrecked Buick and has had to us winching systems to do it all. He has been very avid and has done most of it all by himself. Maybe by next time, he will have it up and running.

Our last good piece of information is that we have finally gotten put beyond a waiting list for our first beef processing. Our date is April the 22nd at Russell Meat Packing Company. We are going to try a saved steer, Hayes June, L017, from our old line of angus bulls first. Our new round of calves from our new bulls will not be ready till some time in 2023. The meat will be 100 % grassfed and regeneratively raised!! I will be very excited to taste our beef for the first time in over 20 years. If it is favorable, we will have some custom beef available for sell. If you are interested, or anyone you know is interested in being on the list for this possibility please send me a message either by e-mail or text. or 423-483-7091.

That wraps up the Foothill Frolic Farm's monthly Farm Post for February and March East TN farming glance.

Until next time, Eat Well and Be Well!

Allison Mills Neal

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