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The Equinox of Spring

Caren von Gontard standing in a field of flowers

All things begin to wake up at this marvelous time of year. The plants that retired in autumn are now covered with swelling buds and there’s a different glow about everything. The bees are out on warm days cleaning their hives and searching for propolis. The geese are laying eggs around the pond and in straw bales in the barn. And the cows at the dairy are enjoying lazing in the sun, content to watch their babies romp and play.

A new bull joined us in late February. His name is Doug and he has settled in nicely in the field with Bean, our older bull, and Sancho, the new bull coming of age. Doug is here “on exchange,” so to speak. Because we need to rotate the bulls - we don’t line breed so we can’t have bulls breeding their daughters - we have worked out an exchange with another Jersey A2 farmer to give him Bean and we’ll keep Doug for breeding for the next couple years. Because Bean and Doug are both such wonderful bulls - which to me means mellow and not dangerous, but also they produce great babies - we want to keep them around awhile longer. This means we can rotate them for another 3 or 4 years before we have to sell them on.

The sheep were shorn in late April so they are ready to begin lambing soon. The fleece of these sheep is so beautiful I am now having it spun in Wisconsin at a small mill. The natural colors and sheen make it very special. If I had time to weave or knit, I’d happily use it. As it is, I believe I will offer it for sale in the future.

Over the winter, three women joined me once a week to make cheese. We are trying to refine a few recipes to make some cheese we love and can consistently produce. Our experiments were successful in that we learned a lot. And we made some cheeses that were delicious. But, we’re not satisfied yet. The learning curve showed us we need to pay closer attention to the aging room and all our cultures need to be fresh and carefully measured. With spring chores taking up more of our time, we will put aside the cheesemaking until next winter again. But, step by step, we hope to have cheeses we can offer to our customers at the dairy.

We have seedlings started in the greenhouse for spring planting. It has been such a mild winter that lettuce and spinach have sprouted up in the outdoor beds as well. Bulbs have popped up all over the farm showing hopeful signs of the beauty of flowers coming soon.

The fruit trees in the orchard, that produced so heavily last summer, are waking up. I pruned them according to the new method we were taught last year by Enzo Nastati. The special pruning method makes the trees cosmic attractors and distributors, pulling cosmic forces down toward the earth and radiating them out across the fields. A very simple technique, the results are measurable with dowsing rods. The next few years should show us the effects on the whole farm - if we pay attention, which is always the biggest challenge. Farm chores can keep us so busy, we forget to look at the more subtle signs of change.

The dairy is growing and more customers are joining us. Milk production is at a perfect level just now, meaning the calves are happy and healthy and we enjoy the surplus available to us thanks to our generous cows.

Happy Spring to everyone.