The Gleaning of the Blueberry Patch: Photos July 19, 2010

All good things come to an end and so it is with our blueberries this year. These photos were taken this morning. There is a very large number of large, sweet berries still on the bushes, but the July Texas heat is going be harsh on them this week.

To show our appreciation to our customers, we are having a Gleaning of the Blueberry Patch Sale. All berries are $1.50 per pound,; you pick. No pre-picked available.

You've Got a Friend

If you are of a certain age you will remember being with someone special and listening to or singing to each other Carol King's classic, You've Got A Friend. She let James Taylor record it before she did. For the first time, these two talented singers went on tour this summer and together sing it. Their tour started with the recording of a live album at the Troubaudor and a combination CD/DVD is available. It brought back a flood of memories for Eva and I.

You've got a Friend

When you're down and troubled
and you need a helping hand
and nothing, whoa nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I'll come running, oh yeah baby
to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
all you have to do is call
and I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a friend.

If the sky above you
should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
and soon I will be knocking upon your door.

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall
all you got to do is call
and I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
Well they'll take your soul if you let them.
Oh yeah, but don't you let them.

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Oh babe, don't you know that,
Winter spring summer or fall,
Hey now, all you've got to do is call.
Lord, I'll be there, yes I will.

You've got a friend.
You've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.

You've got a friend.

You've Got a Friend
by Carole King
as performed by James Taylor
Copyright © 1971 by Colgems EMI Music (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved.

Thinking Back: Sunday Lunch on the Farm

One of my most vivid childhood memories is Sunday lunch at my uncle Henry's ranch/farm and dairy in southwest Oklahoma. It was located pretty much in the middle of no where. Waurika, the nearest place to buy staples was three miles north on a straight red clay road. When it rained you could not go to town until the milk truck or mail man drove by and set ruts for you to follow. After it dried, you then had to avoid the ruts for fear of turning over the truck. My grandparents lived a mile north of uncle Henry on their farm. Aunt Ople was a hard working country wife and she and my uncle worked from 4:00 AM in the morning until 8:00 PM every day, milking twice, caring for a large number of chickens, cotton farming, truck gardening and raising beef cattle. He died at the age of 49 of a heart attack. Life there was never the same after he died. It took away a part of me that could not be replaced; even to this day.

Every day was the same except for Sunday. My uncle never would darken the door of a church, but my aunt went to the rural community of Irving where there was a very small Baptist church. That was all that was left of a rural community that at one time had a school, shops and houses. It was probably 4 miles over the red clay roads and half way to Red River where my uncle raised grain, cotton, watermelons, cantaloupe and okra on a bottom land farm. As a child, it seemed like an endless road. Church was short, a few songs sung badly, a young visiting seminary student telling everyone they were going to hell, and after tea, coffee, punch and some sweets before everyone went back to work on their farms.

Aunt Opel would come home and prepare Sunday lunch which consisted of ranch beef raised on a ground corn and sorghum my uncle grew and ground in the barn shed, fresh vegetables or canned ones in winter and a cobbler or fruit pie. I especially remember large slabs of chicken fired steak with its fat yellow from the corn the steer was fed. The vegetables always included corn on the cob and peas. Sometime there was a salad and always sliced tomatoes. There was also homemade bread and butter my aunt made. Who ever was there sat at a long table in the living room and in the summer the hot wind came in the windows behind you. In winter, you froze while trying to eat as the house had little heat; only a single floor furnace. Since my aunt only had a tiny post WW II fridge with a one foot square freezer hanging inside, there was not much room to set aside leftovers. She simply placed a clean cotton cloth over the table to keep the flies off and left the food there. In the evening after milking, we ate what was left and any leftovers were given to the dogs.

You bathed on Sunday night. The gravity water tank filled by a wind mill pump offered a very limited water supply. The ritual was to light the water heater and after an hour of so there was just enough water to get wet with in the tub. In sequence, all that were there bathed in the same water; kids last. They had a lot of water in the dairy barn and I never could understand why it was not tied to the house.

I looked forward to every visit to that farm, and my grandparent's farm nearby. I learned to drive there in a 1952 Chevy pickup with a gear shift on the steering column and learned about life in many other ways. You never needed shoes and it was the most perfect place to be a kid.

It is funny what you remember from your childhood. Kids that grow up in the city are disadvantaged in that regard. Rich rural memories will not be part of their life story. On another day, I will share some more about this place and the relatives that made it special to me. It was a place shaped by the weather; the wind, heat and cold that affected in every way the families that barely got by, but lived a good life.

Greer Farm Figs - Fresh off the Tree

This week our figs started to ripen and we have gallons picked an in the cooler for you to take home. We have one very large Texas ever bearing (Brown Turkey) tree, several LSU Gold and many Celeste. We have planted Black Mission, but it will be several years before we have production from these.

The fig is believed to be indigenous to western Asia and to have been distributed by man throughout the Mediterranean area. Remnants of figs have been found in excavations of sites traced to at least 5,000 B.C. Figs are considered one of the world's healthist foods.

Greer Farm figs picked July 15, 2010

According to
Food Facts, "Figs are high in natural and simple sugars, minerals and fibre. They contain good levels of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. Dried figs contain an impressive 250mg of calcium per 100g, compared to whole milk with only 118mg. The health benefits of figs include promoting healthy bowel function due to the high levels of fibre. Figs are amongst the most highly alkaline foods, making them useful in balancing the pH of the body. They are a good source of potassium, important in helping to regulate blood pressure.

10 Tips for Incorporating Figs in your Diet
  1. Eat dries figs as a healthy energy snack. For extra flavour and nutrients, stuff them with nuts and a little honey
  2. Add figs to baked goods such as muffins, cakes and muesli bars.
  3. Add dried or fresh figs to porridge, oatmeal or breakfast cereals.
  4. Stew dried figs in fruit juice with other dried fruits to make a delicious fruit salad. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg before serving
  5. Poach figs in red wine or fruit juice and serve with Greek yogurt or creme fraiche.
  6. Add quartered fresh figs to a salad of fennel, rocket and parmesan cheese.
  7. Stuff fresh figs with goat's cheese and chopped almonds and serve as an appetizer or dessert.
  8. Make a fig butter by boiling dried figs in fruit juice until soft. When all the liquid has been absorbed, place the mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth. Use to spread on rice cakes, toast or crackers.
  9. Add chopped fresh figs to rice, quinoa or couscous dishes.
  10. Make a fig tart by grinding two handfuls of walnuts in a food processor. Add one packet of dried figs, 1/2 packet raisins, 200ml apple juice, 1 tablespoon grated orange zest, 2 tablespoons honey and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Process until the mixture is the texture of a sticky paste. Press into a pastry case and bake at a medium heat for 35 minutes."
Reference: Health Benefits of Eating Figs: Nutrition Facts and Tips for Serving Figs

Fantastic Photos: Blueberries and Figs at their Peak

The photos were taken today. We have many gallons of figs pre-picked and ready for you to take home. The blueberries are abundant, large and sweet. All of this will not last. Almost 2,000 pounds of blueberries were picked today and the bushes are still loaded.

Mid-Summer 2010 Newsletter

This is our mid-summer newsletter. The links are not hot, but you can email and we can send you a copy that has hot links.

Mid-Summer Newsletter
I am always amazed when we get to July 1st and half of the year has passed.  Where did the time go and what did we accomplish is an annual question?  On the farm, you would think that little changes during each season, but each year we face different challenges and have different opportunities.   I know that a lot of things we did in the first half of the year will not appear again,  but many items on the list will not be accomplished by year's end.  Rather than a short update, this newsletter will be an opportunity to share with you what is happening on the farm and what you can participate in.  We hope you enjoy it and we always enjoy your comments and feedback.
The Alpha and the Omega: Our Berry Patch
We are still open for blueberry picking and taking pre-picked flat orders.
Since the first blackberry was picked around Memorial Day, this has been the most successful berry season we have had.  These photos were taken July 4th weekend.  The bushes are growing and many have reached maturity.  The special fertilization program we started last year allowed us to have berries that are abundant, large and very sweet.  While the blackberry season is pretty much over, a few gallons are still picked every few days by those with a keen eye for this succulent fruit.  We have had more blueberries than a small army could pick.  Many thousands of pounds have been picked and more are still waiting to be picked.
We are in the last few weeks of the season and our closing date will be determined by the condition of the berries.  At this time, they are at the peak of perfection. We anticipate not having berries after July 23, but we shall see how things go and how the weather affects the berries.    If you are coming far, please give us a call to check on availability before you leave home.
The end of the berry season does not mean that we just close the gate until next year.  The real work starts the day after the last customer departs. We have some issues with our blackberries.  The blackberries have been under stress all season and no one knows why.  We have had expert's advice and they tell us that all blackberries in the mid south have experienced early die back this year.  We are participating in research of the problem and sending in leaves for tissue analysis at the University of Arkansas and an expert from the university will visit us in August for a hands-on look at what is happening.  It could be as simple as that a hard winter triggered a larger than normal crop of berries and the plants were stressed trying to bring all those berries to maturity.  We also had a dryer May and higher than normal temperatures in May and June that affected the bushes.  Peach and apple orchards pick off part of the fruit to allow the rest to grow larger,  That is not possible with blackberries due to the number of berries that would have to be removed.  The new canes that emerge in the spring for next year's crop have not been as prolific so we do not know what that crop will be like.  In any case, we will be soon cutting out at ground level every cane that had a berry this season, removing all unwanted trash trees, weeds and such that are in each row and prune the new canes.  This is a very labor intensive process and one that can only be done by hand and often on your knees.  After this is complete, we will be able to evaluate the condition of our bushes for the 2011 season.  In all probability, we will plant some new varieties as a back-up, but they will not be productive for several years. 
While we are working on the blackberries, we are also pruning the blueberries in that narrow window of time before mid-September after which you do not want new growth on the blueberry plants.  For each of the 3,400 plants, we will prune by hand the stray branches that reached out into the row this season and top all of the plants that are under five feet tall so that they grow out evenly next season. The mature bushes will be trimmed to less than six feet tall.  We need to do this quickly as the plants will respond to the pruning with new growth that needs to mature before frost.  After we prune, we hand weed all of the blueberry rows.  That is about two miles of row.  Following this, we add pine bark mulch around each plant.  During all this, we continue to mow the 9 acre berry patch every 5-7 days, maintain the irrigation system and fertilize the plants almost every few weeks.  We are also planning on winter replanting as every year some plants die off for this reason or that. 
All of these after season activities make it possible for us to offer you next Memorial Day or a few days later a groomed berry patch where you can pick as many of our large sweet berries as your heart desires. 
As we near the end of the season, we invite you to come on out one more time and enjoy picking blueberries at The Greer Farm. 
Figs are Ready, Finally
Every year I think the figs are not ever going to get ripe.  But, as sure as the sun will come up in the east tomorrow, our figs ripen mid -July every year.  We are picking every few days and availability is by order.  We try to have several gallons on hand at all times.  The price is $4 per pound, same as last year.  Now is the time to enjoy figs straight off the tree.  
Farm to Fork:  Cooking Classes with Chef Eva
The old farm house kitchen has been full of those with an enthusiasm for a unique culinary experience all summer.  The July 10th class, Refreshing Mouth Watering Salsas, was so popular it is being offered again this Saturday July 17 at 11:00 am.  There is some availability for this class and we suggest you call early if you want to reserve a seat at the table.  I think that there is something special about cool salsas on a hot July day.  The menu for this class includes:

Watermelon mango salsa with marinated grilled chicken tenders Brie and pecan quesadillas with pineapple apricot salsa Bruschetta with garden fresh tomato salsa, spinach and homemade ricotta Grilled angel food cake with blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and strawberry salsa

I was in and out during the class Saturday, but tried to be there each time there was something to eat.  I was really impressed with the homemade ricotta cheese and how easy it appeared to make.  Hands down, my favorite was the angle food cake grilled on the barbecue grill and the salsa that had every fresh berry available.  The blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries with whatever sauce they were mixed with was heavenly. 
The August cooking class has been rescheduled to August 17.  Too Hot to Cook is a popular summer class with a different menu each year.   School has not yet started, the family is restless, and who wants to be stuck in the kitchen over a hot stove.  So to avoid being disappointed, please reserve early for this popular class.

Fresh Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Basil & Parsley Pesto Tomato Sandwich Chicken, Roasted Pepper and zipper pea hummus on pita bread Smoked salmon avocado spring rolls Blackberry sorbet in chocolate wafer cups

September normally has a class later in the month after things cool off a bit, but this year Chef Eva has a different idea.  What about a real old fashioned Labor Day picnic as the theme for a cooking class.  Picnic Fare for Labor Day is perfect for couples wanting to get away for a part of the holiday weekend and do something different.  This menu offers a lot of opportunity to learn to make new dishes and traditional ones differently.  Set aside Saturday September 4th as a day to have fun and eat well.

Watermelon salad with mint lime dressing Chili spiked grilled corn with cotija cheese Burgers with spicy mayonnaise, chipotle ketchup, sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions Beer braised hot dogs with sauerkraut Roasted peach crumble with Greek yogurt ice cream Burgers will be Greer Farm USDA inspected Grass-finished beef

The October and November classes adapt to the change of weather and season.  October 9th is a Fall Fest with Winter Squashes, October 23rd is more basic; Prepping for Winter with Savory Stocks and Healthy Breads.  November is seasonal themed, Getting Ready for Holiday Gatherings. Private classes can be scheduled most any day or time for groups of friends.
All of Chef Eva's Farm to Fork classes are unique.  make your reservations early and come to class with an appetite, a desire to participate, laugh and have fun. 
Jam, Syrup and All Things Savory
This berry season Chef Eva has kept the burners hot in her kitchen.  She is offering the very best of our berries and fruit canned so you can enjoy it later or give to a friend as a gift.  It has been hard to keep up with the demand.  Depending on availability, she is making blueberry jam, blueberry syrup, blackberry jam, peach-blueberry jam, chipotle - blueberry sauce and fig preserves with lemon and blueberry pie filling.  The chipotle sauces are great poured over a block of cream cheese and served with crackers, or used to baste chicken or baby back ribs on the barbecue. The blueberry syrup makes breakfast waffles or pancakes extra special.   Craving blueberry pie or cobbler with a large clump of ice cream on top?  Our whole fresh blueberries for fillings are perfect and easy to use. 12 ounce jars of syrup or jam are  $8, 8 ounce jars of chipotle sauce or jam are $5 and quart jars of blueberry pie filling are $10.
Greer Farm Beef
We appreciate the many of you that have re-ordered a split quarter of half of our grass finished beef, or are a new customer.  There are a lot of options available to those that do not want to purchase beef raised in a feed lot, but we feel that our breed of cattle, our production system and our standard of care for our cattle make our beef just a little bit different and a lot better. 
Our forage plan for this season has worked so far and our cattle are doing well on the new forages we planted.  Our grasses have been supplemented with clover and legumes so our cattle get a high quality of healthy forage.  We also used a blend of minerals based on soil analysis to help us grow more of the right kind of forage.  We have found that KMag is an important mineral to sustain grass growth.  Unlike ranches that buy hay from other farms or sell hay, our hay is harvested and consumed on our ranch.  In the cycle of things, the minerals we put on the land never leave us but the cattle redistribute it naturally.  We will start our mid summer hay operation in a few days. 
Our annual objective is to have enough hay baled to feed our cattle all winter and have an additional year of hay in reserve in the barns.  Some ranches just let the cattle eat the dead standing grasses after frost and supplement with little to no hay.  We feel stock pile grazing does not provide the nutrition needed for cattle and especially for cows with baby calves.  This year we will cut every pasture we have because of the threat of army worms.  It is better to have the hay baled than lose the grass. Last year we lost all of our grass in late September when it was at its prime to army worms.  Cutting a meadow when worms are moving will sometimes cause them to march around your farm for the next one down the road.  We prefer to not use chemical sprays to kill them and then have our cattle eat this grass. 
The beef steers we are preparing for fall harvest are looking good.  They are presently at our home place where we have some very good mixed grasses and acres of newly planted red river crab grass.  They are looking fat and happy here.  Especially inviting to them is their access to a lake where they take a swim in every afternoon. 
We still have some cuts of beef available at the farm, but steaks are out of stock.  We will have more in the fall.  By the second week of August we will have a good stock of our famous lean and tasty ground beef.  If you wish to place an order for a split quarter or half, we would appreciate receiving your deposit of $200 by August 15.  This will allow us to finish the steers properly on our own grasses and the alfalfa we bring in from northern Missouri to supplement our forages. Complete information our beef program is on our website.
Free Range Beef Veal: Are You Interested?
From time to time we invite your comment or an expression of interest in a new product off the farm.  It appears that enough of you will purchase free range pork that we are moving forward on this project (slowly).  There was little interest in a CSA style beef arrangement where you committed to purchase a split quarter, we store the frozen, packaged beef and you take deliver over a set period of time.  This reduces your up front cost to monthly payments and you are taking only a small portion of the beef each month. It was good idea that did not fly.
A local farmer has a dairy and we have discussed offering free range beef veal..  This would help him out during a depressed milk price cycle using female calves and bull calves that do not fit into the herd plan. Calf veal is the tenderest of all beef products and if you go to a high end grocery store, meat market or restaurant you are amazed at its cost.  We believe that we can raise calves on pasture, naturally, and offer a superior veal product at a fair price.
At the current time, these calves are sold at auction at a very young age.  One can only assume that they will not be taken care of on some large factory farm in the same manner as they are on a smaller farm.  Our concept is to keep them on the farm where they were born,  drinking mama cow milk several times a day, eating all the fresh grass they want and having companionship with other calves until they are ready for harvest.  These calves will be raised with tender loving care, hand bottle feeding, no hormones, no antibiotics and especially no calf crates that have been common and continue to be on factory farms.  We want to raise calves free range near their mothers. I have read a lot of terrible stories about the veal industry and was put off to the point I would never buy it.  I think our idea is a way to obtain veal raised naturally.
As with our other beef, this veal will be USDA inspected.  If you own a restaurant or meat market, this veal can be resold.  Not everyone will be interested in veal or may not have even tried it, but if you are, please send us an email (put beef veal in the subject line).  We will get back to you with more details once we see there is enough interest to do this.  We need 4-8 parties interested to make it practical. 
Free Range Animals
I get questions occasionally about what "free range" means in regard to how we raise our animals.  Born Free USA says Free Range or Cage free is an open subject without real criteria.  "No government laws or standards regulate the use of terms such as “free-range” and “free-roaming” on egg cartons. For eggs, these or similar labels generally mean that hens are un-caged yet confined indoors in crowded sheds. For animals raised for meat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stipulates that free-range chickens must have “access to the outdoors” and free-range cows and sheep must be “grass fed and live on a range.” No other criteria — such as the size of the “range,” the amount of space individual animals must have, or animal care and handling — are required." 
You will have no doubt if you visit our farm and see all or our animals totally free range.  Everything is able to run free within the confines of fenced pastures and paddocks.  Our chickens have almost an acre of green grass to lounge in. but in the heat of the day they have a barn to retreat to and there they lay their eggs.  The only time they are confined is the first few weeks after they are born in the brooder and that is for their protection.  Before year end, we still have hope of having an egg trailer house in a 9 acre meadow for the chickens.  Our goats, sheep and cattle are pasture raised.  The only thing that has held us back in raising pork is the time needed to clear brush and build fence in an open area that will give pastured pigs access to acres of open ground. 
The next time you buy a meat product or eggs, take a look at the package and determine if the place it came from used sustainable, free range standards.  It does make a difference in the quality and taste of the product. 
Lakeside Cabins
We have had a very busy year with lakeside log cabin rentals and many of you have returned for one or more visit.  Some weekend rentals remain in August and weekdays are more available.  The fall is booking up now for those that prefer cooler weather, the change of season and our east Texas colorful fall foliage. 
Since Daingerfield State park closed for renovation, our cabins and the farm are attractive options for those that enjoyed this park for so many years.  It will remain closed until late February 2011.
This summer we refurbished our sand beach and added paddle boards to our inventory of water craft that can be rented.  If you have never been on a paddle board, it is not too late to start.  They bring a whole new dimension to fun on the water and are a great way to work out.
We are still offering 10% off for a four day stay any Sunday through Thursday until the end of August. We did this to give families a chance to have a more economical farm stay before Labor Day.  Most of our costs are fixed and the only variables are cleaning, washing linens and electricity.  We have maintained the same prices since we started renting the cabins three years ago.  Occasionally, we offer a discount like this one, but for the most part, it is not profitable for us to discount our prices.  I know this offends some that expect us to offer week day or off season deals, but we offer what we feel is a superior experience in a place difficult to replicate.  We hope that you feel you have received value for what you paid to stay on our farm. 
 If you desire a nice place to unwind, our farm is that place.
This and That
There is so much that goes on at the farm that we can never cover it in a newsletter.  We try to keep our farm blogs up to date on current activity, post photos and share other items we feel are interesting.  Check out Farmers Don't Blog when you have time.
From Our House to Yours
We are here because you are supporting our family farm.  We never loose sight of that and strive to meet all your needs when you visit us.
Have a great summer, come pick berries before they are gone, attend a cooking class, rent a log cabin or just stop by for a glass of iced tea.  We are always (for better of worse) here.
All the best,
Sid, Eva and all of us at the farm

Cooking Class Photos: Refreshing Mouth Watering Salsas

Chef Eva's cooking class Saturday was a tremendous success. The topic was Refreshing Mouth Watering Salsas and it will be repeated this Saturday July 17.

The menu has a lot of variety and uses many local fruits, including Greer Farm blueberries and blackberries.

Watermelon mango salsa with marinated grilled chicken tenders
Brie and pecan quesadillas with pineapple apricot salsa
Bruschetta with garden fresh tomato salsa, spinach and homemade ricotta
Grilled angel food cake with blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and strawberry salsa

One of the highlights of the class was learning to make fresh ricotta cheese. Once learned, this is something anyone can do in minutes.

These photos share some of the moments of the class and what you have to look forward to if you participate this Saturday, July 17. Chef Eva looks like she is having a good time.

Jong Speak

To live is to be
Certainty comes
at the end.

"You Are There" by Erica Jong, from Love Comes Firs

July 4th Weekend in the Berry Patch

Our grandson came for the weekend and was amazed at our sunflowers that line the fence in the berry patch. He was more amazed by the tasty blueberries.

Two Poems

Occasionally I find a poem I like and share it here. Today I found two and each is equally appropriate.

The Evening is Tranquil, and Dawn is a Thousand Miles Away
by Charles Wright

The mares go down for their evening feed
into the meadow grass.
Two pine trees sway the invisible wind—
some sway, some don't sway.
The heart of the world lies open, leached and ticking with sunlight
For just a minute or so.
The mares have their heads on the ground,
the trees have their heads on the blue sky.
Two ravens circle and twist.
On the borders of heaven, the river flows clear a bit longer.

The Farm Wife Sells Her Cows

by Shari Wagner

The cats gather by my kitchen door,
rubbing ribs against a box of overshoes
and spewing curses that waver
like an organ's vibrato. I've given them
every left-over in the fridge—none of it
seems to soothe them, though when we enter
the dairy room where a sour scent still lingers
they hush and assume places, calico
sphinxes against the wall.
I switch on the radio, wait for
the first ones to lumber through—black
and white boulders—larger than you'd imagine
watching them in the field. If only
we could call them back, but by now
they must be past the beltway of Indianapolis,
peering through slats with eyes bewildered
as on the day we pulled them from their mothers.

The Year Is Half Over - Farm Activities

This past week we have had a few nice rain showers late in the day. They have come in the late afternoon and are not like those that come in the night that lull you to sleep with rain hitting the metal roof. Never-the-less, they are much appreciated. Normally, by this time of the year, we have more than half of the hay needed for the cattle in the winter already baled. Due to the lack of rain since February, and at first very cool nights and then very hot days, we are way behind on setting aside our needs. When this rain band passes we will cut two hay meadows. I do not expect great results, but every bale counts.

We weaned over 20 calves this past week and some had to be dehorned; some castrated. We kept back four bull calves to see how they grow out. All of the calves look pretty good. They are still in the corral for a few days until they stop crying for their moms. We moved the steers from Rock Branch back home where we have some really nice paddocks for them to graze. Many have ordered our grass finished beef that will be harvested in the fall. The heifer calves being bred at Rocky Branch are doing fine and look good. All the cattle are in good condition as we enter the hotter, dryer part of the summer.

The grasses we planted are taking hold, but no as fast as I had hoped. Every time you plow ground you bring up old weed seeds. The goat weed is a problem on the new grass land and we have sprayed in some cases. The most productive grass planted is at Rocky Branch and the cows are keeping it well trimmed. On the side where the grass was planted it is about 4 inches tall. Next to it is the established grasses and they are almost a foot tall.

Our blueberry patch is doing great this season. The blackberry did not do so well. The berries dried up fast in the excessive heat we experienced and the brambles dried early. Next year's shoots have also not come along well. We do not know if we have to replant or what we will do yet. After we remove the dead canes in late July we will know more. The raspberry we planted are also having a difficult time. Our blueberry bushes are growing and the die off in some plants we experienced early stopped. The bushes are loaded with huge berries and many green ones are still to ripen. There is not a better time to pick than now.

Every day brings new challenges, but during the first half of the year much was accomplished and we anticipate in the second half we will also be as productive.