Grit Blogs > The Accidental Farmer

Ups and Downs of Midsummer Farming

April FreemanWhile many of our farming friends are winding down their most productive weeks in the garden, my own is sort of in the midsummer lull. Because I got such a late start (didn’t plant til June 1) I am just now getting the first few tomatoes and cucumbers. I know in another two weeks though, I will be swamped with tomatoes to peel and process, cukes to make into pickles, and peppers to chop and add to batches of homemade salsa.

Walking in the garden right now is one of my favorite things to do. The plants are all lush and verdant, thanks to the perfect amount of rain this growing season. The corn is beginning to tassel out, and I’ve picked a few handfuls of beans. Thankfully, I’ve kept ahead of the weeds, so I can enjoy the view without feeling like work is staring me in the face.

Under the spreading leaves of the watermelon and pumpkin vines, I can spy several swelling orbs that we will be happily picking in a couple of months.


I love the garden this time of year. Thankfully, the weather has given us a cool respite and a great deal of rain. It’s been an odd July for weather, not that I am complaining.

Despite my joy over my gardening, I’ve had some sad days this week.

We hauled all of my dairy cows to the sale. My Jersey cow was diagnosed with Johnes disease, which can transmit to other ruminants. She was still doing well, but for the protection of the beef herd, she and the other dairy calves that were exposed to her from milk and colostrum had to go.

My Holstein Valentine came up open (un-bred) so we had to take her off, too.

I miss seeing my cows in the field. I didn’t realize how much I watched for them during the day when I was outdoors.

My daughter has sympathized with me greatly as I’ve dealt with all this bad luck in my dairy project. She asked me why I didn’t just quit milking cows. I’ve asked myself that too.

I just can’t help myself. I love cows. I love having a cow as my friend. I love the quiet mornings in the barn when the air is cool and the light makes every dust speck a brilliant gold. I love the fresh, raw milk. Besides, I’m not going to quit milking because I’ve had some bad luck. The only reason I will quit is when I am tired of milking and I don’t want to do it anymore. I’ll only stop on my own terms.

We’re going to try to breed a dairy-beef cross for me to milk. I’m hoping the hybrid vigor will give me a cow that is sturdier and healthier than a pure dairy breed. I’m also hoping the bull calves that she’ll have will be a bit more marketable at the beef sales.

So that’s how it’s going here on my farm this week.

Some ups and some downs. But that’s farm life for you.