Saturday, August 27, 2005

Chickadee is Born

Butternut had her calf, Chickadee, this morning around 10:30am at the Dutchess County Fair. She was part of a special birthing exhibit. She was in labor for a long time.

If a calf is born correctly, the first thing that is seen is a placenta that contains a lot of amniotic fluid. Finally the placenta breaks when a front hoof cuts through the placenta. The two front hooves then start to emerge. The hooves are followed by a nose, a head and then finally a calf. The calf typically weighs between 65-90 lbs. Butternut got to the step where one of the front hoofs had cut through the placenta. At this point the vet had pity on Butternut and several strong men had to pull Chickadee out from Butternut using chains that were attached to the calf's front legs. Many fair goers were present to marvel at the miracle of life.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Dutchess County Fair

The Dutchess County Fair is well underway. The Ayrshire cows were judged yesterday. Jacob won first place in his division. Rebecca won last place in the same division, but did a wonderful job of showing her cow. She is expected to do well in showmanship. As the picture shows, Rebecca and her cow are fond of one another.

Our cow still has not given birth in the birthing tent. But having a display in The Oval is always fun because our friend, Lenny Miller, favors us with attention and rides in a fair ranger.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Preparing for the Dutchess County Fair

The Dutchess County Fair begins Tuesday, August 23rd. Today marked the agricultural "move-in" day. Though our family does not have cows on Bentley Farm, the Bentley Farm cows, boarded at Clarence Knapp's farm, are still joining the Angell family children for another year at the Dutchess County Fair. While past years have featured Isaac and his team of oxen, this year features a birthing center for cows! We have entered a 'birthing cow' (artificially inseminated in light of this event) to the exhibit. If the cow actually does give birth, the cow's owner receives a monetary bonus. Suffice it to say that if I was the cow, I would give birth at around 2:30am.

A cow's life changes on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. It is very regularly cleaned and groomed and is even given a major shave (Nate is doing the honors above). The cow judge looks to see that the animal is properly groomed and shaved. In addition the cow judge evaluates the overall "dairyness" of a cow, including the size and position of its udder, the straightness of the spine, the breadth of the legs and even the cow's gait. It is like a Miss America pageant. Except for cows.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cornell Comes True

(The new Cornell student.)

(The helpers.)

Isaac left Bentley Farm today and settled into his brand new home at Cornell University. Dad, Mom, Hannah, Rebecca and Caleb helped him move in, leaving the farm around 4am this morning! Isaac has never had his own bedroom before in his life, and surprisingly at Cornell he was blessed with a single room in the newest dorm on campus. When I spoke with him this afternoon he said that he is going to miss his dog, Bentley, who has slept on his bed since he was a puppy.

From a young age Isaac always hoped to attend Cornell since he knew they had a very good agricultural program. Isaac is a man of steady vision. It always seemed to me that from the day he could speak he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his whole life. Cornell was always a piece of that dream. We are very, very happy for Isaac.

There were many moments of grace amidst the hardship of leaving Isaac. Mom reported the overwhelming experience of stepping outside and hearing the bells play Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tea Island

(Members of the Angell family relax with Trip on the porch of the log cabin built on Tea Island in the 1930s.)

It has become the Angell family tradition to vacation for one day each summer (the farm does not allow more time) at Lake George on a small island called Tea Island. In the 1930s a small log cabin was built on this island. Our friend, Trip Sinnot, and his family own this island and have very graciously invited us to spend many summer days in this peaceful place.

The year's trip was accented with bright sunshine, warm water and a cool lake breeze. Different members of the family went water skiing, while others (like myself) opted out on the standing position and went for a ride in Big Bertha. We spent time swimming, rowing, kyaking, napping, talking and eating. We even celebrated several upcoming birthdays!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Fruit of Creation

(Caleb, Mom and Dad work on shucking the corn.)

The corn was harvested today. Thankfully, the deer fence worked. Harvesting involves picking all of the corn, shucking the corn, boiling the corn and then cutting the corn away from the cob. If we were true homesteaders we would can the corn. But we are currently 21st century homesteaders, so we freeze the corn. It lasts well into the winter and will be highlighted at both our Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.

The tomatoes are in season now. If I get home in time, I will actually can the tomatoes, as the volume of tomatoes that we grow makes it hard to find freezer space.

For the fruit of all creation
Thanks be to God
Gifts bestowed on every nation
Thanks be to God
For the planting, sowing, reaping
Silent growth while we are sleeping
Future needs in earth's safe keeping
Thanks be to God

Friday, August 12, 2005

Acadia National Park

Nathaniel, Hannah and I went camping in Acadia National Park following my thesis defense. I loved falling asleep with only a thin tent between me and the expanse of the universe.

It had always been my dream to camp in Maine, and I was not disappointed. The weather was gorgeous. Acadia is a stunning National Park, completely surrounded by ocean. Nathaniel took Hannah and me up the most daring trail on the whole of Mt. Desert Island, called Precipice. I am self-admittedly uncomfortable with heights, so how I managed to scale Champlain Mountain remains a mystery to me. I do remember that I decided that I would never look down. The trail is posted with numerous signs that warn daring adventurers that people have died climbing this trail. I know why.

Needless to say, none of us wanted to go down Precipice. Given that my entire body was shaking from fear by the time that I reached the top, it most definitely was necessary that we go down a different way. We easily hiked down Champlain on the Bear's Brook trail (why couldn't we have done that on the way up?) and quickly arrived at Sand Beach for a swim in the ice cold Atlantic. That was thermal shock.

My favorite trail was the Ocean Trail (simply named) that meanders around much of the south-eastern Acadia coastline. Thunder Hole was stunningly beautiful and Otter's Cove was picturesque as well.

Nathaniel, Hannah and I have a similar sense of humor and so we spent much of the five days laughing. Nathaniel thought it would be funny if there was a handicapped parking sign at the trailhead of Precipice.