Generally homesteading is a wonderfully fulfilling life. That’s until you go out first thing in the dewy morning to see six cows happily munching down the last of the Seneca Sunrise sweet corn in the Main garden. Yes, we do have more in another field, but that was our best corn! That’s what happened a couple of days ago. I yelled at Will and took off to get a pail of grain. Yep, we did get them out without much more damage. (After all, they could have eaten all of our tomatoes which not only feed us all winter but provide rare heirloom seeds for our seed business!) As we’ve been in drought, the pasture’s down pretty significantly so we’d moved the herd to a small, uneaten pasture, trying to rotate them enough to see if fall rains would freshen the big, old pasture. But one of our cows, Latte, is a beast about getting through fences, and she’s teaching the others too. We’re trying to hold them in that pasture until Will can cut and bale our oats, clover, and alfalfa, which was tempting them to break through the electric fence. We’ve had just enough rain so he can’t cut it yet. We’re hoping for Wednesday as it’s supposed to be sunny for four days… So we’re putting in more fence posts, fence stays, and tightening everything up, plus feeding several square bales twice a day to try to keep the bad girls happy — and in.

This is what our corn in the Main garden looks like after the cows got to it.

I found out the bad cows walked through our front yard, went under our back deck and down into the corn. I’ve blocked that spot and we’ve tied the walk-through garden gate shut to keep from having that happen again. There are still a lot of crops in that garden they would eat, so I’m not sleeping too good.

I did get a reprieve yesterday. My step-daughter, Randie, from Cape Cod, who I don’t get to see nearly enough, her daughter, and my great-grand kids, plus her sister, Tricia and her husband, all came up to Bill’s this weekend. While Will stayed home, minding the bad cows, I got to visit, eat, visit, and visit some more. So very nice! I sure hated to go home to the cows.

Today I walked through the Sand and Central gardens and was tickled by how much the crops are growing and maturing. We have a Hopi Pale Grey squash that’s much larger than a soccer ball and wow, the beans! I’m a total fan of those long, purple Carminat French fillet beans. They’re now 10 inches plus long, slim, and so tender I can munch on them raw. Then there are the Oregon Giant pole beans, which we tried as the catalog description sounded like our Crawford beans. We thought they might be the same or closely related. Maybe related, but the Crawfords turn yellowish when they reach the shell stage and get really lumpy where the Oregon Giants stay striped with purple. I do like the Oregon Giants and will grow them again as they’re meaty, sweet, and hardy as well as productive.

We’re thrilled with our Hopi Pale Grey squash this year.
I just love the Carminat pole beans. It’s always fun to find new favorites!

I dug the first of our garlic and boy, are the cloves and heads nice and big. I’m so tickled. I like to dehydrate chopped cloves and then powder them in the blender as that garlic powder is so handy. I’ve also been canning up more Provider and Strike beans. Gotta stop as I’m out of room for more beans and there are still some Crawfords I want to can up. Whew! I’ve got an appointment at the doctor’s tomorrow for my annual check-up. Wonder how the blood pressure will be? — Jackie


  1. I’ve been reading your cow adventures and thinking the same thing Beth wrote. No way would I put up with that because there’s too much work to do and an inconsiderate bad mannered cow who creates more work would be the star of a family and friends BBQ or resting happily in jars in the pantry.

    • Yeah, if it were just one cow; try five or six. Sometimes homesteaders just have to put up with the bad and thrill with the good.

  2. Hi Jackie, I LOVED the title of your post – more the reality of farming/homesteading, than the “general public’s” knowledge or real understanding. It’s not always “sunny days” and there is always something disastrous going out, be it the cows/goats/sheep getting out of the pastures and causing damage, to animals dying/injuring themselves in disastrous & unimaginable ways. Thank you for keeping it real!

    • Hey, that’s life. I read a whole lot of homestead stories and they all seem a bit too good to be true; nothing bad ever happens. And it does. To everyone. There’s hail, a freeze, drought, grasshoppers, wild predators, death and injury.

  3. Jackie, I get worn out just reading about what ya’ll do! Let me tell you about my latest garden adventure.
    A couple of months or so ago I planted watermelon and cannalope seeds. They came up, I watered everyday; and the weeds showed up also. I kept up with patch. Then I had shoulder joint replacement. Needless to say, my little patch went to pot quickly. my Mr Wonderful is going to plow the whole sorry mess under.
    So ends my gardening attempts this year! Next year it’s container gardening for me!!

    • Better check that patch first. I had such a wild patch of weeds and discovered a bunch of melons growing happily among the weeds. You never know till the fat lady sings…..

  4. I would sell the bad cow or eat her. If she is going to teach other cows to break fences she needs to go.
    I have very limited space in my new garden and have thought about growing the yard long type bears. Do you know if they can up well. My little spot is not near enough room to grow all we need. Thanks

    • Yeah, tell that to Will; she’s his favorite cow…. I told him she wouldn’t get out of the freezer. I haven’t had much luck with yard long beans. But if you live in a warmer climate, they should do well for you. I canned up some when we lived in New Mexico and they seemed fine. I much prefer other beans, however. Yard long beans are members of the cowpea family so do well in the south.

  5. Wow you amaze me Jackie and Will with all that you accomplish! Hope those naughty cows behave themselves.

  6. S0 if you could only grow one variety of each vegetable in your garden , which ones would you choose ? I’m just curious .

    • Oh crap! What a question; it’s like saying who is your favorite child! Ok, here’s an attempt; don’t hold me to it, it could change tomorrow. Or in 5 minutes.
      Sweet Corn: Seneca Sunrise, Bush Bean: Provider, Winter Squash Hopi Pale Grey, Pole Bean, Crawford, Beet, Detroit Dark Red, Onion: Clear Dawn, Pumpkin: Winter Luxury, Hot Pepper: Sugar Rush Peach, Sweet Pepper, Early Red Bell, Tomato: Bill Bean, Dry Bean; Iroquois, Lettuce, Dark Red Lollo Rosso, Spinach; Bloomsdale Long Standing, Kale; Scarlet, Muskmelon; Oka, Watermelon, Sweet Dakota Rose. Or maybe………..

  7. We lost all our peas to a moose this year. They can step over a four foot fence and I hadn’t gotten electric up over the top of it.We had hard frost the last two nights. 29 last night with 26 in Glennalen about 40 miles away so it was pretty region wide. Had heat in the hoophouses in time so the sensitive stuff is ok. I never had problems with cows getting out with a low impedence charger even with one strand of electric string once they were trained. Wish I could grow winter squash.

    • Holy cow! FROST!!! Eeek! We had 39 last night and we held our breath. Our cows stay IN an electric fence but when it was lush oats on the outside, they broke IN through the wire. We think the battery was getting weak though.

    • You wait until they are mature. That means the skin is blue-gray and the stem is corky. You can’t stick your thumbnail through the skin (unless you have very strong nails!). Once mature, pick and wait at least two weeks as they become sweeter as they cure.

  8. Hello Miss Jackie! You are always so busy you put me to shame! I don’t have cow problems but last summer I went out to the garden to discover a tomato stick in the ground where there had been a whole big plants. Hornworms had invaded. I checked all the plants at least twice a day but they are so hard to find when small and I couldn’t find them all initially. Munch munch. This year, not one. Hurray!
    Deb and I speak of you often and relish the time we had at your seminars…great memories!
    Sheryl Napier

    • Howdy Pyro! I used to fight the hornworms and kill every one I found. Until I found out they were the larva of the Hummingbird moth, which I absolutely LOVE. So I started planting more tomatoes so they could all eat and I’d still have plenty too. Bugs seem to go in cycles. We’ve had bad potato bugs, but for three years, not a single one. I’m sure not complaining! I’m glad you and Deb visit. Such friends we all become at those seminars!

Comments are closed.