Finally! Thirty heifers were delivered yesterday afternoon to the pasture around the barn. I’ve been wondering where “our” animals have been this year. The two large pastures are being prepped for planting with fescue, and won’t be available for grazing for another year, so there’s that. But the area around the barn is ripe and, at last, here they are:

And there they go.

They wouldn’t pose for a photo, but you get the idea.

We know heifers are female, right? I went to Google to learn how old they might be, when they might be bred (if they have been bred) and whatever else I might learn. Yes, all female cows are born with and have visible teats, but only those who are pregnant or have previously borne calves will have visible udders. Ours do not.

You know how, when you summon Google, you will see a list of questions which might be of interest on the subject? One inquiring mind posted the question: “What is a female bull called?”

Huh. Seriously? Ponder that for a moment and I’ll tell you the answer later.

No, I’ll just tell you now. The answer is a COW. The same person may be wondering what you call a female stallion. A city dweller, I’m guessing.

Before the heifers arrived, I had been meaning to write about earthworms. I’d walked down the road in the rain earlier in the week (by “road” I mean our driveway) and was amazed to see the tiny tubes of earthworm on the surface. Our road is gravel, pressed down by the years into a cement-like consistency in the two vehicle tracks. How do these unclad, boneless creatures manage to penetrate this barrier, and why, as they’re then visible to the busy robins?

I couldn’t learn how they do it, but there seem to be two theories about why. The rain, it is said, replicates the sound of moles digging, and the earthworms come to the surface to escape. The second idea is that the earth is saturated by the water and oxygen therefore scarce. They come up to breath. This one sounds more likely.

I watch them move, fascinated. Alive, but? Will they slip back down, through the cement after the rain? I walked the road several days later and there wasn’t a worm to be seen. So I don’t know.

We’ve been having a chicken problem. One of them has been laying eggs with the shells either too unsubstantial to contain the yolk and surrounding white, or she has been pecking at the shells after she lays them.

We have our chicken bible, and there were suggestions. Either insufficient calcium in the oyster shells we provide, or she’s aging out of the game. A menopausal chicken? Could be. We don’t know how old she is — this being Maddie — and as Rhody has already retired, it seems possible. But after several weeks of finding a mushed egg in the nest each morning, requiring a thorough cleaning, we went to WilCo to speak to their Chicken Guy.

He wasn’t able to provide a diagnosis, except to say that if I were feeding them chicken scraps, I should stop the practice. Didn’t like that advice. Of course chickens should have your celery tops, potato peels, or so I’ve been led to believe. Maybe not.

We discussed our choices. Larry is still unwilling to chop off heads. As am I, goes without saying. We can’t keep her out of the roost, can’t just toss her out of the car on the side of the road, which seems to be how others relieve themselves of unwanted pets. Just to be clear, I suppose these animals are pets, but not in the accepted definition of the word. We don’t pet them, for example. We enjoy watching them, we love having the eggs, but when necessary, we’ll do what we have to. Which is take them to the vet, endure their misunderstanding of the nature of our relationships, and have them euthanized.

But for the last two days, she’s laid two complete, unbroken eggs, earning a reprieve. Maybe it was the kitchen scraps?

Larry and I and were both startled to find last week that there’s something wrong with our new bathroom scale. After changing the battery and giving it another day or so to regroup, we were faced with the unfortunate conclusion that it was time for a “reset” of the humans involved in the equation. So there have been 8 days now, of dismal dining. Smoothies several times a day, salads with very little dressing, and “blended soups.” Probably exactly as you’d imagine a “blended soup.” Larry has shone in the project, shedding pounds with ease, while the woman in this story struggles to lose so much as an ounce. You’re right. It isn’t fair at all.

A brighter note, literally: Since leaving my band, back before Covid, I’ve been wishing to play somehow, with someone, as the trad banjo is not really a solo instrument. As finding another band is vanishingly unlikely, I picked up my five-string, bluegrass banjo and have been reacquainting myself with the instrument. I know, instrument of torture, as The NewYorker and other purveyors of taste would have it. “You can tuna fish but you can’t tuna banjo, haha.”

At the same time, a friend, Dick Sandvik, and I had been engaged in the sort of comment, upon seeing one another, that we should get together and play sometime. Dick plays guitar and sings, and has published his music, so you can see this would be pretty cool. For me. But it’s the kind of thing, you know, “we should” but never do.

And then I signed up for banjo camp in September and it began to get real. Suddenly, the idea of a practice buddy was too tempting to resist, and we are trying to get something to work out — remotely of course, as Dick and I live 150 miles apart.

Okay, I’ll try to record a song and send it off to Dick, who can then add his guitar and voice to the project. Yeah. That’s such a fun idea. In the first place, you have to have a microphone outside the computer. Easy enough. I buy a microphone.

In the second place, a recorded banjo solo — by me — sounds about as inviting as, as, well, you finish the sentence. Dick gently suggests I should acquire headphones in order that I might listen to the metronome — oh yeah, you have to have a metronome. Which I do, so no problem? But the metronome shouldn’t be in the recording, hence the headphone idea.

That’s where we are this evening. Tomorrow I’m going to get my Covid booster, and am going to Best Buy to explore this idea of headphones. And here’s a promise: IF I can manage it, if it’s even possible, when Dick and I do work up a respectable song, I’ll post it here. Dick, are you listening?

Meanwhile, keep up the good work! See ya.