Beef and Sweet Tea

Birth Watch

Emily GraceIn the 1990s there was a show called Bay Watch. Beach lifeguards saved lives and tried to solve their personal life issues. There was a lack of clothing and lots of sunshine. Little did I know that my marriage to a farmer would bring back this drama … in the form Birth Watch, a calving season drama.

During calving season we watch cattle constantly. The sooner we can help a cow in calving distress the better for her and the more hopeful we can be for the calf’s survival. So, we start our observations before labor starts. Cattle gestate nine months, and we schedule when the bull is with the cows. So, we have a good idea of when to start watching for potential births. Then, the visual nature of late third-trimester pregnancy helps us narrow down our search. You see, a cow is not just a cow. Look more closely.

pregnant cow  pregnant cow

Can you see the pregnancy? Yes? No? Maybe? 

When I first began my birth-watch training, I kept forgetting which side of the cow carries the calf. In humans, we carry babies at the front. Mama cats seem to get round all over. But what about cows is that a big belly full of forages or is that a calf almost ready to be born?

Here’s how I worked it out in my brain ... emphasis on my brain. This method is not required for my Farmer to birth watch.

pregnant cow  pregnant cow

Don’t be shy. Tracing cow backsides with your finger from a respectable distance is a necessary part of the job.

Bay Watch had me glued to the screen in the 1990s, but Birth Watch has my eyes plastered to cow hind quarters twice a year every year. This is the circle of life, y’all. It doesn’t get discontinued for ratings or actors wanting to expand their genre, etc.

Here in the South, the warmer climate allows a calving season during winter if you’re in the Deep South and a late winter/early spring calving season if you’re in the Mid South. So, that said, it may be only mid-January, but some of y’all may be in need of this very important, extremely useful alphabetical take on bovine gestational situations.

Thanks for reading!
Best, Emily Grace

For more images, a hilarious conversation with my Farmer about calf-bump tracing and a pop quiz, visit my blog Beef and Sweet Tea.

Urban Farmstead Friends

A friend's urban farmstead - sunflower

Emily GraceI sometimes wonder if consumers know why their patio pots thrill my soul. I mean, here I am on this big ole farm watching the cows and donkeys graze and I think their patio pots are amazing?

Yes, indeed, patio pots and city gardens and backyard coops (if your city allows it) absolutely delight this farm wife. Sure we are a "big farm" but we don't have exclusive rights to the glories of growing.

We celebrate city roots and urban blooms – metro dirt that yields – and any family that is nourished.

Come with me on an urban farmstead tour and I'll show you the glories I see inside the city limits – where hard-working people know the same things my Farmer and I know – that this age-old job of cultivation is a work of heart and soul and spirit.

A friend's urban homestead - garden

Backyard goodness.

A friend's urban homestead - old wood

A pallet supports a tomato plant and is an implement rack!

A friend's urban homstead - garden

Tall, tall sunflowers!

A friend's urban homestead - sunflower

Glorious, beautiful, city sunflowers.

A friend's urban homestead - bucket

This is a man's garden, and the textures follow suit – rugged bark and grippy tread with salvaged containers on top. Nothing wasted nor family left wanting for fresh salsas, herbs and lovely blooms.

A friend's urban homestead - garden

Marigolds and volunteer carrots.

A friend's urban homestead - porch

Porch nippers.

A friend's urban homestead - tendril

Back deck strawberries.

A friend's urban homstead - green tomato


Over the years I have realized that marrying into the less than 2 percent of the population farming created this soft spot in my heart for all gardeners and growers and hobby farmers because they get it ...

... the it of this life spent coaxing dirt into nourishment.

This companionship – from those who know how to grow and care to take the time to do it OR cook it for their loves who do the growing – is a really important factor in my farm wife sanity.

I live a mere 7 minutes from Target and hang out with a lot of cows and hay bales – this makes me somewhat of an oddity. 

But you, growing friends, with your patio pots of cucumbers suggest I’m not so strange to you, and I appreciate your awareness ...

A friend's urban homestead - flag

... awareness of life, liberty and blooming where planted.

All of these lovely photos document life lived well in town – at a rental house inside a Southern city’s limits. My friends are currently an urban household of six – a dad who loves to garden and grill, a mom who cooks total yum, and their herd of young men growing up in town with important emphasis on soil and blooms and cultivation right under their next generation noses.

I hope you've enjoyed these images from my friend's urban farmstead. They certainly deserve your admiration. We love them like family ... and FARMily.

Emily Grace

For more images of this Urban Farmstead, check out my website and a post entitled "FarrrTHUR  20."

Double Yolks Explained

Emily GraceHow do double yolks happen? My mama’s hen, named Bobby Lou, laid a huge egg recently and set me to wondering how she did that. So, I contacted my blog friend, Lara, who works for Minnesota Poultry. She knows all sorts of cool things about turkeys and chickens.


 double yolk
I love getting together with blog friends and learning from them. Please join us!

Here’s what Lara said about double yolks:

“According to the American Egg Board, it’s the young hens who produce most of the double-yolked eggs because sometimes their egg production cycles are not yet completely synchronized. (Those crazy kids – trying to lay eggs willy nilly!)

rushed timing
Can you see the line where the timing got a little too rushed?

"However, it is true that older hens – the ones who produce the extra large eggs – might crank out a double-yolked egg, as well. (Young hens typically lay the smaller eggs and the older they get, the bigger their eggs get.) And I’ve heard that very occasionally, a hen might produce double-yolked eggs throughout her egg-laying career. (You go girl!)”

Thank you, Lara! For sure, a “You go girl!” is in order for Bobby Lou. Look at the size of the egg!

yolk equator
Six inches around its "equator."

yolk poles
Seven and three-quarter inches around its "poles." Wow!

After measuring the egg, I asked my Farmer to crack it for me. I don’t know where his egg cracking skills came from (I haven’t seen them in our kitchen ever!), but he sure enough did take care of the work one-handed!

cooking one handed
I can't help but smile at a good man cooking one handed.

the first yolk
There's the first yolk.

the second yolk
And there's the second yolk.

two happy yolks
Two happy yolks from the same shell!

Thanks for stopping by for a double yolk explanation!

Emily Grace

What kind of double yolk stories do you have to tell?