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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Celebration





There's been some sadness around the farm lately with some significant losses but I believe that celebrating and being thankful for the good things that come our way keep us focused and help us through the hard times. Today we had cause for celebration. Midnight gave birth to a little bull calf.

Midnight is a Holstein/Angus cross that we got from our friends that run a commercial Holstein dairy. Their neighbors Angus bull jumped the fence and bred one of their heifers and Midnight was the result of that breeding. She was a gorgeous little black calf with just a touch of white on her belly and a couple of white marks right above her hooves. I bottle fed her along with a couple of Holstein steers and kept her here with me for quite a while anticipating possibly milking her someday. However, I ran short of room and decided that her disposition was perhaps a little too high strung for her to be used as a dairy cow. So, we moved her to the beef herd. She was bred to the Angus bull and today, gave birth to a perfect little bull calf. It's almost like being a grandma seeing your "baby" grow up and have a baby of her own. Midnight was actually very calm today while we banded, vaccinated and tagged her little tike. In fact, at one point she came up and sniffed me on the head while I was holding the calf so that Mike could band him. Now I am having second thoughts and wondering how much milk she is going to have and if I can milk her!

(Picture of calf with halter is Midnight as a baby. The other baby photo is her calf that was born today. The final picture is the proud momma with her baby.)

Simply Sunday


"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
- Elizabeth Lawrence

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday's Featured Farmer~The Vegetarian Homesteader









Often I wonder what it is in contemporary people that beckons them
to want to produce their own food, know exactly where it comes
from, gain a level of self sufficiency, enjoy land in something
akin to its natural state and take pleasure in the care of the animals
who aid them in these endeavors.



I am one of these people, but I cannot tell you exactly why the drive
is there to live off of the land, exist in some type of beautiful accord
with the animals around me and feel that what I am doing something that
is "right".

The choices above are not easy. If you have tried it, you already are well aware of this fact. There is little money to be made, few vacations to be taken and the nights are longer than any you will find that comes with basic child rearing.

Some unknown farmer once said, "You can make a small fortune in farming - provided you start with a large one." He certainly has been where I have been, then.

I ask myself why I insist on going down this path more often than the typical
homesteading type partly because I am a 14 year vegetarian. No chicken, no fish, no by products, No JELL-O. Still, I am not out to convert the world to vegetarianism.
It is a personal conviction, and one which I have never convinced any other
friend or family member to espouse to.

While living as a vegetarian with a house full of meat eater is not conductive to a straight forward homestead, it is also not conductive to buying commercially raised and slaughtered meat, either.

I still somehow find that true compassion for living things is wrapped up in recognizing that most people will never go the vegetarian route, and I can work toward a humane, compassionate care for the animals we have, and if and when any become the source of meat for my husband, children or others, they have been given a happy, well cared for existence for as long as we have owned them.

I can give people an option to commercially raised meat and products, eventually.
I would rather swallow my personal convictions that prevent me from eating meat and make a small impact locally to teach people that there are humane options to the store bought, feed lot beef, pork and caged chicken they eat. My husband calls it, "Cowboying Up," for me.

So, this leads me to feel that a large part of what draws people to homesteading and self sufficiency is an ability to think higher than the masses. The ability to see a clear right and wrong way of living and decide, hardships and trials be darned, to follow that higher path.

As much as it hurts, in someways, to accept a future of raising animals I will love with some ending up as meat for someone, it seems to me to be the right thing to do, although I will remain forever a vegetarian. There is something to be said about wanting to take only your share, produce as much of it as you can yourself, be willing to worker harder and pay more for ethically produced food and believe you are doing your children a favor by raising them with homesteading ideals at the heart of their upbringing. Sure, they encounter "yucky" farm chores and learn that you can't just leave at the drop of a hat for a spontaneous vacation, but as far as I know, "yucky" chores haven't killed many children (or adults, for that matter) and spur of the moment vacations do not build character.

I have dreamed of going off and roughing it on a real homestead since I can recall having day dreams, so for some 24 odd years, at least (I'm now 28). I've moved around from WV to NC and back. I've moved from WV to Florida and back, twice. I've spent years without having more than a cat or dog and with a 50x100 backyard. Still, few months have passed that I did not wish to do something more to really living than the everyday suburban "thing."


Now we have 23 acres, fairly close to the local city, but we have a 6 stall barn, enough room for 6 horses, 15 goats, 20 + laying hens, 2 mini donkeys, a livestock guard Pyrenees, 1 Jersey heifer with plans to add more chickens and another dual purpose or dairy breed heifer, likely a Dutch Belted. We have room to raise enough food to help sustain us, though we have only been here a year, and we are still working toward a real plan for a garden and making products.

Everything is still a plan. So far, we've done little more than pick the acres of blackberries and red raspberries that grow wild on our mountain and make about 100 jars of jelly and jam in the way of producing our own food.

We plan to homestead, really do it.

I get discouraged when an animal is sick, when buying hay is a taxing expense or just when the work seems like it will never end, but I am reminded that there is a higher purpose in this. Seeing new baby animals be born, caring for them as they grow, finding a meaning in the seasons because it impacts your life, it just amazing.

There is a purity in wanting little more than to know where your food comes from, learning true life skills and hoping to live as kindly as possible.

George Washington was speaking from the heart when he said,
"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."
- George Washington

A bit about me:

I have 3 boys, one who is 9, and two ate 2 and under. My husband is a native Floridian, a city boy, but he has more than embraced the homesteading lifestyle. I think he is more dedicated than I am, sometimes.

I am a part-time photographer and aspiring fiction writer. I am volunteer photographer for the NILMDTS.

Pix by Tina

We do equine rescue, which you can follow, along with our adventures at

The Vegetarian Homesteader

We raise quality Straight Egyptian Arabian horses, too.

You can find our webite by following this link.

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Thank you Tinia for a wonderful blog post!

Pictures are courtesy of Tinia

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Wednesday Full of Words~ButterCupp



This is suppose to be wordless Wednesday on my blog..........a day when I post photos only. However, I am too filled with emotion to not write today.

I just got back from taking ButterCupp to the Vet where we had to have her cleaned out after losing calf, evidently sometime when we were away for four days a couple of weeks ago. We came home to find what looked like afterbirth hanging from her but no sign of an aborted calf. We can only assume that a wild animal must have dragged the aborted calf off the property while we were gone. When Butter did not clean herself out properly we gave her anitibiotics but it was evident that we needed some Lutylase and a vet's help to get the her cleaned out properly. Butter is dry (not in milk) and we have no guarantee that she will breed back. The bad news is that as farmers, there comes a time when you have to cull cows when they are no longer being productive and Butter has reached that point in her life.

Butter has not had a good history with us. She was sold to me as a four year old cow with no health problems but every vet that has ever looked at her has said that she was much, much older than what was represented to me at the time of sale. In other words, she was culled out of a dairy because she was having problems and I inherited those problems when I bought her. In spite of this, Butter has been a very special cow to me and we have been through a lot together. Unable to make the decision at this time to take her to the butcher (which is what happens to cull cows), my wonderful husband suggested that we take her down to the farm where we have our beef cows and let her live there for a while. There is a chance she might breed to the Angus bull with time and be able to carry a calf to term. If she does not, then we will eventually have to make the difficult choice of what to do with her.

As she made the move today from our little dairy herd to the beef herd with a future that is not sure, I could not help but reflect on our time together.

Looking back through my blog, I am posting some of the highlights of the time that ButterCupp and I have spent together. It seems like there have been mostly hard times with Butter, but it's been worth it all for those joyous occasions that we have also shared. From my August 4th, 2008 entry:

I had brought my cows in to lock them up so that they could be vet checked today, but the vet had an emergency and was not able to make it to our house. So, I sat and watched the girls eating their hay with which I had enticed them. These are my new girls and only one of them was friendly when I got them. I sat on top of the gate, and as the cows finished eating, one by one, they came up and smelled me. (It's a cow thing.) I was able to rub them all and scratch their ears. And Butter Cupp, whom I could not even touch a few weeks ago gave me a cow kiss! Now for those of you who don't know what a cow kiss is, I will explain. Cow's in a herd will groom each other by using their tongues to lick the sides, ears, face, etc. of another cow. You see mother's doing this to their babies, as well as cattle in a herd grooming each other. When the cows begin accepting a human as one of them, they will often lick you. That is a "cow kiss"! So, Butter gave me the sweetest kiss and I was able to touch her sides and feel her baby moving inside of her.

And here is the account from December 7, 2008 of our holding out hope for Butter when even the vets said that there was no hope and that we should put her down. This took place just 2.5 months after my son's sudden and unexpected death, so you can imagine the emotions that I was dealing with at the time with so recently losing my son and then dealing with two sick cows:

This has been an emotionally and physically exhausting, stressful week for me. I posted last Sunday about treating Maya for milk fever. I wish that I could say that was the end of our troubles. However, when I went to milk the cows on Monday morning, Butter Cupp looked at me with big, alert eyes and tried to get up so that she could join the other bovines already eating their hay. She couldn't get up. I did a mental check list to see if I thought she had milk fever, and I just really did not think that was the case. I called Mike and he came and looked at her and agreed with me. However, we didn't know what was wrong or how to treat her, so I had to call the vet out.

The vet saw that she was down and just assumed that she had milk fever. I told him that I didn't think she did, but he insisted that some cal/mag given intraveinously would fix her right up. He administered the calcium and magnesium and even through in some dextrose for good measure when she still wouldn't get up. He then insisted that she was just being stubborn and was sure she would get up later. Afternoon came and she still could not get up.

After time, she began to slide down the hill in the field with her head down the hill. I called Mike in tears and he and my father in law came and got her sitting upright again. However, they could not get her to stand up.

I was worried sick about her and we covered her with a blanket and took turns checking on her during the night to make sure she didn't go over because we knew she would die if she got stretched out flat during the night.

The next day the vet called and when he found that she would not get up and it had been over 24 hours and he could not figure out what was wrong with her, he pretty much gave up and thought she would die.

I was devastated but I was not ready to give up. At this point I knew that it was time to contact the lady who was suppose to buy Butter and let her know what was going on. I could not with good conscience sell Butter to her knowing that she was having problems, even if we had a full recovery. Diane was so gracious and kind and understanding about the situation, but I felt terrible.

Tuesday was spent taking food and water to Butter and tending to Maya who was also still sick. At first, I thought that maybe something had caused them both to get sick and began to look at the grain and other things that might have caused toxic poisons. I had the grain tested and it was fine and all the other cows were fine, so it could not have been something that they ate. As I began to search for answers and analyze each cows symptoms, I realized that they were obviously suffering from two different things.

Mike and Marcus (Mike's dad) brought the front end loader to the house and got a strap and tried to raise Butter but she still couldn't stand. They were able to at least move her to a fenced in area behind the barn where I could take better care of her. We then began to look for a hip lift so that we could raise her off the ground. It was very important that we get her on her feet, as it was her only chance of survival.

Finally, Thursday, we were able to locate a hip lift at the dairy where we got Sam, Charlie and Midnight. We were able to get Butter lifted up but what a scarey experience for humans and bovine alike. She didn't understand what we were doing and she began to swing around and thrash frantically. I was terrified that she was going to get hurt or, even worse, someone was going to get hurt. We actually had to use the hip lift as well as a strap around her front to get her up and she could not stand when we took the hip lift off. Her right front leg looked swollen at the knee, but we were not sure if that was because she had injured it or if it became swollen

Friday we lifted her twice and she was able to stand unassisted.

Saturday, we lifted her three times and she was able to stand unassisted and walk around but could not get up by herself once she would lie down again. She would stand for several hours at a time.

Sunday afternoon, I looked out of the window at lunch time and saw that she has risen and was standing on her own! I had a happy, shouting, "Thank you, Jesus" time and gave Mike a big kiss for all his help with her.

This morning we had a little set-back and she was not able to get up on her own again. Mike had to use the hip lift to get her to her feet. Later during the day, she managed to get up on her own several times.

I have spent the last week checking on the cows repeatedly and carrying buckets and buckets of warm water sweetened with corn syrup or brown sugar to them to give them extra energy. I have been feeding them as much as they want of the very best hay that we have and giving them extra rations of grain to try to help them build up their body condition.

Maya seems to be greatly improved and Butter seems to be improving slowly. Someday soon, I am hoping my stress level lessens so I can get some much needed emotional and physical rest.


And here was one of the joyful posts from February 9, 2009:

Some of you may remember that my cow, Butter Cupp, went down a while back. We never did find out what was wrong with her, but we suspect an injury of some sort. After lifting her with a hip lift and slowly nursing her back to health, she has been going strong every since. We were not even able to milk her for a few days because we could not get her up. She did not develop mastitis and has gone from almost nothing back to 3-4 gallons a day. She really is a miracle girl. Today, just topped everything. I had the vet out for a routine type visit and while he was here, I had him palpate Butter. I assumed that being short bred when she went down, that she probably lost the calf. However, the Vet confirmed today that she is about three months pregnant!

From August 21st, 2009 here was the climax of our journey together:



During this time of caring for Butter in such an intimate way, she and I became very bonded. She trusted me and I really fell in love with her. Imagine how thrilled I was when I had the vet out one day and he palpated her and said that she was indeed pregnant. She had not been with a bull since before her "down" period. It was a miracle that she had not slipped the calf during the whole ordeal.

Now fast forward to this week. For some reason, I have had a really hard time and have struggled with being really down. I think, it is probably because I am fast approaching the one year anniversary of Josh's death. As the seasons change, we will enter fall. What was always the favorite season for both Josh and myself, will now hold new challenges for me. As much as I try to focus on the beauty of the years that I got to spend with Josh, my loss sometimes overwhelms me.

Anyone who frequents this blog knows that rain reminds me of my son and for the last two evenings, as the night has come closing in, there has been an evening shower and then a beautiful rainbow at the end of it. Last night I saw the rainbow for the second night in a row and later as I stood outside in the dusk of the evening with my cows and allowed the big tears to finally come streaming down my face, I began to sob and asked God to please, please give me something to hold onto and something to encourage me because I was sad. It was then that I had the thought that the rainbows in the sky had been from God.

Later, I received a message from two different people about rainbows. One lady wrote and said that her young daughter always called the rainbow "God's Promise" and the other message came from my friend, Diane, the lady I told you about above that was going to buy Butter from me. The message is posted on this blog under the picture of the rainbow and simply states "His Promise".

As I stood and contemplated "His Promise" last night, the thought came to me that if Butter calved and it was a heifer, I would name it "Promise". My little "Promise" would be God's gift to me to help encourage me through this rough time I was having.

And today, shortly after noon, I was present as my Miracle cow who was never expected to survive gave birth to her heifer calf. (Anyone who reads my blog knows that heifer calves are rare on this farm as we usually get bull calves.) Her official name on her registration as a percentage cow with AMJA will be PeanutButter Cupp as her father is Peanut and her mother is Butter Cupp. However, that will not be the common name that I call her. Rather, she will always be my "Promise".

To make a beautiful day even more special, would you believe that as I was milking this evening that I looked out the door and a gentle rain was falling. Yet, I noticed the sun was shining. I stepped away from the cow I was milking and looked up into the sky and there, for the third day in a row, was my rainbow...............................His Promise.



Butter has taught me much, has been my friend, and we have been through some really tough times together. Many times as I milked her I would sit with my head up against her belly and feel her breathing in and out. They rythm was soothing and she seemed to enjoy our time together as much as I did. I hope her final days, whether they be few or many, are peaceful and filled with beautiful rainbows.

(Photo #1 is of ButterCupp and Promise. Photo #2 is of ButterCupp and a bull calf.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday's Tutorial~ Animals Make Us Human~Weaning Issues



As I continue with the review of the cattle section of the book Animals Make Us Human, I wanted to touch on the portion where Dr. Grandin speaks about weaning. Weaning can be such a traumatic time for cows and calves. In fact, the stress of weaning can cause a calf to have reduced weight gain for a week. Dr. Grandin suggests two methods of weaning: "Fenceline" weaning and the use of weaning rings. She actually advocates using a two step method of weaning as the superior method. To do this, one must first insert a weaning ring in the calf's nose but allow the calf to stay with it's mother for a while. Eventually, the farmer/homesteader will want to separate cow and calf compeletely. Dr. Grandin says that when calves are weaned in this manner, the cows vocalize 85% less and the calves 95% less than calves weaned in the typical "high stress" manner. (ie: abruptly pulling the calf off the dam)

Another way to wean that is less stress on calf and cow is to follow the "Fenceline Weaning" method of weaning. In this manner, the cow and calf can still see each other, interact, touch noses through the fence and have contact with one another. Dr. Grandin suggests a 45 day period before shipping calves if using the fenceline weaning method.

If you have not read my previous posts reviewing Animals Make Us Human, you can view them here and here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday ~ A Picture Tutorial showing Signs of Imminent Calving






I recently ran across these photos from last August when ButterCupp calved. I realized that they are a good photo example of what to look for when trying to determine if calving is imminent.

You can very distinctly see the udder and how full and tight it is. In addition, notice how "shiny" the teats are. The shiny teats are a good indication that calving will be soon. You can also see the prominent pin bones and the loose tail head. These are all a good indication that a calf is on it's way and soon!

For additional information, check out this informative article from Oklahoma State University.

ButterCupp gave birth within an hour of my taking these photos.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Simply Sunday~A Poem by Robert Frost


THE COW IN APPLE-TIME

Something inspires the only cow of late
To make no more of a wall than an open gate,
And think no more of wall-builders than fools.
Her face is flecked with pomace and she drools
A cider syrup. Having tasted fruit,
She scorns a pasture withering to the root.
She runs from tree to tree where lie and sweeten.
The windfalls spiked with stubble and worm-eaten.
She leaves them bitten when she has to fly.
She bellows on a knoll against the sky.
Her udder shrivels and the milk goes dry.
~ Robert Frost

Scrumptious Saturday ~ Fall Fruit Recipes




Two great recipes using the two fall fruit staples: apples and pears

Applesauce Cake

Ingredients

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use freshly ground whole wheat flour)
• 1 3/4 cups white sugar ( I use 1 cup honey instead)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/2 cup buttermilk
• 1 1/2 cups applesauce
• 2 eggs
• 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

1. Sift flour, white sugar, soda, salt, baking powder, and spices into a large mixing bowl. Mix in 1/2 cup butter or margarine, buttermilk, and applesauce. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in eggs. Fold in 3/4 cup chopped nuts. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan.
2. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50 minutes.


Pear Crisp

6 large pears (about 2-1/2 pounds) peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 sticks butter, melted

Directions


Combine pears, water and lemon juice in an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. In a bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Pour in the melted butter and stir to make a crumbly mixture. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the topping is crisp and browned.

Bake at 350 until top is brown and pears are cooked through.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday's Featured Farmer~Accidental Farmer in Hawaii




Accidental farmer in Hawaii

I never set out to be a farmer. I grew up with animals in Arizona, had a dog, couple cats with my dad. My mom was always the one with the farm animals. Growing up moving back and forth between completely different parents, mom was the eccentric free spirit, dad was very conventional. My favorite times in life were when living with mom I got to have pet pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, rabbits, lambs and at the end 2 steers, that didn’t want to be steers. I always loved taking care of the animals and I learned at an early age that they also served a purpose. I learned how to grow a garden in the hot Arizona summers, and how to treat our animals with respect and love so they could one day take care of us as well as we had taken care of them.
Fast forward 30 years. I now live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Haleiwa Hawai’i. The road to this point hasn’t always been easy, but I know to live in paradise sacrifices have to be made. My mom has always tried to have some kind of farm animals, and she decided a few years ago she wanted to have chickens again, so we built a coop and ordered chicks from the mainland, then she decided she wanted to raise rabbits for meat, so we added to our farm, 4 rabbits turned into 30 and they outgrew our space. Then 2 years ago, she got a wild hair and decided she wanted a milk cow. None of us had ever milked a cow, and Hawai’i isn’t known for milk cows anymore, all but 1 dairy have closed. So she made some calls and found a local ranch that had a Holstein they were willing to sell. Luckily for us, she was in milk, and she was pregnant, so arrangements were made, a corral was built, and a trailer was borrowed and we had a cow.
I should say we got REALLY REALLY lucky. With no ideas on what to do with a family cow, someone was looking out for us, or Belle, not sure which. A neighbor that had grown up on a dairy farm came by that first day and showed us how to milk. Our cow had never been milked as far as we knew. She came to us, having been separated from her 5 month old calf, new surroundings, no stanchion and probably the most inexperienced milkers in the world. We put some grain in front of her, and she just stood still for us to milk. Those first few weeks had to be excruciating for her, each milking took about an hour, and she was very patient with us. I have always believed things happen for a reason, but this experience has made me more of a believer then I ever thought possible.
Looking back I truly believe “ignorance is bliss”. Those early months were pretty easy, we had no idea what to expect, and this has truly been a learning experience for our family. I was lucky enough to find a group of individuals online that have helped us through the toughest parts with advice and encouragement. We’ve had to learn from our own mistakes as we went. Our girl developed a pretty nasty case of mastitis and trying to deal with that and our own ignorance has been a wonderful learning experience. We’ve gone through our first delivery, and luckily our kids had friends that had family that used to work for one of the local dairies. We would have been lost without “uncles” help. Our calf was born breach, and it took 4 strong fellas, including my husband to pull him out. We had to learn how to deal with the calf’s issues, his front legs were tight from placement during pregnancy, and so I had to spend hours in the corral with him massaging his front legs so that he would be able to stand. Luckily our Belle wasn’t a possessive mom and allowed us to safely spend as much time as was needed to help her little fellow along.
We’ve had to deal with the cost of raising animals in a state that has to ship everything in, where most of our mainland friends pays $4-$6 for a bale of hay, we pay $26-$37 for hay. The expense has been the most stressful part of this wonderful adventure, but I’ve learned necessity is the mother of invention, we’ve been lucky enough to have a never ending area of grass that we can cut for feed and that has helped immensely in cutting our expenses, plus the fact that our girl loves banana leaves and fruit which we have no shortage of. These last few years have definitely been an adventure, and I wouldn’t trade any of it.


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Thank you Brooke for taking the the time to write this great guest blog!

Tammy

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Little Piggy and Factory Farming







This little piggy is named "Zinger". There is absolutely nothing special about Zinger other than the fact he has come to our place to live and hopefully grow up to father some baby pigs for us. We found Zinger on CraigsList. Let me re-phrase. My husband found Zinger on CraigsList. After bringing Miss Piggy back from the edge of the frying pan, neither Mike nor I really have the heart to butcher her this fall. Regardless of the fact that we have a pure bred Red Wattle that we could keep for breeding purposes, our hearts just won't let us butcher Miss Piggy. So, the perfect solution to that situation is to keep Miss Piggy as a breeder pig. That is where Zinger comes into the equation.

As you can see from the photos, the pigs have grown big and healthy. Our secret is the Jersey milk that they are fed almost daily. They are thriving on it. Their diet consists of produce scraps and Jersey milk and is supplemented with grain that we have grown ourselves. While we have not been able to pasture the pigs, due to a limited amount of land available for such endeavors, the pigs have had a large area in which to live, access to the outdoors where they root and play, and adequate shelters when the weather is threatening. The pigs have lived a good life and have been well cared for.

Now, in contrast, consider factory farming. This is a touchy subject right now and there is plenty of literature available on the subject. In case you are not familiar with the terminology, just do a google search of factory farming, check out YouTube videos, watch Food Inc., or check out some of your local farms...........both family and factory farms..........and get a first hand look and see for yourself what I am talking about. (I will also caution you that there are sensationalist out there. Look at both sides with an open mind and don't throw the "baby out with the bath water" or the "farmer out with the farm".)

I recently challenged myself to not eat any factory farmed meat for one month. I did not broadcast this at the time, because honestly, I was not sure if I would be able to hold up to my commitment. I am happy to say that a month has come and gone and I have been true to my challenge. Ok, I admit, I did slip once. We were on a trip away from home and eating at a breakfast theater where they served scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. I did eat the eggs, sausage and bacon because there was no other choice unless I didn't eat at all. But, for over a month, we dined out once a week, and went on a trip where we were eating out for every meal for five days, and the only thing I had that was factory farmed were those eggs, bacon and sausage. Between you and me, it wasn't even good! ;-)

Of course, all the beef we eat at home has been raised here on the farm and I am eagerly awaiting our own pork as well. We do raise chickens from time to time to put in the freezer, but we are not big eaters of chicken. (That's another story, but the short version is the reason I don't buy chicken from the store is that I spent some time working in a commercial chicken house and it turned my stomach and quenched my desire to ever eat birds from that environment!)

Each individual has to decide what is right for them and there is absolutely no judgment on my part towards those who do eat factory farmed meat. I wish that we could all eat meat from animals that have been raised humanely...........animals that have a face.........animals that are cared for by farmers who truly love and care about the animals they are raising. Honestly, I don't see that ever happening. And yes, we in a small way contribute to that "cycle" because we don't have enough customers to buy all of our pastured beef and raising beef is a big part of our income. We raise the calves up on their mommas, move them to new pasture frequently, feed them large quantities of hay in the winter, don't use routine antibiotics or growth hormones but when they leave our place, they go to the stock yards where they are shipped off many times to feed lots where they will spend the rest of their lives until they are sent off to slaughter. We would love to some day be able to reduce our herd size, and have just enough local folks willing to by beef from us that we wouldn't have to send any of them off to the stock yards.

How about you? Are you willing to make yourself a challenge for a week or two..........or maybe even a month.........to refrain from eating any factory farmed meat? Try it. You might like it. I know I do!



(I apologize for the poor photo quality. Photos were taken with my phone)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jalapeno~ Jack Cheese Recipe



Monterey Jack

Prep Time: 3.5 hours
Pressing Time: 15 hours
Aging Time: 1-4 months
Makes 4 pounds

4 gallons of whole milk
1 cup thermophilic starter culture (or yogurt)
1 teaspoon liquid rennet dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water

* Warm milk to 90 degrees. Stir in starter culture. Let sit 30 minutes to ripen.

* Add dissolved rennet to milk and stir gently for 15 seconds. Let the milk sit for 30-45 minutes until it is firm to the touch and a knife comes out clean when inserted.

* Whisk the curds using a wire whisk until the curds resemble pieces of rice.

* Keep curds at 90 degrees for 40 minutes. Stir often to keep them from matting together.

* Turn heat on low and slowly raise the temp of the curds to 120 degrees. Stir often. Hold at 120 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring often. Allow the curds to settle to the bottom of the pan, then drain into a cheesecloth lined colander.

* Line the cheese press mold with cheesecloth. Scoop the curds into the mold and place wooden follower on top, then fold over excess cheese cloth. Press at 10 pounds pressure for 30 minutes.

* Remove cheese from the press and unwrap it. Flip cheese over and repack by rewrapping in the same cheesecloth. Repacking and flipping cheese prevents it from sticking to the cheesecloth and allows some moisture to stay in the center of the cheese. Apply 20 pounds pressure for 30 minutes. Repack and apply 20 pounds pressure for 2 more hours. Finally, remove the cheese, repack and press again using 20 pounds pressure for 12 hours.

*Make brine solution by stirring 2 pounds of salt into 1 gallon of cool water. Stir well. Place the cheese in a glass, stainless or enamel container and immerse in the brine solution for 12 hours. You an place a dish on the cheese to keep it under the brine. Keep in a cool place during brining.

* Remove the cheese from the brine. Refrigerate salt brine in a labeled container and save for your next cheese. Let cheese air dry on a cheese mat for 2-4 days until a hard rind forms. Always cover cheese with muslin to keep flies from laying eggs on it. If you cover it with a towel your cheese won't dry sufficiently and will grow mold. If weather is humid, mold may grow anyway. to prevent this, place a fan blowing on the cheese for the first day. Wipe mold off with a cloth dampened in vinegar. Turn the cheese twice a day so that all sides are exposed to the air.

* When dry to the touch, wax cheese.

* Age to taste between 1 and 4 months.


Pepper Jack Variation

Boil 1/2 to 1 cup chopped red and green jalapenos in 2 cups water for 15 minutes. Strain the water into the cold milk before you add the starter culture. Mix the peppers into the drained curds before putting them in the cheese press. You can substitute pickled jalapenos cut up. Don't add the brine to the milk though, as the vinegar will cause it to curdle.

Note: I did not brine this last batch. I mixed in 5-6 teaspoons of non-iodized salt into the curds before pressing.

I use plyban cheese cloth. It will not stick to the cheese and can be used over and over again.

Recipe taken from Cheese Making At Home: A Beginner's Guide to Making Soft and Hard Cheeses. Center for Esential Education P.O. Box 869 Elm Mott, Texas 76640 (254)754-9600

Wordless Wednesday~October Garden Surprise

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Tutorial ~ Animals Make Us Human Continued




Several weeks ago I started a review on the chapter on cattle in the book by Temple Grandin entitled Animals Make Us Human.

I wanted to touch again on this subject and encourage folks who handle cattle to consider reading what Dr. Grandin has written. She brings up the point that not only should we treat cattle correctly because it is the right thing to do, but she also mentions that by reducing stress in cattle, studies have proven that milk production is increased, and improvements are seen in reproduction and weight gain.

An interesting point is that behavior researchers use defecation scoring as a measure of fear and stress. Anyone who has trained a first calf heifer in the stanchion, knows this to be true as they will many times defecate and urinate under stress until they become familiar with the routine. Dr. Grandin states, "If there is less poop, there is less fear." (p. 157) While she refers mostly to beef cattle, Dr. Grandin's observations can certainly be used to help those training dairy cattle as well, and especially those of us who are training family cows. She says, "To completely eliminate fear, handlers have to train their animals to voluntarily enter the restraining device to get a tasty treat. Habituation and positive reinforcement are the key." (p. 157)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Simply Sunday


Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~ John Muir

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Scrumptious Saturday~Pound Cake & Ice Cream Recipes



I couldn't decide what to post for this week's recipes and I asked for recommendations on my Facebook Page. Liz suggested pound cake because it uses so much butter. In addition, the recipe calls for milk and a generous amount of eggs. This is a great recipe to make in the spring when eggs from the farm are in abundance. I like to make the cakes up while I have excess eggs and freeze them. They come in handy for a quick dessert or as something to take along to pot lucks or family get-together. I have also pulled these cakes out on the spur of the moment to take to a grieving family who has out of town folks coming in for a funeral.

Pound cakes were the cakes made by our mothers, our grandmothers, and our great-grandmothers. The name 'pound' was given to this cake because the original recipes contained one pound of butter, one pound of sugar, one pound of eggs, and one pound of flour. While the pound cakes we make today often have different proportions from the original, they are still wonderfully rich, moist, and buttery with a lovely golden brown crust. (Information and photo taken from Joy of Baking.)

Here is my mother-in-law's recipe (and the one I use) for pound cake.

Easy Pound Cake

3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 large eggs

Beat first six ingredients at medium speed for six minutes with electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each egg. Pour better into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 30-45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool.

Charlotte recommended that I include an ice cream recipe on today's post and even offered this recipe for consideration.

Follow this link for Butter Pecan icecream to get the recipe! I am going to have to try this. It looks delicious!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday's Featured Farmer~Scrounger in Nebraska


Of Tractors and Cows...



Awhile back my wife and I Finally were able to buy our farm. We both grew up in the country - her in Northwest Missouri, myself in Southeast Nebraska. We spent the first 3 years of our marriage living in a rented farm house in Northeast Kansas, near Paxico. After that, it would be nearly 10 years before we "got back" to the farm.

We had been searching, but God didn't send the right place to us until events happened to change things so HE would. We were led to 101 acres in Nebraska that happened to be part of the farm I grew up on.

The place had changed over the years, and upkeep had been a problem, but we were glad to have it. The Red Cedars had infested the place something fierce - there were places on the farm that my Dad had baled hay in the early 1970's, that a rabbit couldn't get through without a chainsaw. Fences had been neglected, and erosion had started to take its toll in a few places.

Flaws and all, though, we were happy to have it.

Deb and I probably differed in opinion as to what to do first but, MY first priority was getting a tractor. This was even before we did anything to the farm, or even had a building up.

"You've GOT to have a tractor to do ANYTHING", was my best argument. Luckily, it worked - we had a 1959 Farmall 460 in our driveway in Polk, Nebraska, before we had a driveway at the farm.

Deb's first priority was to have an outhouse built. There I was, building it in our driveway in town, with dozens of "looky-loos" driving by REAL slow. Only a few actually stopped to ask what it was, some even KNEW. A week later, we hauled the sections down, and reassembled them over a hole we had dug.

Much to my brother's chagrin, he found himself explaining to folks far and wide, what that small building in his (former) pasture was. Of course, it didn't help matters that it was covered in bright PINK Owens-Corning house wrap.... In any event, he did his darndest to get me to put a TV antennae, or chimney on it to make it look like ANYTHING other than what it was. It stayed pink for about 3 years, until I found time to cover it in vinyl siding.

We weren't too hopeful of moving onto the place for a long while, because we couldn't afford to build a house. God answered our prayers once again by providing a FREE house 10 miles away to be moved. The house was free, but we had to pay to move it.

It was a fast and furious makeover, but we had the house moved, remodeled, and our stuff moved in after about 11 months.

Now, it was time for ANIMALS (and more tractors).

Deb's dad gave us two bred nanny goats one spring, and they have turned in - and over- into a small herd of the little pests. They come up with ways to test my patience, but are wonderful to have around.

Since Deb grew up around the little beasts, she was happy to get them, too - as long as they stayed out of her flower beds. I know now, why they call the goat babies "kids" - because they get to their "terrible twos" - and never leave.

Me, I ended up buying a 1949 Ford 8N at an auction (ok, my SISTER bought it, and we paid her). It's a handy little machine that does a LOT of work around here. I could live without it, but it would not be fun. Oddly enough, my Dad worked for International-Harvester for a lot of years, and my favorite tractor is a FORD. Then again, he was a Chevrolet guy, too, and I drive Fords....

At any rate, everything came close to being full circle this past year. I FINALLY convinced my lovely wife that we needed a cow - and I got an antique tractor to play with. The tractor was free - the cow was not.

Mabel cost us $375 and a 8 hour round trip, but she has been wonderful to have around. She doesn't give much milk, but it was enough to keep us in butter and cheese for several months. This is when something odd happened.

Deb, the "goat person" who distrusted cows, came to me one day and said she wanted another cow FOR HER BIRTHDAY. I felt like Redd Foxx (of Sanford and Son fame....), clutching his chest and wailing about "the big one". Heart attack or not, this led us to Daisy, a bred Jersey from Missouri.

So, there we were, our milk herd just doubled, we already had a blind Angus for the freezer, a Hereford/Charlais cross heifer, goats all over the place, and Daisy was pregnant - with a due date anywhere from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We lucked out and it turned out to be July 13th, 2010.

Our first calf.

We named him "Stew" because that's what he's gonna be in a couple years....

As for the tractor - I had told a buddy of mine that I "needed" an old IH F Series tractor to work on. This was late last year - in November. One day, I get an e-mail, telling me he found an F-20 for me. It was just a rolling chassis, but he'd give me all the parts from his stock pile so I'd have a complete tractor.

All I can say is that Deb was less than impressed when she saw it - no motor, no hood, no radiator, not much of anything but the frame and a steering wheel (which happened to be non-original...). She feels a little better, now that I've picked up most of the other parts. I just hope I can get everything together before I'm too old to drive it.

The odd part is - Deb wants ANOTHER cow! Even stranger - SHE WANTS ANOTHER TRACTOR! She saw a photo of a 1920's McCormick-Deering machine, and thinks we should have one (because they're "cute"). I'm inclined to agree with her, so I have a friend keeping watch for one to work on.

Now, Dear, about that Harley-Davidson......




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Thank you so much, Galen, for your guest blog post! I always enjoy reading your stories!

You can read more about Scrounger at Scroungeman~Can't buy it? Scrounge it!

And Scroungeman's wife Deb also has a delightful blog Doxie Designs Doxie Archives.

Photo Courtesy of Scroungeman blog spot.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tuesday Tutorial on Thursday Instead!







Because we were out of town on Tuesday and I was not able to post, I am posting Tuesday's Tutorial on Thursday instead!

For a video tutorial of Ricki Caroll's 30 Minute Mozzarella, click here.

Photo courtesy of New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. You can find them on the web at this link.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday ~Poor Spencer



What an exciting evening we had Saturday! Things were going along smoothly when the cat decided to tempt the dogs with her "come and get me" meow. Spencer (Corgi) can resist when alone. When there is a Dachshund around, it's a whole different story! Dachshunds are in the hound family and can't resist the lure of a great hunt. What could be a better hunt than chasing a barn cat?

We milk in an old box trailer that we have converted into a "redneck" milking parlor. One side of the trailer has a small crawl space but the other side sits right on the ground. (Nothing will ever sit level on a Virginia hillside!) The cat lured the dogs underneath the trailer where the dogs couldn't reach her when she got up into the front corner. The noise was deafening while I was trying to milk. Honestly, if you have never heard a Dachshund focused on their prey, then you don't know what you are missing. (And, you don't want to know!) For a while, I could hear the piercing screams of the Dachshund, the lower bark of the Corgi and the tempting "Meow" of the cat. No amount of stern admonishing would get the dog's attention. Finally, I no longer heard the sound of the cat and there were no more barks from the Corgi. The Doxie would be flucuate between piercing "screams" and silence. (Dachshunds are stubborn when focused on their prey!) Finally when the milking was completed, Oscar was coaxed out. However, Spencer would not budge. Turns out, there was a reason my little Corgi (who is usually so eager to please) was not coming out.

Spencer was stuck!

Too narrow of a space for us to crawl under, we had no choice but to have Mike dig Spencer out. What a relieved and happy dog Spencer was when he was once again free! He had spent a total of nearly 1.5 hours underneath that trailer and was quite exhausted from his ordeal. I am hoping he has learned his lesson and won't try that again!

As for Oscar.............Well, he is famous for getting all the other dogs in trouble and walking away without a care in the world. And Miss Kitty? I'm sure she was watching safely from a distance and laughing at the whole scene!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Simply Sunday


“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder


(Photo courtesy of Marion Kanour. This Miniature Jersey bull calf will come to our farm when he is weaned around three months. I intend for him to be our future herd sire. Here he is pictured with his dam, Elsie.)

Scrumptious Saturday~Making Mozzarella







I had this Mozzarella recipe posted on a "retired" blog that I use to maintain on Word Press. It's one of the few things that I have not transferred over and I thought this would be a good day to share this recipe!

Mozzarella


Two gallons of milk around 40-50 degrees F.

Two and half tsp of citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup of cool water. (Don’t try to substitute or leave out the citric acid.)Mix dissolved citric acid into the milk, stirring for two minutes.

Heat milk to 88 degrees F.

Add 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet to 1/4 cup tap water. (Do not pour rennet directly in milk!).

Stir water/rennet mixture into milk for about 15-20 seconds.

Let sit until curd forms. (This takes about 45 minutes to an hour.)

Break curd up evenly and let set for five minutes.

Apply low heat (I use an electric stove and turn my stove on level two or three). Stir gently as you heat to approximately 100 – 108 degrees within a 15 minute period. (Temp can be taken with a dairy thermometer.)

Turn off heat and remove from hot eye. Continue to stir for 15-20 minutes.

Drain curd in colander for 10-15 minutes, flipping curds once.

Now comes the stretching part. If the cheese is not stretched very well, it will not have the texture of true Mozzarella. I have tried every method imaginable to stretch the cheese. It has to be hot enough to stretch which makes it difficult to handle. In addition, getting the cheese properly salted was also a challenge. You can put the cheese in hot whey (what is left over after you have taken the curds and drained them) and very carefully stretch the cheese being careful not to burn yourself. However, this is most difficult. You can also use hot water or hot whey and pour it over your cheese which has been placed in a shallow container and use a couple of spoons to stretch the cheese. You can add salt to your water or your whey at this point to salt the cheese.

I have found the easiest way to stretch the cheese is to simply put it in the microwave just long enough to get it soft and then use a big, stainless spoon to kneed and stretch the cheese. I can pour the salt directly on the cheese and taste it as I go to make sure that it is properly salted. (I offer this as an alternative method, knowing some folks feel strongly about the use of microwaves to heat food.)

This wonderful cheese does not have any preservatives and will only last about a week in the refrigerator. However, it does freeze well and can be frozen for later use.

The cheese in the winter time will be white and in the spring and summer will be more yellow. This is because the cows are getting beta carotene from the green grass which adds the color to the milk. In addition, I find that my cheese has a much better flavor in the spring and summer when made from milk of cows on pasture.

I get all my cheese making supplies including citric acid, rennet, and dairy thermometer from Hoegger’s Supply.


You can find Ricki Caroll's 30 Minute Mozzarella recipe here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday's Featured Farmer~Petey in SE Oregon






Most people call me petey. That’s because most of the people I know, live in my computer. My husband Randyman, and I, live on a 250,000 acre ranch in SE Oregon, 110 miles from the nearest small town. The closest neighbor is 20 miles, but they are actually on the same ranch. We are ranch hands here…well…technically, I am retired, so all I do is feed and doctor orphan calves, help gather, brand, and process cattle, tend the vegetable garden, milk our cows and goats, raise a couple sheep and cook for crew when they need me. In my spare time I make soap. Ah yes! The life of leisure! Don’t be fooled into thinking I am any good at any of this. It’s just what I do. Awesome what you can pick up on the internet!

The ranch runs 4000 head of mother cows, which means between the cows, calves, and bulls, there can be close to 10,000 head at a given time. The owners have 5 kids (15-18). Yes, those are their ages. They have a set of triplets, so their mama had 5 babies under 5 years old, 110 miles from town, and cooked for a branding crew of about 19 everyday, which lasts pretty much all summer long, considering we only do about 100 calves a day. As you may know, ranch people are tough. They are a pretty solid illustration of what real America is all about.

The kids here used to do the lion’s share of the work. They were home-schooled until high school, now they attend the closest school, which is 84 miles away. It’s a public co-ed boarding school for ranch kids as this is a pretty remote area, 2nd only to Alaska. They come home on Thursdays and work thru the weekend, then head back to school about 5 am on Monday morning.

With 4000 cows, we average about 10-20 orphans a year, which is not too bad, all things considered. This year however, there were lots of first year heifers on the desert, which calved early, so I had to raise 25 bottle calves. Miss Dolly, my Jersey cow, helps out with 2 at a time and I DID manage to graft a couple onto a nasty, mean nurse cow, before kicking her loose.

Cowboys tend to be a bit on the transient side, so we have had quite a variety. My observation has been that they have all been very ‘clean cut’, have impeccable manners, solid faith and a strong work ethic. It saddens me to hear they are a ‘dying breed’ as those I have known are some of the neatest people on the planet. With the exception of one cowboss, who was kind of a jerk. He wasn’t here long. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but this has been our experience. I prefer to assume they call me ‘ma’am’ because they are polite, not because I am old. Don’t burst my bubble.

We live far enough out that only the boss has a real phone. We have a ‘satellite’ phone, so he can contact us, but otherwise, our only communication with the outside world is by satellite internet. Cell phones don’t work here, because of the mountain. . Unfortunately, Randyman doesn’t type or use computer, so I have to read his mind, or his lips, cuz he doesn’t talk much either, and when he does, it’s at a volume that can only be picked up by canines.

For obvious reasons, we raise our own meat, eggs, dairy and a lot of our vegetables. Fast food means something fleet footed enough to race out of gun range.
We drive 4-5 hours to grocery shop, as the nearest town is so small they don’t carry much. We are only supposed to make this trip every 3 months, however, we did make a couple of extras when I broke my shoulder riding thru a slough…and another when my mare broke all my ribs. Funny how one notices the ruts in the 50 miles of dirt road between here and the highway, under some circumstances. But, I had 5 hours to calm down before the rush to surgery, which was a good thing.

There is a large dry lakebed at the south end of the ranch. This has brought some nice perks, as people sometimes come out to play on it, and often invite the kids to join in. Being sort of a kid myself, I also get to take part in these festivities. I have a whole slew of pictures taken from a hot air balloon. Unfortunately, I also have a fear of heights, so most of them have the top edge of the basket as a border, because I am not that tall from on my knees. Nice as the balloon was, it paled in comparison to the little red helicopter we got to ride in. Flying over antelope herds, and chasing after a coyote in helicopters is a pretty exciting thing, especially if you have a fear of flying. There is something special about going rapidly from horizontal to vertical that stirs the blood…does a number on the gastric system as well.

Living on this much land gives us the opportunity to keep lots of critters. Having the milk cow is wonderful, but we decided we’d best get a couple of goats to fill in the gap during her dry spells. Of course, that meant we had to have protection for them, as there is a lot of predator pressure here, with coyotes and cougars. Our first year here, a cougar, 3 bobcats and a badger had to be dispatched in front of our house. The cougar had attacked one of the cowdogs. Goats would just be an appetizer. So, for the 2 goats, we bought 2 Maremma sheperds. That made us feel silly, as there was a dog per goat, so we bought a couple of sheep too, being great lovers of lamb. Yes, I do get attached to the critters, but if I know they are destined for the freezer, we just name them after politicians. No problem there, although there are a few we find so unpalatable, we won’t even name our livestock after them.

There are always the day-to-day pleasures on the ranch, such as seeing the BOSS accidentally rope a cow with his good leather riata, and watching her plow thru a fence with everyone still mounted, in hot pursuit. That stops a branding in a hurry. Nothing left but the ground crew and a cloud of dust. It’s a great life.

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Petey has a facebook page, Ranch Rustics. Click on this link to go there.

Want to hear more of Petey's story? You can follow Petey on her blog by connecting to this link.

Thank you Petey for the fabulous guest post today!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Miniature Jerseys~Sounding Off


Sometimes it's better to just keep one's mouth closed. But then again, sometimes it's just impossible to do so! Well, I am finding myself at that point where I must open my mouth and again try to educate folks on the things I have learned the hard way in the "world" of Miniature Jerseys.

When I bought my first Mini Jerseys I was in love. In case you didn't know, that old cliche' "Love is blind" not only holds true for human love but includes love of animals as well. I had stars in my eyes and was so thrilled to have finally found my girls that I between ignoring the obvious and being totally uneducated, I made mistakes. In other areas, I was very fortunate but it was in spite of my lack of expertise in Miniature Jerseys. I have tried over the years as I have learned more about the Minis to educate those who are interested in listening. I find all too often that folks really are not interested in finding out the facts. Mistakes continue to be made on the part of the buyer. Sometimes, these very same buyers propagate these same mistakes when they are selling because they still don't know any better. Thus, folks are buying and selling cows without really knowing what they have. I still don't consider myself an expert on the subject of Miniature Jerseys, but I am willing to share what I have learned, even at the risk that some of the other breeders won't appreciate my sharing.

In addition to a lack of knowledge, there is the issue of breeders who are nothing more than money hungry cattle traders with no respect for the well being of the animals they are raising and/or selling. Within the past two weeks, I have spent several hours on the phone with two different individuals regarding two different breeders in two different states who are not only allegedly taking advantage of buyers, but are allegedly abusing and neglecting the animals in their care. While I will not slander other breeders, I do want to caution folks that you need to talk to other people who have bought from a particular breeder. In addition,if at all possible, you need to view the animal and the farm before agreeing to purchase. This is particularly difficult because Mini Jerseys are hard to find and most folks have to travel some distance in order to make a purchase. One solution to this is to call an independent vet to go and look at the animals for sale. While this is an added expense, it makes sense to spend another $40 to insure you are getting what you are paying for, especially when folks are paying the price tag of a miniature Jersey.

Complaints about paperwork are another big issue in the Mini world. There are two registries and I do not condone or condemn either registry. There are good folks who are members of both registries and there are dishonest folks in each. There is a lot of political gossip and dissention between the two groups. I make a point of not joining either side in these discussions. You will not find me hanging out on the Mini Jersey Yahoo groups because I refuse to get caught up in the politics. My thought is that as long as I am producing a solid, healthy animal and representing them correctly, then I don't need to get involved in the arguments.

On the subject of paperwork, be sure that you are going to be able to get the paperwork that has been promised to you. In order to do this, you need to email the registries and at the very least have email confirmation that the registration is able to be transferred to your name from the seller. If there is a third party involved, all I can say is buyer beware. Getting that many people (you, the registrar, the seller, and the original owner) all on the same page can be a buyers nightmare. When you call the registry or email them to discuss the animal you are considering purchasing, ask if the animal is a percentage animal in the up-breeding program, a native pure or a foundation pure. There is not a thing wrong with any of these designations but the price should be in accordance with the type of animal you are purchasing. You as a buyer need to be aware of what you are actually getting. I have explained the differences in the question and answer section of my blog.

One more rant and I will put an end to this post. ;-) Please don't be so taken with a cute face and short legs that you totally disregard conformation and a decent udder. If these things are important for a standard size cow, they are equally if not more important for a miniature size cow. That is not to say that Minis that are "less than perfect" should not be sold but rather, in my opinion, the price tag should reflect these issues just as they would in standard cattle. A substandard cow is a substandard cow whether they are miniature or full size.

Check out the new pages on the my sidebar for more information on Miniature Jerseys and breeding programs. There is a lot of mis-information out there and a lot of folks who just are not sharing the information they do know with others in an attempt to deceive folks into paying more money for animals than they are worth.

I love my Minis and I am very thankful to be a part of this breeding program. I hope that with time my business practices and attempts at presenting these animals with honesty will promote not only my own business, but other honest breeders as well.