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Friday, March 30, 2012

Meet Patrick McDonald and Miscellaneous Ramblings



In order to really appreciate the basis of the calf's name, one must feel giddy with exhaustion from having worked too hard for too long and must be lacking for any form of entertainment save what one can experience from associating with the animals.  If you can put yourself in those shoes, then you can truly appreciate the origin of this cute little calf's name.  Otherwise, you are correct in assuming after reading this story that Farmer Tammy is one french fry short of a Happy Meal. 

Speaking of "Farmer Tammy", let me digress for a moment to say that one of the highlights of my day yesterday was to encounter one of my little share members at the garden center at Lowes.  I was deeply engrossed in counting out my hard earned cash to pay for geraniums when I heard a little voice say, "Hi, Farmer Tammy!"  I looked up to see a little Princess dressed in her lovely Princess dress with a friend dressed in the same manner.  When I glanced up at the mother standing between the two children holding tightly to their hands walking through the busy parking lot, I realized the little darling was one of the children who benefits from the drinking raw milk from our Jersey cows through our herd share program.  What a joy to see those beautiful faces and to be recognized as "Farmer Tammy" by one so young!

Oh........and speaking of geraniums, how is that something so simply can add so much beauty to such a drab setting as the area under our deck?  I try to keep it simple in that area because our house being an octagon creates a "silo" affect and the air circles around the house with some strong gusts on this hill causing all the leaves, dirt, and debris to deposit under the deck and right in front of the door.  A few simple geraniums in strategic locations and an old corn sheller used as a planter will be the extent of my summer flowers for that particular area.  I think the seat and the rocking chair could use a fresh coat of paint and I am thinking bright red to match the geraniums, but who knows when I will ever get around to that!







And since we are on the subject of flowers, I thought I would post a photo of the flowers I planted in front of our milk kitchen.  Bright is the theme!  Again, keeping it simple.  My life is so busy, I need simple. 


Today I was not as nice a day as yesterday and since I have neglected cleaning my house for weeks, I decided to try out some of the "Do It Yourself Natural Cleaners" that I found on Pinterest.  But, that is a whole nother blog post.  Perhaps I will get to that one tomorrow.  Hopefully I will also eventually get to the blog post I promised weeks ago on "Colostrum" but don't hold your breath!

Ah.....now that I have chased a number of "rabbit trails", back to Patrick MacDonald and my crazy state of mind.

On St. Patrick's Day a nice little "Baldy" was born into our beef herd.  Mike didn't think too much about it.  His momma accepted him and he was busy nursing.  Several days later however, Mike noticed that the calf was looking poorly and scruffing around in the dirt like he was very hungry.  Upon closer inspection, Mike found out that the momma cow had what Mike referred to as a "bealed" udder.  Now, I am not sure that is an official term, but my definition of what Mike was trying to tell me is that for whatever reason, the cow probably got mastitis at one time or another causing her udder to harden and making it almost impossible for the calf to get milk out of the damaged udder.  Upon reflection, Mike remembered that this particular cow had lost a calf at birth last year and we assume that rather than dry herself up, she became mastitic and then "bealed".  Unlike the dairy herd where we monitor the udders twice a day, the beef cows are not tame and it is next to impossible for us to closely monitor their udders.  Truth is, in a situation such as this, most of them simply dry off because they don't produce the amount of milk that a dairy cow produces.  This particular cow however, probably had a small bit of Holstein in her ancestry and was producing more milk than normal for a beef cow. 

Try as he might, this little calf born on St. Patrick's day was unable to get enough milk to survive and Mike started bottle feeding him using some of our rich, Jersey milk.  He left the calf in the field with momma for a while but had to make the difficult decision to cull the momma cow because she is no good as a brood cow if she can't provide nourishment for her babies.  This is a hard part of farming but there comes a time when culling is absolutely necessary. 

So, yesterday, the little beef steer came up to the house where I keep my dairy herd to make it easier for us to bottle feed him.  We had hoped that perhaps one of the Jersey momma's would take him and assumed it would be Apple.  However, she has done nothing more than lick him to this point.  We will continue to bottle feed him unless we find out she has accepted him as her own. 

Originally when I learned we would get this little calf grafted into our dairy herd, I suggested we call him Donald because Apple's calf is named Mac (short for Macintosh).  I thought we could have a Mac & a Donald. However, when I realized upon looking at the tag in the calf's ear that he was a St. Patty's day baby, I knew we had to include the name Patrick.  Poor little steer is destined to be burger someday as his name implies:

Patty McDonald

(McDonald's Patty)

Ok, I know...........I need some rest and some outside entertainment.  You can't say I didn't warn you!

***Note:  Last year we grafted an orphan calf onto Apple that we named "Jill" since we had named her bull calf "Jack".  Apple has not yet accepted this calf to let him nurse, but she is licking him and mothering him otherwise.  We will continue to bottle feed unless she allows him to nurse. 


Monday, March 26, 2012

New Hogs, New Beef Babies and Work That Never Ends

It's spring and that means I am up to my eye balls in work!  It's that time when the cows that have just freshened overlap the cows that are not quite ready to dry off providing us with an excessive amount of milk.  More milk means more time in the milking parlor, more time processing milk and making milk products and very little rest for the weary.  (The weary would be me!)  I have approximately 25 gallons of milk coming in a day right now and if I take one day off, that means I have 50 gallons of milk to deal with when I get back.  Since this is almost impossible, I just keep my nose to the grindstone, as the old saying goes, and try to keep up with it.

We were not planning on getting any pigs until May but with all the extra milk, we found it hard to resist when a friend told us about a really great deal on some six month old hogs.  Or, at least we hope it ends up being a good deal.  We will still be getting the baby pigs in May to raise up for our customers, and these pigs we will butcher for ourselves or maybe even have USDA processed so that we can sell individual pieces of meat.  The hogs were being raised by a really nice couple who had fed only organic grain to the hogs.  However, they had not been feeding them enough to really bring them up to weight in a reasonable amount of time.  We take baby pigs at 8 weeks of age and raise them for six months and end up with hanging weights in the 250-350 pound range typically.  These hogs are six months of age and only weigh about 125-150 pounds.  We are hoping we can turn them around with some of the extra milk that we have. 

I had planned to go Friday to visit my friend's daughter, Tay, in Roanoke but postponed when Mike said he wanted to get these hogs that day.  I expected to be gone about an hour or at the most two.  It didn't quite turn out that way. 

First, it is rarely easy to load a hog.  Not that these hogs were as difficult as some we have loaded, but they didn't exactly just walk onto the trailer either.  In fact, one of the hogs we had picked out absolutely refused to be confined and jumped over the boards the men were using to separate her and the two others we were getting from the remaining seven hogs.  Finally, after about 45 minutes of "loading" we hopped in the truck to take off and it would not turn over.  We had to get the man we bought the hogs from to jump us and then we were off.

Only, the AC wasn't working, the windows wouldn't roll down, the radio quit working and we knew something was wrong with the truck and it needed more than just a jump.  We had to run by one of the other farms to pick up my father in law, but didn't dare turn the motor off.  We yelled for him to jump in and now there were four of us in the front of the truck (Cousin Dennis was along for the ride) and three hogs in the trailer in the back. 

We were heading through town and Mike decided to stop at the local auto parts store to get them to put a tester on the batteries.  (Diesels have two batteries).  It was unseasonably hot and we sat in the sun while the men played around with the truck.









 I got really hot and decided to walk around and check on the pigs.  They were really hot too, panting and looking miserable. 



Two batteries and a warning it could end up being the altenator , we were on our way. 




But, we had to stop at the other farm (yes, there are three).  After being delayed there for about a half an hour (during which time I made myself useful by taking photos of new babies that had been born and of the beef herd), I managed to get myself flogged multiple times by the nasty rooster that lives in the barn with his one hen.  I yelled curses at him and threatened to end his life should he ever attack me again but he was clearly in control of the situation as I walked backwards down the driveway while he continued to charge and attack! 







Finally, we made it home to unload the hogs who were very much worse for the long afternoon in the hot sun.  They were very compliant getting off the trailer and we didn't have too much difficulty getting them settled into their new home. 



I was over 2 hours late to start my evening chores and milking and had about four hours worth of work in the milk kitchen that I hadn't got finished that afternoon while we were out running around.  And, to add insult to injury, Buckaroo had escaped his pen and found his way back to momma and I had  no goat's milk for the evening.  (He is staying penned away from mom during the day so that I can get a little milk and then spends the evening and nights with Obi.)





The next day I made the trip to Roanoke but was so tired that on my way home, I actually found myself starting to nod off.  I talked to Mike and told him that I was pulling off on the side of the road to take a nap because I just couldn't make it home.  I slept on the side of the road for about 20 minutes and that was enough of a nap to get me the rest of the way home. 

My days are starting around 4:45 am and end around 11 pm but yesterday (Sunday) was a day of rest.  I only worked about eight hours. 

I know things will settle down eventually.............it gives me a reason to look forward to winter again.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meet Casey


You know how it is.  You think there is no more room in your heart to love another.  You have given love and received it in return and feel that all is complete in your world.  Then, a special someone comes along and you fall in love all over again because there is always room in our hearts to love just one more.

That's how it is with Casey and I.  I had no intentions of bringing home another dog, but when Tay  (my best friend's daughter who has terminal cancer) was admitted to the hospital this past week and needed us to care for Casey, it was time to open our hearts up again.

I won't lie.  The first two nights were horrible.  Casey did not want to "meet and greet" the other five dogs at my house.  (Can't say that I blame her as she was very overwhelmed.)  Neither did she want to sleep anywhere but in bed with Tay as she had. been. 

 In her misery, Casey howled. 

Let me tell you, the wild coyotes of the great west have nothing on Casey when she exercises her vocal chords.  Thank goodness our neighbors live far enough way that we don't get turned in for disturbing the peace.  Between the Great Pyrenees barking and Casey howling all night, we didn't get any sleep. 

Night two, repeat of night one. 

Fortunately, during the day, things have gone very well.  Casey loves to follow me around as I work on the farm and then spread out on the floor of the milk kitchen as I make cheese and dairy products.  She is very obedient and eager to please. 

We did have some issues with the cows with new babies who were not so sure about this Corgi who is half the size of Spencer (my male Corgi) and who has both ears standing up (unlike poor Spencer who came to me with broken cartilage in one ear.)  I am sure they thought she was a little fox and they promptly tried to stomp her every time she came into the field.  Unfortunately for me, they were not going to let my body be an obstacle between them and Casey and tried to plow me over several times as well.  The first day was certainly filled with tense and anxious moments but everyone seems to be settling down now which is a good thing.

 I am sure that I am in love with Casey and I am sure she has a forever home here. 

There's always room for one more. 

P. S.  I love you, Tay, and I am taking good care of Casey for you.  We wish you could be here helping us on the farm but know that every day as Casey and I work together, we will be thinking of you. 

P.S.S  Casey slept well last night!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Meet Obi & Buckaroo

When one farms, one must be flexible.  It's an undeniable fact that no matter what is planned, it is subject to change at a moments notice.  This is true not only with the crops and the weather, but also (and maybe especially) with the animals as well. 

I wrote just two days ago of Emmy Lou and introduced her to my readers.  I never dreamed at that time that Emmy Lou might have different plans than the humans. 

Emmy is not a young doe.  She's not terribly old.  Just not young anymore.  And, as any middle age woman can appreciate, she is confident of who she is and what she wants and she is not afraid to do what it takes to get it.  When Emmy arrived she was very sweet but very reserved.  Typically when getting together for the first time, a new goat in the herd will either establish dominance or become subservient to the herd queen.  It usually takes some time to work out the details and involving a lot of head butting, shoving and pushing among the herd.  There was none of that with Emmy Lou, whom I had been sure was going to be my new Herd Queen.  Instead, she sadly went off by herself and did not interact with the other goats at all.  Even though I put hay around in various places so she would not have to compete with the others for food, she simply picked at the hay.  When I brought her in to milk her, she was not happy with the arrangement and would not eat the grain I put before her.  Thinking she just was not familiar with our home ration of grain, I went out and bought some textured feed like what she was use to eating.  Still, she would not touch it. 

Her eyes remained bright, she remained friendly to me, her "berries" (manure) looked normal, she did not seem to have a fever or any illness or injury.  She simply seemed to be sad.  Since she had been at her former home so long and since she had left her two recently weaned kids behind, I began to suspect she was depressed. 

This did not appear to be a matter of the battle of the wills between farmer and goat because Emmy simple didn't seem to have a will other than to go back home.  It didn't appear that anything I could do would be of comfort to her.  She began quickly drying off from not eating and she began to lose weight in just two short days. 

Thank goodness for a fabulous breeder whose main concern is the animals she raises.  When I spoke to Sally from Awee Farm, she immediately suggested making the two hour drive herself to come and get Emmy Lou to take her home.   This just added to the respect that I already had for Sally and true to her word, she came mid morning bringing with her Obi and Buckaroo.  Obi is here on a trial basis to see if she works out and does well with us.  Her little buckling, Buckaroo, came along to keep momma company and to help her not to fret.  Buckaroo already has a home when he is weaned and we are thankful that he was able to come along for a couple months.  We get enjoy his antics and undeniable goaty cuteness!  So far, Obi seems to be doing well.  She is already eating hay and has "made aquaintance" with the other girls.  She is a little cautious of this new human, but comes around for a graham cracker and is very curious.  We are sure she will settle in nicely and be a great addition to our herd.

Awee Farm Obi is a 1st generation Miniature Nubian.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meet Macintosh!

Apple Calved this evening with a healthy, vigorous bull calf!  Keeping with the "Apple" theme, I named him Macintosh but will call him "Mac". 

I will try to write more about the birth at a later date.  Tonight, I am too tired to do more than just share the news that we have a new baby!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meet Emmy Lou (the goat)

Proving again how much he loves me, my husband made the four hour round trip drive to Awee Farm in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia so that I could pick up a goat in  milk.  (Remind me to never again wait so late to breed my girls!  We need goat's milk NOW!)  Mike simply does not care for goats being a cattle man.  He absolutely detests the bucks (it's the smell) but I think the does have grown on him over time.  He openly admits that goat kids are really cute and he likes to watch them play.  (Who can resist the charm of a kid?)

We originally met Sally and her husband, Jim, when we made the trip to Harper's Ferry about a year and a half ago to pick up a milking stand that we bought from them.  I was super impressed with their farm and their animals.  Awee Farm  pours a lot of love into their animals and Sally and Jim are just the kind of people with whom we enjoy associating.

When I started looking for a buck to breed my does, I was thrilled with Sally contacted me this past fall and said she had one available for sale.  We again made the trip to Harper's Ferry in early December and picked up Abraham.  (Abraham has been a wonderful buck and so incredibly easy to handle.  I have been very pleased with him.)

Naturally, when I needed a doe in milk, the first place I checked was with Sally.  Yes, she had an older doe that she would be willing to sell to me.  (The doe had kidded in December and it was time to wean those kids and get momma on the milking stand again!)  So, over the weekend we made our third trip  to Harper's Ferry and Awee Farm.

She is commonly called "Emmy Lou" but registered with MDGA as follows:

Faithful Acres Charity II
Reg. No. AMN00038
Generation 3
Tan with a white poll

 
(Like all my goats, she will be dual registered with TMGR as well.)






As an added bonus, while we were at Awee Farm we were able to see some of this year's babies sired by Abraham.  (They are beautiful) and even got to hold and play with some of them as well!    (Really looking forward to our kidding season in May!)

Emmy Lou has been a little stressed about her new home.  After all, she lived most of her life at Awee Farm with Jim and Sally and this is a big adjustment for her.  She is very happy to be able to see Abraham across the fence, as she obviously remembers him from the time they shared together at their former home.  She wasn't too sure about the dogs, the cows or this strange new person trying to get her on the milking stand.  Hopefully it won't take too long for her to feel comfortable and as loved here as she felt at her former home. 

Be sure to check out Awee Farm at this link!  Beautiful goats raised by wonderful people in a lovely setting!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Just Photos

Everyone needs a "Little Faith"
Are you still back there?
Princess and Grace



Friday, March 9, 2012

What A Week!

Hard to believe it has only been a week and so much has happened in such a short amount of time.  We increased our herd by three heifers during that time, I have two extra cows to milk twice a day,  and the peeps are starting to feather out and doing well (no losses this week).  My milking/chore time routine has already doubled in the time it takes to get everything finished.   I have extra milk which means I am in the milk kitchen making cheese and other dairy products to try to stay ahead and not let the extra milk become overwhelming.  Yesterday, we had to move last year's calves to the other farm because we simply don't have room for everyone up here!  We also took Tori down to the other farm until we know her fate.  (She is the cow that slipped at least one calf , has not bred back, and is dry.)  It seems kind of sad around here with seven bovines shipped off to the other farm, but it's nice to have more room for the cows that remain. 

Here are some photos from this past week:

Faith is tired after her first 24 hours!
Midnight, our big girl.  (Holstein/Angus)
We are really hoping Calico Tom and Miss Henny start mating and Henny starts laying eggs soon! 
A Princess by any other name is still a Princess.  Princess Grace has her mother's attitude.  Heaven help us. 
Princess & Princess Grace
Nutmeg and S'Mores

Feathering out and looking cute!


The cow to watch.  I predict a new baby in less than a week from Apple.









Last year's calves.




Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wow! Wow!! Wow!!! Another Heifer!

Last night Emmy looked like this:



I checked on her several times throughout the evening.  Then I checked on her around 10 pm, a little after midnight, and Mike checked on her again around 3 am.   When we got up and headed out to do the chores this morning, Emmy looked like this:



Meet T. Cupp's Emmy Faith out of Hidden Dream Timber Emmy (registered with the American Jersey Cattle Association) and sired by Cape Fear Dave (registered with the American Miniature Jersey Association).  If this calf remains 46 inches or under in height, she can be registered as a Foundation Pure miniature with AMJA.  If she is taller than 46 inches at three years of age, then she will be registered as breeding stock. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Zero Mile Skillet Meal



Potatoes grown and  harvested by Mike are fryed in lard rendered by Tammy.  Hogs were raised on milk from our Jersey cows and grain harvested from my father-in-law's farm.  (Sometimes I also include onions at this stage.)




When potatoes are almost finished cooking, pre-cooked pork sausage from our happy hogs is thrown into the mix. 




Eggs from our free range hens thrown in and stirred until done.

Entire mess covered with homemade Jalapeno Jack Cheese made from milk from our dairy herd and jalapenos grown in our garden!