So Good!

Dearly Beloveds, I have gathered to you here today…(pause)… to brag about my cow. Sweet Caroline is living up to her name. I have been working with her, getting her really used to the halter and lead rope. It’s been two weeks, roughly, and this morning was the first test. Yesterday I turned her out with the herd. I always hate the first week or so when adding a new cow to the bunch. They reestablish a pecking order and they are so mean about it! They butt heads, prod with horns if they have them and I just don’t like it. So far, Caroline hasn’t gotten it too bad. She took to G.W. (the bull) within minutes of being out there. That was nice.

Anyways, the test. I always did my training in the morning and was planning to do the same today. I just wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get the halter on her and make our way quietly to the barn or get the others out of the barn and keep her in. At this point carrying a bucket of grain will get everyone’s attention and would not be of any help. Instead I just went with some healthy alfalfa hay for breakfast. No one was in too big of a hurry to exit the barn as I tossed the bales into the corral. They made their way single file to the pile. Lucy, Wheezy, G.W. Gus, Humphrey. Caroline was already out in the dark. I’m sure they ran her out of the barn between last night and this morning.

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Sweet Caroline

I budget all of our household expenses and we do a pretty good job at sticking to it as there’s not much room for error at the moment. That being said, in the event that I fill a wedding cake order or something of the sort that gives us some unexpected income I usually tuck it away for an emergency or make an extra payment on a loan; something responsible. But every once in a while I blow it on a “want” rather than a “need” and that’s exactly what I just did. I like to think of this purchase as an investment though, it will contribute financially (hopefully) as well as in the kitchen.

I bought another cow.

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Spring, Bare Feet, and Farming

Spring! It's so close!
Spring! It’s so close!

Here is it, we made it through winter, spring is here (hopefully) and I am dreaming about this summers work. We made our “Big Project To Do List” for the next few seasons; put together an estimated cost for each project and figured out how much we needed to try and “squirrel away” each month. Let’s just say the lists are long and the budget will be extra tight, but doable.

We have our pasture plans set. We drew up dividing fence lines for inside the main line. The cows will be able to rotate grazing between 4 different pieces daily, to every other day, depending on how things look. This will keep them in nice green grazing all season.

The pile of “barn cleanings” will be moved out to the vegetable garden and orchard plot. Those plots will just be worked this year as soil prep. Turned over every so often and allowed to lie empty and soak in the compost. The vegetables for the season will be grown in the small berry garden for this year; an “eat fresh” garden. It will be much smaller of a garden than I like but it will be something to get my toes in the dirt.

This winter I read “Fields of Plenty” by Michael Ableman. It was not what I was expecting but a very enjoyable read. I was glad to read this:

“”I don’t understand how any farmer can feel the land with shoes on,” he says.”

It just proves I’m not the only one who likes to do my work barefoot. Socks are only worn with boots around here. When my boots come off at the door the socks do too. As soon as most of the snow is gone and it is time to get things going in the garden and yard the boots are usually left at the door. I prefer to feel the ground beneath my feet. Unless I’m in the coop or barn, then I like my polka dot mud boots. Chickens peck the  skin on my feet and as warm as a fresh cow pie is, I’d rather not have it between my toes if I can help it.

I have started to do chores again, not all the time, Mike and I share those for now. I am once again starting over with Lucy. I haven’t been able to work with her for a few months and haven’ been out to visit her much since I handed off the chores. She was doing so well too. I hate starting over, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. This time around it shouldn’t take nearly as long to get her back to “milking calm”… I hope.

Wheezy, may or may not be pregnant. I haven’t been able to pin her down to check. We are going to keep a close eye on her just in case.

Elvis is very friendly, Mike has been working with him when he does chores. Hopefully I can get him halter broke this spring as well.

The new chickens and turkeys are on order, some more layers and a bunch to butcher. The coop is all ready for the new bunch. I am too. We picked out a few different breeds. It will be nice to have some variety out there. The “old” chickens are still laying daily and most will make it through this years butcher, some will be stew birds or canned. Their rowdy behavior is not something I desire around here.

A few more days and the snow will be gone and spring work will be here. I can’t wait!

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Three Steps Back…

Last Friday morning I went out and did chores as usual. Lucy and I took our walk around the corral and she did really well. Then we left for the weekend and I wasn’t back to the animals until Tuesday. That day was the same day they were introduced to the barn. Both went in with the promise of some grain, but the slightest movement or noise would send them running. The next day I brought the grain into barn again; Wheezy (Louise) saw me coming and went running into the barn and was waiting. She’s very enthusiastic about her grains.

Wheezy Wildflowerfarm.org

I clipped the rope to Lucy’s halter and tied her loosely to one of the fence rails in there. I had planned to brush her as I usually do. She and Wheezy had other plans that sent me jumping the rails. That’s one nice thing about a wood fence they are much easier to climb (or jump) than a barbed wire or electric fence. I don’t know who spooked first, if it was Lucy when I went to brush her or Wheezy, she’s been just plain jumpy lately. Either way they both took off out the door. I’m sure that was quite a sight, one pregnant cow running out of the barn and the other jumping the fence. Ha! It wasn’t much later they were back for the rest of their treat. I unhooked the rope from Lucy, gave them some hay and called it good for the day.

Thursday the vet came to the farm. At the advice of my uncle, I called the vet they work with to check Lucy’s hooves. They are getting pretty long. Long story short, I tied her to her usual tree, the vet checked her baby and gave her a tentative  due date of the end of November (which I guessed a while ago), and decided it would be best to wait with the pedicure until after the baby was here. It was obvious she was not going to cooperate with him just tied to the tree. That day they again received grain in the barn and again there was no walking, she was just too on edge for it to be safe.

Which brings me to Friday. I feel as though I am starting over with her because we are working in the barn. I tied her to the rail and was able to brush her today. The little boy was out there with me today and was not about to let me get too far away from him, which meant I was not going to get to try walking her again that day. So discouraging.

Then to top off the week of backward progress, I checked the stock tank outside and it had froze over night. Just what I wanted to do that morning right between, cleaning the barn, cleaning the house and stacking firewood in the basement before going to work. Yep, it was that good of a morning. We had planned to make the switch over the weekend to the inside tank, but why wait? right?

I chipped the ice off the water and emptied the tank. The hose that was strung out there already was froze, of course. So I brought out the hose we had got for the winter and my husband and I worked to get the hose from the house into the barn and began to fill the indoor stock tank. That is a thing of beauty. My dad took a tank home and built a box to go around it. Had the box sprayed with insulation, carved it out and put the tank in it. Then covered most of the top with wood to keep more of the heat in. In went the tank heater. It is so nice, the thought of using it as a hot tub might have crossed my mind. Anyways that was filled and the cows were introduced to their new watering hole.

Instulated Stock tank wildflolwerfarm.org

Saturday I closed to gate to the corral. From now until spring they will have the corral and the barn to wander. I’m afraid they have already eaten the pasture too far down and I don’t want to get any worse or it will be a hard start to get growing next spring. I figured hay from November thru the end of May. There is enough there to get them well into the summer if I guessed correctly. Hopefully I shouldn’t have to worry about feed even if the pastures are slow to start.

Sunday. A day of rest. That’s funny. I have always planned that Sunday would be a rest day, the kind of rest where you visit friends or bake during the football game or have picnics or go fishing. So far the Sunday rest is finish the rest of what didn’t get done throughout the week, before the next weeks list begins.

We will see what tomorrow brings. More excitement I’m sure.

I’m late posting this, so today, Lucy walked a few laps like a champ! Rope slack the whole time and walked beside me the whole time too! Yay!

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Another Lucy Update

An update for those following Lucy and I’s progress.

wildflowerfarm.org

For the past week we have been working on walking a few laps around the corral. The first few days she was not very willing to cooperate. The last few days she has been doing much better. Yesterday was the first day we made a complete lap with slack in the rope the whole time. She was walking behind me the whole time too, threw her head a couple times, and had her ears pinned back, which made me a bit nervous. Typically, the ears are back is a “move or I will move you” thought going through the animals head. But a quick prayer and we made the lap just fine.

Today we did even better! She threw her head once or twice and after the first lap, she was walking beside me with slack. I don’t think we are ready to go get the mail together but definitely making progress!

At the beginning of the week we were thinking she might have her calf this week too. But I have been watching her bag and it has yet to fill, which usually happens just before birth, so I think she may still have a little time to go.

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