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.

I went back to the barn and grabbed a handful of grain and the halter and headed back out in the dark. It has been raining all season and the barnyard is pretty soggy in places, most notably the duck pen and the run between the barn and corral.  I was able to get Caroline separated from the rest without any running around or kicking. She got a few licks of grain and a bite of hay. She was just standing calmly beside me in the dark. I slipped the halter over her nose then behind her ears. She threw her head just enough to tighten the slack a little crookedly. I tried to adjust it a little but she wasn’t interested. I pulled the rope and we made our way through the slop to the barn.

It was a little stop-and-go for the first bit, but I didn’t fall in the muck and she was preforming better that I would have expected after only two weeks. I closed the door behind us as I didn’t want any uninvited critters in the way. We made a couple short laps around the pen, walking up to the milk parlor door and around again. I tied her loosely to the fence while she ate another handful of grain and I cleaned the pen. Then we removed the halter and she was sent outside to finish her breakfast.

Milk Parlor Door

Milk Parlor Door

Disclaimer: The milk parlor door doesn’t lead to a real milk parlor. It leads to the where the milking stanchions used to be and where my homemade stanchion sits until we get the old ones rebuilt.

Update since I started this post: She’s still doing great!

I’m not a fan of “selfies” so I will get Mike out to the barn one morning to get a picture of Caroline and I.


Rest in Pieces

Today we say “goodbye” to a great little steer. Elvis and I have had “the talk” a few times and the day has come. Last night he was loaded into my uncle’s stock trailer accompanied by a few more with the same destination. I was both excited and sad as I filled out the butchers order form indicating how I would like him returned… little white packages. The freezer has been unplugged for most of the summer so the thought of it once again full and of our grass fed beef this time is pretty exciting. It will also be nice to not be calling mom “do you have an extra package of burger?” It happens often.

We had planned to butcher him ourselves this year but as fall grew closer we realized that it just wasn’t going to be possible at this time. I didn’t want to bring him elsewhere for processing, I don’t want anything to go to waste. I also know that I don’t have the time this fall to tan a hide and some of the other bigger projects that I would turn this cow into. From what I’ve heard the place he is going it pretty good so we will give them a shot and hopefully next year we will be better set up to take care of the next with the same freezer fate.

Rest in pieces little buddy! We will miss you in the barn but are thankful you will grace our table.

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.

We named her Sweet Caroline. She’s the cutest little red heifer. Her mother is a great milk cow from what I understand, putting out about 3 gallons a day with a good disposition, with any luck she will be just as good. I’ve started the adventure of halter breaking her now. With the experience of what to do and what not to do that I gained from working with Lucy and some more tips from others I’m hoping this one will go just as well if not better. She’s only been with us a couple days but has already warmed up to me pretty nicely.

Clutch or No?

John Deere M

“So this is the break and that’s the clutch or no?”

That’s when my dad’s eyes got big, Mike shook his head and they backed up the instructions. The last time I drove a tractor was the fall of 2006 after my grandpa passed away. (rough guess) Grandpa had quite the collection of tractors and to keep them all in working order the family would gather at the farm, everyone hopped on a tractor and drove for a while. A tractor parade of sorts around the farm yard and fields. So it’s been a long time.

“This is your throttle. Clutch. Shift here. Right break. Left Break. Okay?”


“Keep that front tire as close to the edge as you can. Drop the plow to here. When it starts to spin on the hill lift it about this much… You can use first gear for everything; shouldn’t need the break.”

I was plowing my first field. My wheat field. I have always loved to see freshly worked ground and this time it was me turning the sod over in neat (slightly crooked) rows revealing the glorious black soil underneath. Unlike the garden plot where my head was spinning with possibilities of vegetable and flower varieties that I could plant and where each would go, this field was for wheat and I needed to pay attention. Most everything I do is coupled with daydreams of future planning’s, this time not so much. I was plowing my wheat field. White knuckles on a thin old wheel, racing snails. Dad said it’s easiest to just keep one hand on the knob that controls the plow because I would be raising and lowering with the hills and field ends. That talent came about halfway through, until then I was concentrating on driving in a relatively straight line, keep all four tires on the ground, one on the edge of the furrow.

Once I got the hang of things (I think) I started to notice more of my surroundings and that my jaw was starting to hurt. I guess I furrow my brow and clench my teeth when I’m really concentrating on my work, even with my best effort I can’t seem to stop. That aside, the evening was perfect and relaxing even if my face would convince otherwise. I’d ran out the door of the house leaving my mom with two screaming kids and one sleeping in the swing telling her I’d bring my phone in case she decided she’d had enough. (I’d forgot it in the car though. Sorry mom!) I’d almost forgotten the chaos that I’d left just an hour before. There were a few deer in the neighboring field watching through a clearing in brush at the top of the hill and a couple flocks of low flying Canadian Geese over head.

I was doing pretty well enjoying watching the gopher mounds turn over on one pass and seeing their tunnels opened up in the next. The west-ish(?) end of the field is near a pretty good size, treed hill that stands above the slough/creek and lake. It’s far enough away from the edge that any sensible farmer wouldn’t give it a second thought, I on the other hand, was quite certain that if I didn’t get that plow out of the ground and those wheels headed a different direction in time I was going to see just how deep the water could be. Totally legitimate going a walking speed in first gear. I was almost past that portion of the field when it happened.

Lift the plow. Turn to the left. Turn to the left. Turn to the left! Why am I not going left?! Break! Break! Clutch! And stopped. Now to find neutral.

John Deere M

I’m stuck. It’s not the first time. Just reverse. Please not fourth. Please not fourth. Reverse! and forward and reverse and raise and lower the plow lever.

WTF! (Well that’s fantastic!)

By this time dad was on his way over.

“Lift the plow.”

“I did.”

About that time Mike and Mark (the neighbor) were there too.

“Why don’t you lift the plow and back up?”

“She did.”

“I did.”

“Huh. Well what happened?”

“I don’t know. I’m going to find a tree while you guys look it over.”

The plow didn’t lift. It was pushing me in a much wider turn than I was hoping and dangerously close to the edge of the ravine. (Not really that close but it felt like it.)  When I got back they had the plow unhooked and the tractor back on stable ground. I thought for sure I broke something. The plow wasn’t lifting as it should but after inspection a pin was turned or something. Either way I didn’t break it. They hooked the plow back up and got ‘er squared away again for me and off I went.

“When you get to the end of the row why don’t you shift into third to go back. You can practice shifting and it won’t take you so long to get back.” Dad was watching almost the whole time I plowed. He had a little smile as I passed. He was either proud or praying that I wouldn’t break the tractor… both maybe.

The sun was close to setting, there would be just enough daylight to make the drive home when I finished my last pass and got the tractor parked. Mike and dad were talking and I stood there for a minute admiring my crooked rows. I could see the golden grain topped straw that will be waving over the hill next fall. What a beautiful sight!


Wedding Glasses

We recently attended the wedding of a dear friend. Okay, so we missed most of the ceremony coming from out of town and with kids, but we caught the vows and isle exit. It was a beautiful day for an outdoor wedding and the reception hall was just as lovely. Everyone filed in to the hall to enjoy visiting during a cocktail hour preceding the supper as most wedding celebrations go.

The head table was seated and the guests were called to their tables as the meal was about to be served. It wasn’t too long after that some idiot had to start the glass clinking. Yes, I called the unknown party an idiot. The glass clinking tradition is one of my top three pet peeves.

A fresh off the alter couple has set forth a wonderful celebration of their day and offered each of their guests a very nice meal and in turn are expected to set down their forks and kiss at the clink of a glass as their steak and potatoes get cold. Drives me nuts! For Heaven’s sake let them eat!

We didn’t have a head table at our wedding reception.

One, because I don’t like to be the center of attention (especially when I’m eating pulled pork and corn on the cob).

Two, speech- I don’t like talking in front of more than three people at a time  (I stumble over my words). We skipped the speech portion, the maid of honor knew too many stories and so did the best man, my siblings are about as excited to talk in front of a crowd as I. Instead Mike and I played the roll of annoying server (without delivering food) and walked around visiting with the guests as they tried to eat instead.

And three… the dreaded glass clinking. Aside from letting our meal get cold, standing up in front of a crowd to kiss is not my idea of a good time. In fact we had no glassware or silverware at the meal. The state park at which we held the reception was a “dry” park. We were not allowed to serve alcohol so the only glassware that was there was that that came from coolers smuggled in, at which the park attendants kindly turned a blind eye to. We went with a simple picnic type menu; the previously mentioned corn on the cob and pulled pork sandwich, so “fancy” paper plates and plasticware was fitting. No clink-able table settings! Even if someone got the bright idea to knock a couple beer bottles together, Mike and I didn’t usually know where the other was visiting.

Yes, that is how much the clinking of glasses drives me crazy!

At our friends wedding, the bride kindly announced that if you clink your glass you must come up front and tell a story (with a microphone) about the bride and/or groom. This was a great idea! and it cut the clinking down considerably. Stories and well wishes were shared and for whatever reason Mike and I thought it would be funny to tell a story too. Beyond that I don’t know what I was thinking! Maybe it was due to our extremely crabby and tired children that I just needed a few minutes away from the table, I don’t know.

Without any intention of clinking a glass I made my way up front to do something that I usually need to be drinking to accomplish or out of my mind (I wasn’t drinking that night…). I told the bride I had a story to share and a groomsman piped up that I needed to clink a glass. “I don’t clink glasses.” He gladly assumed the task. By the time I got the microphone in my hand, I all of a sudden realized just what I was doing. I’m not partying like the old days (the pre-mama era)! I don’t talk in front of people! If I had something to say I should have taken time and wrote it down to read word for word (most likely reading like a scared kindergartener). Writing is still my most preferred method of communication. I took the microphone in hand and stumbled out a quick story about the groom, Tom, and my husband in their earlier years.

It was okay… I think… I think I blacked out a bit when I saw all the people in front of me.

When I made it back to the safety of my chair in the back corner, Mike was laughing. “I should have just wrote something first.” I said, still not sure exactly how the story came out. I was quickly distracted back to the “mama role” as the Little Miss in her overtired state started stealing things out of a neighboring diaper bag. The race was on again.

Now, I know this has nothing to do with the farm so my far fetched attempt to tie the two together will go something like this:

We have a cook stove in our living room across from the couch. Years ago, Mike and Tom were roommates and had a couch in the kitchen across from the stove. We currently keep our spoons in a drawer in the kitchen. One morning, years ago (after a party), they woke up “spooning” on the couch across from the silverware drawer. This was one of the first stories I was told when visiting Tom at their old place. Apparently there is photo evidence to prove who was there first but so far no one has been able to find it.

With that, I hope to never stand up and speak in front of a crowd again. And to the one whom I called an idiot, I apologize.

Tales of the Pregnant Farmer: The Gloves Are On Top



All the due dates had past and I was thoroughly annoyed that baby was late as well as being incredibly uncomfortable. By chance the midwives were in town and said they would stop up and check on baby and I. Molly offered some herbs that were known to get labor going quickly. It didn’t take me long to decide that “yes, I would love to give them a try.” Black and blue cohash thinned down with some others. With the herbs came a strict warning that I was to let them know if anything happened because they are super potent and work quickly and I work quickly anyways as we found out with the Little Miss.  

Excited to get this baby out I was still a bit hesitant because I knew what I was about to put myself through and seriously, our oldest just turned three… we’re a little busy. Taking into consideration the warning and knowing the midwives were in town waiting on another baby I waited until the next day to start the herbs, calling in “sick” with a “still no baby” news. Most of the day was spent trying to use the anxious energy- cleaning, doing laundry etc.

Finally labor seemed to start…maybe? By this point I was pretty sure this kid wasn’t going to arrive until he was two. I was texting with Molly and Rebekah (the midwives) giving them random updates with no real news to share.

It was supper time and I finally decided that maybe we should see if we could send the kids to my parents; a hopeful  “just in case”. I have never seen my mother drive so fast down our driveway or any road of comparable length and by the look on my dad’s face, from the passenger’s, seat neither had he. We will blame it on her new set of wheels and grandbaby excitement. I let the girls know that the kids were gone. Just keeping them in the loop I guess.

Mike was calmly sifting through the tub of birthing supplies.

“Gloves? Where are the gloves?” (remembering that he was without for the last baby)

“They are on top. Your looking for an individual packet and not a box.”

“Oh, okay, here. Clamps? I don’t see any clamps.”

“They’re in there in a ziplock.”

And so on… He knows how fast a baby can come and was prepared for this one.

About a half hour after the kids left the Rebekah and Molly arrived along with two doulas in training. After meeting the doulas and visiting for a short minute I decided I was going to take a quick shower and they could make themselves at home. About ten minutes into the shower (so I was told, time all of a sudden meant nothing at that point) “Okay, I think I may need some help” I called. The door swung open and all of a sudden there was stadium seating in our little bathroom. I had no idea six people could fit in there at the same time, but they did (I’m not sure how comfortably).

I think someone asked if the water could be turned off and I must have said “no” because a second shower curtain was brought in for those in the “splash zone”. (Molly and Rebekah, if you’re reading this and if we end up in this situation again just shut off the water.) Then a couple minutes of skippable bloody details and there was a baby!

That makes for seven people in the bathroom for those keeping track.

A healthy baby boy, screaming his tiny lungs out announcing to the would that he may be late but he was most certainly here! In fact I don’t think I have heard him cry that much since that that night. Thank goodness!

Since the initial announcement of this pregnancy there has been much anticipation and speculation of what the birth story would entail this time.
-Are you going to have it in the barn this time?
-Will you wait for the midwife to arrive or is Mike going to deliver this one too?
-Are you just going to deliver this one yourself?
Once the due dates past the questions turned to:
-You’re still pregnant?!
-What day are you getting induced?
A quick answer to each of these:
The barn would only be by accident even though Mike had mentioned that he would put down some fresh straw for me and the clean-up would be much easier. Ha!
We were trying to wait for the midwife the last time but I unknowingly didn’t give her enough time to make the hour and a half drive. (she did battle a nasty blizzard and made it record time anyway.)
I could probably deliver it myself assuming that everything went a easily and quickly as before and it would probably happen in the barn if it were going to be that much of a surprise. I don’t want to find that out though.
The last two I think I have covered in previous posts.

So this may not be the grand story that was anticipated but the fact that the ladies made before the baby was very exciting for us!

Tales of the Pregnant Farmer: Nesting Theory

When asked when I’m due my usual response is “sometime between now and the county fair.” This is sometimes taken as sarcasm, unfortunately I’m serious. This time around I was given four due dates depending on who I talked to. An average “safe delivery” time can be two weeks before or after the due date, which means I have/had about eight weeks of “any day now”. So the no “real” due date answer seems to shock and/or annoy the person asking when. Hmm. How about Mama? Think about how annoying it is to politely answer that for eight weeks or longer?! Not to mention the weeks of comments of “how big you’re getting!” (that’s not a compliment no matter how you try.) The only acceptable thing to say about a pregnant ladies size is “you look great!” FYI.

All that complaining aside, life doesn’t stop because of it. I still mow the lawn each week and do what I can to help with yard work, gardening and so on. It takes a lot longer to get anything done, but it does get done. In an attempt to get this baby out I thought I’d give “nesting” a try. Pretty sure I didn’t do much for nesting with the other two. I didn’t really have time, nor did I slow down as much as I have this time. I washed the baby clothes the last time I had everything dug out of the kid’s closet to put away the out grown and get the next box of hand-me-downs. The house is picked up… I wouldn’t say clean, but picked up. Wash the floors during nap and by the next snack time they’re sticky.

Nesting it is. It was worth a try anyways.

The ducks really only need enough water to dunk their heads but they make such a mess splashing and end up wasting all their drinking water doing so. I had put a rubber feed dish in the run to give them something a little more to splash in. It worked… kinda. They emptied that and the drinking water. The days are warming up considerably and if I want this year’s chicks (who live with the ducks right now) to have water the ducks needed something more again. I think.

When they were in the house we had them in a small kiddie pool. The kids loved it. It was fun but it didn’t take long for them to outgrow the space and make the house smell like a chicken coop. It was time for them to move out. After the flock was in the coop the pool went outside to be stored until the next batch of chicks would grace the kitchen.

Well, my “nesting mother duck” came out and those ducks needed a pond of sorts. I dug out the pool, hauled it to the outside run and scrubbed it out quite nicely… I’m not sure why. It stayed clean about as long as a freshly washed kitchen floor. A short piece of fence post scrap was set by the edge in case someone needed a step in and I began filling the “pond”. While I was watching my handy work fill, Mike brought over the four-wheeler and wagon so I could get the coop cleaned too. I’m not sure what he thought when he saw my project but he didn’t object at least.

Happy Ducks

Happy Ducks

“I’m going to go up to Erica Lane and meet Uncle Greg in a bit. I’ll be back in after while.” Mike headed out of the run. By that time I had just about finished cleaning the mud out of the waterer. As I went to leave the pen and shut off the water I had a little bit of an issue… He locked me in.



The hook and eye lock on the outside was too low for me to reach over and unhook. I’d like to think I could still fit through the turkey door in the other pen but once again that wouldn’t do much good because their door was closed with a hook and eye inside the feed room. The idea of trying to climb over the fence…well even I knew that wasn’t going to happen today. The landing might have knocked the baby loose which would’ve been helpful I guess. Luck was on my side this time. I remembered I had my phone with me because I didn’t want to miss my Uncle’s call.


“Hi. I promise I won’t leave the yard if you let me out of the duck pen!”


“Please? You locked me in when you left.”

(Short silence. Then laughter.) “I’ll be right over.”

Only on our farm would mama get locked in the duck pen on the 4th of July.

Once allowed out, I got the whole coop cleaned quite nicely. The ducks were swimming in the new pond. The Ladies were happy with their fresh bedding and watermelon rinds. The nesting boxes are all cleaned and ready for fresh eggs. Baby’s still not here… So much for the “nesting” theory.

Breaking Ground

May God give you dew from heaven and make your fields fertile! May he give you plenty of grain and wine! Genesis 27:28

We are hoping for vegetables from the freshly plowed fields, but wheat and wine would be nice too. The other evening the sod was rolling for our new garden. The soil underneath looked healthy, black and alive. There are few things I enjoy more in the spring than seeing freshly worked soil. The field has laid resting for years, the telling sign was the sizable saplings that had to be removed before the brush mower could knock down last year’s grass for the plow to then turn it under.

It was a family event, as most things are on our farm. After a quick supper we migrated down the hill to the neighbors shop as he put the plow on his tractor. Shortly thereafter we were on our way to “Erica Lane”.

One tractor, one plow, one driver and four spectators.

The kids played on the swing set for the first couple passes down the field. It wasn’t very long that we were all standing at the end of the first couple runs watching the plow cut through the top soil. Our neighbor was driving the tractor, my dad got the job of removing and replacing underground cable marking flags, while Mike and I kept the curious munchkins out of the way as they inspected the new land.

“This is our garden!” exclaimed the little boy. I asked him what we will be planting in there. “Um, we can plant bananas! And apples on trees! And berries!” “Carrots and potatoes too?” “No. Bananas.”

I have a little convincing to do before we start planting. I’m up for a challenge and may be slightly crazy when it comes to planting but I’m not very optimistic that we will be growing bananas this close to Canada any time soon.

I’m only a couple months late with this… I was waiting on pictures but those can be added later I guess. I hate to get too far behind!



Making Room for Hay

I have been searching off and on to find more of the history about our farm and the Lake Julia Sanatorium that it was part of. So far I have found a fair amount of fiction and the facts I find are not what I seem to be looking for… not that I know exactly what that is.

I found a gal online that grew up on the dairy and am waiting for her to finish her book about it, which is maybe what I am looking for.? There isn’t much to know about an empty building besides the craftsmen who built it, the floor plan and legalities. Beyond that it’s just a building. If I had to guess I would say I am looking for first hand experience from those who were there, which in my family there are none left, there are a couple of the children that remember bits and pieces. That’s what makes history, buildings and their remains give the memories a visual location. A place to close your eyes and “see” the recounts come to life.

If I dug deep enough, I could probably find a few photos of family members while they were there and some that have been made public by the historical society and other public records. There are a lot of stories on Dr. Mary Chapman Ghostley, if you are looking for a female role model she would be one to read up on and when it comes to the sanatorium, history on her is mostly what I have found (aside from fictional crap). A very amazing women to say the least. I don’t live at the sanatorium, I live at the dairy farm, which by looking at the land titles and deeds, was once under the same parcel of land. I’m more interested in the daily happenings on the farm and so on. Talk about hard to find! I have the basics of the house; floor plan, legalities and such. Again, empty facts.

Photos and stories about and from the farmers and others that made life at the sanatorium possible are a real challenge. Farmer’s kept the place fed on a daily bases; no farmer, no food (same as today except they are even more forgotten these days). They were self-sustaining when it was still a normal way of life and not the newest “movement”. Looking back there is little to no recognition in the history books for these hard working families.

We have been slowly working on the barn and I know it’s probably not all original to what is was years ago just by seeing some of the old foundations in there. The manger and stanchions were broken out before we moved in. The barn is in need of a fair amount of work but it’s still straight and we use it.

I really like to restore rather than replace as much as possible in a compromise with my husband I get to keep the last 2-3 milking stalls in place with the original concrete and rebuild the manger for my milk cows. The slab on the north side gets to stay too. The rest of the broken, unused foundations will go at some point. (Not the one from a horse barn that burnt down though! Don’t think I’m giving in on that one! That’s not part of the dairy barn.)

A complete restoration of the barn is not doable for us, monetarily or functionally but the pieces that I can use and work into what we need I plan to keep. Our first year we added a fence for the cow’s pen, the second year was the goat pen and now we have started a hayloft over that portion. (“we” again is Mike, dad and brother) The hay loft addition will give us more ground space. The cow’s pen will be expanded some and the goats reconfigured. It will also give us a spot to park our “new” tractor and such.

Next summer hopefully we can tackle the outside as the majority of the boards are beyond fresh paint and need replacing. I plan to finally put in permanent stanchions where they used to be and rebuild the manger with field stone as it once was. The wooden stanchion that I made last fall for temporary use can then be modified to fit a goat or just taken apart and made into something else. The couple stanchions will be my own little tribute to history and rather than a museum piece, they will be functional and used daily. My quilting mother has said it’s more offensive to set the quilt aside in fear that it is to use it often and wear it out. That’s what I plan to do; restore what once was and wear it out!

Setting support posts

Setting support posts

Not this little boy's first time setting posts!

Not this little boy’s first time setting posts!

More progress!

More progress!

In desparte need of new siding... It's nice to feel the breeze and work in natural light I s'pose...

In desperate need of new siding… It’s nice to feel the breeze and work in natural light I s’pose…


Last Calf of the Season

Another Sunday morning calf was had this week. Second and last of the season. Again, a steer who couldn’t have been here for very long before we got out to the barn. He was still wet and Lucy was cleaning him off. He is even smaller than Gus, which would make sense. Lucy is full Dexter and was bread with an Angus, giving a calf that was roughly 35-40 pounds. Louise (Wheezy) is half Dexter and half Angus, baby Gus (3/4 Angus, ¼ Dexter) was 45-50 pounds give or take a few. I’m glad they were both steers; meat in the freezer. We would really like to expand the herd by another heifer or two, but they need to be Dexters. The more Angus in the cow, the more pasture they need and more hay for the winter. Not to mention, the Dexter temperament is usually on the less aggressive side. I still would rather they walk beside me rather than behind me but even more so with an Angus. Next year, hopefully the calves will be heifers, from our bull; 100% Dexter. All that aside, Lucy’s calf arrived and we missed church.

Because the calf (who I have yet to name) was so new I didn’t stand around for too long to make sure he ate while we were out there. Instead we watched for a while and went back to the house to get ready for the day. We had a busy Sunday planned, the usual day of “the rest” and started right in. We got our “town” errand done and were home by noon, much later than usual but that’s the way it goes. Once home we checked on the calf and Lucy and went about our work. It wasn’t too long after that we realized neither of us has seen the calf eat all day. Lucy looked like she was going to burst.

Lucy and Calf

Lucy and Calf

She was making a good effort to get the calf to eat. She would get him standing, all lined up and in position to eat, giving him a few nudges in the right direction and he was not interested. Not even a little. He just turned his head and walked away to his favorite patch of straw and laid back down. Lucy has had more calves than we have been a part of, this is our third and her fifth or so, I don’t have the records in front of me. Either way, we still don’t know how to fix most special situations when it comes to calving. I called my uncle and explained what was going on.

“Any advice on what we should do?”

He said we should bottle feed colostrum as soon as possible and that will sometimes get them going. “Don’t bottle feed for too long or you will end up with a bottle calf.” (I would take on a bottle calf if it were a heifer that I planned to milk, but a steer for the freezer, well, only if necessary and not on purpose.) He dropped everything he was doing and got the calf bottle and extra colostrum they had together for me. I’m so thankful he had some on hand! I was on my way in no time.

Once home again, I mixed the biggest bottle I’ve ever made, and the little miss and I headed to the barn. Now for the tricky part… getting the calf out of the pen without mama getting mad. While Mike untied an overlap in the cattle panels, I opened the gate to the chicken run for the kids. Sounds horrible I know, but in all honesty that has been the new favorite for them. The little boy laughs as he chases the chickens trying to pet one or feed them grass. The little miss, well, crawling in and out of the chicken door is her favorite. It’s probably not recommended but they are in sight, safe from the cows in the event one gets out, and having a ball (and bathed as soon as they are done). With the kids safe and a small space in the fence, Mike was able to squeeze in and grab the calf while Lucy was slightly distracted with a little cracked corn.

Have you ever bottle fed a calf? I hadn’t. I had no experience feeding a calf and this calf had no experience eating. Talk about blind leading the blind. With Mike keeping the calf in place, close to the fence (he kept trying to back up), mama on the other side watching very closely, I did what I could to get that calf to take a bottle. It was a slow process, I found it worked best to hold his chin with one hand and open his mouth a bit with my fingers while weaseling the bottle in with the other. We kinda got the hang of it. It was messy and sticky but once we figured it out as best we could the kids were over to “help”. Both were excited to pet the little guy and the little boy was so happy he got to feed the calf.

That evening it looked like he was eating, not as much as I think he should have been, but eating none-the-less. The next day, he was more active, not running sprints like Gus, but up and around and eating. He’s making progress and that’s what matters.