When life gives you lemons..

Our beloved Jersey milk cow Clover died this past weekend. She was pregnant with her second calf, due to deliver next month. We noticed her laying down in the pasture for quite some time, which is not normal. Especially in the hot sun. After repeatedly trying to help her up, we decided to call the vet because a Jersey cow is fragile, not hardy at all. We had to call the emergency vet on call because, of course, this happened after hours on a Saturday evening. IMG_5460When he got to the farm, he put a tube down her throat to relieve any gas. A cow is prone to bloat, excessive gas in their rumen. Some pressure released (very stinky) but she still wouldn’t get up. The vet determined that Clover had late pregnancy toxemia, which is similar to pre-ecalmpsia in humans. This simply means that the pre-born calf was sucking too many nutrients from the mama cow and she couldn’t keep healthy. We are glad that the vet noted Clover’s body condition was good, and that we were feeding her the right things. He said that Jersey’s are so docile, which makes them good family milk cows, but they just don’t possess a great will to live. He joked that he had seen some give up and die from a mere fly bite.IMG_5465 After injecting Clover with a bottle of glucose, for energy, and calcium/magnesium for strength, the vet left. He did leave us with a bottle of something to give her if, after 24 hours, she didn’t get up. In that case, he said, she won’t survive and it would be best to try to induce labor, hoping to, at least, save the baby calf. And in rare cases, delivering the baby, enables the mama to get up without all that extra weight. Well, Clover did not get up within the time frame, so we gave her the shot to induce labor. However, sadly she didn’t deliver the calf, but died the next morning. I loved that cow. She was born here on the farm. I feel positive that we did all we could in trying to save both her and the baby.IMG_5488 Death is a reality here on the farm. And my kids are not unfamiliar with animal losses. Now, they have taken Clover’s hide and are tanning it. That is what homesteading is all about. Doing your best. Accepting your losses. Taking what you can away from the situation. Moving on, wiser and more experienced. IMG_5491

New life

IMG_2881New life here on the farm is one of the sweetest things in the spring time. We’ve had two new calves born here recently. Both fathered by the South Poll Bull that moved in with us last year. One was born to our Jersey milk cow, Clover. She had a wonderful birth. Not a touch of milk fever, as Jersey’s are prone to. A little girl. Just what we wanted, because if we keep breeding the female offspring of Clover and our bull, in four generations the progeny will be able to be registered as full-blooded South Polls. We are enjoying milking Clover again, now that she’s calved. Charlotte especially. IMG_2863Nothing quite so fun as that particular farm chore. Clover has calmed down considerably since her last calf. Now she stands complacently in the milk stanchion, just as her mother used to do. Welcome to the Funny Farm, little paprika! IMG_2859

Have you figured out how to get more than 24 hours in a day yet?

Neither have I, but if someone knows, please share.

We have been very busy around here the last few days.

I had friends visit for a few hours on Friday afternoon.

My dog strangled itself to death on the run line on Friday evening.

On Saturday I was gone half the day in murray at a lamb showing class with charlotte and the young kids. Then we went to lowes to get supplies.

Then we started building bunkbeds and lofts for the boys room. We got it finished this evening. Well finished enough for now. We have sleeping spots for 4 boys. 1 computer desk area under Jimmy’s bed that Tommy will use for programming his robots. Jimmy has a drawing table up in his loft bed. Jack has a curtain to hide  behind in his bottom bunk. Benjamin wants some shelving in his bunk. And I have a lego building area yet to build. Need to find a storage spot for all the Mashoonga sticks. Tommy was a huge help.

My computer has been crashing on and off for quite some time. I think I finally figured it out. I sure hope so, I have a lot to do before I leave on Wednesday.

Thankfully we had two new baby calves born on Sunday evening, helped us forget about the dog. They were so soft, it would be hard to imagine without having touched them.

We have to milk our Jersey cow now some because the new calf does not drink enough to empty her. So that is twice a day.

Then I spent an hour this evening running around with one of my new south poll momma cows trying to squirt her engorged teat to get the milk out of it so that it would be small enough that the new calf would be able to nurse it. She tried to kick me every time I squeezed it. I finally got the milk clot milked out after about 5 miles of jogging(it seemed that long) with her avoiding her hoof. Then she finally stood still while I was doing it until she moved over slightly into the electric fence and we both got zapped. Then I had to get her to calm down again so I could finish. After it was back to a normal size I was resting and watching the new calf nurse and she nursed all 4 teats. So I knew I had fixed it. Otherwise she would have gotten mastitis in that quarter and probably never would have been able to produce in that quarter again in her life.  Then I looked at my shirt and realized I was full of manure. Charlotte watched the whole episode. I am sure she was thoroughly amused.

I got a hair cut tonight.

Now that I am cleaned up it is time to engineer. I will hopefully finish before 3am.

But I think I got my computer fixed. So far it seems like I may have a bad set of DIMMs. I will find out if it crashes anymore tonight if I have it solved.

Then wake up and put in a full day of engineering tomorrow.I also have to set up 8 days worth of mob grazing that is easy for someone else to move my cows while I am gone.

Wednesday we have an 8 hour drive to Naperville, IL for the ICHE homeschooling convention. Saturday night or Sunday we will drive back home the 8 hours. Then Monday we have to drive about 5.5 hours to knoxville, TN for Mia and Katie’s state livestock competition that they qualified for which is all day Tuesday.  Then Wednesday we drive back the 5.5 hours to home. Then I have to catch back up on the engineering and chores that I will now be behind on.

Clover’s Boo Boo

We have been spraying Clover’s wound with a wound care ointment twice a day. I was worried because this particular area tends to get manure dripped on it. The calves all head butt her udder when they nurse. I feared it would constantly be irritated. But look how well it is healing! I am so pleased! Clover is a huge part of our homestead. She was born here on the farm. She feeds our beef supply. She supplies milk for my children. She supplements the pigs feed. She’s a sweet girl. And now she is officially on the mend.IMG_0285

Bovine Boo-boo

(I could go on with the alliterations, but I’ll spare you.)IMG_9969

Poor Clover. We came home from our camping trip and found her suffering from this deep puncture wound. I have no idea how she got it, but it is nasty looking. No sign of maggots, yet. Which is wonderful. And she is still letting the calves all nurse off of her. I don’t know how she stands it. I’ve seen the calves (which are growing bigger every day) violently head butt her udder, while they nurse. She’s one patient mama cow. We have been washing the wound out and applying a gel-like vetericin spray daily. I hope she doesn’t loose that quarter! Do you think it’s odd we pray for our bovine pets?

Thrice as nice

IMG_7827Nothing is better than a cute little Jersey calf. Well, except THREE cute little Jersey calves!! Clover had her first baby calf on April 25th. A little bull calf. Just what we were hoping for. We certainly don’t need more than one milk cow for our family, so a little beef fits the bill! Her little calf, Latte, has the sweetest white markings on her leg and side. And we have also welcomed another bull calf from our friend’s dairy farm, to the Funny Farm. Clover produces enough milk for all three babies, so we don’t need to feed them bottles anymore. It was quite a rodeo, getting her to accept the two new calves, so our friend came over and tied some hackles on her ankles so she wouldn’t kick them away.IMG_7829 She has settled down now, a few days later. I have seen the calves all nursing together on Mama, out in the pasture. We should be able to remove the hackles within a few days. We are feeding Clover yummy alfalfa hay to help support her milk production and soon hope to be sprouting some grains for her.

Meet Mocha

IMG_7073Our little Jersey bottle-calf. Isn’t he the cutest? He will be a little friend for Clover’s calf. She is due any day now and we are watching her anxiously. This little guy gets fed a bottle (1/2 gallon of milk at a time!) twice a day. After Clover delivers her calf we are hoping to adopt Mocha to her as well. She should have no trouble producing enough milk for the two little calves and us as well. Jerseys are crazy milk producers.

Around the farm…

Beautiful Holly Tree

Beautiful Holly Tree

Winter weather welcomes it’s own worries. Frozen water. No grass. Frozen water. Less daylight hours. Frozen water. Snow. Frozen water. Animal shelters. Frozen water. Did I mention it’s a real pain when the hoses freeze and the animal waterers freeze? We welcomed our first Arctic blast this last week, with weather down into the teens. Now this coming week we are enjoying a balmy 60 or so degrees. Only once did my hairdryer get taken outside to defrost the water.IMG_4650 These pigs are enjoying the leftovers from our fall decorations. We’ve got some heritage breed Berkshire hogs in with our Guinea Hog boar hoping for a tasty cross-breed. We purchased a Berkshire girl from some friends and we have another Berkshire girl left over from the fair crop. They are the pigs with the pink markings. Berkshires are a much sought after breed because their meet is so tasty and lean. We may call the next generation of crosses Guineashire. What do you think? Clover is looking pregnant and content. IMG_4631She should deliver her first calf in early spring. I couldn’t be more excited. Chickens have still been earning their keep. IMG_4623Not as many eggs as usual, but decent. Jeremie hopes to install a light in their coop to encourage more laying. With the shorter daylight hours and colder weather, the number of eggs we gather diminishes dramatically.IMG_4627 Or maybe it’s just that we can’t find them. They like to hide them in the hay that is stacked in the barn. IMG_4636Not much is growing in the garden these days. IMG_4633Some kale that I grow for green smoothies, the chickens and cows. Some cabbage for raw sauerkraut.IMG_4635 I have many rows of carrots and beets that just get sweeter with the colder temps. We will be roasting a lot of them for our Thanksgiving feast. And lookie here!!! More wood chips!!!IMG_4644 I about died of happiness when the wood chip guy drove into our driveway.I will spread these at my leisure whenever some space opens up in the garden. If they don’t get stolen and spread in the orchard in the meantime!  IMG_4645This is the last batch of bunnies we will harvest this winter. We are running them in a tractor through the front pasture. We have about a dozen in there. They are due to expire in the coming week. Their pelts should be beautifully thick for Charlotte and Tommy to tan. While the frozen water is always a chore, it’s nice to be enjoying a slower pace during the winter on the farm. Nothing too pressing needing to be done, except the greenhouse. 😉IMG_4642

Hot Date!

clover 005You may remember that my dear milk cow Bessie died a few months ago. You may also remember that she had a little heifer (girl calf) that was born right here on the farm. Well, Clover is big enough to breed now. Since we were taking her to a dairy farm down the road, we wanted to tag her ear to ensure that we got the right heifer back next month. clover 013There, she will run with a Jersey bull for a while, hopefully putting her on schedule to have a calf next spring.  She is such a sweet girl, I hope she will be a good milker. I miss milking! clover 014

Signs, signs everywhere signs

I have been looking high and low for a cute sign for my milking parlor. I have searched etsy, ebay, craigslist, amazon, everywhere I could think of. Nothing was exactly what I wanted. We have piles of old wood laying around, so I asked Tommy to cut and sand a board so I could make my own sign. Jeremie put together such a nice place for us to milk with a stanchion and everything, I wanted a nice sign for it. So, for the price of some stencils from Walmart, I have exactly the sign I wanted.sign 001 Stenciling

sign 003 Please don’t comment about my crooked lettering. I’m challenged that way and believe me, I’ve heard all about it. :)sign 004Isn’t it just the cutest thing you ever saw?