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

Earning his keep

There are many reasons we love having Tommy around. He’s always ready for a quick laugh. He’s eager to lend a helping hand. His smile brightens any room. But lately I’ve been glad to have him around for a more practical reason. VARMINTS!!!! Tommy’s good at catching them, or killing them, as the case may be.IMG_9093 He and his brothers caught this big mama the other day. And even though she has probably made off with 100s of ears of my corn, I still felt a little bad to see her disposed of. Tommy tried to get the makings of a coon skin cap from the ordeal but the pelt fell apart. I think it is the wrong season to be collecting fur pelts. Now the animals are shedding any extra fur to help keep cool. In the fall or winter, they will have nice furry thick pelts.

And Tommy killed this for us.IMG_9401 Benja found it right in the front yard by the deck. All the kids were playing out there barefoot! What a scare!! This is the third copperhead we’ve found in the last two weeks. What is going on here?! I’ve seen them by the pond and I know they are in the woods, but right up by the house, by my babies???? Not acceptable. I need a new dog. Jeremie says I just need to let the pigs out in the yard more often because they scare away or eat the snakes. And root up the grass and make a muddy mess. But we’ll see. I may resort to that.

Signing time with the Schultz’s

At the end of the year, local homeschoolers get together to give the kids a chance to showcase some of their projects and interests. The Schultz kids sang a song in sign-language. The older girls had taken sign language lessons from a family friend so they are in charge of teaching the younger ones. They know many songs in sign language, but this is their favorite.

Charlotte also did a demonstration on skinning and tanning a rabbit hide. I’m so proud of our little Sacajawea.

Get a little rabbit skin to wrap my baby bunting in

Charlotte has decided to do a 4H demonstration on “how to tan a hide”. The deer hides we have are too heavy and unwieldy to bring to the competition, but a small rabbit skin is just the perfect size. We didn’t have any spare skins just lying around, so Tommy butchered 2 of the rabbits that were earmarked for dinner. IMG_3857She’s got a lovely white long hair rabbit skin and a short hair grey rabbit skin. IMG_3876The skin needs to be stretched on a frame. Tommy made the frame for her. IMG_3884 IMG_3917Then fleshed out. I think that means scraping all the flesh off the skin. This is the fleshing tool Charlotte got for Christmas. It was her favorite gift. IMG_2680 IMG_2681Now she is soaking the skin in water and salting it. After a few days she will apply a tanning solution that will preserve the hide. The tanning solution was another favorite Christmas gift. IMG_2684IMG_2690It will take a week or so before we can see the finished hide. Charlotte is getting most of her information about tanning hides from this book: Tanning Deerskins and Buckskins with Soap, Brains and Eggs. Another favorite Christmas gift, not surprisingly.

Charlotte did her tanning speech for the homeschool group.