Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Valentine

I am happy to announce that our calf is getting stronger each day. No doubt the super nice, spring-like weather we had the past several days contributed! It might have been too nice since I see little leaves budding out on my Japanese Maple tree. Cold, rainy weather is headed this way again tomorrow.

We also have a new milk cow, although she is not *ours*, but we are keeping care of her and milking her.





Valentine belongs to my farmer neighbor. She calved a little over a week ago and lost her calf to the elements. She had no problem calving and she is young and sound. Because my neighbor doesn't have time to milk a cow, he offered for me to keep her. This was perfect timing since my cows are getting low in production and I am making lots of cheese these days.

Valentine is a large cow, especially compared to my other ladies, but she is super nice. In fact we joke that she is half cow, half hound dog.
She really took to Devin over the weekend and follows him around until he scratches her neck.

Like most new milk cows, it took a couple of days to get the *milking* routine down, but she is good as gold now.


She's a welcome addition to the farm, and we are really enjoying her milk! Now, if we could just get spring to arrive early!

Happy Hump Day Ya'll!




Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Tale of Two Calves: My Crap Fest Week

The thing about winter is that I do quickly get sick and tired of the cold, the brown and dormant grass, the naked trees and the cold.
Winter for me is really a long, drawn out tortuous season. I really despise it all, and I am not even in a very wintery state!
 Before farming I could spend my weekend lounging around, reading books and baking fabulous desserts. Not now. Now I worry about freezing milk lines and insulated coveralls.
As much as I love the outdoors, I do not like being outside several times a day to remind myself that it is.....cold.


                                                 *House Lamb Flicka is still sweet as ever!*

One day I will grow up and appreciate the changing of the seasons, blah, blah, blah. Until then I will gripe and complain.

Let's add to this dreary winter 2 calves that went down. TWO!
These were not little, young baby cows either, but rather 10 month old, 300-400 lb calves.
The first calf went down and we figured he had pneumonia. We treated him as such, but he never really was able to get up on his own. After a few days he couldn't stand up at all, even though he was still eating and his rumen was working and he was alert.
The next cow went down a week later. Same symptoms, same story. By this point we figured it was a mineral deficiency. Selenium maybe or magnesium. We got injections from the vet and started treating them.
Unfortunately the first calf that went down died. His legs were so weak and atrophied that he could not get up or stay up at all.

                                      *Indiana thought Flicka needed a cow girl look*

The second calf to go down is able to get up with a little assistance. We walk him around and he can walk well and eats and drinks. We are keeping him in a large stall, though, because if he goes down again it would be difficult to get him to the stall. We are still treating him as if he has a mineral deficiency and hope he will make a full recovery.
                           *Down calf #2 is up and walking and I hope making a full recovery!*

In the meantime, I have distributed lots of high magnesium salt and salt with selenium to all of my livestock so they can lick it free choice. After one day the salt buckets were empty and I refilled them. Today they are still licking up salt, but not as vigorously.
Did this solve my problem? I hope.


                                *Molly is still my beefy heifer calf. At 6 months old, she is big!*

I was very happy that my calf was up and walking and acting like himself this afternoon. Very happy. In fact, despite my disgust for winter, today I was appreciative of the improved health of my calf and stayed outside longer than usual to snap pictures with the kids and the animals.




                      *Willow loves to wrestle and play with her steer calf Brownie!*

Here's hoping for a week that continues upward!





Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Molly Green

The latest edition of Molly Green is out! If you are not a current subscriber, please go ahead and subscribe. You will not be sorry!

This edition has some fabulous homesteading and homemaking articles.

My article on Ricotta Cheese is on page 50.

http://mollygreen.com/subscribe/

Today we are experiencing another blast of cold Arctic air. Stay warm folks!

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!



Thursday, January 1, 2015

The New Year: 2015

Today is a new day, new year. I am happy to be here greeting the start of another trip around the sun.

We had a nice Christmas, despite the fact that all but 3 of us came down with the blasted flu virus. It was not quite the Christmas I had planned or hoped, but since when do things go exactly as planned? I have learned to be flexible and to be grateful for the good things that do come my way.

Now the New Year is here and like many folks I am busy plotting a way to make this year more. More productive , more organized, more successful.
I already have a new notebook filled with all the calendar pages, organizing pages and goal pages to make this all become reality. (cough, cough)

I have decided to really focus lots of energy on a few main areas:

1. School. I have a few main goals for each child written down and theses have deadlines to be accomplished. For example, Quinn has her ACT this spring so we will really be focusing on her prep for the test. Setting school goals is a great way to see progress as you educate your children too.

2. Budget. There are few house projects that really need to be finished up this year. I am focusing on really cranking down a good budget so these can be possible goals for us. In addition, this is a year we really need to purchase a tractor. That is a huge expense and I will be working to pay down a few debts quickly so a tractor can be possible.

3. House Organizing. This is a constant, especially when you have kids. I tend to be fairly well organized and have made great strides the last few years to de-clutter. I must admit, however, that 2014 was a year that I let many things fall into disarray. It happens. This year I came a across a blogger who has a plan for a weekly de-clutter and organizing plan. 52 Weeks to an Organized Home is a very attainable challenge and goal. I printed out the monthly calendars and will be getting started on this goal!

4. Fiber! This new year has brought a new opportunity with my fiber sheep! A good friend and I have collaborated to start a new venture. Farm Girl Fiber. We are hand dying lace weight yarn to use in color work embroidery. All of the fleece from my sheep are being spun into lace weight and we will begin dying that yarn as soon as it arrives. We are hosting an open house in a week at our newly renovated studio and hope to begin classes and groups to focus on color work, embroidery and other fiber arts. You can follow us Facebook too!

5. Cheese and all things cow. I have long term goal of one day making cheese on a larger scale. This year I will focus on increasing my herd by one or two cows, making 3 fabulous cheeses consistently, and increasing my cow knowledge. This might even include a 3 day class on Artificial Insemination of cattle as well as reading more books on sustainable farming and rotational grazing.

I hope everyone has a fabulous New Year! Today I am fixing a simple meal of beans and cornbread so that I can sit back and relax and perhaps work some on my new goals. We will take 1 more week off as a school break and then hit the books once again.

I didn't get around to sending out Christmas cards this year but we did take out annual family photo.


Happy 2015 Ya'll!



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Time

It's THAT time of year!!!!!
 
It's almost Christmas! My kids are excited and are wishing for a white Christmas. It can happen here in Georgia and it did back in 2010. It won't this year though.
 
Aside from the baking and movie watching that is happening over here, we are still milking cows and making cheese.
In fact, I think I have the Camembert cheese down quite well. I also have several hard cheeses in the cave aging for at least 3 months.
 
 


Usually it is Zeb who hangs out with me the entire time I do cow chores, but Fletcher decided to visit with me instead.
He is barefoot and in unmatched pajamas. His hair is a mess too, but that doesn't stop him from having fun.


Today after milking we had lots of baking to do for Devin's birthday tomorrow. I am taking full advantage of this weekend and plan to squeeze in a movie later this evening.


I took this picture to illustrate how much cows love being together in a herd. These ladies are done being milked but will stand outside the gate until the last cow is done, then they head out to pasture together. In the meantime they pass time by licking each other on the faces and butting heads. True cow fellowship.


It affords me the chance to snap a cow selfie. I prefer the *cow face* over the *duck face* personally.


I hope everyone has a fabulous Christmas and is able to enjoy the time with family. I have simple plans here for us. Warm home, good food, family movies.
It is nice to be able to stay home and enjoy down time after the last couple of very hectic weeks.

See you after the holidays!!!!



Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Clampett Phenomena

Today my barn stalls are complete, in fact the entire barn is finished.

Devin found a nearby sawmill and purchased some rough cut lumber. Do I love my new barn? Yes!!

I have 2 stalls, one on each side. They are closed in with wood and each have a gate. The gate is wide enough to allow a tractor to come in a scoop out muck.
Eventually we will own a tractor, eventually.


There is also electrical outlets so that I can plug in heat lamps or anything else I might need.

There is still plenty of room to walk around and behind the ladies when they are being milked too.


The wind was fairly gusty and cold last night so I kept one stall open. Lucy was quick to find shelter and get away from the northerly winter wind.

Now what to do with the old, temporary milking area?

Well, Devin tore it down. It was a useful area for 3 years now, but it was meant as a temporary area and needed to go.


A big fire followed. We actually had several old animal shelters that were looking rough and worn that also needed to go. One large fire later, the yard looks good again.

Sidenote:
This is how we combat the *Clampett Phenomena. This is important because I know some of you have dreams and images of  living on a beautifully landscaped farm one day. Just know that farms are real life and can get messy. They can get cluttered. You will have animals that make messes and sometimes the messes stay put for a while until you have time to pick them up. Unless you have lots and lots of wealth, you will some times look out and think the Clampetts moved in. You will find trash in the yard and broken animal feeders and oops! a feed sack blew off and is tangled in the tree line. You will walk outside and find chicken poo on your driveway because that is what free range chickens do.
Fear not! You will find a nice day and the motivation to get it all cleaned up, I promise. In the meantime, try and lose that picturesque image of the beautiful gentleman's farm. The real working farm is just as beautiful if you look at it with a positive mind, and I promise it is much more fulfilling!
End of lecture.

Later we decided to get busy and get the Christmas tree up and decorated.

The last couple of years we have placed the tree in our basement. The basement is in process of being finished, but it has been a slow process at times. Who wants to go into debt finishing a space such as this? Not us!
We work on things as we have disposable income, which isn't as often as years past. Devin finished windowsills in time for the tree to go up!
We hope that by early spring we can get flooring and then it will be finished!!!! In the meantime, it is a comfy and spacious area for holiday festivities!





Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hand Made Holiday Recap

3 weeks until Christmas!

Usually I am whipping up hand made gifts, and this year is no exception. I admit that I have slimmed my hand made gift giving list down a bit though from previous years. The cows and the cheese making has really swallowed up my time. Yes, cheese will be a gift for some on my list.

I wanted to go back through older posts, ones where I shared hand made gift ideas.

I hope some of you might find a gift or two to make.

Now......time to get busy!

The Sharpie Plate. Popular on Pinterest, make sure you buy the right kind of Sharpie.

The Washer Necklace. If you have girls, you need to check this one out.

The Book Mark. This is really a great and pretty gift for the avid book reader!

Hot Chocolate Mix. This is still a favorite in this family!

Kid's Can Craft Too! This is always a popular gift your kids can make for friends and cousins!




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