Saturday, January 23, 2016

Excessive Cow Selfies

I do take lots of cow selfies. I can't help it, really.

One of the benefits of having milk cows free range all over the property is that we get to know them very well. They have personalities and they know their names.

                                                       *Lucy is doing quite well!!!*

It feels very natural to snap a picture with my favorite farm animals.
They follow us around everywhere and we are able to notice more quickly when something is *off* or they don't feel themselves.

This morning we woke up to a very slight covering of snow on the ground combined with some ice. The wind is gusty and brutal, especially for a Georgia farmer.

                                                *Annabelle is due to calve in 2 months!!!!*

The chores today included extra food for everyone and knocking the ice off the water troughs and dishes. We milked the cows and made sure everyone was present and receiving a good scratch under the chin.

The calves spent each night locked up in a barn stall and the youngest, Red, still has a heat light in his stall. The babies did fine overnight but were happy to see us this morning.

                                         *Annie has grown a ton! She will be a great Angus mama one day!*

The big cows decided to cram themselves under the back deck and next to the basement door. I suppose that was a nice wind break for them, but it did mean we had to shovel cow patties off the concrete and around the door.

Now that most of the chores are done, we can spend the day inside and warm. I have chili cooking and brownies are baking. The dogs are sleeping on any soft rug or bed they can and I am hoping to sew today.

                 * I decided to burn feed bags and now the cows are thinking of making S'mores*

Everyone stay warm!
Happy Weekend Ya'll!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

That Cold

That dreaded cold.

Usually I can shake it off in a few days...but not this time. I literally spent almost my entire days in bed for 7 days!
Then I attempted to be better and  act myself for another 3 days, failing miserably. I would manage to make it until about 2 pm and then have to crawl into bed and take a long nap.

Needless to say, not much happened here for a couple of weeks other than the basics. I am ever so grateful that Indiana can manage the cows and did ALL my milking while I was inside a warm house.

My ambitious list of projects and activities have been pushed aside until I get my house back in order and school work caught up.

Today we had hoped to see some snow. Yes I hoped for the white stuff. If it is going to be cold, at least give us something pretty outside.

Instead we got sleet and rain. Unfortunately there are several more weeks of winter, so we might still get some snow...a rare sight in Georgia.

We had issues this morning with the milk pump being frozen. Literally, it froze up. Indiana and I found a brood lamp and hung it above the pump to keep it warm tonight. Tomorrow it should work more smoothly.

This winter we have really gone through the hay! I am hoping we can last winter, but we might find ourselves buying some hay from a farmer down the road.
I have been trying to keep the girls extra full and Lucy is starting to look and act more like herself.

We spent a great deal of time outside today moving the hens and breaking ice in water troughs. I admit that it felt good to be back outside and helping with chores. Life is getting back to normal around here.

I even found time to take pictures with my babies. This is Chance. She's still a bit camera shy, but she's getting better.

Happy Hump Day Ya'll!!!

Friday, January 8, 2016


She came to the farm as my first milking cow. I bought her from a commercial dairy North of here in Tennessee. She was being culled, at the age of nine, and was surely headed to the slaughter house had I not decided she would be a perfect first cow.

I was right. Lucy had a great deal of age, but she also had a great deal of patience. She is a "been there, done that" type of cow. Each calving with her has taught me how things can go well or not so well. She has had 3 babies here. She has been my very favorite cow since we started this milking cow adventure.

Today she looks very thin. She staggers slowly into the milking barn. She has steadily lost weight these last 2 weeks, and the rain and cold has not been helpful.

Today she looks old, like a soon to be 14 year old milk cow.

We bring her in to be milked but instead decide to not milk her. We scratch her ears, feed her a bucket of food and brush her wintery coat smooth.

This evening we do the same. We bring her in, scratch her ears, give her a full feed bucket and brush her light brown coat.

We tell her how special she is to us. We tell her she is a good girl. A most favorite boss cow.

We remind her that spring will be here in a few short months. The grass will be thick and green and the sun will be plentiful and warm.

We scratch her neck and turn her back out to pasture with her bovine companions.

She staggers out, looking a bit more full and content. Her coat smooth and shiny.

She meets up with the others and they spend the evening grazing and then resting. Tomorrow I hope she feels less old and that she staggers less. We will continue to feed her extra and keep her brushed and scratched. Maybe spring will arrive early.

She is my favorite cow. My first cow.
It doesn't get more special than that.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Color Green

It's not that life has been uncontrollable, but it was time to sit and decided what I want this upcoming year to encompass.
Farming has taken a new level, with 15 cows, and I have found myself to be consumed with ways to make it all function more smoothly and with more self sustaining qualities.

My beef cow operation is starting to grow, albeit slowly, but that is not a bad thing. I have 3 heifers now that will one day make great beef cow mamas. Slow can be good, especially since grass based farming requires lots of grass. I hope to start leasing nearby land for my cattle this year.

Egg production was very low last year, so I am raising 80 pullets in anticipation of being overwhelmed with eggs come spring. If I need to sell off some of the hens I will, but I am hoping to cover my feed costs with egg sales.

I have yet to decide how many pastured chickens to run this year. I am still feeling the exhaustion from raising 3 batches last year, and it might take a longer break for me to feel the enthusiasm of raising more birds. If you have raised pastured poultry, you know what I am feeling.

I will never be without a few pigs in the forest. They are extremely easy, profitable, and nice for my own freezer. Expanding the fence line through the woods will happen as soon as the weather plays nicely.

As my milking cow numbers increase I am finding ways to manage the lactation and pregnancy schedules a little better. It would be, of course, more simple if I could AI the cows myself, so that could be a potential skill to learn this year. I am hoping to get a few farmers together and have a class taught. Details, details.

Cheese, cheese, cheese! My cave was nearly wiped clean through the holidays, so I am currently crafting cheeses to fill it back up full. Looking for new flavors, I have been inspired by some of the larger creameries and hope to have a few fabulous wheels ready this spring. I have also come to rely on a couple of simple, yet delicious wheels to always stock my personal refrigerator. Ricotta Silata and Queso Fresco have quickly become staples in my kitchen, as they are delicious, versatile and simple to make.

School never really stops. Sure we have days where we sit down with books more than other days, but in reality it never does stop. My goal and hope for this year is to find what they are most passionate to learn and focus heavily in those areas.

I have a fiber studio full of unfinished projects that I am determined to finish this year. That sentence almost made me laugh out loud. :-)

The break from the web was a much deserved and needed rest so that I could spend some time analyzing what I hope for 2016. Farming and family top my list, as they should.  Now I only need get through the cold, dull and lifeless days of winter. I much prefer the days of spring, when trees bud out and the landscape turns green. Green is my favorite color. It always has been.

Happy 2016 Ya'll!

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