Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Expand or Perfect?

 After taking over the farm I have been asked multiple times if I plan to expand. No, I don’t foresee myself milking more cows; I am focused on perfecting what we have. I am getting it there too! We are running underground water lines, moving calves outside, and fixing barns.

If I were to do something really different on this farm, besides selling cow shares and putting the cows on pasture, it would be selling a product. I think I would be interested in making yogurt, or bottling milk. No, I did not say pasteurizing it.

For now we are very busy getting the farm the way we want it: cows on pasture and everything running smoothly. Record keeping has been a big upgrade here and I am getting it there. I can finally say when a cow’s birthing date is and I am always within a couple days, knowing that will improve the health of the cow and her calf.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

some updates

I was just looking back at older posts and thought I would give some completion to some of the stories.

Back in July we were begging for rain and our corn was all curled up hiding from the sun. We did get rain, lots of rain, almost too much rain. The end result was a great harvest.

Another story I told then was about the old stray beagle, Hank, who came to join us. His story is not quite as happy. Hank was the best beagle I ever met. He was never on a chain or in a cage and he always stayed in our yard. Anyone who has ever known a beagle will tell you that that is unheard of.  Hank would come to me, most of the time, when I called; I admit I did this by always having a treat in my hand. This is still unusual for a beagle.  

I treated Hank for his heart worm, and he came down with a terrible fever that he had to see the doctors for. After an entire summer of endearing himself to us, Hank passed away. It turns out that he had a huge tumor in his abdomen. One morning he did not stand at the edge of the yard baying so I knew something was amiss. I returned from the farm to have the kids report something was wrong. I took him back to the vet where he passed quickly and peacefully. We gave him a loving home for his final days and he freely chose to spend his last days with us, and for that we are very honored.

More improvements for the farm

I am so happy to see this farm improving each week. Our latest endeavor is the free stall barn which was beautiful and new in the early 60's. Our girls will spend the winter in this barn so I want it in good repair.

A free stall barn is pretty much what it sounds like; a barn full of stalls that the cows are free to go in and out of. A dairy cow spends most of her life laying down resting between milking and eating. I know my bed was a serious consideration for me, so it should be as important for these girls who are paying my bills, or so goes my opinion. As you can see in this picture, the stalls were a mess and dangerous for the girls. Cows can get tangled up in this sort of mess. Now they are safe with stalls that are all in working order.
Another consideration for this renovation is financially driven. I will have cleaner cows; this should improve the quality of my milk giving me more money. New sand that stays in its place reduces the waste of sand and the amount that I have to buy.
We have also hung new gates where they are needed. Instead of just replacing them on the side of the barn, we placed new hinging posts. This creates an opening we can walk threw but the cow cannot. This opening is going to save us time and probably prolong the life of the gates because nobody will be tempted to climb over them.
As you can see in this picture, we also needed to repair the outside walls of this barn. Now our old barn should last another 50 years.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh the Cream!!!

Just look at the cream in this jar! I am so pleased with my new cows. The one above is my Milking Shorthorn. As you can see, she is a sweetheart. I am going to have to bake a pie just so I can make some whipped cream to put on it. And if you look, you can see that Jeana had already poured some into her biscuit bowl.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

First baby

The vet was out and says we have our first A.I. baby on the way!!! How exciting to know that this one is of our own making. I am so glad to know we can have some success at this hand breeding stuff.

New Cows

I just swiped this picture of a jersey off the internet.
I said I would post pictures, but I haven't had time. I did go buy 10 new cows for the herd.  We now have 6 beautiful little Jersey girls, 2 Brown Swiss, 1 Milking Shorthorn, and 1Ayrshire.  They are all very nice girls and add so much to the herd.  They add more than extra milk, they add lots of cream on top, and color in the pasture! Our butter fat is up to over 4%.  That is really good for 10 protein cows mixed in with 116 production cows.