29 April 2014

Farewell Buttercup, Hello Poppy

Buttercup is dead, long live Princess Buttercup*.

Buttercup, by the way was my mostly dead bottle calf.Β  She is now completely dead, poor thing.

On the bright side my cow, Poppy, had her calf! A big, gigantically huge, bull calf. She had the big boy all by herself, quite a feat for a heifer. I had been hoping for a heifer calf, all the more so when I spotted the bright white calf from a mile away. He is adorable so much prettier than these boring black calves. Unfortunately the market for white calves with brown spots is limited. Those boring black calves will bring way more with no more difference than color. Oh well, it seems rather callous to be thinking about eating the poor boy already but I’m not sure what else there is to do with him.

He and his mother are both sweethearts though. She has been a great mother for a first timer. Calm and taking good care of her calf. Or should I say calves? Hopefully I should say calves. She is a milk cow. She has lots of milk. My hope was to adopt poor Buttercup onto her but that didn’t work out. I kept saying that once she had her calf I would start looking for another calf to help keep up with all that milk. I would see one advertised and think about calling then remind myself that I was waiting for her to calve, then I would find a calf.

She had her calf Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon a neighbor stopped by to pick up a wandering cow. He and my husband walked her up from the corrals. They just happened to look in the old falling down horse barn. There, in a barn in a pen that hadn’t had cows in it for almost a week, lay a calf.

What can I say, it’s a God thing.

The three of them are locked in the barn toasty warm out of this nice week of spring snow. Poppy is proving to be a great little cow. She walked into the chute as nice and quiet as could be the first time, not as happily the second but that is to be expected. She let the orphaned calf nurse without kicking, in the chute at least, and let me milk her with out kicking me and breaking my arm. I do like to look on the bright side, I was imagining it the whole time I was knelt under her. After the little guy had drunk his fill I got three cups of Colostrum out of one quarter. I don’t know anything about milk cows but that seemed pretty good.

Colostrum is good to have on hand. I carefully labeled it and saved it in the freezer for the next sickly thing like Buttercup.

Like with horses everything needs trained. I am trying to make the chute a pleasant, or at least not miserable place to be. No hotshots or even overly strong encouragement to get in and I keep corn and/or cake in front of her along with her calf. The calf the she likes and knows is hers that is. That black thing is not hers! She is going to be spending a few more sessions in the chute. Or she may just not accept him at all.

We are working on rewarding the right behavior. In this case letting the calf nurse with out head butting the poor thing. The reward is Cake! Who doesn’t love cake? After spending a whole two minutes working on it she happily accepted cake from my hand and even from the hand of the Goblin Child. Although The Goblin Child isn’t sure she want’s to have her hand nearly devoured by a wet slimy cow mouth. As long as she has a steady flow of feed into her mouth she is willing to put up with almost anything.

It will be a long process with no guarantee of succeeding, but having such a sweet agreeable little cow sure makes it easier.

* You know, Princess Buttercup and her mostly dead hero Westley? Princess Bride? She was a girl I couldn’t very well name her Westley.

23 April 2014

Starting to Garden

Well, it’s official.

We put the tomatoes out in the greenhouse and the potatoes and onions are planted. The garden is started. We found time on Easter to get the root plants in the ground. Had to hurry while the moon signs were right (some sarcasm intended). I am having fun planning some cool forts for the kids in the garden. We will have to see if they work and if encouraging them to play in, or even close to the garden is just a really bad idea.

The tomatoes are tucked away nice and cozy inside their Wall O’ Waters. On the south wall of the greenhouse spinach, lettuce and radish are coming up nicely. Garlic in both corners and Peas along the west wall. Still to come are the carrots, south of the tomatoes, and peppers to the north. Cucumbers and Kohlrabi along the north wall. I’m exhausted just thinking about it and that’s just inside.

22 April 2014

My Herd

All the kids were up for Easter and since Ava didn’t have school Monday they stayed an extra day. Mondays are the day we have company so we had a full house with all four children running, or crawling, underfoot.

21 April 2014


The Goblin Childs first real Easter. Between us being sick last year and her being too little to remember much or have any idea what was going on.

We all gathered up at the big house for a noon time feast and then the fun began. Aunt Shannon, always the cool aunt, had a great new way to dye eggs.

16 April 2014

Again a Cattle Person

My heifers way back on sale day
My heifers way back on sale day

I spent a decade of my life working on a ranch. I did the whole cowboy thing. I started colts and showed horses.

Then I completely reinvented myself. I became a farm wife and mother. I brought my horses with of course, I would never give up my ponies. Coyote was an excellent ranch pony but I don’t think he misses it. I don’t either, for the most part. The riding was nice but as the Goblin Child grows older we are having more opportunities for that. What I did miss was the cows, sure my father-in-law has cattle but it’s not the same as having your own. So I have rectified that.

I bought a cow!!!

Three actually. My father-in-law was kind enough to sell me two heifers this spring. It was a spur of the moment thing. The calves were going onto the semi headed for the sale barn and I thought, “Hey those will be cows some day”. I chose two nice round fat looking ones and he agreed to sell to me.

This morning I just got back from picking up Poppy a first calf heifer due to pop anytime now. She is a tiny little red cow a Jersey Normande cross. Jerseys as everyone knows are a milk cow and Normandes are a dual purpose breed. She was bred to a Normande bull so the calf will be three quarters, I am pulling for a heifer.

It will be years before I see anything back from this hefty investment but I an just happy to be a cow person again.

14 April 2014

Because we Weren’t Busy Enough Already

As it stood I had one small rotten Goblin Child that I spend all my time trying to keep from injuring herself, the house or the animals. Another smaller neighbor child who has been spending Mondays with us*. The goat, forgive me Jenny Drum, is on a five times a day feeding schedule. Garden time is getting closer every day, can’t wait, and I am refinishing the kitchen floor.

Have I mentioned that it is backbreaking labor that is nearly killing me? That may be a slight exaggeration, I only work on it maybe three days a week for a couple of hours at a time. Those are a really hard couple of hours though. My housekeeping is lackluster at best. I am trying to keep up with it along with all the other things but the time I spend on the floor is the time I would usually spend cleaning, you know nap time. I fear the house is all a shambles.

A certain small child keeps letting the chickens out. Last time we herded them in to the chicken coup then caught all but one and the rooster and put them back in their mobile cage. The rooster ate the remaining hen. To be more exact, he was way over enthusiastic in his amour pulling all the feathers from the back of her head then the skin and most of the meat. It is really disgusting. She is alive and seems quite healthy but I am keeping her separate from the other hens, I think they would finish the job. Now there are two bunches of chickens to feed and water.

So who doesn’t need one more thing to take care of?

Shortly before our latest snow blew in my father-in-law asked if we knew anyone who wanted a bottle calf. There was a calf who appeared to have been abandoned, it had been standing in about the same spot for the last week and was thin as a rail. He must have figured it wouldn’t survived the storm.

I didn’t have any calf milk replacer but I had goat milk.

We started right in getting some food in the poor things belly. The dock of its tail stood clear up with not a drop of meat on its hind quarters. It stood with back hunched and its poor little belly shriveled to nothing. I still doubt, every morning when I go to give it its morning bottle, that it will be alive. So far so good though.

The calf gets to live with the goat for now at least. They can be buddies and I wont have to worry so much about the goat being lonely.

The Goblin Child experienced her first, that she remembers, thunderstorm last week. Like the bears in Brave, thunder was cool not scary and we spent lots of time emulating it.

*I have realized that having a child has not suddenly made me a baby person. Give me a calf or a colt any day, I still don’t know what to do with a people baby.

13 April 2014

Planting Potatoes

What is the saying about potatoes and Easter? I know if I took the time to look back through here I could find it, but I’m too lazy.

We carefully checked the moon phase** and the time was right so we hurried to get them in the ground yesterday before the snow hit. I think mostly my gardener husband was getting impatient to get something going in the garden. My brother had started his potatoes the weekend before and some things can only wait so long.

The seeds we planted in the greenhouse last week are starting to come up. It won’t be too much longer and we will be feasting on spinach.

When the snow hit it hit with a vengeance. Not a lot of snow but a good wet snow breaking off what few branches were left on the trees. The ground was warm enough to melt most of it so we wound up wit a couple of inches of very icy snow and nasty wind howling across it. Most of the cows and calves huddled around the barns out of the wind so hopefully there weren’t any calves lost.

** I usually mock people who worry about something as silly as this but we started some seeds inside at a time when it said not to and instead of our usual hundred percent germination maybe half came up.

12 April 2014

Early Birthday Present, From the Greatest Grandma

She got the same thing for all of her great grand children. The same exact thing and yet the variations in her gift are fascinating to me. Ours is brand spanking new, straight out of the box. My brothers is used, needing some reworking and our cousin, well I don’t have any idea what hers is going to be, but I understand she is taking an entirely different road.

Grandma got them all swing sets. Or more accurately the means to buy them swing sets and we chose the set.

The choices were over whelming. We looked online at all the options, and there were many. Our original wish was to build one. It could be a great one, tall and sturdy to last forever. Then reality set in, it is spring my farmer husband is at work or in the field or working on equipmentΒ  or in the garden. There is no time for building. Back to the internets. We chose a Flexible flier with all the add-ons, a glider, a bench swing and of course plain old swing swings.

We picked it up and got it put together Friday. All the parts were there and we were able to figure out instructions, it was up and going in three or four hours.

My brothers swing set
My brothers swing set

My brother found one of the big fancy wood sets that needed tore down and hauled. It needs some new parts and refinished. I am sure Sabbath will love it.

It is my understanding that our cousin wants a tree house and tire swing instead of a swing set. I am sure it will be just as cool.

So, to the greatest of the grandmas, thank you!

5 April 2014

Well, Justin, Since you Asked

The kitchen floor is coming nicely but slowly. The floor looks beautiful once the glue is scrubbed off. The scrubbing is hard, rather back breaking, work. The glue turns quite like cow poop in consistency, thick, goopy and runny. Same color too for that matter.

We got the first seeds started in the greenhouse, after spending what seemed like all week shoveling in lots of well composted poop. We planted spinach, lettuce, radishes, peas and the rest of the garlic that I didn’t get planted last fall.

The goat is doing good. Did I forget to mention that we got a goat? Well we did, and her name is Jenny Drum. She is a smash hit amongst the children. We are teaching her to be a dog, Daisy is thrilled to have a buddy.

Cade and Ava have been up for the weekend. We have been having a blast, riding, feeding the goat and playing. Odie is proving to be quite a nice kids horse. Even Cowboy Bill hopped up on him for a short spin. Not that he is a kid. It was nice to see him on a horse again though. I realized after Ava, Goblin Child and I were all on horses that I had forgotten the riding helmet. I didn’t have it in me to get off and have to do it all again. So we hoped for the best and had a nice ride without it, fortunately.

Now, Justin, could I make one request? Please just a little punctuation? Periods at least? I know that I can’t spell so I’m not one to talk, but just the slightest effort would be nice on your behalf. I know you are typing on your phone and that has got to be miserable but I also know that you are brilliant and usually I love your writing style, but right now I want to know what Sabbath is talking about? Pees out? A little more clarification please?