Monday, April 27, 2009

Working the Cows

A young calf after just having had a drink of milk from his mother! See his "milk mustache"??

The weekend after Easter we treated the brood cows for lice and dewormed them. I've never had the opportunity to help with this chore, and it was an experience! The mature cows are much more difficult to handle and contain than the smaller calves. The calves get handled (vaccination and castration) at weaning and then vaccinated and fly-tagged as yearlings before getting turned out on pasture for the summer. Then they get slowly brought up on feed and are typically market weight (around 1200 lbs) before they are 2 years old. So when the calves are being vaccinated and worked in the cattle chute, they are pretty easy to get to walk into the chute since they haven't had much experience yet. The older cows are a different story - they've been there, done that, and our cows aren't tame.

The picture below shows the chute that we created for the cows to walk into, with the homemade door that is super heavy-duty to keep them from running out before they got treated. Matt's inside the chute that went along the barn, getting ready to pick up the short aluminum gate that his dad used to help move the cows down into the chute. He just had to use the gate as a visual, to show the cows where he wanted them to go.

Usually he would get two or three cows to come in at a time, then he would stand behind the last cow to keep her from running back towards the rest of the herd that hadn't been treated. In the picture below, Matt is holding the dewormer/delouser in his left hand, and is squirting the product along the cow's back, from withers to tail head.

Once each group was treated, I would open the gate and let them out, and Danny would bring the next group in, Matt would treat them, and so on. The last one to go was the bull. He is BIG!

We then separated him out from the herd so that we will have a break in when the cows start calving again. He'll get put back in with the cows to in another month or so. All the cows and their calves got turned back out onto fresh grass pasture, and will be rotated around all summer and into the early fall.

Our Cora loves sitting on the tractor and getting her picture taken - so no surprise to see such a happy smile!

Beginning to Plant Garden!

On Friday evening we were able to disk up our garden, winds kept blowing, weather was warm and in the 80s! By Saturday afternoon it was dry enough to use the garden tiller, and we planted a few things in our garden: radishes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, 2 rows of sweet corn. Cora enjoyed this immensely, and had a great time getting dirty!

Then on Sunday afternoon we worked on planting the potatoes in the newly disked potato patch with Cora and my in-laws. Matt wanted a new place to plant potatoes and so he disked up an area about 50x100'. (this is purely a guess at the size - it could be way off!) We started by cutting potato chunks with eyes for planting, using 50# of Kennebec potatoes. Then dug a little trench using a handheld plow pulled by the 4Wheeler, added fertilizer and mixed it in, and started placing the eyes about a foot apart. We ended up with I think 13 rows of potatoes, and then 3 rows of yellow onion sets.

The calves in the next pasture came over to enjoy the shade and watch all the action:

Then after all the eyes and sets were planted, the guys used the hoe to cover them up.

Not a bad way to spend one of the first truly warm weekends outside! We will be enjoying these potatoes and onions this fall and winter! Homegrown potatoes really are MUCH more delicious than any you can buy at the grocery store.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Weeding is one of my least favorite activities. We haven't planted our vegetable garden yet - probably won't be dry enough until middle of May. But, my flower beds around the house have started sprouting weeds, and it's time they got banished.

I find this job to be easier the day after a good soaking rain. It's easier to get the entire root system of the plant with the soft, wet ground, and with some weeds, if you don't get the whole tap root the first time, you are really IN for it. Like Jewel weed, if you don't get the whole taproot, just the first inch or so underground, that sucker will keep growing back bigger and bigger all summer.

My daughter had fun getting to "help" me. I gave her a little trowel to dig around with in the mulch, and she did a great job of getting wet and muddy!

This is the first year (we've lived her starting late summer 2005) I have actually started off the year on top of the weed situation. I surely hope to continue - the quicker I get control of the small plants, the easier my job will be! I still need to regain control of the strawberry beds, but we've got a good start!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Before any of our goats had started kidding, and before any of the cows had started calving, I had mentioned to my father-in-law that I hoped that all the births would go smoothly this year.

“So what?” You might ask??

Well I hope all the births go well, including the birth of our second child! My husband and I are expecting a new baby due to arrive around the end of October, first of November. Cora, our firstborn daughter, will be 22 months when she becomes a big sister.

We are very excited, and eagerly look forward to meeting our new baby!

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Visitor

Here is a photo of the visitor my husband found when he turned on our front porch light to see how hard it was raining: A little black calf who'd wandered under the electric fence!

There was one little calf who did this last year, too. I wonder if it is a calf from the same momma cow? My husband and his dad showed him his way back under the fence, but I think we will see him back here more than once. The cows all have a shed with a roof they can get into and under if it rains, but I guess he wanted a little privacy! Too cute.