Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Calfy, Mousie, and Mini

Last fall, Danny bought feeder calves. Typically, heifers go for a slightly lower price, so we ended up with several large feedlot heifers. He was somewhat apprehensive that they were so large, and some of them were "bawlers" meaning they had just been weaned.

It turned out that quite a few of the heifers had been accidentally bred by having been weaned so late - if the heifer calves are left with the cow-herd so long they can be mature before they are separated from their mothers, and often the bull is the first to learn this.

So anyway, this spring, it became clear that some of the heifers were going to calve, and the plan was to allow each calf to stay with it's mother for the first 24 hours to get colostrum, then bring it to our barn so we could bottle raise it. That way the feedlot heifer that just gave birth would be able to continue on in the feedlot, and the calf would be ensured good nutrition. Often heifers bred so accidentally young as these were don't handle the stress of nursing a calf. So we did what was best for both calves and the heifers.

The first calf we got was a little black bull calf, who we allowed our daughter the priveledge of naming. She spent all afternoon trying to think of a good name for the little calf, saying she was "thinking 'bout it" in the sweet little way that she had. Finally I told her that we'd just call the calf "Cowboy" when she said no, his name is "Calfy." So Calfy it is.

A while later another feedlot calf was born. This one was a heifer, black with a white face, and some of the strangest ears I'd seen on a calf - they stuck up, not out to the sides like a normal calf's ears would. So I made the executive decision to call this calf Mousie - in honor of Minnie Mouse, because her ears made her look more like a mouse than a calf.

We put Calfy and Mousie in the same stable thinking it would be nice to let the calves have some bovine companionship. But that backfired. Calfy took to sucking on Mousie's ears in between bottle feedings, and Mousie found a place on the little bull calf to suck. Not good! So we ended up having to keep the calves separated until they were eating hay and feed and not so used to sucking on a bottle. I've heard people complain about the way dairy calves or veal calves are raised in individual stalls, but we found that it was in the calves' best interest to keep them apart from each other.

Calfy and Mousie have since been weaned from the bottle, and have been eating good alfalfa hay and sweet cattle feed and doing well.

Since then, there was a calf born just last month who wasn't getting enough to eat from it's mother. It was 5 days old and just skinny as can be, but spunky. Cora decided to call this calf Mini, right away. Mini started taking her bottles readily from the beginning, you could sure tell this calf was hungry! She looks healthy now, and is nearly ready for just eating hay and feed, though we'll gradually wean her from the milk replacer. I'll be glad when I don't have to mix a bottle twice a day!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Whole Shed-full

The other morning as my husband was getting ready to leave the house, I was discussing with him what we'd get our son for his birthday. It went pretty much like this:

Momma: What do you think we should get for Luke for his birthday?
Daddy: I thought we'd get him a tractor.
Momma: Really? Because his Grandma told me she got him one already.
Daddy: Yeah, but one isn't enough.
Momma: How many tractors does a 1 year old boy need?!?
Daddy: Well, not that many, but we aren't going to buy him 5 all at once when he's three.
Momma: FIVE?!? Why does he need that many tractors?
Daddy: No, (shaking his head) Honey, he needs a whole shed-full.
Momma: What??
Daddy: Yes, see, if we just get him a tractor or two a year, by the time he's three, he'll have enough tractors, then we can start buying implements.

Oh, this conversation makes me grin!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Goat Pictures

Well I said I'd try to get pictures, and here they are! Seems like all of our buck's offspring are forms of the two colors shown below. In fact, the kids look identical to me, it's amazing the mothers can tell who's who. It's so sweet to me to listen to the noises newborn animals and their mothers make to each other. Definitely softer than their usual hollering for food, or whatever they make noise for!

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Kids!

One of our goats kidded yesterday afternoon. We've been watching her for quite some time thinking it could be any time. My husband and I bundled up the kids and we all went out to do the afternoon chores as we usually do, and as I carried the bottle of milk for our bottle calf to him, I noticed all the goats came out of the barn except for the red-headed heavily-pregnant doe. Hmm!

As "Mini" the calf finished his bottle, Matt came to tell me that there were wet twins in the barn! So we all went to look, and sure enough, there was a cream colored kid and a black kid both wobbly on their feet, and the doe was still lying down, these were fresh! My daughter was just fascinated watching the momma and the fresh babies, she just quietly stood still and peered in. We left to give her a chance to clean them off herself after we penned out the rest of the goats so they'd leave her alone.

Hubby and the kids went to do the rest of the chores while I made supper, then we ate, put the kids in bed, then headed back out to check on our (goat) kids. The doe had cleaned them both off well, and they were both up and nosing around for their food source - it's amazing the instincts God has given animals - how do they know?! It was getting colder, but it was warm and still in the barn, but Matt went ahead and bedded them down with more straw, and we headed back to the house. It was getting late, and Matt had to be up early so he could be at his off-farm job at 5am.

We have one other doe who should be kidding soon. I may try to post pictures when she kids of the baby kids. Baby goats are about 5-9 pounds when they're born, about the same weight as a human baby! But much hairier! :-)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hello friends, it's been awhile!

long time, no post....you know, summertime, we live on a farm - gets kind of busy! excuses, excuses, but here we go

Yesterday's sunrise was oddly beautiful. It doesn't break light these days until nearly 8am, and the sky went straight to bright blue between the spotted clouds - it looked almost like a giraffe's spots, only in feathery white and blue. The sky to the south was dark and promised rain, and it looked COLD.

It seemed a good idea to wake my nearly 3 year old daughter so she could have breakfast and we could do chores in time before it might rain. She and my nearly 1 year old son go along and we feed our goats, our livestock guardian dogs, my horse, and our little bottle calves. Our boy rides in the stroller, and our daughter's big enough now that she walks alongside and gets to help feed the goats and pour the feed to the dog.

My father-in-law was outside also, he starts his chores in the dark because he's not afraid of a little cold (my excuse is it's difficult to keep the kids warm, so we wait until the sun shines a bit!) and he told me it had been drizzling rain south of us, but it wasn't going to come as far north as us. Too bad...we could really use the rain! Our county and several counties around us are experiencing EXTREME drought.

This has been an unusual farming year, the lilacs bloomed in April this year instead of the first week of May like usual. And the pattern continued, it was warmer than usual almost every month - July like temperatures in June, July, and August, September was as hot as August, October more like September. With the heat and lack of rainfall, the crops were ready to run in September, and we were finished by the first week of October. This was a first for our farm to my knowledge - which meant we got a lot of warm fall days this year to catch up on other work.

If we would have just gotten significantly more rainfall, crop yields would have been great. Drought and high yields just don't go together, though. But it could have been much worse, while our yields were down significantly in corn, they were about the same in soybeans, and the prices are looking great, which really helps!

Already this year's calves have been weaned, the corn and beans are in the bin, we've moved that goats around, the silo is filled, a new field has been cleared for hay and planted, wheat has been planted.....surely I'm missing some things. I'll try to post more frequently to catch things as they happen, and maybe I'll post some short re-caps over the winter.