Bringing You Up to Date and Rambling

I’m coming up on my second anniversary of being a full-fledged farm wife. On the front lines. Fully immersed in the red dirt and poo. Over the last year, I’ve done less and less of the actual labor part of farming. I don’t get in the milk barn much at all anymore. I spend more time at my desk with the numbers than I ever have because we continue to slowly and steadily grow. I’ve also been working part-time for an attorney in the city. I enjoy it immensely (the finances and the part-time job), but it leaves me a lot less time for my blogging hobby. Not to mention that it’s hard to feel inspired when it’s thunder-snowing with freezing rain tornadoes followed by beautiful spring-like temperatures followed by 18 degrees, quarter-sized hail, 30mph sleet-winds.

I’m serious. One day it looks like this.

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The next day it looks like this.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready for spring in my life!  I can’t even imagine how our cattle feel.

We haven’t been up to anything different than the usual around here. The farmer bought more cows in August and they’ve been sporadically calving in. He’s been busy trying to keep them alive from freak accidents and bad weather. We’ve had 3 black bulls from Solomon.( If you’re not familiar with him, click here: http://wp.me/p1lzEK-hR) However, only one has survived. The first calf born to one of our heifers met his end by falling off a 15-foot bluff and drowning in the spring below. The farmer was just sick about it because she calved early. He had been moving all of the ones that were “due any day now” close to the house. That’s one thing I’ve learned about farming. If they’re not in a barn, left to their own devices, these cows will give birth to their offspring in the most remote, dangerous spot on the farm. Let’s not speak of giving these calves a fighting chance. Apparently, our cows want to raise warrior calves and believe in the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” philosophy. I mean, not only do they have to worry about winter, coyotes, and  abandonment  by  a heifer that seems to think she just had a really rough time going to the bathroom, but bluffs with 8 inches of running spring water underneath.

Wide loads! Comin' through!

Wide loads! Comin’ through!

Then, the farmer had to pull another one, but it was stillborn. So, our luck so far this year hasn’t been the greatest. The farmer did a good job planning so that none of them would calve in January-mid February (the worst part of winter) and here we are, having terrible weather in March. One of our new, really nice cows calved overnight and the farmer has been awaiting her calf with much anticipation only to not be able to find it all this morning. The cow keeps mooing across the fence, but the farmer can’t even so much as find a piece of hair or any sign of the calf. We found mountain lion tracks on our place during the last snow, so he thinks it was either that or coyotes.

And then you always have to worry about a cow getting her back down a hill during labor. She’ll have the calf, but not be able to get back up to lick it and encourage it to eat. In this weather, it will freeze in no time. That’s the situation he came upon with another cow this morning. He got the momma cow turned the right direction, picked up the calf to take it with him, and returned to the milk barn soaked with slime. He put it in the warm bulk tank room hoping he could save it and so far, it’s worked. Needless to say, he’s been busy. And that was all just before church Sunday morning.

Peanut’s been going to preschool during the days. She’s still loving it and it’s heartwarming to watch her make friends and know that there’s a possibility that some of them might be life-long ones. She’s blossoming educationally and socially. And I find myself flip-flopping between being so proud that she can do so much and feeling sad because my baby’s growing up. Baby # 2 fever has definitely arrived!

Peanut only had a half-day at preschool last week and the weather was nice, so we went driving around checking cattle with the farmer. He turned to me and said, “Well, I guess we’ll go back to the house and get the trailer so we can load that heifer and bring her back to the house.” Just a second after that, Peanut looks at him and repeats verbatim what he just said like it was her idea all along. In a more commanding tone. He looked at me and quietly said, “I tell you what, whatever she ends up doing when she grows up, we are raising a boss.” It didn’t take her 5 seconds to reply, “You’re not raising a boss, Daddy. I am the boss already.” He was rendered speechless and I just had to laugh. (Sigh) You gotta love 3-almost-4 year olds… This picture is all the illustration you need of the role she plays around here.

The Boss

The Boss

I have so many stories about Peanut. I think the third year has probably been the toughest as far as child-rearing has gone. (For me, anway. Two was a peach compared to three. All I can say is attitude…attitude…attitude.) However, in some ways, three has been super rewarding because I see Peanut follow the examples her dad and I are trying to set for her. In church Sunday morning, we had our Bibles open and guess what? So did Peanut. It doesn’t matter that we were in Hebrews and she was in Lamentations; it clarified that she’s watching. Later during the sermon, she turned to the farmer and told him he wasn’t on the right page. She flipped his Bible to some other random page and told him, “Now, you’re right.” (Doing to us what we do to her.) It was funny.

She has so much spunk and my family likes to laugh and say, “We can’t wait to watch this story unfold.”  Neither can I.  It’s going to be interesting.

Banjo is as weird as ever.

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He’s still chasing birds…as their flying in the sky.

He’s still dragging all kinds of dead things into my yard.

He still hates cats. (I don’t know of one Blue Heeler that will not kill cats if given one split-second of a chance.) However, he also hates mice. Actually, he hates all animals smaller than him. I like cats and would enjoy having some mousers around here, but if Banjo spots a mouse, it’s a goner. Problem is, he doesn’t hunt them like a cat does… He redeems himself with me by being the best alarm system for snakes. If there is a snake in the yard, Banjo will seriously chase you out of the yard and away from the snake. For that reason, him and I have a special bond.)

And he still entertains me when I catch him outside the window chasing his tail.

Somewhere between the middle and end of March, we’ve planned to start stock dog training for him with a trainer that knows more about what they’re doing than we do. Might as well, right? Why not have a dog that can gather the cows instead of the farmer going after them every morning and afternoon? Why not have a dog smart enough to sort and know what gate you want different cows to go through? That’s our plan, anyway. I’m all about productivity and efficiency around here. Even the dog has to pull his weight.  We’ll see how it all turns out.

Sorry about all the rambling. Just thought I’d let my loyal readers know what we we’ve been up to lately. I’d go take some pictures of some new babies, but I don’t particularly like getting pelted with what feels like glass when I step outside the door, so you’re left to read my ramblings.

I’ll try to do better once spring comes.

Ta-ta for now,

Breauna

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Farm Girls

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My baby's growing up. She just turned 3, but she's already going on about 15. I know this because of the amount of sass I get every day. She already knows better than I do and don't try to tell her otherwise. The only times she becomes very agreeable are when a Kit-Kat, shopping, or 4 wheeler rides are involved.

But, no, really. 3 is a fun age. Her observations about things she doesn't quite understand are hilarious. Her creativity is through the roof. She asks a million questions about everything and never forgets what you told her first. Needless to say, we have to be very consistent with our answers.

However, one thing hasn't changed. She's happiest when she's following Daddy around.

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She asks questions.

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She gets answers.

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And she's an excellent diesel-jug-holder.

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Calves need feeding?

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She’s got it covered.

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Being a shortie makes that a lil’ hard sometimes!

Manure needs jumped in?

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Um… manure never needs jumped in. To Peanut, though, this is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

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And this is the face of a guilty person.

Chained to the washer and dryer,

The Dairymaid

P.S. There’s a “less-than” symbol in this post. I’ve spent the last 30 minutes trying to get out of there. I’ve pulled every last hair on my head out and it still remains. I quit. I hate math.

Our Cows (Silly and Serious)

If you follow along with my posts, I’m sure you’re well aware that we milk Jerseys at our farm. But, I’ve yet to introduce you to some of them. Most of them have names and they picketed outside the dairy barn the other day because they were tired of being just a number. (The farmer likes to just number them and move on. I like to give them names based on what they look like to me as a calf. Or their Sun sign. Or how the weather was that day. Or famous people. Then I have the farmer write their names on their ear tags because otherwise I would have no idea who they are. If they’re not spotted, all Jerseys look the same to me. If they don’t have a name, I can’t connect.)

But, first, let me get this out.

“Is my deodorant still working??”

I just can’t help myself….

You saw this dude yesterday. He’s the studmuffin around our farm. His name is Woodee. That is his registered name…that he was given before we owned him. (The farmer and I exchanged looks and had to bite our lips.) He comes from a very good bull (Gannon, if you’re familiar with AI bulls) and his mom’s name was Dee. The dairy farmer’s wife that we got him from liked his mom so much that she wanted to incorporate his mom’s name into his. So: Woodee. I personally think he needs something more fierce because his name is cutesy…

and it makes me think he’s nice…

and then I want to hug him.

And that’s not really a good idea.

He’s very good at what he does. One thing that I learned when the farmer started milking is that there is a need for a “clean up” bull. You would have thought this topic would come up in everyday conversation as we were going out to dinner, right? A “clean up” bull saves the day (hopefully) when the farmer is having a hard time getting a cow to “settle” (impregnated) with artificial insemination. We use AI a lot at our farm because we can pick and choose what genetics we want for a certain cow.

For instance, say a cow has a floppy utter and you want cows with utters that are high and tight. (Bear with me. I have no idea what the correct terminology for this is.) The right bull can help improve that by lending his genetic makeup to that cow’s calf. That’s just one way. There are soooo many others.

However, AI just doesn’t work sometimes on a few, so we sick Woodee on ’em.

The speed at which he undertakes this duty always amazes me. As soon as you let him loose with the cows, he immediately zeroes in on his target.

See what I mean! He’s in hot pursuit. If that’s not a look of purpose, I don’t know what is. And she’s completely oblivious.

This is Barbie.

Barbie apparently thinks her best look is with her tongue sticking out because she does it all the time. She’s not panting or anything. She just randomly lets her tongue hang out and waggle around every once in a while. I’ve tried to tell her that it’s not very lady-like but it doesn’t seem to be sticking.

This is Cheerio.

Cheerio is a lot smarter than she looks. This cow is notorious for pulling her own feed rope in the barn. The cows all get a set amount when they come in. The farmer pulls ropes on each feed bin that lets however much he’s rationed for them to have fall into their respective feed bin. Well, Cheerio has realized that the rope is what makes feed fall. So, she just tugs on it with her teeth and gets however much she wants. Needless to say, she’s a butterball. The farmer has tried everything he can think of to make it hard for her to do this, but to no avail. She’s the only cow that has figured this out. However, I found out last weekend that she is educating an apprentice. It would be comical if feed wasn’t so expensive.

Here’s a close-up of Cheerio. I think it’s kinda cute. I might have this one put on canvas and hang it in the house. Not because it’s Cheerio; just because it’s a Jersey.

This is my favorite cow. Ready?

Her name is Artist and I think she’s just gorgeous. She’s one of the nice ones, too.

She definitely stands out and she’s always so pretty and white.

Well, Woodee’s giving me the evil eye.

See, look, he’s getting very irritated.

Apparently, me being in my front yard still means he’s gotta keep an eye on me. It’s a good thing I have a zoom lens.

He appears to have it all under control.

Until next time,

The Dairymaid

Copyright. Breauna Krider. 03/30/2012.

New Additions

We’ve been having some promiscuity problems at the farm this year. First, we had feral cats all over the place. Now, we’re just down to 2 because we caught some kittens and had them fixed. My favorite of those cats, Mr., went missing some months ago. I really miss him because 1) he was a mouse/mole slayer extraordinaire and 2) he really liked me and was so friendly to everyone he encountered. Look where that got him. So, now we’re just down to 2 cats that hate people and don’t put the hurtin’ on the mouse population that Mr. did.

My beloved Mr. May he rest in peace.

Then, Miles, our hereford bull, saw greener pastures (he he) one day when a tree fell on the fence separating our beef cows from our Jerseys.

If you want to read more about his escapades, here’s the link to the post: http://the-dairy-maid.com/2011/05/20/miles-night-out/

Now, we have these:

They’re little squirrly, wiggly things that make blurry pictures. They were just born yesterday. With all the other things that the farmer has had going, he never even realized his coon dog was in heat until he saw the neighbor’s male coon dog hanging around. He got lucky and so did we, in a way, because they just so happen to be purebred Walker puppies. They are so cute, too. I can’t wait for them to get a little older so Peanut can play with them. (Apparently, you can’t fix coon dogs or you run the risk of taking away their desire to hunt. This is yet one more thing I’ve learned since I came to the farm. The farmer usually locks her in the trailer when she’s in the puppy-making way so things like this don’t happen.)

Look at this adorable lil’ thing!

These are new additions that never come as surprises.

The Dairy Maid

Copyright. Breauna Krider. 10/6/11