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Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

Bully

In General Farm News on December 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Laura, our Belted Galloway cow, gave us a bull for Christmas this year. The same gift for the last three years. It is officially a tradition, not just a random chance or luck. We have begun a holiday tradition!

So our little bull calf has attained the status of the chocolate orange, the ribbon candy, and the morning stockings.

Today our White Galloway bull, Lenny, returns home after a mini-vacation in the hills with about thirty-five good-looking heifers and cows. ;). Hopefully, all of that herd ends up bred and produces some nice offspring for that farmer. That was the intent anyways.

We have also added a young Belted Galloway steer to the pasture. He seems to be assimilating into our herd well.

The nine swine on our farm are all doing well: two large Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs who live with the Galloway herd, the four Large Black Red Wattle cross pigs, and the two Tamworths in the pasture alongside the Dirt Road and our house, Big Red and Ruby. And last but not least, there’s Olive the Berkshire (black) pig.

We have trimmed our poultry numbers down for the cold winter, and look forward to incubating eggs in the coming weeks (after Christmas). One major resason for cutting back in the winter is due to the lack of running water. We hand carry every drop of water that the birds and most of the pigs, the lambs, and some of the cows, drink daily.

That is a drag. It wears you down fast and the thrill of farming disappears as fast as your body temperature rises as you lug fifty pounds of water through snowbanks and over ice.

I tried to purchase a heated hose to alleviate some of the pain and headache of carrying buckets. No dice, I was told they are on a “national backorder” and not available until next summer. Great. We will continue to carry water.

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Our Annual Four-Hooved Thermometer

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Our four-hooved, cud-chewing ambulatory thermometer struck again!

The back story, and some finer points of farming:
1. Ideally, cows give birth once a year (or are pregnant once a year, whether or not they are carrying twins, etc)
2. The duration of their pregnancy is nine months.
3. If you arrange for a Bull to be in the same pasture with a Cow, it is likely that you will end up with a calf at some point.
4. We have “an experienced Belted Galloway cow” (she is older, and has had many calves) named Laura.
5. Laura has a bull calf each year.
6. Laura gives birth in December
7. She calves on the coldest night of the season.

The story:
We had a wickedly cold snap yesterday and the day before. Guess what? Uneventfully and quietly, Laura went into labor yesterday afternoon and gave birth to a healthy and robust calf. She is a very protective mother, and we have not yet gotten close enough to check and see if it is a heifer (female) or bull. This morning as I left the house for work, I noted that Laura had moved away from her calf, and was eating hay. When a cow leaves her calf alone, you always worry and wonder what they are up to:  is the calf still alive or did the mother abandon it, it is alive but freezing cold, has it made too much noise and is it being mauled by coyotes, or experiencing any other horrible thing (that all have happened to our animals over the years)?  Laura had tucked her calf in for a warm slumber alongside Petunia and Portia, the exceedingly large and friendly Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs.

We must have experienced a very cold few days, as our little thermometer gave us an early Christmas present in 2009.