Farm News from our Shareholder August Newsletter:
Firstly, the calves grew very well on their mother’s milk and were to be sold this month at weaning time. The prospective buyers requested testing be done prior to the sale and lo, to our astonishment one of them tested positive as having antibodies to the BLV virus. We then proceeded to test the rest of the herd. Vera and Lizzie tested out as carriers of this virus. We do not believe there is any concern with the milk, however we have made the decision to cull them because the virus is contagious to other cows, will be passed on to their calves via the placenta, and we believe the virus leaves the cow with a compromised immunity which will only court problems later. So, the calves were sold at auction, the cows will be sold or butchered and the next milk string (Party and Louise) are both tested negative. Party is sequestered away from Vera and Lizzie, and Louise arrives in September from Alabama. In all the testing we also drew blood to re-verify Party’s pregnancy status; she came back as negative, so she will not calve in January as we thought, but hopefully in May. (She is being re-bred this week). The long and the short of this is that now that the calves are gone there is plenty of extra milk if anyone wants to get extra shares for a month or two; Vera and Lizzie will only be milked a few more months, but we hope to avoid a dry period. We plan to eventually get a third cow, but only time and circumstance will tell when or whom that will be.
Since that mailing, the calves and Vera have been sold and the farm is a little quiet with only 2 cows. Lizzie had a heat, so she will need to be bred again, and Party was AI'd (waiting until the next heat to determine if we need to draw blood or breed again).
Lizzie is absolutely perfect in the milk stand, sweet but not overtly affectionate with people and I desperately hope we can find a home for her in October.
The drought and heat wave (30 something days over 100'F) has caused the loss of several big oak trees, much pasture and basically all of our meat birds. The tiny little sprinkler that we run on the pasture actually is making a huge difference in the areas we can run it. The temperatures this week are improving--highs in the 90's and the lows a few times in the 60's--this is a huge difference! Several times we have gotten clouds over and no rain, but just the cloud cover helps with the scorching heat. Hay is difficult to purchase (many scalpers out there), and short in supply. The first opportunity we have we will be filling the barn, but we do not have a guarantee from any growers yet.
Louise does indeed arrive soon--next weekend I am going to meet her owner in Mississippi for the hand off. I am absolutely thrilled to be adding her to our herd! She is due to calve October 24th!
Pictures of Louise: (we have a new collar and bell awaiting her arrival)
Josh started his senior year, oh my goodness the baby is all grown up! The obligatory First Day of School picture below. He is excited about this year. He is Battalion Commander, running track, serving on the yearbook team and taking a bunch of AP classes....he is applying to West Point, VMA, and The Citadel. We are extremely proud of him!
Speaking of babies! Here is a picture of Josh (3 mos) and Charlye (15 mos) from the days of diapers and naps! I apologize that I can't figure out how to get it right side up!
Speaking of Charlye.....last week was "move to college" week! It is a wonderful campus, in a beautiful New England town, highly rated women's college and she is moved in getting adjusted to college life! It is all bittersweet for me; so happy for her but miss her terribly. Pictures from our trip:
Northampton, MA settled 1654
view of Main Street
Charlye and her friend Jess in front of their dorm, Cushing House
Ugh! How do we organize this?
Cushing House (Char is on 4th floor)
Original Smith Building
Public Library across the street
I will try to stay up to date, especially with Louise coming! We wish you all a wonderful, safe and rainy holiday weekend!