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October 28, 2011

Yeah!! Milking again!

Louise calved last night, a precious tiny bull calf!
He weighs about 40 pounds and is the smallest calf I think we have ever had. Remember Lizzie's calf that was 85 pounds? She was a horse compared to this wee fella! He doesn't have a name yet, though it will start with "L" (for Louise).
Dave was home and caught the calf on his way to the ground (she delivered standing up), got him dried and texted me pictures until I could get home from work. The birth and post-birthing were uncomplicated.
The calf nursed before we went to bed Thursday night, and this morning he was springing around the pen when I went out to milk. He continued to flit around the pen making Louise nervous, which made her "low" to him a lot. It is such a sweet sound, her lowing and his little peeps in response. In a week or so their language will be regular moos, and the baby talk will be over.
Louise was good in the stanchion, especially good for a first milking after calving. The first two weeks after calving (due to hormones and new routine) are always a crap shoot, but she made it easy by not lifting a hoof or being obstinate! One episode of poop and one of pee (always keep the bucket handy!), and a few swipes across the face with a bloody/mucusy/wet tail, but still no fight and no kicking. I consider it a great milking.
I suppose we will offer him for sale for the next month as a potential herd sire since he can be registered; after that he will be castrated and raised for meat. (He will be fully vaccinated and disbudded, and dam raised only).

I am excited for the milk to begin flowing again! We have not milked for 3 weeks and we have been rationing our last few bottles of fresh milk to drink. The routine is welcome and the fresh milk is of course such a lifeline, it feeds so many families and so many residents of our farm! I really believe a cow on a farm is the glue that binds it all together.
We are accepting applications for our herd share program, if you are interested drop me a line here or on FB. Current members and new members are eligible for the referral program (when a friend joins, the referring member receives one month free).

Party has stayed right by Louise's side (outside the birthing pen), and I am sure she will be glad when Louise and "L" are let out to the pasture so she can lick him in earnest! We really have the sweetest, most personable cows. Maybe I am just extra attached after all the change and um, growth in the last 2 years, but these two cows are really really special to me. They also bring a new life to our farm with their genetics, testing and potential for output! We are very thankful.

Here is Party yesterday, she was trying to convince me that she really did need to lick my arms and face some more.

October 26, 2011

Great Causes to Consider

There are a few causes going on lately that are close to my heart and in truth they are all inter-related. If one touches you I hope you will help them out in any small way you can, even to share their story.

Landreth Seed Company:

"Landreth Seed Company is America's oldest seed house. It has been around since 1784 and is the most historically important small business that is still operating! It is the only American company, still operating daily, that existed when this country became a nation. Its founders were
honorable men who helped establish and guide the agricultural and horticultural industries of this country in the 1700s, the 1800s and the 1900s. Landreth exemplifies American business and the ethics and integrity that built this nation.

On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, the Company’s accounts were frozen by a garnishment order initiated by a Baltimore law firm. If this garnishment order is not satisfied within the next 30 days, Landreth will cease to exist and a part of America’s history will be lost forever. I need to sell 1 million 2012 catalogs to satisfy this garnishment and the cascade of other indebtedness which this order has now initiated.

If you want to help save this piece of America, if you love gardening and heirloom seeds, if you care about righting the injustices of a legal system badly in need of repair, then please help Landreth. Please purchase a Landreth catalog, and if you can afford it, purchase several for your friends. Please send this link to everyone you know, One million catalogs is a big number, but with the internet it is achievable. Please help us to save Landreth."

Landreth is asking that people buy a catalog, or store items and share their story with others.

Michael Schmidt's Hunger Strike:

(from his website: )

A message from Mr. Schmidt:

"UPDATE, Oct. 9, 2011: Because in Canada one can only buy pasteurized milk, those of us who believe in the nourishing value of raw milk from grass-fed cows go to great lengths to access to this food. The BC government promised to leave our cow share alone until we got through our constitutional challenge, but a couple of weeks ago they broke that promise and charged our agister, Michael Schmidt, and one of the cow share members with contempt of court again.
Furthermore, Michael’s case that he had won in Ontario was overturned on appeal, so now Michael has been charged in two Provinces. He is appealing the Ontario case again, and is currently on a hunger strike, only drinking one glass of raw milk a day." (Continued at website above).
Michael is as of this writing on day 26 of his hunger strike. His only wish is to be able to speak with the Canadian Premier Dalton McGuinty and to bring public attention to the plight of raw milk drinkers and producers.
One of many articles:

Michael Schmidt lives and farms in Canada, however this issue is raging in the US as well. 
 "But in the Wisconsin case, Judge Fiedler ruled that humans:
  • “Do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;”
  • “Do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”
  • “Do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer;”
  • “Do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice;” and
  • Cannot enter into private contracts “outside the scope of the State’s police power.”
This case begs for competent legal counsel who can get the outrageous decision overturned."

Ruling against raw milk forces consumers to drink genetically modified, antibiotic-laden milk from cows fed an unnatural diet of pesticide-loaded feed.  No doubt that makes Monsanto a major fan of Patrick Fiedler.  His decision was rendered on Sept. 9 and he stepped down from the bench on Sept. 30.
If we as American citizens want the freedom to choose our own food, we all need to be aware of the issues and take appropriate action to preserve that right. 

Heifer International:
And, on a similar note, I feel we should all do our part to feed the hungry, not junky processed food but real, whole, nutritious food. This is a concept that Heifer International has taken to heart and accomplishes very well.
"Each animal in our catalog represents an opportunity for self-reliance for a family living in poverty."
"Heifer has a proven approach--more than 65 years in the making--to empowering families around the world to become self-reliant through our sustainable development projects."
Check them out and see if you agree!
Thank you for allowing me to share the causes and needs of the world that are on my heart, 

October 16, 2011

Garden News

First of all---I have been accepted into the Texas Master Gardener Program for 2012!! This is held by each county statewide, and I am so thankful to live in a county with a very busy and active Master Gardener group! Coursework starts in January (7 weeks), and then the volunteer/hands on hours begin. I am extremely excited to be a part of the program and the group!!

Secondly, our weather is really odd this year and the plants have noticed. After the drought and 100 degree temps broke, the pasture has turned green again and all sorts of springtime bloomers are blooming now. Dogwood, Crepe Myrtle, Bulbs, Roses, Tomatoes....they have awoken form a drought to bring much color to the farm and I am thankful! We still hope for more rain to make the pastures lush, and to grow the rye seed that needs to be spread.

The bushy things left in the garden are herbs (on the left) and the sweet potato vines on the right (to be harvested after a frost or when all the leaves turn brown). There may be some weeds........

Wishing everyone a great week and happy gardening, whatever that entails!!

October 9, 2011

October arrived!

Finally, October has arrived and with it much cooler temperatures. We are so very thankful to not have to mentally or physically deal with 90-100's in the forecast. Not much rain to speak of, 3/4" in September which brings our total since March to about 3.5". There is little in farming as disappointing or frustrating as watching the pastures, trees, all greenery shrivel and die. I am more than willing to deal with mud!
I apologize in advance if the following format is tedious, I have to have help organizing my thoughts or the blog post would all be one long run on paragraph!

Charlye is having a great time and settling in very well at college. In a recent phone conversation "I've got this Mom!" She is on the Ultimate Frisbee team, is a representative for her dorm, on a couple of committees and is getting the syllabus ~ scheduling ~ expectations down pat.
Josh is enjoying his senior year (though would love for the football team to win more often!). He has been voted in as a Junior Firefighter on a local VFD, he is really jazzed about that. ROTC and applying to colleges is going well, West Point is still his first choice.

I am so proud of both of them!

We are getting a few bell peppers and herbs, and handfuls of grape tomatoes---we have high hopes now that the temperatures are dropping at night the big tomatoes may actually put on fruit!

Cow News:
A friend and I traveled to Mississippi in early September to pick up Louise, she is a dream boat cow! Sweet, beautiful and a joy to have on the farm. Party was glad to see her arrive too, it meant a pasture mate for her! Louise is due to calve Oct 24-27th. Party is expecting too-- the last AI attempt was successful and she is due to calve in May!
Lizzie has gone to a new family with a beef herd and some milking experience in their past. We thank her for all she gave for us and being such a good girl, I'm sure she will be great for them too!
Unknown cow--we have consigned to buy a bred heifer from the recent World Expo Guernsey sale, as soon as she has some testing done and shipping can be arranged she will be headed to Texas.

Piggly Wiggly:
We bought a young gilt from a friend that raises Red Wattle pigs, and within a week of being here Rudy has bred both Spotty and the new girl "Curly-Q". This means in about 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days we should have some piglets!

Hens and ducks are all well, we have added a few more young ducks to the flock. I actually prefer cooking with and eating the duck eggs over the chicken eggs.

Foodie Fun:
I have used the new pressure cooker a few times and really like it! I have made ghee a couple of times, though I don't think I am doing it completely right. It wants to solidify after it cools. Is this normal? Some of the instructions and information I have seen online state it should stay liquid. Otherwise I am always on the hunt for a great recipe so if you have one send it!

Have a great week!