Fawn surprised us the Monday after Independence Day with a beautiful little heifer calf. First time mama delivered on her own! Fawn stands still for milking and I only have her tied to a post. She’s amazing! A great mama and we love have fresh milk again!
Last weekend we expanded the electric fence from 1 acre to 5 acres! The fresh spring grass has started growing and our dairy cows love it. They had eaten their paddock pretty bare and weren’t interested in the hay so we pounded in a bunch of our scrap posts(leftovers from solar installations from Kev’s company), added insulators, and strung the new fence. The cows are super happy now and roam all over their new area. I love seeing them exploring it.
On July 21st at 1am I helped our Guernsey cow, Penny, deliver her little bull calf! It was quite the experience for all of us and it’s been a busy couple weeks getting use to our new routine and getting to know each other better. A routine has definitely helped and only the last couple days I’ve started to find peace and understanding. The learning process with anything new can be frustrating and full of failures but we are on the up swing.
We got Penny from a high volume dairy up in Iowa. They gave her tons of grain, even when she wasn’t in milk. I’ve been working with her to try and switch her diet. She has free choice hay that has not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. She is in a beautiful green pasture with chest high grass. And during milking time I give her sprouts! Also called fodder. I sprout organic corn, barley, and wheat in my laundry room and tote it out to our farm to give it to our cow twice a day. She wasn’t too sure about it at first but now she eats it like candy. I also give her organic alfalfa pellets, kelp, and molasses along with her free choice mineral salt.
Why sprouts and grass fed? Well there are studies that show an increased amount of Omega 3 and a decreased amount of Omega 6 in grass fed animals. We need both of these Omega’s in our body in equal amounts for ultimate health. Unfortunately in today’s society we get a lot of Omega 6 in grain fed animals and a minute amount of Omega 3’s. People supplement with flax seeds and other products to increase their Omega 3’s. But ideally we would eat meats and dairy products from grass fed animals which our bodies can assimilate naturally. You can read more about Omega 3 and 6 HERE.
And our Penny is A2/A2 which describes the casein in the milk. A1 is what you will find in the milk at the grocery store and from almost all Holstein cattle. Older breeds of cattle like the Guernsey are predominantly A2. Research shows a direct correlation between a population’s exposure to A1 cow’s milk and incidence of auto-immune disease, heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia. A1 milk also stimulates mucus secretion. You can read more about A1 and A2 HERE.
Know where your milk comes from. Make sure it’s not pasteurized or homogenized. Make sure the cow is A2 and find out what your farmer is feeding the cow. Investing your time to find a source with the right answers to these questions is investing in your health and the health of your family. Milk is a wonderful source of calcium and other nutrients if the animal is fed the way the Lord intended.
My husband built me a stanchion! I love it!!! I’ve tested it a few times and I’m still thrilled! We made a few sizing adjustments and additions to the instructions we found for a smaller Jersey stanchion from this blog to fit our big Guernsey girl. We split the interior into two sections with a board to keep her from moving over on top of me. Which means we put the head gate off to one side instead of centered. We are going to install bolts on the head gate board later today because that rope isn’t ideal. And I’m thinking about putting a chain across her butt to keep her from backing up but I’m not sure. The head gate keeps her in place. But she is pretty calm and she’s an experienced milker. A first time milk cow might be a little more rambunctious. Anyway here are the pictures that I took this morning. So fun!
Oh boy what a weekend we had! Penny had her calf! Everything is great now but it was a rocky couple days. Everything has calmed down now and I’m so happy to share with you!
Saturday evening at chore time we noticed that Penny had started birthing. So I took the family home and I went back out to the farm to watch her progress and make sure everything went smoothly. As people go I know that it can take some time but apparently for cow’s not so much. Once their bag of waters breaks it’s usually 30 minutes or so until the calf comes out. Well I noticed a hoof sticking out at around 10pm. By midnight there still had been no progression although mom was still contracting.
I was chatting online with The Family Cow forum and then said that I needed to reach in and check the positioning of the calf. Find the second hoof and pull it out and then find the nose and pull it to on top of the hooves. That was scary but I did it. Problem was I couldn’t find the head. I followed the hoof in and found the second hoof pretty quick. Then I felt up the legs looking for a head, or even a butt. But it’s like the calf disappeared at that point and it was all jello and goo. I had no idea what I was doing wrong but I couldn’t figure out how the calf was positioned. I called the vet and told her the situation and she said she was on her way. Okay so it was an emergency. When the vet got there she tried to pull on the calf, then tried some contraption, and finally put chains on the calf’s legs and it took all of both of us to pull and shimmy and pull that calf out.
Baby was born and Penny was great. No tears and the doc said she had a smaller pelvis. Great…. She was a good mama and licked on her mushy, floppy baby. The baby was responsive and we discovered we had a little bull calf. He was breathing and doing fine when the vet left. I stayed and waited for him to work on standing and nurse. He didn’t. After a but I started to work with him. His front legs responded like I would expect of a newborn. Trying to figure it out but not stable. His back legs however weren’t responding at all. I was worried at first that maybe his spine was dislocated or something major. But once when lying down he gave a good kick with those hind legs so I was relieved. I got a bed of hay under some tree cover and left him there while I ran him to get milking supplies and a calf bottle. When I came back Penny was lying next to him. I moved him near her and got him to latch on for 2 minutes and then he was done. That was at about 5am. I milked the one teat I could get to and tried to bottle feed him. He wasn’t into the bottle and that wasn’t successful at all. But I kept trying for the next several hours. Rotating feeding him, getting him up to walk, and letting him rest.
I called my husband and he brought me more supplies and breakfast. He held Penny so I could milk her out and I tried again to get the calf to bottle feed. Nope. So hubby ran to the store to get a tube feeder. Meanwhile I kept working with the calf to get him standing. He progressively got better. I had the stretch him back hooves to be on the ground because he kept standing on him “knuckles”. But eventually his back legs started getting stronger and he started standing for several minutes at a time. Not walking but sturdy enough to stand. We got a quart of colostrum in him at about 11:30am and another quart in him at 1:30pm. We got mom and baby moved to a better pasture that wasn’t near a creek drop off and had more fresh grass for mom. We left them there to go to a birthday party and when we came back later that day the calf was in the same spot we left him. We tried to get him latched on to mom but he wasn’t getting it. So we tube fed him again 1qt at 10pm and my husband went out again and tube fed him a quart at 12pm. We got a gallon of colostrum in him within 24hours. I should have gotten it in him sooner but I didn’t realize that the calf’s stomach changes so quickly.
This morning the calf was in a completely different spot than where we left him and when I milked Penny her first two quarters were emptied. So we did chores and I posted on The Family Cow forum wondering if he’d eaten maybe. They thought so. So we didn’t feed baby again. We saw her nurse twice today and he can stand up on his own and walk around. Yay! What should have taken around 2 hours (birth, standing, nursing), took our little guy 30 hours. But he did it and for being an upside down breech birth we are thrilled to have a living calf and mother. Penny is a great mom. She milks like a pro and stands very still for me if she’s eating. And today while we were out there observing the calf and mama my husband built me a stanchion! I love it!!! I’m so thrilled and can’t wait to use it more! We made a few sizing adjustments and additions to the instructions we found for a smaller Jersey stanchion from this blog to fit our big Guernsey girl. But we tried it out tonight and she fits great! We have one more piece to put on the head gate and it will be finished. Thank you to my amazing hubby! I’ll try to get some better finished pictures in the daytime soon. And hubby is looking into putting a solar panel on the roof to run a fan, light, bug zapper, and plug for an ipod or radio! Sweet!
Oh my goodness! After looking at our Jersey calves for the last two months, seeing our full grown Guernsey yesterday was a shock. She’s enormous! She comes from a commercial dairy in Iowa. While it’s a small family run operation the cows aren’t pets and Penny was a little wired at delivery yesterday. She’d never been anywhere but the farm up in Iowa and not only was it her first ride but she is in a strange new place with people she doesn’t know. I was so glad that there were three guys delivering her because it took all three of them to get that cow where I wanted her. She stepped on the kitten’s tail at one point. That cat shrieked and the cow took off. The young man holding on to her got her stopped but got jerked along a good 50 feet.
Penny was really worked up yesterday and didn’t want anything to do with me. To be honest she’s a little scary. A 1000+lb cow who is skiddish and able to run you over will do that to you. Oh and the flies were instantly on her and she looked miserable so I sprayed her with a homemade fly spray. I sprayed from 10 feet away but she stood pretty still trying to figure out what I was doing. I don’t think she correlated the lack of flies to my spray but it made a huge difference. I hope she’ll let me close enough to treat her head so that they won’t keep making her miserable. I’ve been using the spray on our two Jersey calves and it’s amazing. It works extremely well.
- 8oz fine mineral oil/grapeseed oil
- 5 drops lavandar essential oil
- 5 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 3 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1 drop thyme essential oil
And while the above recipe works great on keeping the flies away it wasn’t doing a thing for skeeters. So I bought some citronella essential oil and it had this recipe on it:
- 4 oz water
- 14 drops citronella essential oil
- 6 drops grapefruit essential oil
- 4 drops cedarwood essential oil
I left out the water and put the skeeter(mosquito) repellant oils in with my fly spray. I tried it last night and it does NOT work for skeeters. So I’m on the search for something that will. We have a ton of mosquitoes and it’s horrible at dawn and dusk.
I left the house at 5:45am this morning and went out to check on Penny. I was worried with her being on the picket line. I don’t want her to get tangled up or hurt. She was just fine and much more relaxed this morning. I look forward to when she really gets use to me and the farm and just chills out though. She let me lead her on the rope but wasn’t into me petting her head. I have until July 21st to gentle her up before the calf comes. I hope she softens to me soon. The first picture below is from yesterday. You can see she’s foaming at the mouth, her head is held higher and alert, her eyes are glaring. The second picture I took this morning. There is no foam on her mouth, she’s holding her head lower and more relaxed, and she’s only looking at me because I was making noise trying to get her attention. So quite a positive difference. (The third picture I added 7/1/13.)
Morning of May 2nd and it was wet from last nights rain. The wind was bitter from the north and Z and I fed the baby calves under the shelter. We went directly to the thrift store and bought rain coats. Later that night the whole family came back to feed the baby calves again. Kevin went to check the kids in the car and I decided to push a small bale of hay through the snow across the field, slightly uphill I might add. The bale was wet and heavy form the snow. I pushed, and heaved, and shimmied. But eventually it got there. The calves started munching right away and I slept better knowing that they could snuggle into the hay under their shelter to stay warm. It was hard work but I was glad to take care of the cows. We went home and I got into a hot bath with some hot chocolate. Yum!
Our weekend was very full. We had planned on taking a trip out of town but financing was tight so we decided to stay in the area. The kids had been excited to go on the trip so we took them camping on our land instead.
The kids have been saving their money for awhile and with the weather being nice we said it would be a good weekend to get livestock if they wanted. There were some cheap feeder pigs that they could invest in. So all four children bought a feeder pig using their piggy bank money. We loaded them in the back of the minivan and took them to a small fenced area they are now tilling for a garden.
Z had saved more money and decided to get a jersey calf too. When we got to the farm where she was for sale I decided to get a calf as well. Which made our price lower! So we now have two bottle calves. The farmer said they were 75% Jersey/ 25% Guernsey crosses. He’s looking it up to confirm that. I need to send in their follicle samples to see if they produce A1/A2? milk. These calves are a great investment for later and should have a decent return.
Our weekend was a huge adventure. Highlights included a 2 am feeding for Fawn who hadn’t taken the bottle upon arrival at our farm. And after feeding her I checked on the piggies and three of the four of them were out of the pen! They were trying to get back in to their brother which was a huge blessing. I really don’t think they’ve tried to get out since then. We did reinforce the bottom of the fence with tires though. Yesterday Vay lost the calve’s bottle nipple in the grass and that was a fun hunt with the baby cows lowing in the background for their dinner.
We discovered on Monday that its going to snow on Friday. That’s May 3rd folks. Geez. Crazy weather. So we spent the morning building a shelter for the calves. We didn’t have money to buy anything fancy. We used free tires, free metal beam cast offs, a tarp, and screws. $20 isn’t bad for a shelter. It should keep the snow off and will block the north winds. Also some nice shade today in the 77 degree heat. It was a beautiful morning to work and we are so happy to stretch our muscles.
Oh and not to be missed… the electrician came out to look at the electrical boxes to give Kevin tips on what else he needs to do. And the water company came out and setup the meter! Now we have to have a back flow test done and then we can install a spicket! We’ve been hauling water up from the creek bottoms. Which I’m very thankful that the creek is there but it’s not the easiest to get to or get up out of with two 3 gallon buckets full of water. We are making progress and it’s so exciting. Kevin and I both feel happier, healthier, and more fulfilled already. Watching the children on the land has been a blessing. We are so very thankful for so many things.
And here are some bunny pictures too. The girls have been playing with them all day.
I just got off the phone with Randy Knapp of Knapps Guernsey’s in Epworth, IA. One of the top farms in the country with quality Guernsey stock. He has a heifer due in July that is a good producer and a grade A cow. Her name is Penny and below is the picture Randy sent me today. He is mailing her hair follicles to CA soon to test her to see if she is A2/A2. As long as she is, we will have her shipped to us in June!
Meet Jaden! Our little guernsey bull calf! He’s still with his mama for a couple months but then he will be joining us at Jade Meadow! He is a beautiful A2/A2 bull calf and we are very excited about him. We will be working hard to get a shelter and fencing up for him on the farm.