Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cold Weather Prep

 Every Wednesday I go into Austin.

 It's a heck of a day.
I get up early, 5:45, milk a cow, feed animals  and  get ready.
We have to leave by 7 in order to  make it in for 8:00 classes.

Luckily for me I listened to the weather report on the way in and heard about the cold weather coming.
It gets hard to believe it will turn cold when it's in the 80s.

As of now, my milking area was open which has been very pleasant when the weather is nice... but we've had a couple of cold mornings already and on those mornings I want to say it has been kind of a drag."Wicked" cold as they say .

So when I heard about the Arctic Blast coming I phoned my man.

I asked Jerry  to do something to make my  milking station a little more bearable during this
cold snap.

He got home late, and I really just wanted to forget the whole thing, as you can see it was still warm, t shirt weather and  as I already stated  I still did not believe it would get cold..... but he insisted.

He unloaded the plywood,

screwed it onto the frame....

and presto... I have walls!

He got me a heater too!  Tomorrow morning milking will be much more pleasant with
out the north wind howling on me..

Some men bring their wives flowers... some bring plywood..
Thanks sweetie, I appreciate it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's been quite a while since I posted anything on this site.

Here's what happened, it's an old story actually... remember awhile back when I mentioned my POA?  and the unfortunate fact that the
president owns the house next door?

Yeah, well I was served a letter a few weeks back, from a lawyer!
I am in violation for having a "Farm School" out here, and there are other things that I will not mention.

The thing is... we have gotten to be friends out here on Tuesday mornings and we have decided to just keep meeting on Tuesday mornings as friends, they are helping me out and learning at the same time. It is a Farm Co-op.

I hope this works for the POA,  I don't believe I read anything about
not having friends out to ones house mentioned in the POA bylaws.
No worries on my end, if I am mistaken I am sure I will be notified.

I gotta say it though.....
It's ridiculous, a
bunch of grown men getting their "panties in a wad" over a few  kids and moms coming out to learn about basic skills that unfortunately we don't teach any more. I can't help but wonder what a judge might
think if they do end up taking me to court...

One reason I didn't post anything for so long was because I was angry. I had to get over that emotion first... and I am over it.

I've been practicing being aware of my own influence on situations...
being angry and resentful only hurts the person walking around mad, of course the people around you suffer too, but no good comes from it.

I have been working on using the momentum of emotion and thoughts
to attract the situations I desire.

I am looking at property, and I know there is something out there perfect for Novellas, and large enough to actually turn Novellas into a real dairy, you know like I mentioned before, a place where the animals are treated with love.

Maybe... the universe is getting impatient with me and is giving me a kick in the pants!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shane setting up the machine
Tuesday the girls got pedicures.

I am ashamed to admit it had been almost 2 years since they had gotten a full blown trim on their hooves.

.Ungulates ( hooved animals) hooves are constantly growing and as their hooves grow longer it becomes uncomfortable for them to walk and stand.

I mentioned in an earlier post about the cow hoof trimming being
a little stressful for the animal, because of the fact they have to be lifted in order to do the job.

Back in May I actually gave Mattie a little trim in the stanchion rather than stress her during her pregnancy.

 My attempt was good and it made her more comfortable but all the girls needed a really good trim. I decided to have them all done before they are bred again...

Mattie in the stall...
Besides that, I really wanted the children who are coming out here each week to witness it, so I set it up for Tuesday when they were here.

Normally my husband would need to load the cows up in the trailer and haul them to Stonewall, to a guy by the name of Shane.

He raises Club Calves and offers among other things this service of hoof trimming for cows.

So on around 10:30 Tuesday morning he arrived and set up his machine.

A surprised Novella

Then one by one the animals were walked in and strapped in safely..

Once the cow was safely belted in, the machine lifted her up and held her comfortably although
unnaturally horizontal.

Shane grinding Sunny's  hooves.

Then Shane began his task.

He used a grinder and made quick work of the

I have to take a few photos of all their feet. I was kept pretty busy taking animals back and forth,
with children so I got photos from someone else.

It was a good day, and something the kids will always remember

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cheap Chick House

With the cooler weather we decided it was time to get some chicks.

It is easiest if the weather is not so brutally hot, or so cold....  They arrived almost 2 weeks ago.

I  got layers and meat chickens, I am brooding them together for now, soon I will separate them out,
but not yet.

When they first arrive they're so cute! little balls of peeping fluff,  they stay that way for about 4 days, then they become less adorable, they're such stinkers!

I started them all in one cage, but they quickly outgrew it. Next  I moved them into 2 cages side by side, which lasted 2 days... they needed a permanent home!

I had to be creative.

Awhile back I  had acquired a large dog cage, it  was  in a fenced area we had used as a chicken pen
The cage was shelter but not enough...
Chicks do need to be kept  warm and dry, I needed to figure something out.

I took some empty feed bags and cut them open.

I put one end of the opened feed bags under the piece of plywood that was serving as the roof for the dog cage.

I secured it with wire attached to the cage.

Then I laid down another empty bag inside the cage and covered it with hay for comfort.

I made a hook out of wire and hung a heat lamp from it.

Finally I put in their food in a large container that the chicks won't be able to get into and soil ( nice word)

Water for the babes...
They love it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

School Days

Last week was the start of our little 10 week or so Farm "School".

We had a lot of fun... I guess it stands to reason that the kind of Moms and kids who would want to come out here would be very cool people.

While we aren't doing any real "school" type of learning, I do believe the kids are learning some real life, real useful sorts of things.. like where their food comes from and how much work it is to produce it.

We are working on getting our gardens going, and this week we are having rain to help us out!

The kids loved Bonnie, our Flemish Giant rabbit and her 2 new guinea pig friends.

We milked Mattie with the machine, and soon the kids will be milking Novella by hand each morning.

We sowed seeds in the garden beds, and started
some in flats to transplant.

We loved animals

Painted pictures

Spent time with Bonnie

And just got familiar with things.....
Made friends....

A great success
I will be posting more so you can follow our progress, wish you were here!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sex Lives of Cows

Submissive behavior
 The thing about dairy animals is that you have to breed them.

We choose to do our breeding via AI, or artificial insemination.

 I go shopping on line for the bull I would like to breed the girl with, and order the semen.
It is then sent to the vet's office and then I wait til the cow is ready to be bred. Then we take her to the vet and he inseminates her... easy as pie.

Lana is trying to chin rest
The trick is learning when the cow or heifer is ready to be bred. Every 21 days she will go into heat, and within  this cycle there is a period of 12 to 18 hours where she can be fertilized. Now let me tell you something, bull semen is not exactly cheap, and the postage and storage will all add up, so you really want to get it right the first time..

What you are about to get here is a little lesson on
learning when a heifer or cow is in "standing heat".

Sunny is standing to be mounted
 I would say it is next to impossible to determine a cow in heat that is  kept alone, really it is all about the behavior of the cows together that you need to be watching.

Initially other cows will "chin rest" on the animal going into heat, the animal going into heat will also
be more submissive as you can see in the photo of Sunny with her head under Lanas head.

Most importantly though is that the cow in heat will allow other animals to mount her, and she will stand for it, thus the term "standing heat".

Honestly, their behavior would make a sailor blush..
the cow in heat will try to mount everyone else, but they won't stand for it, they will walk a way, but the one in heat will stay put..... so after this hanky panky is observed, you have to get her to the vet to be bred 12 to 18 hours later....

It takes a little practice but after you know what to look for it's so simple....

Yet one more reason to thank god you're human.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Novellas Tuesdays in the Fall

This is not really  a post per se...
More of a notice.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye....

Novellas Tuesday Fall Class is accepting kids.

We are meeting Tuesdays starting on Sept 10, through November.
December will be for bad weather make up days and Holiday events.

We will be: working with the animals ( halter training Lana, bathing cows, taking care of chicks, rabbits etc.), gardening (starting seeds, mixing soil) , making cheese, yogurt, butter and other dairy items (from our milk)
Doing Art, and maybe some surprises.
Hours are from 9 if you want to milk, or 9:30 if not til 1:30 or 2.
Mom or Dad or responsible adult must remain for the day.

Space is very limited, cost is 75 per child per month. Contact me if you have more than one child.
age appropriate for 6-9/10.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Remarkable Cow

The other day something remarkable happened.

Every morning my routine goes something like this,
I feed the cows a bit of hay, feed the rabbit, the chickens and the dogs.
Then I go inside to get a spot of coffee for myself and to check my emails.

About 30 minutes later I go back down to give the cows yet more hay.  At that time I call Mattie, and she walks out the gate and up to her stanchion for milking..
Well, last Saturday morning, I went down to give the cows their second breakfast, called Mattie, held the gate open...waited, and  then things went differently.

Mattie walked over to me, looked into my eyes and deliberately turned around and walked away, I said "hey Mattie, get over here, you know the drill" and I followed her... she stopped, turned around and looked at me again and started walking away from me.

By this time I was sort of angry with her, because she obviously heard me and saw me and was just being naughty. I said" what is wrong with you!" and she just walked on, then I noticed a brown spot out in the meadow by the fence line.

Mattie walked to the spot, stopped, turned and looked at me. Then I realized what it was...a deer.

A doe was caught by one leg in the fence and she was frantically trying to free herself, to no avail. It looked like her leg was already out of socket...
I ran up to the house and got Jerry, who came down to the meadow with big wire cutters.

Mattie was still standing  calmly by the deer until she saw Jerry. Then she walked to the gate,  ambled up the hill and went into her stanchion and waited to be milked.

Jerry cut the deer free and she limped off....

I was amazed.... Mattie saved the deer, I believe it would have died there, in the hot sun a miserable death if she had not shown us the problem.

I know some people will say she was just walking in that direction.. with no intent at all.
I know what happened... she's one amazing cow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Days have been hot around here.
Little Lana has been taking her naps in the mornings.

I figured most of you  have never seen a cow sleeping.

Usually you see a cow laying like Novella here,
with their head up, but I guess this posture is like us sitting down.

Head flat on the ground is really considered resting.

It can be kind of spooky to walk up on one of them while they are like this, quite frankly the first thought is "are they dead?" because it really could be so.
No one expects to find a dead cow around but it does happen.

Lana here is a deep sleeper. I have gotten used to seeing her, "sleeping like the dead" so have the chickens.

She's pretty cute!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

 Everyday I milk Mattie, two times a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening.
I get 1.5 gallons each milking. That's 3 gallons a day!

21 gallons of  milk a week  means we get to have fresh, raw butter around here.
Butter is the easiest dairy product to make.

All you do is skim the cream off the milk.
Any milk that has not been homogenized will separate out after around 24 hours in the fridge. The longer it stays undisturbed the more it separates.

So.. I just get my little dipper......

 and dip out the cream.  That left over milk could be used as low fat  milk for drinking or made into something, but I usually just give it to my plants.
From 1.5 gallons of milk I got 1.5 quarts of cream
(which means we should watch how much milk we are drinking because were gonna get fat)

I put the cream into the food processor, I can only do a little at a time.
 That's about all that I do at a time,
 Turn on the processor and do something else for,.. say around 5 minutes.
 After a little while you will notice a change in the sound of the processor. That means the butter has formed, and everything has separated into butter and buttermilk (real butter milk is just the leftover liquid from the butter making process).
 Here you can see the butter and the buttermilk.
 We need to strain the liquid out.
Get out  your colander line it with a piece of cloth and pour it all in. You will also want to rinse the butter with cold water.
 If you don't, your butter will taste sort of sour.

 Some of us are too busy to wait, so we just help the process along by squeezing the butter.
Here you go! butter, just scrape it into a container with a rubber spatula, salt it if you like, put it in a container and refrigerate.

Good News, raw butter has been found to not be bad for your health. It is the homogenization process which changes the molecular structure of the protein that is harmful.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Oceans of Milk

Milk with cream at the top!
 One of the things about Mattie losing her calf is the fact that she is still producing milk as though she  has a calf nursing.

I had planned on an easy summer where both the cows would be nursing, and I would be milking very little, just enough for my family.

Well as the old expression goes, don't count your chicks til the eggs hatch. Here I am milking Mattie 2x a day, with no calf.

Now don't misunderstand me, I know how lucky I
 am to have this wonderful resource. The thing is I have been really busy finding uses for all this surplus milk..

Which brings me to the topic of Cheese.
Making cheese is actually letting milk go bad in a controlled way. There are all kinds of cheeses  most require  cultures, such as rennet or mesophillic, which I don't have at the moment. However, Cultured buttermilk is readily available...

so... I made plain old fromage blanc. Literally "white cheese".

I put 2 quarts of milk in the pot and heated
 It requires only the following ingredients,
cultured buttermilk
Lemon or lime juice
salt ( for flavor)
you also need a thermometer and a nice deep  heavy  pot
a colander
a cheesecloth or towel ( you can use old linens washed too)

Step 1:  Gather your ingredients

Step 2 :Measure one or 2 quarts of milk ( you will need 2 cups buttermilk to each quart of milk)

Step 3: .
I added 4 cups buttermilk
Step 3: Pour milk in pot and heat, gently stir while you heat milk to 175 degrees.

Step 4: When temp of milk is 175, add butter milk and about 1/4 cup lemon juice, or enough to cause
a reaction.
 I added the lemon juice after the buttermilk... I do it to sight
 Heres what I am talking about ....
Then curds will start to separate from the whey.

Let this sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes

lined colander all ready
 Get a colander and line it with a thin towel, place this in a bowl to drain your cheese.

curds and whey
Now it's time to gently spoon the curds into the lined colander, using a slated spoon
Cheese, wet.
The light looks a little harsh but this is what you get,


 It still needs to drain out.

I usually put it in the fridge to drain for a few hours
( have you ever noticed cheese from the store has
"gum" in it? that's because the makers are in too much of a hurry to let the whey drain, so they add gum to thicken it... Yumm!, Gross)

ready to be seasoned and refrigerated.
Add here it is! cheese, I add salt now, pepper and maybe garlic.
Or.. thyme, honey and pepper
or.. japs ...
what ever you want!

By the whey (ha), you can use the whey to make ricotta, which literally means "to cook again"
or just feed it to your plants or animals.