Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mattie Lost her Calf

Well last night was terrible.
Mattie went into labor, I was the only one with her.
The calf was backwards and I believe the cord had broken earlier, as I saw something I was curious about but now I feel sure that was what it was.

Any way we had to pull the calf  out with  chains, and the baby was dead....
I let Mattie lick him for just a few minutes and then we wrapped him up  in a big sheet and went to bed.

She is depressed and so am I.

Too sad to write about this.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Medal of Honor
I realize Memorial Day was yesterday, but I think it is appropriate to say a few words about the spirit of the day and what I feel it means.

In my family we had one WWII Hero, my Uncle Bill. He was my fathers older brother. He was a Marine.

When he was only 23 he was killed on the Island of Tarawa. His bravery was witnessed and reported by his fellow soldiers and he was awarded the Medal of Honor Posthumously.

My father, nor the rest of his family ever recovered. When I say never recovered, I mean Never. While my father went through the stages of his dying almost 2 decades ago, he was still mourning the loss of his brother. I feel confident in saying Uncle Bill's death in a sense killed the whole family.

Now, I am not saying the medal is not an honor for the family. It is.
 It is amazing  to think I may carry in my blood the potential for such bravery. When my father passed away I recall my Mother wrote in his obituary about "a hero gene" that she saw in her husband, that same gene that was dominant in Bill.

Fast forward to today.

My oldest son carries this gene. He is a life guard, put in his application to serve in the Volunteer Fire Dept.,
and is planning on getting his EMT Training.  I insisted he get the Medical Training because he wants to eventually join the Coast Guard. If he were to be deployed I want him to  be doing more than fighting

To think my son could be deployed gives me a little taste of what Memorial Day means.

 Really means

and it
terrifies me.

It is late, and it is certainly not enough, but Thank you to all of you who carry this Hero Gene thing. Thank
you for being willing to be on the front lines for the rest of us. Know we do appreciate and honor every single one of you, medal or no.

Thank You.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Matties Hooves

Well Mattie is due to have her calf any time now and she just looks so uncomfortable.
Her udders are so full, I am afraid when the calf comes they will almost touch the ground.
One thing is sure, on that day I am milking that poor girl totally out!

Mattie, of all the girls has hooves that grow the fastest. I have been wondering what to do to help her for a while now.

Normally we take the cows out to a guy in Stonewall who grinds their hooves down. Cows are not like
horses, they don't have those big strong hips, and they simply can not lift their back hooves for long periods.
So cows get put in lift  machines and their hooves are ground with a sort of sander thing.( this is a photo of the method used)

Now, as you can imagine this whole routine is traumatizing and I just could not see  having this done to Mattie in her condition, but she really needed help. She was walking funny and her "toes" were crossing over.. not good.

I originally thought I would just wait till her calf was born. The thing about that is how freaked out she would be to get in the trailer and leave her calf behind.

So... I decided to give it a try myself.
 First thing was to put her in the stanchion...

and get her to stand on a piece of ply wood.

My son helped for a while until he lost his patience with her. She just wasn't able to lift her hoof for long even with us helping her.. besides this particular son is a real hot head.
Eventually I sent him inside and worked at it myself.

I had to work from the top and she was good. Like she understood I was helping her.
I used a chisel and mallet and bit by bit "shaved" each hoof .

For the record, a cow's hoof is incredibly strong, like super hard wood....

I also cut what I could from the side and between the toes.....

All told the whole process took around 2 hours and my arms were very ,very sore.

I am pleased with the results and have decided to do their hooves from now on. I will do them a little at a time...

One girl down 2 more to go...

I never realized cows needed their hooves trimmed, until I got some....
they do.

A fun fact: when the covered wagons crossed through this country the oxen ( which is any cattle) pulling the wagons wore shoes. Since cow hooves are split the shoes were 2 pieces. When the oxen needed re shoeing along the way the people had to dig a sort of trench and push the oxen onto their side in order to do the shoeing.

Ok ,we are ready for the baby now.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Things

Worm casting tea bags and bulk

I have been working on getting some products  together to sell to nurseries and here on my web site.

I had thought about it before, but I was  selling  a few things on Craigslist.. and I just figured it was enough...then I got a call from a nursery that wanted to know how many worm castings I could produce. They said they were buying from out of state and  Dallas..they were hoping  to find a local source.

I would say that is when I seriously realized that I could produce a viable product that I could actually sell, legally!!!

My daughter has been my companion as I have worked through the permits, licenses, packaging (no plastic Please!!) , pricing, design... and I foolishly told her I was going  into Austin early in the week to take some things around to a few stores.

 I tried to weasel out of it, but she insisted so I loaded up the car and went to a few locations....  I got no affirmatives, but I survived.. and next time it will be easier.

 I have done a lot of things in my life, but this is the most challenging by  far. This is really stretching me. The idea of going into a store and asking strangers  to buy or carry my product is scary... I don't know exactly why. The idea of rejection I suppose.

But... I am not going to give up I am working on methods to produce  greater quantities and getting a bar code so I can approach larger places....

It made me think about my Dad who was a traveling salesman, among other things.. I had a few conversations with him in spirit. It made me realize what a brave man he was...

My products will be listed on the web page very soon along with some things Juliette made and is going to try to sell to pay for her trip with the girl scouts next year.

Wish us luck... Please.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When my oldest son was little he was fascinated with tornadoes.

He had a tornado in a bottle, and was always swirling things up.. and he would put little toys in the bottle, people, cars, animals and make them all get caught up in the tornado.

He just loved them... . He knew all about it, the sounds they made, the eerie  color before the storm, how strong they were...

One day after school we were under a tornado warning, and he was terrified.. because he knew all about what might happen.

The next morning his teacher asked "how did Ian react to the tornado?"  I told her he had cried and tried to hide. Neither of us realized until then that he was fascinated with them, but he didn't like them.. he was amazed at what their potential was....

Yesterday Oklahoma got hit by a tornado that killed at least 90 people  The storm hit 15 minutes after the warning siren went off, and school  was in session.  Families were separated. Kids and parents were not together.... I can not imagine not knowing how my kids were during something like this...

I guess I am writing this to suggest that we all take a moment to remember these people who were affected
by this tornado and to say a silent prayer. A prayer of thanks for all the good in the world, for the people we love. Also a prayer for all the families suffering  in Oklahoma, but not just there, all over the world.
A prayer about when the good Lord does not keep us safe, say a prayer for us all, to realize how much we need each other. Keep your children close.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

novella in her old stanchion
This has been a very busy time for us here at Novellas Farm.

On Tuesday, Lana Rose ( Novellas new calf ) will be 2 weeks old. Having a new calf around is always fun, but  the work load increases.

For one thing I have started milking, not too much but Novella is producing more milk than the calf can consume and Lana has her favorite quarters and tends to leave Novella with 2 quarters that need to be relieved. So... it works out nicely.

My husband Jerry, for the longest time has been disgusted by my milking stanchion. Honestly it was pretty bad, the barn where it was located has wood floors and since cows slip on wet wood we put down rubber mats. The thing is that the mats leave a gap between them so all kinds of funky stuff gets in there and grows.. and milking stimulates more than just milk let down,( if you know what I mean)...

So Jerry decided to bring me up the hill into the pole barn and build me a cleanable area to milk.
Isn't it horrible?

We decided to make the area the same size as the barn itself ...
I am lucky,  my husband can build anything and sometimes I just take it for granted. So I didn't get  real excited about the project ,  I was used to my dirty little hole.

Any way.. here you can see the form being built.

starting on the form
fill has been added and covered

It is kind of amazing how this guy knows how to do anything... who knew that's what that metal wire stuff is used for?
Time for the pour!

We discussed whether or not to get a cement truck for the pour or to hand mix it... for about 2 minutes.
Then I remembered when I made stepping stones and mixed cement in the wheel barrow ( such hard work , it took the fun away!) and I insisted we call a cement truck.
It was too heavy for any one but these two

Jerry and my son Ian worked to get the cement where we wanted it....
Ian's first concrete pour
Its heavy horrible stuff and I consider myself to be sort of anti concrete ..... put it has it's place.
Novella looks good here!

Here is Novella in her nice clean stanchion...
I LOVE it! 

I can wash her hooves when she enters... and when she messes up I just get my little hose and wash it away.

Jerry had the wonderful idea to put the stanchion on the side of the pole barn nearest the garden.Then
he had the boys dig a trench to lay a drain line into the garden, this way all the water used goes to my garden plants!

A hose is a big deal!
 As you can see this is just the bones so far. I will custom design the area and Jerry said he will put every thing where I want.
There will be a sink, counter, shelves, walls and a dutch door so Novella can look outside while  she is being milked.

Thank you Jerry!

FYI cement is the wet stuff, concrete is the dry
you probably already knew..

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Juliette baked me this pretty cake
This weekend was my 50th birthday, and I chose to do  absolutely nothing but stay home and work in my garden and watch a movie.

I enjoyed myself but the main reason I stayed close to home was because Novella was due with her calf on the 5th, and she had her last calf early so I wanted to be around to keep an eye on the situation.

Of course nothing happened... just a regular day.
Sunday, same thing, nothing at all, Novella was showing signs that she would go into labor any time though.

She had the loose vulva.... (you don't hear about that everyday) with strands of mucous,
and she was bagging up like she was expecting hungry twins.... . Still though nothing.

My husband texted me during the day and asked " are you a Grand Moo yet?" ( that makes him a Grand Poo by my reckoning).

loose vulva and mucous
Then yesterday afternoon I noticed Novella was acting like her first stage of labor had begun.

 She kept going off by herself and laying down in woody areas and she would raise her tail like she needed to poop but nothing would come.
Finally her tail was just really loose,  I could  lift it and move it all around. That's a sure sign the pelvis is loosening up.

So I put her in one half of the pen and closed her off
bagging up
from the other girls...

I cleaned up her pen, and put down fresh hay,
fresh water and just kept an eye on her.
Next I got the milking area all cleaned up and ready for after she calved.

I gathered Iodine and small scissors for the umbilical stump, flash lights, rags, towels and pulling chains for a worst case scenario. Lastly I dug out a jar with a nipple and lid, and the "Essential Guide to Calving".
Then we just took turns waiting and watching.
here comes the water bag

At first Novella ate and layed down.
She spent a few hours just getting up and down and pacing around.

The other girls stayed by the fence lending moral support.

Every time Novella got up she would sniff the spot her hind end had just left and lick up what ever liquid had leaked out... I am sure this was to keep predators from being attracted to the smells of birth.

Finally around 8:30 her water bag emerged and popped. Now, any moms out there understand that at this point I began to really "share her pain" as they say. Now  Novella was officially in Stage 2 of labor and really hard contractions were coming.

She spent another long hour up and down and making soft sounds but always when she got up she would slurp the birth liquids from  the hay.

the amniotic sac
About 9:30, the amniotic sac appeared.
According to the book, if the calf did not appear with in 45 minutes I would need to intervene ( in other words put my arm in and feel what was the problem).

Around 20 minutes later Novella went down....

See those tiny white hooves?
 strained ....and a pair of tiny white hooves appeared! Facing correctly! Next a little nose and then with a gush... then whole calf was out!

cleaning her baby
Juliette bottle feeding the baby

Novella got to work cleaning her baby

After a calf is born it is important that they nurse or get fed colostrum as soon after as possible. The thing is they are so weak and the mother is so full of milk that usually we need to step in and lend a hand.

After trying to let the calf nurse and having Novella kick at her and just generally be so excited about the whole event we put Novella in her stanchion
(not so easy) and milked colostrum from her
(while after birth got all over me).

Then Juliette gave the baby a bottle.

Everyone got to bed around 1 a.m.

This morning Juliette was doing her math and she looked at me and asked, "I think last night counts for science don't you?"

Yeah, I think so. 


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

at the entrance on Friday
This weekend I went to the beach.

It was just my Mom and my kids. I usually invite my Mom to go with us when it is just the kids and me, she really can't go by herself, it is up to my siblings and me to take her on trips.

 My husband had to stay at home with the animals. I am also aware of the fact that when we go out of town it is like a little vacation for him.

Seeing as the cows are due to have calves this  month I really felt like I had to take advantage of the opportunity to get away for a few days.

When a cow is milking I have to be home all the time, or have a calf nursing to relieve me of milking.
 I quickly made reservations to rent a small house in Port Aransas for a few days.

When we arrived at the Real Estate office to pick up the keys, the agent told me it was Sand Fest!!!
I myself had no idea what that meant.
Set up and ready 
 Well let me tell you, what it means is a ton of people having an actual festival on the beach.
Vendors setting up booths, lots of booths with all that sand! And the cars! oh my goodness!
On Friday I walked over with my daughter from the
square end of the beach ( we are squares) to look
around, and we saw all these piles of sand set up for the sculptors to work on.. as you can see there is no fence around them here on Friday.

So on Saturday we thought we would go down again, along with my 83 year old mother to see how things were getting along.
We set out to drive at first, but realized there was absolutely no parking, period.

the one i could see
No problem, we would just walk slowly down the beach, for the few miles and look around. We set off, very, very slowly ( 83 year old mom is not fast). Finally we arrived and guess what?
There was a fence all around the sculptors! and a sign saying 3.00 entrance fee!  Now I would have happily paid the 3.00 but for some reason I don't keep my wallet in my swim suit, and I don't carry my purse on the beach!

This is the only sculptor I could get a shot of.... it made me wonder about the venders.... how much money could they possibly make? Oh and the band,
is the salt air really good for the instruments?
Am I the only person who wandered down there and had to turn around and say forget it! ?

That night it rained, and I thought about all the people who had worked so hard! I just don't get it.
It takes all kinds as they say.

Myself , I had a wonderful time. There is nothing like the sounds of the beach, the ocean, the birds ( I love pelicans) the dolphin ( yep there were still some at this time of year)
But I am glad to be home too.  My foolish boys got way too much sun, it was time to go.

I am glad Novella has not had her calf, she's due this weekend.  May 5th actually...
Will keep you posted.