Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cute Cocoa the Calf

She's looking good!
We try to spend time with Cocoa several times a day so she knows us well and gets used to being handled. Much easier to milk a "pet" cow.

intensive grazing

I do my best at this thing called grass farming, but frankly, I'm quite the novice. My husband, Bob, is a wealth of knowledge and my main advisor. He has an animal science degree from NDSU, been a dairyman for many years, and now uses intensive grazing methods on the organic farm where he works raising grass-fed beef. I have books and magazines, but I like just asking Bob the most. :)

Today I made some shepherding decisions. The sheep have been in paddock #1 for about a month, and its looking pretty chewed down. On the other hand, paddocks 2 and 3 are looking lush with grass and some weeds. This morning saw Elizabeth, Karl and I out with various tools working on the fence line east of the barn. Sheep are quite good at escaping through a less-than-secure fence, and we have several places not very secure.
Karl cut a hog panel, drove two steel posts in and attached the panel to finish off the far east end gap between a gate and the outer fence. (we have a great 6-string barbed fence around the perimeter of the pasture/paddocks.)

Meanwhile, Elizabeth was adding a wire fence (specific kind unknown to me and Bob's not here) to another area, and I drilled some boards to support fence around the waterer that the hogs had torn down last spring.
It was hot but the mosquitos are horrible so we are in long-sleeved shirts and jeans. . .and hoods, too, in Karl's case.

This is a roll of wire fence we found out in the trees. It has come in very handy. The farm had old, wooden fence for horses when we bought the place. It had served well but has now fallen apart and time to replace with something stronger and good for sheep. One day paddocks 2 and 3 will get seperated with a functional fence, too.

The first picture at the top of the blog is the sheep in paddock 1 as I'm circling around them to switch pastures. They got all excited and ran through the gate. About 20 to 30 feet into the new paddock they abruptly stopped and dropped their heads. Aaah. New pasture; life is good.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cocoa, the heifer calf

Cocoa, the heifer calf, arrived this morning around 5 or 6:00am. When Bob went out to check, he found a wet calf standing by her mama. Hershey does a continuous soft mooing sound so Cocoa will know her call. As of yet, we have not seen the calf sucking so we're keeping an eye on that. They figure it out eventually, but you just want to make sure.

When Karl went out around 8:00 am, Cocoa was already kicking/hopping. They are quick to get moving. We'll be out there a lot with her; the more she knows us the easier she is to handle.

I love watching Bob at these events. He marvels at the new calf, at how the cow knows what to do, moves to protect her calf, moos so the calf knows her. I enjoy that whole scene, too, but Bob just soaks it in at a whole different level, filled with joy and awe.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Hollyhocks galore on the south side of our home. I read once that in Victorian days, ladies planted hollyhocks around the outhouse to mask it. Then when needing the outhouse, it was more genteel to say, "I'm going to look at the hollyhocks."
Come look at my hollyhocks anytime. Bathroom inside. :)

Aerial Farm View

This is our farm from the air looking NW. It was taken last year; today it would look a little greener especially in the paddocks. The red building towards the top is an old granery now used for storage and plans to install windows for a rustic guest cottage. Just above it (west) is our garden. If photographed today it would be larger and full of corn stalks.
Near the granery is a swingset and in the upper left corner is the orchard. Just looks like a bunch of trees which is also true today. No plums this year. Apples are out there but high up. I heard one guy say he pruned his apple trees so they would grow out instead of up; its easier to reach apples that way. I'm going to have to learn that technique for the new apple trees.
The long silver-roof red barn standing alone is the dairy barn. (see one of the first posts for a closer front view). Off to the right is the hay barn and a small shed for storage or animal shelter. The lonely old garage in the middle is the shop for tools and woodworking with wonderful storage above.
Thats our GrassStain Farm from the air.
Here is a closer look at our home. In the next blog I'll show you the hollyhocks now growing on the southsideof the house. (house faces east)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bloomin' Turkeys

Remember the flowers I planted in the tree last May? They have been blooming wonderfully with our humidity and warm days. I need to look for more crevices to fill with unexpected beauty. Sort of like making lemons into lemonade, or something like that.

Tree crevices are not all that's blooming on the farm. The turkeys keep growing. I know I've told you that, but now I have some pictures to prove it.

The lighter colored birds are Blue Slate and the darker are Narragansett. The Blues seem to be a bit hardier as we lost only one of those this year and none last year. Several of the 'gansetts died the first few days, but are all stout and holding their own. Now they just grub around and are making more gobbling noises. If little kids come, I warn the mom about how the turkeys will come running when they see me. It can look awfull daunting to have 16 turkeys your size running full speed right at you. : But once around my feet, they just hang out, bob their heads, peck the ground and wonder if I have feed.
When the turkeys were smaller (poults), the chickens would dash to the turkey feed trough, bully the turkeys away, and eat the feed. Now that the turkeys are same size or even bigger, you'd think they'd stop being pushed around, stand their ground, and let the chickens know whose feed this is! Nope. The turks bolt when the chicks come running. Makes me want to redefine the term "chicken."
And what about "turkey?" Based on their behaviour, I think I'm a turkey when I'm stuck in some old way of thought that's not true anymore, but still restrains me from taking action or moving forward toward a good goal/dream. Gobble, gobble, gobble.
I need to find a new farm animal to identify with :)