Yesterday morning, our cow had her second calf. It is a bull calf. We were hoping for a bull calf because we have a heifer already that will soon be ready for breeding in spring. Last May we let Marilla Moo run with a holstein bull when we still lived in Amishland. Our Amish landlord lived right across the lane, so when we would go out of town, we would walk our cow over to his barn so they could milk her. They had a dairy farm, so another cow would just add to the milk production. That is one perk of living among the plain people. They do not shy away from helping their neighbors. The work could be dirty and they rise to the call. You do not have to worry because they know just how to handle anything. Our cow was in heat, so instead of calling the A.I. guy and paying the fee, we had him run our cow with the bull. We were a little worried if this calf would be too large to birth. Marilla Moo was looking pretty big these past couple months after we dried her up. The day before last we noticed that she had bagged up, which means her udder became full looking. Usually, when that happens, you know the calf is soon on its way. During the birthing, Mark had to pull the calf out because he was on the larger side. It was such a blessing that she did not calve during the night. We would not have been out there to help.
Freshening is when a cow gives birth and comes into milk. Now that we have a fresh cow, we have lots of milk for our family. That is a very exciting time when the tap starts flowing again after a long dry spell. We dried our cow about 5 months ago already. Most dairies will dry a cow off about 2 months before they freshen. Moving our cow added stress to her which caused her to come down on the milk supply. The change in climate could also have been a factor. We went from a Wisconsin summer heat to Tennessee summer heat, which is a huge difference. The girls and I are excited to make butter, ice cream, yogurt and cheeses again. Plenty milk on hand means-cheese for us! I will have to get out the old cheese press again and clean it up to ready it for the many curds that will fill it.
This winter we were blessed with two deer that we butchered here on the farm.
It was really neat to see all the "men" working together to get the meat stored away. My sons all with knives in hand, learning from Owen (former butcher, present neighbor and adopted granddaddy) and my dad (the kids lovingly call him "Bumpa") who also cleaned a lot of deer in his lifetime. Mark was outside skinning and quartering the deer and the boys were hauling it to the dining room table where they would help my dad and Owen. They cut steaks and roasts. The rest was ground into hamburger. Since my parents were visiting that weekend we received the gift of two deer, I knew that canning it all was not an option. I used my common sense that time to know it would be a burden on my parents to be dealing with meat instead of enjoying the grandkids. It is all packaged in our deep freezer on the old back porch. We have enjoyed some tasty steaks and delicious roasts already. I am sure this meat will go quick. When Buster is old enough to butcher, we will probably take some steaks but I plan to can most of it. I like having meat ready to use in the jars. It is so handy. In our 3rd volume of Homesteading for Beginners, we demonstrate the entire process of cutting the meat to putting it into the jars for processing. Hopefully, Miles will get us some more deer next fall.
Things are busy on our little homestead in Tennessee. We are planning out our garden right now in anticipation for spring and warmer weather. The weather has been cooler than normal here. Most days are between 20 and 40 degrees, which is quite a bit warmer than Wisconsin weather. My folks say it is usually well below zero each day. I am thankful we are not experiencing those frigid temperatures. Last week, we put our chick order in. We decided to raise 100 heritage red broilers. Mark is drumming up plans to build some chicken tractors for them to roam around under, eating bugs and vegetation in our pastures. We will feed some organic feed as well to supplement their diet. The kids will be very excited to hold the fluffy little chicks.
We just picked up our new airedale puppy. She was a gift to us from a dear friend. The puppy's name is Lucy. It is the joy of our family right now as each child takes turn taking care of her. So far we have had no potty accidents in the house. We put
her out on a schedule. She is brought out to the same place to potty. Each time she wakes from her little naps, we know it is time for potty. It is so cute. When we set her down in her outside potty area, she immediately squats down. We tell her what a good little girl she is and it imprints in her mind what makes us happy. Dogs love to make their owners happy. Training a puppy is a lot of work and takes a lot of consistency if you want the dog to be a pleasant member of the home. Training kids how to train puppies is a whole other story. You have to teach the kids to be calm and gentle with the puppy so the puppy will learn to be calm and gentle. So far, the kids are doing a great job. We are so thankful for Lucy and Buster, our new additions to the family homestead.