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A Boy for Blossom

Sep
28

I was running water for the cows yesterday morning after milking–which is a lengthy process with big tubs and dry weather that has the cows trying to drink the water even while you’re filling the tubs–and kinda zoning out from boredom while making sure the cows weren’t knocking the hose out of the tubs, when I noticed a tan-colored calf wobbling in the midst of the big cows. I thought, vaguely, I hope Gingersnap isn’t getting sick.

Then I thought, did Gingersnap shrink?

Then I woke up and realized THAT’S NOT GINGERSNAP!

And ran back to the house while the cows promptly tossed the hose out of the tub and left it running on the ground (naughty cows!) to grab my camera.
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Yep, that’s NOT Gingersnap! (That’s Gingersnap, center, with Moon Pie, and Pumpkin lazing on the right.) That’s a brand new baby! Blossom finally had her calf!
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This is Blossom’s first calf. She has officially graduated from heifer to cow. We brought Blossom here in March from my friend Sarah’s farm. Blossom is a Brown Swiss/Jersey cross, and had been bred to a Jersey/Guernsey at Sarah’s farm so this is a full-on dairy calf. I was kind of hoping it would be girl since it’s full dairy, but closer inspection revealed it was a boy. My first bull calf!
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He’s cute as can be, but he was promptly “steered” in the right direction (banded) and named Taco, because he will make great tacos someday. It’s been a long run of girl calves here, since Glory Bee, the first calf I ever raised, was born in 2010. I’ve had nothing but girls, girls, girls–which is a good thing, but I’ve been waiting for a chance to grow a steer. And I’ve been waiting to see how Blossom does in the milking parlor.
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She has a similar personality to Moon Pie, who is a sweet cow in the milking parlor, much sweeter than spoiled brat Glory Bee, so I’m hoping Blossom will be the same. She’s been in the milking parlor in the headlock a few times already, but now her training will begin in force.

Blossom has a weird fifth teat, by the way.
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It’s not as uncommon as one would think. I’ve done a little research on it. Some people actually have them removed. They’re non-functional. Taco will figure that out the first time he tries to suck on it.

I moved Blossom and Taco immediately to the back barn yard (away from the other cows–and the chicken-eating pigs), which made Glory Bee jealous.
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But it’s not her turn right now. It’s Blossom’s turn. I can’t wait to try her out in the milking parlor!
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Taco will probably be here for about two years before he heads for his final destination (the freezer), and cute as he is, his name is a reminder. A farm has a purpose in the pursuit of self-sustainable living, and while looking into the eyes of your food isn’t easy, it’s real. The hamburger meat found in neatly wrapped packages at the store start out as cute calves, too, and they didn’t live the happy, spoiled life that Taco will enjoy–as is his due, in gratitude for his role. So cheers to Taco–my very first steer!

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Let Sleeping Pigs

Sep
22

Let sleeping pigs….
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….make friends with the chickens….
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….show off their bums….
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….and look ridiculously cute because when the pigs wake up, they root around the yard, turn over every stone (literally, like in a rocked wall garden), and generally tear everything up.

So. An effort was made to block their escape path, which is the new larger pipe in the culvert.
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(A very dry creek, by the way.) Of course, they employed their young goat friend, Hickory, to show them how to push up the wire to get back into the pipe.
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And through!
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And they’re out again, to the other side!
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There’s a pool of water in the creek on this side.
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To be clear, it’s not as if they don’t have water. I’ve deliberately allowed them to create a puddle in the barn yard and I run water into it from the hose at the barn twice a day to give them a bathing puddle. Plus they have water pans and buckets of water around the barn yard. But, they want to be here.
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And I have to admit, it’s really hard to deny them because they’re so ridiculously cute.

I also have to admit that I really like these pigs. These are the first pigs I’ve ever had that I genuinely liked and enjoyed and have let free range around the barn. They’ve become very pet-like, and these are the first pigs I can foresee being truly difficult to see go to the butcher.

We never should’ve become friends.

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  1. diagram_edited-1

    September 16, 2016 - Why Milking Machines Suck, and Should

    My friend Jerry dropped by the farm one day and I showed him my new milking machines. He’s interested in mechanical things, so I showed him how they all go together–the inflations and lines and so on, describing how they’re attached to the cow or goat, and bringing out my old Surge milking machine also to compare the machines. I explained that the Surge was the first milking machine that brought it all together … Continued…

  1. IMG_8415

    July 12, 2016 - The Easy Way to Milk Goats

    In the days following the recent massive flooding in West Virginia, I was milking goats the hard way, by hand with a flashlight in the barn. To call that process challenging would be tantamount to calling the rain we had here on June 22 a light sprinkle. Boy, did I ever miss my goat bucket milker! But, without power (the generator was being used to run fridges and freezers at the house) … Continued…

  1. IMG_8319

    June 20, 2016 - The Birds and the Bees and Glory Bee

    Traffic pileup outside the hay stall in the back barnyard.

    Babies in the way! Here comes one!

    Gingersnap, Moon Pie’s baby.

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  1. IMG_8265

    June 7, 2016 - Calf Update

    I haven’t updated about Dumplin because….there’s been nothing to update about Dumplin. She was with the bull last summer during the same period of time as Glory Bee and Moon Pie, who both delivered calves in April. Obviously, the bull wasn’t shooting blanks and he hit them up right off the bat. He was here for three months, so the mystery continued–Dumplin could still deliver in June.

    But, the mystery is now solved! … Continued…

  1. May 25, 2016 - A New Complete Milking System

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    Then you’ve got milk! And the baby doesn’t need all of it. You could use the original cow milking system….you know, your hands.

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  1. IMG_8200

    May 23, 2016 - The Mother Duck Rides Again

    Remember the white Pekin mama who lost one baby then trampled another? (See here if you missed that one.)

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    She wouldn’t leave them. She was dedicated, committed, obsessed with … Continued…

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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