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The Chute

Feb
6

This chute, specifically for vet work (not milking) was under construction yesterday.
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That’s Dumplin in the chute, for measurements.

Here’s the finished chute today.
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On the sides, the upper board is to prevent a cow from trying to come in the chute from the side. The lower board is to prevent the cow from kicking to the side. (There’s no board in the middle because, honestly, the cows’ stomachs stick out the sides, but don’t tell them that.)
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This setup in the back is to prevent the cow from kicking backward.
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The board slides out to allow the cow to enter the chute then can be slid back in place.

So, I guess I’m ready now! Hope Dumplin is!

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Watching Cows, Again

Feb
5

As I’m writing this post, I’m sitting in my car watching the cows.
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Watching cows in February is cold business.

It’s been about three weeks since I had the cows AI’d (artificially inseminated). Yesterday evening there was a lot of attention on Dumplin. Moon Pie and Glory Bee were both trying to ride her, and some of the time, she was letting them. Meaning, she was standing still instead of walking away. Cows will ride each other for all kinds of reasons, sometimes just boredom, but cows walk away from it. They only stand still for riding if they’re in standing heat.

All signs point to…. Dumplin is in heat. Which is very disappointing. I think even Dumplin agrees because this means the vet will be back.

On the upside, so far nobody is paying attention to Glory Bee. I’ll have to keep watching for the next few days to be sure. Meanwhile, fastest I can get semen here is tomorrow, so the vet will be here then and we’ll give this thing another shot with Dumplin.

I was already in the process of getting a new chute put in on the other side of the milking parlor specifically for vet work. Up to now, the vet has used the chute I have set up for milking, but there are a few issues with that when it comes to vet work. One is that the vet is righthanded, so coming in from that side is really awkward. Second is that protection needs to be put in place to keep the vet from the risk of being kicked.

A new chute is in the process of being constructed and has to be ready tomorrow, so it has been moved to the head of the priority list for my hired men.
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So far, the old goat milking stand that was here has been taken down. (I don’t expect to be milking any goats.) The new vet chute for cows is going in its place.

A locust tree was cut down to be used in place of a 12-foot post that was needed.
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A new feed tray and headlock has been built. What’s left to finish are the side boards that will keep a cow from kicking out to the side. (There’s usually an assistant standing to the side, holding the tail, so there needs to be protection there.) And also a back gate to keep a cow from kicking back or suddenly bolting back before their head is secured in the headlock.

This should all be finished this evening. To save time when my hired men get here (so they can move on to the chicken yard, which has been temporarily abandoned for the vet chute), I went out to do the measurements myself.
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Dumplin volunteered to go first. Which surprised me since Glory Bee likes to be first about everything, but I think she was lost in thought for moment pondering the concept of becoming a grandmother.

The notch on the board that holds the headlock will need to be cut this evening, so I determined where that would need to be to hold Dumplin.
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I measured where her rear end ends.
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Then on the sides, I measured just below the belly line where side boards can be put in place. (That’s just a rack to the side right now, to keep her from coming in to the headlock sideways.)
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It was a little confusing for Dumplin since I’d trained her to go in the other chute, but she figured out pretty quickly that I wanted her to walk into the new one.

Then I moved her out and brought Glory Bee in. Glory Bee was also baffled by the new chute, but also figured it out quickly. Cows are handy like that. They love food, and it generally takes about a minute to train them to do anything for some sweet molasses feed.
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Glory Bee is several inches longer than Dumplin, so something is going to have to be figured out in order to solve that problem. But all the measuring and figuring comes with extra snacks, so nobody minds.
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Did you know that on big cattle farms, they actually pay people to watch cows for riding and standing? Really.

I can’t decide if that’s the worst job ever. Or the best. But I’m pretty sure I’m qualified for it!

P.S. I love how everybody likes to keep an eye on their mama!
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  1. IMG_4356

    February 2, 2015 - Guilty Faces

    First it was Moon Pie.

    She looks so innocent, doesn’t she?

    She knows how to cause trouble. She broke in through the barbed wire fence separating the back barnyard repeatedly last week. Repairs were no problem–she’d just break through again the next day. And the next day. Then–FINALLY. … Continued…

  1. IMG_4219

    January 21, 2015 - Cow Family

    It was a nice warm winter day here yesterday, with the hoses thawed out and everything, and I was running water in a bucket in the goat yard watching the cows. Glory Bee and Dumplin were licking and washing and grooming and loving on Moon Pie, standing between them.

    It was taking a long time to fill the bucket, … Continued…

  1. IMG_4140

    January 19, 2015 - Double Date

    Mobile vet Clara Mason was back at Sassafras Farm on Saturday (with her “weekend assistant” husband) to AI (artificially inseminate) Glory Bee and Dumplin. Here, she was preparing for the insemination at her truck before going to the barn. The semen arrives in a large container. Inside that container is the liquid nitrogen tank. And inside that is a package that contains the straws of frozen semen…. Continued…

  1. IMG_4011

    January 14, 2015 - Back to the Drawing Board

    Several months ago, I had Glory Bee AI’ed (artificially inseminated) with black angus bull semen. I had mobile vet Clara Mason here yesterday to check on the results.

    Glory Bee will not be knitting calf booties anytime soon. She is NOT bred. I was so sure she was! She looked pregnant. Even the vet looked at her when she arrived and said she … Continued…

  1. IMG_3908

    January 5, 2015 - Milkin Dumplin

    I’m just kidding!

    But–

    Now that the holidays are over, I’ve circled back around to taking care of business with the girls. Glory Bee needs to be preg-checked.

    And Dumplin needs to be artificially inseminated.

    The younguns never like to be separated from mommy…. Usually it’s just for milking. And I’m back … Continued…

  1. IMG_3735

    December 16, 2014 - Living Dangerously

    I bought this bed for Precious, but Buttercup decided immediately that it was going to be his bed.

    The new puppy and I gave in to his “possession is nine-tenths of the law” decree and I put a towel down on the floor for Precious. She wanted to be in front of the fire, too!

    Everybody was happy for a … 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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