Wednesday, August 5, 2009

State of the Farm Address

Rebekah had her 9th birthday on Monday and of all the things that she wanted, a pet was first on her list. Now, I'm not much for "pets", animals that pay their own way and earn their keep? Sure! But not getting an animal just for the sake of having it. We used to have ducks and though I haven't missed them since they've been gone, the children did. So, I heard a lot about how ducks would keep the fly population down and other enticing statistics. ;-) There *are* tons of flies here; the man who keeps his heifers here in the big barn rarely cleans it and it is a gigantic fly incubator. Anyhow, we got her 2 Black Swedish and 1 Blue Swedish duckling. She was thrilled with them!
The garden is really producing well, we're racing to keep up with it. As you know, I'm a big advocate of dehydrating foods but I do can some as well. I look on the canned stuff as "convenience" food since it's quick to prepare/heat up but I like to use it sparingly as it is nutritionally depleted. I think jars of canned produce do look pretty though!
And! The big news is that Tansy calved yesterday!!! She had a heifer calf which is Aleks' as part of his graduation gift from us. She is named Senna. The birth went just as I wished it would: outside in the fresh grass, with no problems. Tansy cleaned her up and she went to nursing.
We've worked on numerous dairy farms and were pretty sure that we didn't want the conventional dairy model as it relates to birth. On some of the farms the laboring cow is put in a headlock and gives birth there on the concrete. When the calves hooves are showing they tie chains to them and yank the baby out. The calf is them beaten on the chest and cussed at until it breathes, taken away from its Mother and thus begins the life of a dairy cow. :-( On a different farm every birth was attended and the calf literally did not touch the ground before it was taken away, on still another farm the cow gave birth in with all the other cows, usually right in the manure. You would find the calves completely coated in manure, unable to stand with only the tip of their noses showing. Makes you want a glass of milk right now, doesn't it?

The little children weren't there for the birth which I was glad for, but they did watch her eat the afterbirth. Most farmers don't allow this but we do. The placenta is loaded with oxytocin which will slow down any excessive bleeding and it's full of calcium which helps prevent Milk Fever. I actually wasn't worried about Milk Fever as cows who don't eat grain (i.e. grazing cows) rarely get it. After we put the Mama and baby in the barn for the night we gave her warm molasses water and a quantity of comfrey leaves. Together they give an iron boost and an immune system boost. Life seems abundantly good right now! ;-)


  1. Y'all have been very busy!!

    We have been preserving some food latley, but not as much as we'd like. We didn't plant a very big garden as we had planned to move back to Missouri in the early summer. But we haven't done that yet.

    The ducklings are so sweet. We had ducks a few years ago. We still lived on Cassandra's family's place, but we had a farm of our own on which we had animals. Two of our ducks hatched their eggs, but something ate all but 3 of the ducklings. The mother ducks weren't really protecting them so we brought them home and they lived in box in our mud room till they were big enough to live on their own. :D They were pretty fun to have around.

    Senna is very cute! (Makes me wish we still had animals. I love working with animals.) All of our cows were beef cows.

    God bless!


  2. Thank you for the excellent blog - I read it to my 8 year old daughter...she's been wanting to live on a farm so-o-o bad - that's all she seems to talk about.
    Keep writing about it - it gives me hope that one day we can join the farming community...

  3. The ducks are adorable and the cow is just a doll! How horrible that cows are birthed in that fashion. I'm glad your little one was able to have a nice birth in the grass and nurse right away. BTW, when are you due with your new one? God Bless!


  4. I would miss the animals too, Brooke, if we had to get rid of them!

    Ken, I'm glad your daughter enjoys hearing about our farm. Good job for raising her to desire something so wholesome!

    Lauren, I know what you mean about ducks, they wear a perpetual smile and make me smile to look at them! ;-) I'm due in about 7 weeks.