Uniting the calves

Not sure why the video shows sideways on my phone…πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Was a beautiful morning to move the three youngest calves over to join the others. Always a delight to watch them interact with one another and try out those running legs!πŸ˜†

First one to make the trip was Hank – the baby…who is actually bigger than all his older siblings, lol. His longer coat really makes him look fluffy!πŸ™‚

Next up was Sam…😊

And then, April. She pretty much ran over like she knew what she was doing…☺️

This afternoon’s feeding will be interesting… Probably some chaos will be involved, but normally it doesn’t take too long for them to catch on to the routine.πŸ™ƒπŸ™πŸΌ

6th calf 2020

We knew there was a high probability that today would be the day calf #6 arrived. So we can’t say we were shocked, lol. It was 44Β° and the wind made it feel like it was 29Β°. Typical Ohio spring day!πŸ˜†β„οΈπŸŒ·

When we got up to Mordor to do our calf check, no animals were in sight. (The last couple days, they were all close to the gate at the water trough, BUT NOT TODAY.πŸ™„) So in we went to about as far back as the large field goes…

And there was Ruby with her fuzzy calf.πŸ™‚

This is Ruby’s second calf for us. [Click here to read about her calf from last year.] [Click here to read about when Ruby was born.]

It’s a boy! His name is Hank. (brainstormed through other characters from Avengers movies to go with Bucky and SamπŸ˜‰)

Wasn’t too bad getting him on a halter since the fence was right there.

Then, of course, the others needed to come over and meet Hank…πŸ˜‚

Ruby wasn’t the best leader, and it didn’t take long to see walking them both all the way down to the barn wasn’t going to work. Hank is HUGE, and Mike didn’t really want to pick him up…😬 BUT – that’s the only way to get him onto the four-wheeler, so…πŸ’ͺ🏼

Sadly, Hank was not cooperating very well, and there was no way for Mike to get a good hold of him walking behind the four-wheeler.🀨 So back down to the ground he went.πŸ€”

Only other option was to shake the dust off the limo. It’s been a few years since we’ve used the farm truck to bring down a calf, but today it was just what we needed…πŸ‘πŸΌ

Now I’ll be truthful here – it was scary for me, staying up with Hank & crew while Mike scurried down to get the truck. Remember – I’m the weirdo farmer chick who is afraid of animals…πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ™πŸΌ I’m happy to report that nothing crazy happened with the animals – no one tried to attack me, lol, and Hank didn’t pull me all over with his halter. Thank You, Lord!πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ

Endured a few snow squalls before Mike returned…πŸ₯Ά

Once Mike got back, he lifted Hank onto the bed of the truck. I helped him get a good hold of two legs on each side of him and we started down to the barn. Hard to take pics with just the two of us, but I managed to get a couple. They aren’t very good, but you get the idea.πŸ˜‰

Here is Hank all safe & sound in the barn.πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ

Next we headed back up to Mordor to walk Ruby down. Our approach was to call the four cows to us, get them to come to the gate, weed out Ruby, and head down. Three cows cooperated with our plan. ONE DID NOT. Guess which one?πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Here is the group hearing us calling them and considering heading toward us…

And in this pic, if you zoom in, you can see Ruby leaving the group and heading the opposite direction…πŸ™„

So now my job was to keep these guys away from the gate while Mike rounded up Ruby on the four-wheeler.😬

Mission accomplished!πŸ’ƒπŸ»πŸ’ƒπŸ»πŸ’ƒπŸ»

Didn’t get done with morning chores until after noon today. Definitely a long morning, but also such a blessing.❀️

Our first six calves have arrived safe and sound! We’re expecting two more in June sometime, so we’ll have a little bit of a break with calving until then.

Our count is tied up now: three boys and three girls.☺️

5th calf 2020

Mike found our 5th calf with its mama this afternoon after coffee break.β˜•οΈ So back up to Mordor, we headed…

Finally – Nat had her calf!πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ With as bossy as she was when trying to steal Sarge and LilRed’s calves, we expected this to be a pretty easy time bringing a well-bonded duo down to the barn…πŸ™„…well…😬…not-so-much.😳 Not sure what her problem was, lol. Perhaps she was disappointed it was a boy??πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

We named him Sam. (Another Avenger name, to go with Bucky.πŸ˜‰)

This is Nat’s second calf for us. [Click here to read about Nat’s calf from last year.] [Click here to read about when Nat was born.]

As we entered the field, Sam ran from us but got stopped by the electric fence. (Praise the Lord – otherwise we might still be out chasing it, lol!πŸ™ƒ) We were able to get the halter on him as Nat tried to leave the area.🀨

Mike stayed with Sam and I scrambled to get in front of Nat to steer her back toward the gate.πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

It eventually worked, and she and Sam made the trek down to the barn aok. They didn’t really walk as a “team,” but at least the mission was accomplished and Mike never needed to carry Sam. He’s pretty good sized, so Mike’s body really didn’t want to lift him onto the four wheeler.πŸ˜‰

Now our tally is three girls and two boys.πŸ‘πŸΌ Lord willing, three more to go!πŸ™πŸΌ

4th calf 2020

In anticipation of calf #4, we brought the three oldest calves over from the white barn on Thursday. Heidi went first, then Bucky, and lastly Roni. It is a delight to see them running around over here from our back windows.😍

It was nice having the stalls in the white barn already emptied this morning. What a gift it is when you can actually be ready and prepared for something!βœοΈπŸ™‚

After feeding the calves this morning, Mike & I headed up to Mordor to do a babycheck.

Got to the gate and saw a calf up by the water trough.❀️

Couldn’t tell yet who the calf’s mama was…🧐

Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that LilRed was the mama, and Nat was just trying to steal it like she did with Sarge’s…πŸ™„

We didn’t want to lose the opportunity to halter the calf and/or they all walk to the back side of the field before we could get the fences ready for the walk to the barn…

It’s a girl! She is LilRed’s 4th calf for us. [Click here to read about her calf from last year.] [Click here to read about when LilRed was born.] We decided to name her April because…well…it’s April, lol.πŸ˜‚

Mike sent me down on the four wheeler to get all the gates and fences ready while he stayed up top with the herd.

Thankfully, I got things lined up without issue since on my way back up I met Mike already walking down with LilRed and April!😲

So I turned around, headed back down and got a couple pics of them coming towards the barnyard…πŸ‘πŸΌ

Sarge and Uno were excited to gain another roomie…πŸ˜†

A beautiful morning for a parade of our own here on Palm Sunday.✝️❀️

New tally is three girls and one boy. Lord willing, we are expecting four more calves this year.πŸ™πŸΌ

3rd calf 2020

Mike found Sarge with her new calf this afternoon, and we had quite the cow-drama getting them down to the barn.😬

This is Sarge’s 5th calf for us. [Click here to read about last year’s calf.] [Click here to read about when Sarge was born.]

Mike came down to the barn to set up another calf pen and finished feeding round bales before we went up to bring down Sarge and her calf. We weren’t expecting to find Nat trying to steal the calf from Sarge.πŸ™„ Nat is actually Sarge’s first calf from 2016. [Click here to read about her story.] Nat is due to have her own calf soon, so she must have thought she already had it, LOL.πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ She was very aggressive (no one got hurt, but she was running around like a crazy mama), and so-much-so that Sarge pretty much gave up trying to take charge of her own calf. Ugh.😑

Poor calf was pretty confused. She wouldn’t walk with Nat, and Sarge went back to eat…so I walked all the way back to the 4-wheeler to give her a lift. (Of course – the ONE time you DON’T bring the 4-wheeler in with you…πŸ˜†)

Anyways – through all this, for some reason the childhood story of Heidi popped into my mind…an orphaned little girl raised by extended family up on a mountain… (I know, I know – no mountains here, but my legs felt like they had hiked up one after so much walking through pockets of mud.πŸ˜–πŸ‘΅πŸΌ) I mentioned the name to Mike. He politely agreed, and there you have it: Heidi.πŸ˜‚

Not too many pictures of all this craziness, as I was afraid I’d drop my phone during my quest for remaining balanced.

Next we tied Heidi to a post outside of Mordor and then headed back in to get Sarge.

Once we got back to Sarge, she proceeded to zig zag us through the field. Thankfully, we were able to eventually guide her through the gate.πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ HOWEVER. She never even stopped to reunite with her calf.😳

So for the first time, I herded a mama cow down to the barn on the 4-wheeler, while Mike waited with Heidi for me to return.πŸ™ƒ

Once Sarge was in the barnyard, I closed the gate and headed back to Mike & Heidi.πŸ‘πŸΌ

All went well, and after we milked Sarge, Heidi enjoyed her bottle. Mission accomplished. Thank You, Lord!❀️

New tally: two girls and one boy. Lord willing, 5 more to come.πŸ™πŸΌ

2nd calf 2020

 

Found this guy with his mama during our morning calf check.❀️

Peggy calving again for us wasn’t actually a part of our plan…πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Last year she had her first calf, but she didn’t make the cut to stay in our dairy herd. [Click here to read about her calf from last year.] [Click here to read about when Peggy was born.]

BUT – when you are sorting cows when the bull is in with the herd, and it takes a little longer than you thought it would – there’s always that slight chance…πŸ™„

We noticed Peggy bagging up a couple weeks ago, so we knew then that she had gotten bred.πŸ˜‚ No worries, though, a healthy calf that arrives unassisted is always a blessing!❀️

This pic is fun because it features Peggy’s first calf on the left – Steve. He was pretty curious about his new little brother. Continuing the Captain America themed names for this family group, this new bull calf has been named Bucky.πŸ˜†

Since Bucky was eating, we decided to leave them together for breakfast, and come up after milking and feeding round bales to the two groups of cows.πŸ‘πŸΌ

Plan was working well until Mike happened upon an “extra” calf in Mordor…😯 He knew it wasn’t one of ours as it was too large to be a newborn, and it was all black.

A neighbor’s calf had gotten on our side of the fence, and Mike could see and hear its mama crying in the distance.πŸ€”

You can see our dairy girls didn’t seem phased by any of this, lol.πŸ˜‰

Fixing this now became our next order of business.πŸ˜‰

I was to make sure the mama and the rest of the herd didn’t make a run toward the open gate while Mike went behind the calf and herded him toward the gate. Thankfully, it worked!πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ

Mike thinks he found a low spot in the woods by a creek where the calf may have gone under the fence. He’ll probably attach a cattle panel to patch it up as we move forward.πŸ‘πŸΌ

Next up: bringing down Bucky. The timing was perfect because he was sound asleep!😴

Mike was able to slip the halter on him before he even got up.πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ

Peggy escorted Bucky to the gate, and we were pleasantly surprised that he followed Mike as far as he did outside of the gate. Then Mike loaded him on the 4-wheeler for the remainder of the trip.πŸ’ͺ🏼

Made it to the barn, safe and sound!πŸ˜„

Roni seemed pretty happy to have a new neighbor…πŸ˜‰

Tally now is one girl, one boy. Lord willing, 6 more to go…πŸ™πŸΌ

Meet Roni – 1st calf 2020

Not gonna lie. This one caught us off-guard.😯 Yes – we knew calving season was approaching. But it just didn’t β€œfeel” like it was gonna be this soon, lol. We were thinking next week would be the earliest…πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ But God knew. And today we started our 2020 season with a beautiful heifer from Uno. This is Uno’s 5th calf for us. [Click here to see the post from her calf from last year.] [Click here to read about when Uno was born.]

Mike txted me this when he went up to feed hay this afternoon.

After the shock wore off, we stopped working on our current projects, made a list of things to do before we could bring them down, and got to work: cleaning up the milk house (which had recently been serving as a maple sap rendering station), creating temporary calf pens in the top of the milking barn, checking runway fencing, and hooking up some electric wire along the field up on top of the hill. An extra bonus was that Michael was home from work to be extra hands if we needed him.πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ’ͺ🏼

We’ve been getting A LOT of rain here lately, so everywhere is pretty yucky.😬 Thank You, Lord for boots that can handle wet and slimy mud!!πŸ‘πŸΌ

Uno did a great job cleaning her calf up. We decided to name her Roni. (Sounds like the end of macaroni. Think: short and slang for Corona. Because – well – that’s how my brain works – I think about what’s going on around me…πŸ˜‚)

She allowed Mike to walk right up to her to get the halter on.❀️

And off we headed out of Mordor and to the milking barn.

Uno dropped her afterbirth on the way down…

We decided to keep them both together until tomorrow, so Roni came with us into the milking barn while we did a quick check on Uno. All was well, and back out into the field, we went.

We should have 7 more calves to arrive this year. They will be spread out longer than our normal six week window, as we had problems getting our girls bred last year.

2019 was a challenging season for us. It had been another wet year, and our ground really suffered. That, in turn, had consequences in the fertility of our soil, which led to pastures that did not thrive, and health issues for both our dairy girls and our calves. It got bad enough, that we ended up shutting down our herdshare dairy in October. Severing ties with over 30 families made it an emotional end-of-milking for us, but the Lord could not have made it more clear that that chapter needed to end.πŸ˜”

So 2020 will be the beginning of a re-boot here. We’ll be reducing the sizes of our herds so we have less animals on the land. That way, we can amend the different pastures with what they are deficient in, so they can recover and thrive again. Depending on the quality and quantity of our milk this season, we’re prayerful we’ll have enough to feed our family and perhaps to even feed out a couple pigs. We sold our bull the end of October, so any breeding we do will be artificial breeding as we move forward. Our desire would be that in a few years, this land will be able to support more animals again and that we’ll be able to continue providing food for our family and others.πŸ™πŸΌ

The Lord will use t-i-m-e to show us what is next here. Something new He introduced for 2020 is the rotation of harvesting timber from some of the farm’s wooded areas over a pattern of years. Mike has enjoyed walking the woods with the forester and learning more about better timber management.🌳 (And drooling about a future sawmill some day.πŸ˜‰) This avenue fits in perfect with the firewood harvesting we do each year, and the woodworking Mike enjoys dabbling in when he can.❀️

Our prayer is that we honor the Lord with each of these decisions alongside Mike’s parents. We recognize that He is moving us in the direction He wants us to go, and we cling to Him each step of the way. There will be seasons where we work off-farm for a bit, and there will be others where we get to stay here. If we focus on what we don’t know, it can be overwhelming. But when our focus remains steadfast on Christ, He is faithful to direct our paths. We wouldn’t have it any other way! Been there, done that.πŸ˜‰βœοΈπŸ™πŸΌ

We are so grateful for the support we’ve had since day one, and we appreciate all the encouragement and prayers we continue to receive in this farming journey!πŸ₯°

Stay tuned!☺️