Category Archives: Farm

Rendering suet into tallow 2018

Now that all our beef for the year have been taken to the butcher shop, we’ve got suet that needs rendered into tallow. We’ve learned to do it as soon as we get it or it takes up precious freezer space for too long since there never seems to be a “good day” to plan to render, lol.๐Ÿ™„ So – despite it being 88ยฐ and humid today, onward we go!๐Ÿ™ƒ

Here are summary pictures from today and links for more details from earlier years are at the end.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

(The favorite part for me is cleaning up at the end of the process with super hot water & our tallow soap!โ˜บ๏ธ)

[click here to read about our experience rendering in 2013]

[click here to read about tallow in skincare]

[click here to read about an old lesson I learned that had tallow in it]

7th calf 2018

Went up to check on the dairy girls Tuesday afternoon after feeding the calves, and saw Sarge like this:

Of course, Tangerine had to be right there, blocking my view…๐Ÿ™„

LilRed was interested for a bit (above), and below you can see Gluey laying in the background…๐Ÿ™„

Sarge decided to lay down right next to Gluey, so Mike & I decided to hang around and watch…

Thankfully, we kept Coco down by the milking barn this morning. She was in standing heat again, and after the fiasco from her last heat, we decided we’d keep her away from the herd since we knew Sarge was close to calving. Sooooo glad we did that! {Click here to read about that crazy day.}

I love how curious our girls get when Mike sits down near them…๐Ÿ˜

Now Tangerine wants a front row seat, too…๐Ÿ™„

These next pics happened really quickly, so I didn’t get to capture everything. All I know is all of a sudden, Sarge got up and circled around swinging a calf that was still partially inside her… Mike jumped up to run in the field so he could pull if necessary, and/or keep the other two cows from stepping on the newborn calf…๐Ÿ˜ฌ

You can see them watching/wondering why Mike was running into the field, lol…๐Ÿ˜‚

Phew. All worked out fine!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Mike kept Gluey and Tangerine away for a little bit so it didn’t get too crazy…๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

And then the girls all made their rounds to meet Sarge’s bull calf. His name is Harry, and he is Sarge’s 3rd calf for us. (His name holds a double meaning. It goes hand-in-hand with Lloyd, our 3rd calf of this year๐Ÿ˜‚, and he is the last calf from our Hereford bull named Harry, so he’s named after his dad.๐Ÿ˜‰)

[Click here to read about Sarge’s calf from last year.]

[Click here to read about when Sarge was born.]

We decided to leave Harry with Sarge overnight and bring him down in the morning with the herd for milking.

Here we are approaching the field early this morning. Harry is between Gluey and Sarge…๐Ÿ™„

Due to the hazardous walking conditions from so much mud, we decided it would be safer to not put the halter on Harry up here. These guys tend to walk quicker than we can in this mess, so it could have been hard for us to keep up with them without slipping/falling/whatever.๐Ÿค•๐Ÿ˜ฌ

He made it out like a champ and wove in and out of the electric fence without issue. As we neared the barn, Mike was able to get the halter on him to lead him into the barn.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

So that’s all the calves for 2018! Final tally is 4 girls and 3 boys.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

We are so grateful we didn’t have any emergency vet calls this year, and that all our mamas cleaned on their own. Praise the Lord!๐Ÿ˜‡

Lord willing, this will be the year I’m able to be more consistent with blog posts about things going on around here…time will tell!๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผโ˜บ๏ธ

5th and 6th calf 2018

What a morning! Came over extra early in hopes of being able to make it to church, but it wasn’t long and we knew that wasn’t going to happen…

First, we could make out the outline of Uno and a calf; and then as we approached them, we could see another calf in the distance.๐Ÿ˜ฏ

These next few pics are not very good. It was still pretty dark, super cold on my ungloved hands, and pretty chaotic to say the least. Rather than scrap the pics, I decided to lighten them up as best I could and keep them as a reminder for memory purposes.

Here is Uno with hers – a girl!!๐Ÿ˜ This is Uno’s 3rd calf for us. [Click here to read about her calf last year.] [Click here to read about when Uno was born.] We’ve decided to name her Lulu – mainly because it sounds nice with her half-sister’s name that you’ll read about below…

And here is RedRobin’s (a.k.a. LilRed) calf – another girl!๐Ÿ˜ EXCEPT – she was NOT with LilRed, but Tangerine.๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ก

This is LilRed’s 2nd calf for us. [Click here to read about her calf from last year.] [Click here to read about when LilRed was born.] This calf is the great-granddaughter of Buttercup – one of the 3 heifers my Grandma and Grandpa Cegelka bought for the boys back in 2005. (My Grandpa wanted to buy the boys their first calves.โค๏ธ) [Click here for a cool Buttercup post.] Of the 3, Buttercup was the only one that made the cut as a dairy cow. She had 5 calves for us and was a GREAT milk cow. In honor of her, we wanted a flower name for this calf. So we decided on Lily.๐Ÿ˜

Lulu was still kinda wet and getting cleaned up, whereas Lily was pretty dry and spunky.

Since most of the activity was centered around LilRed’s, we decided to try to get it and the rest of the milkers to the barn first.

The walk to the barn was probably the most stressful walk we’ve had yet. Many lessons learned this season…๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

She petered out halfway across the barnyard so Mike carried her into the barn. At least she wasn’t as big as Fiona!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

She was pretty exhausted after her big morning…

Mike laid her down in the pen with Lloyd. Then we put halters on Lloyd and Fiona and walked them next door. Fiona walked great. Lloyd – NOT SO MUCH. Mike came back to help me get him over.๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

We still needed to milk before we could feed the calves. Until then, we kept Fiona and Lloyd on one end of the corral. Patty and Fillup were on the other side, but they hadn’t come out from the barn to meet them yet…๐Ÿ™‚

After milking, we came back and fed these 4. Here are a couple pics of the new calf headlocks Mike is building. They aren’t finished yet because we needed live models to see if our spacing is correct. Good thing we waited to finish them – we’ll need to make them a wee bit smaller.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ The saw horse is working ok to hold the buckets for now. Maybe this week, Mike will attach a board that will go all the way across.

After cleaning up from feeding calves, we decided we were going to run the mamas who have already calved back up to Grey Heaven. We’ve had enough of them being in Isengard.๐Ÿ˜‰

That meant we needed to move their round bale feeder and mineral feeder, too. So that’s what we tackled next.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Uno+Lulu, Sarge, and Coco stayed. (Of course, I couldn’t help but take a few pics of them while I did the gates for Mike.)โ˜บ๏ธ

After we opened the divider gate, we headed up to Grey Heaven.

Don’t let the sunny day fool ya – today was SO COLD! The wind was nasty, and after a 4.5 hour morning in it, my whole body just hurt.๐Ÿ˜ฌ Yep – that’s ice in those puddles!โ„๏ธ

Still needed to feed some hay to the ones we left down by the barn, and then we could head inside for a warmup.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผโ˜•๏ธ

And we were blessed with a beautiful sight right before we headed home…โค๏ธ

3 hours later we came over to check on Lily in the barn. We were so thankful she got up! Such a cutie.๐Ÿ˜ We tried to feed her, but she wasn’t interested. Decided we try again later and we let her rest some more.

Went back out several hours later and did the afternoon feeding with some friends. Then it was time to bring Lulu to the barn. Extra hands meant someone else could take the pics! Thanks, Jennifer & Grant!โ˜บ๏ธ

Led her under under and out a fence and walked her to the barn.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

And last-but-not-least, 3 hours later, we returned to try and feed Lily again… SHE ATE!! It’s a beautiful sound to hear a calf suck down her milk!๐ŸŽถ

Thank You, Lord, for this amazing day. It’s been long and exhausting and cold, but You have sustained both us and our animals.โœ๏ธ

Only Sarge left to calve now. Count is 4 girls, 2 boys.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

4th calf 2018

As mentioned in the last calf post, Disco had her calf this morning. We noticed the signs as soon as we came over to bring Lloyd in. We led her through the gate so she could have her calf in peace.๐Ÿฎ

By the time we were done cleaning up after milking, she was about ready to have her calf.

I kept watching her as I was cleaning the barn, and wondered if she needed any help… Mike thought the same, so he got some twine and headed out to check things out. Disco apparently did NOT want any help, lol. She saw us coming and pushed it right out!๐Ÿ˜‚

It’s a girl! This is Disco’s 10th calf for us. [Click here to read about her calf last year.] She is the oldest cow we have in our milking herd – at 11 years old. This one makes her tally 4 girls and 6 boys over the years. She typically has really large calves, and this girl is no exception.๐Ÿ˜ฏ Her large size, and with our brains already in movie mode, we thought Fiona would be the perfect name for her.๐Ÿ˜‰

Tangerine and Gluey were going crazy on the other side of the fence.๐Ÿ™„ Mike gave them some hay to get their minds off things so that Disco and Fiona could hang together all morning and afternoon.

We waited until after we had fed the other calves their afternoon feeding, and then brought Fiona into the barn. Thankfully, she walked all the way there and there was no lifting involved for Mike.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Gee, look – guess who goes through the gate first to see the new addition, lol?๐Ÿ™„

Phew. It’s been a busy few days. 2 boys+2 girls so far. Lord willing, 3 left to go…๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

3rd calf 2018

Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, after feeding Patty & Fillup, I needed to add more water to the dairy girls’ trough. As I was waiting for that to finish, I was watching to see if anyone looked ready to calve. In so doing, I noticed Coco messing around with Tangerine. [Some Coco history: she had her first calf for us last year, was THE WORST heifer to train to go into the headlocks that we’ve worked with over the past 10 seasons, and was the ONLY girl to not get re-bred by our bull. Normally – she would not have made the cut to remain in our dairy herd. BUT – her mama, OreoCookie was one of our best milkers… So, sometimes you make exceptions to your own rules.๐Ÿ˜ฌ (And sometimes you regret doing that as time goes on, lol.) We figured we’d give her another chance to get bred this summer.]

**side note – I Just went to find Coco’s post from when she had her calf last year, and found out I NEVER DID ONE!๐Ÿ˜ฒ I guess that’s what happens when it’s the last calf and so much later than the bulk of the calves. Lord willing, I’ll be able to find the pics from when Andy was born and create a post for him. Will probably be void of many details, lol, as my mind doesn’t retain that much info for very long๐Ÿ˜‚.**

Back to yesterday: That morning, we had noticed that Coco was in heat. Like: SERIOUS, standing heat.๐Ÿ™„ This causes her to act even nuttier than her crazy-normal. [This is probably why one of her nicknames is KOOKY, lol.] I noticed Tangerine had her tail out, and thought she might be in labor. Sure enough, she laid down and I could tell she was. Coco didn’t do a thing but jump on Tangerine’s head!๐Ÿ˜ฎ I KID YOU NOT. Ugh. Poor Tangerine jumped up and tried to separate herself from her pesky friend, but to no avail. COCO WOULD NOT LEAVE HER ALONE. Geez.๐Ÿ˜ 

Tangerine is the brown one with the “T” on her forehead, and Coco is the black marbley colored one next to her.

By this time I was done filling up their water, so I decided I’d go in & try to distract Coco so Tangerine could go to a corner and have her calf in peace. That was a worthless endeavor.๐Ÿ˜ฌ Coco is a SUPER stubborn girl, and gave me quite the run around. NOT FUN. In fact, it was downright maddening.๐Ÿ˜ก [Remember, this field is right next to the road, so not only am I trying to get a fifteen hundred pound animal to do what I want against her wishes, but all in front of an “audience” to boot.๐Ÿ˜ซ] My intent was to get either Coco or Tangerine to go through the gate that separates the two parts of this field and then I’d close the other one out. Didn’t work.๐Ÿ˜ค

Me & Coco having a stand off…๐Ÿ™„

Tangerine trying to get away from nut-job…๐Ÿ˜‰

Mike txted to see why I was taking so long to feed calves & do water. He had been nursing a killer headache all day, and I wanted him to lay down and rest.๐Ÿค• Oh well – at least he got to for a little bit. He got his barn clothes back on and came over to help me.

Mike didn’t do a thing but start calling the girls to “come,” and they perked up and came towards him, lol. Made me chuckle.๐Ÿ˜‚ [When pastures are growing and Mike moves the girls to new sections of grass, he calls to them and they get excited to follow. So basically, he tricked them to come towards him.๐Ÿ˜‚] Coco came through the gate first, so we just closed it after her. Now she couldn’t bother anyone else! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Next we had to go get another water trough and extra hoses so the girls’ we just closed off could have their own water…

Tangerine picked THE most non-private section to have her calf in: a low spot, RIGHT by the fence by the road.๐Ÿ™„

I wanted to wait to catch the birth on “film”, but she was taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r, so Mike & I decided to head home for a coffee break.โ˜•๏ธโค๏ธ

We wondered if we’d get any phonecalls before we came back over. Yep! Got 2, lol!๐Ÿคฃ One of our friends was driving by and saw a cow down & wasn’t sure if that was “normal,” and the second call was Mike’s mom saying someone had stopped at her house to say there was a calf in the field but it wasn’t standing up yet. We figured it had probably just been born and all was well, but you never know. It really IS a blessing to have people care enough to stop or call.๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ™‚

So about an hour later, we were back to check things out. Found this little (big) guy with Tangerine.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ [Click here to read about her calf from last year.]

Right after Mike confirmed it was a boy, crazy Gluey realized what happened & came running over like a mad woman.๐Ÿ™„ [Given our irritation with her regarding her calf Fillup, we weren’t too thrilled to see her fascination with Tangerine’s calf.๐Ÿ˜ ]

Not much we could do about it at this point. Just figured this calf would get extra cleaned up, and prayed that the correct mama would feed him.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Here is Coco looking longingly from the other side of the fence, lol…๐Ÿ˜

And Uno adding some grass to flavor the new, fresh water…๐Ÿ™„

Decided to return home and that I would come back in a bit – before dark, to perhaps get a glimpse of this boy eating off his mama. Can’t say that’s what I got to see exactly, but I just had to let it go.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ Gluey was going to remain “stuck” to Tangerine and her calf. What a frustrating evening!๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Now begins this morning…โ˜€๏ธ

Mike & I had tossed some name ideas out for this bull, but hadn’t really settled on anything. So I wondered what name would come to mind after bringing him in. Here he is in the hay with both Tangerine and Gluey right there.๐Ÿ™„

At some point, Mike jokingly called Tangerine and Gluey, “Dumb and Dumber.” And it was then that I KNEW where we’d get this calf’s name from. Yep. Did a quick internet search for the name of the characters from the Dumb & Dumber movie, and decided Lloyd would be his name. He can thank his “moms” for that.๐Ÿ˜‚ *Disclaimer – I am not a fan of that movie, but I know my boys have laughed at many parts in it, so if the shoe fits…*

Oh – and here is Disco – see her tail? Yeah. She’s getting ready…๐Ÿ˜‰

So Lloyd is really big. Bigger than Fillup. It was such a blessing Mike didn’t have to carry him to the barn!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

First we had to get him under the board, and then I went to get the four-wheeler to drive him to the top of the barn. He had a tiny tantrum as he waited, lol.๐Ÿ™„

We were going to leave him tied up until after milking, move his 2 older siblings next door, and then give him his own stall…but changed our mind and put him in with Fillup instead. It worked fine. Fillup didn’t care at all, and Lloyd just cuddled up and rested.๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ

Next, we walked Disco to the other side of the field and closed the gate. That way she had the whole section to have her calf to herself.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

She waited until we were done cleaning up from milking, and then had her calf. She had a girl! She’ll get her own post later, but here is a pic from within seconds of her being born. Soooo cool when we get to witness an actual birth!โค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‡

Next it was time to take Patty and Fillup next door to our barnyard. Pics were a little tricky, but the mission was accomplished.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Lloyd made our count 2 boys to 1 girl, but Disco’s new calf this morning brings it back to a tie: 2-2. Lord willing, 3 more to go!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ