Quick Takes – March 2, 2014

— 1 —

We have a new baby on the farm!  I walked outside to feed the animals a few days ago and heard the bleating of a lamb!  He was cold and shivering and his momma didn’t seem terribly interested in him, so we brought him inside to dry him off and milked a little colostrum from Momma before putting him back in with her.  She’s still ignoring him and not allowing him to nurse, so it looks like we have another bottle baby on our hands (can you hear the lack of enthusiasm with which I say that?)  :)

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— 2 —

We had a HUGE scare with Lucy this week.  I went to take the puppy out early one morning and Lucy was laying flat on her side (never a good thing for a cow – they can die within hours in that position.)  She was lowing in the same way she did when she got caught in the electric fence, only very, very softly… as if she hardly had the strength to call loudly anymore, and she didn’t seem to recognize me or be aware of anything.  I really thought she was going to die and chances are, had our dog not needed to go potty when she did, she would have.  I ran to get Jon and he and Bunchkin were able to get her up on her side while I called our neighbor and our vet.  After a little while we were able to stand her up in the same way we usually do when she’s down (twisting her tail to give her the incentive to stand [it hurts] and then throwing our weight backward as she starts to stand, which seems to give her just enough leverage to stand up on her own.)  We gave her a steroid shot and a pain killer and babied her for the rest of the day.  She’s doing well now, and has been fine since then and my wonderful mom picked up a baby monitor for us in town (even though she wasn’t feeling well!) so that we’ll be able to monitor her better during the night.  It makes me sad that the inevitable end to all of this is going to be a trip to freezer camp, as we won’t be able to breed her in her condition and eventually she’ll stop producing (and we cannot afford to keep a pet cow, nor, probably, would we want to.)  The good news is that Gwendolyn is doing great and she’s getting huge and fat on her momma’s milk.  She’s a sweetheart and I’m really thankful to have her.

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resting after a very rough morning

— 3 —

Despite the trouble she had recently, Lucy has actually been doing really well up until this point.  We haven’t had to pick her up in a few weeks, and her milk production has been great.  Since we’re sharing milk with the calf (which means we only have to milk ONCE a day – woohoo!), we’re not getting huge amounts of milk, but she’s maintaining her body weight well on barley fodder and hay, unlike last year when we had to start feeding her grain.  Since grass-fed milk is so much healthier than milk from grain-fed cows, I feel really good about it, and I’m so grateful for every day that Lucy is up again and we get another jar or two of her wonderful milk.  The longer she can hang in there, the better off Gwendolyn will be and the better chance we have that Gwenny will also grow up to do well on grass (the loner a calf has access to raw milk, the better the rumen will develops, which in part determines how well they’ll convert grass to milk. Most dairy’s start supplementing with formula and grain pretty quickly, as it’s cheaper to keep the milk and feed formula than to feed the milk to the calves.)

— 4 —

Every  now and then I think of how much more milk we’d have if we sold the cows and invested in some standard dairy goats.  I think you can keep something like 4 standard goats on one acre (as opposed to one cow per acre) and if each goat is giving a gallon of milk… well… we’d get a whole lot more milk with goats!  But I just love having a cow.  In so many ways, a milk cow is the heart of a farm (or can be, anyway.)  She provides compost for the garden, milk, cheese and butter for us, whey from cheese making can be fed to chickens or pigs and extra milk can be used to feed the cats.  For the cost of a little bit of grass, a little bit of hay, and a little bit of barley fodder (optional,) we have an animal who can provide valuable inputs to an entire farm.  Pretty amazing, really.

(Okay, so technically, a goat can provide all of those things, too.  But a goat is not a cow.  And I love my cows!  They [goats and cows] each have such wonderful, different personalities and are each fun for their own reasons.)

— 5 —

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Our little puppy is doing great!  We decided to name him “Daily.”  My brother suggested that name many years ago for a little boy, and I always loved it.  We especially liked it for our puppy, to serve as a little reminder to us (Mat 6:11 and 34.) It seemed timely.

I’ve never had such a smart dog before!  He’s only had a few accidents in the house and every single time he’s tried to tell me he had to go out, and I haven’t been fast enough.  I won’t say he’s “housebroken” yet, since he’s only allowed access in certain parts of the house right now, but he definitely knows where he’s supposed to go. He also already knows several commands including “sit,” “look at me,” “yuck” (signals him to leave something alone,) “no,” “out” (to drop something in his mouth) and will touch my hand with his nose when I snap my fingers.  Right now we’re working on “come” and he’s almost got it!  Considering the fact that I just started working with him not long ago, I’m pretty impressed!

— 6 —

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Speaking of training Daily… to go along with my extreme perfectionist complex, there is something inside of me that is absolutely COMPELLED to make my life more difficult than it has to be on almost every possible occasion.  The other day, my dad came over and asked me “do you ever do ANYTHING normal?”  But really, I’m taking his training pretty seriously and trying my best to raise him right from the beginning.  We’ve had a lot of sad situations having to give up dogs in the past, almost completely due to my own lack of education and willingness to take the time to train them, and I’m determined that won’t happen with Daily!!!  I also want him to be a working dog.  He will have a job to do around here, hopefully several, so I’m determined to raise him right from the very beginning (one of the reasons we wanted a puppy and not an adult dog.)  I’ve been looking into a lot of training videos, and one of the main websites I’ve been searching on has been Leerburg.com (Ed Frawley has been working professionally with German Shepherd Dogs for over 30 years.)  Really great information there, for anyone interested in training their dog!

— 7 —

We’ve decided to feed Daily a raw diet and I’m pretty excited about it!  For one, it just makes more sense to me.  I’ve never seen a wolf eating out of a bag of dried kibble, that’s like feeding my kids a diet of nothing but lunchables.  Call it a “balanced meal” all you want, but I don’t think you can’t get good nutrition out of a package.  Second, research seems to back this up.  I learned alot about raw food diets for animals when I was looking up information on raw milk.  (((STUDY WITH CATS))))   Third, with all the animal byproducts we have (bones, organ meat, etc.) from processing our own animals, I’ll feel good that those parts that we would ordinarily waste will be put to good use. And fourth , if we shop the sales, it will actually be cheaper for us!

For instance, a store near us has chicken leg quarters for .59/lb right now.  In addition, our local butcher shop sells organ meat for .80/lb and bones for even less.  To give you an idea for comparison, we’re currently feeding our puppy Science Diet as we make the transition to raw foods, and it’s $2.60/lb!!!  Purina is .75/lb, Iams is .93/lb, Eukanuba is 1.33/lb (and that’s on sale!)  Even Old Roy (which we do NOT want to feed our dog!) is only a little bit less than the raw chicken quarters at .40/lb and that’s the nutritional equivalent of feeding  sawdust.

So I’m pretty excited about it!!!

Which leads me to a funny story…

I found the deal at our store through this website, and I called Jon to ask him if he could swing by on his way home from work and “spend all the money he has with him on chicken leg quarters!”  I started telling him the story about how much money we’ll save and we had the following conversation:

Jon: “I’m in a meeting, so can you give me the quick version for the rest of this story?”

Me: “Oh!  I’m sorry!  I’ll just tell you the rest later!”

Jon: “Don’t be sorry!  I work with crazy people all day long, it’s nice to get a phone call from someone who’s excited about the price of chicken quarters!”

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For more quick takes, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary

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