Being Prepared After the Cow Calves

Calving-  be prepared I love farm life – the simplicity of it – the self-sufficiency of it – the joys – the satisfaction of it all!

But, as much as I enjoy our lifestyle of home education, working together in the vineyard and having a family milk cow and other farm animals, there are times when I get discouraged.

Last week was one of those times I was ready to throw in the towel!  Not on the whole life but on certain aspects You have probably experienced the same feelings – oh, please tell me you have and that I am not alone in this!

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A Calf is Born!

Newborn Calf

What you are about to read and see is the actual process of delivering a calf. If you are squemish, you may want to blur your eyes at the photos as you continue reading.

Hilde finally calved and has a beautiful, light brown calf!

This delivery was the most eventful yet – the calf was breech! A breech calf is one that comes out feet and bottom first. The normal presentation is head first – well, you see the front hooves first and then the head.

When we purchased Hilde, she had been bred (impregnated) with a Brahman bull. Hilde is a Jersey and Brown Swiss cross and is larger than a full Jersey but, a Brahman is even bigger. When our vet checked her, he cautioned us to watch her during delivery because the calf could be rather large – meaning, she would need some help getting the calf out.

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Backyard Bees

Bees With all the excitement and work surrounding grape harvest, I forgot to tell you about the new additions to our homestead – Honey Bees!

We have been wanting to get into beekeeping for quite awhile. Partly for the enjoyment of beekeeping; partly for sustainability and self-sufficiency; and partly for money saving. But assuredly, for really good honey!

I have been buying raw honey in 5 gallon buckets for years. Now, we will have our own locally produced honey – you can’t get more local than your own backyard! Having our own bees will not only save us money but also adds another dimension to our homestead giving the children a different experience.

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How to Tell if Your Cow is About to Calve

Hilde a Brown Swiss Jersey Cross

Remember Hilde?

She is our family milk cow that we bought back in March. She was giving about 3 gallons per day and was suppose to calve in July. Hilde is half Jersey and half Brown Swiss – a combination that gives rich creamy milk that is good not only for drinking, but also cheesemaking.

In anticipation of her calving, I had the vet check her to make sure she was bred (pregnant) before we dried her off. “Drying off” is the term used for stopping the milking of a cow. It gives them a rest period before calving and beginning to produce milk again. We dried Hilde off the last week of May knowing she was due in July.

Well, July has come and gone and guess what – no calf![Continue Reading]

Bernie – Our New Shih-poo

Bernie Our New Shih-Poo

After losing Sprinkles, our much loved  shih-poo, it took a while to find another dog to be our inside house pet. Considering the circumstances of her death, we decided against another shih-poo. But the dilema then became what to get.

Living in what will be the basement of our home with 1500 sq ft for the 9 of us, a large dog inside could become a source of irritation – especially for those in the family that are not true dog lovers! So, while a big dog would probably not be the best for us right now, I knew I wanted some type of a poodle mix because any dog bred with a poodle will have little to no shedding.

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Hilde, Hildie or Hildy….

Hilde our new Jersey milk cow As I said earlier, during my absence from Cultured Palate, a lot has happened. So, I would like to introduce you to our new family milk cow. She is 1/2 Brown Swiss and 1/2 Jersey. The problem is the spelling of her name!

How would you spell it? Hilde, Hildie or Hildy?

My preferred spelling is “Hilde”!

So, while our family disagrees (playfully of course) about the spelling, everyone agrees that Hilde is possibly the best family milk cow we have ever had!

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Heavy Hearts

sprinkles the shihpoo as a puppy and older

Have you ever noticed how situations, circumstances and lives can be changed in a matter of minutes? Life is fleeting and this was brought home in a very real way to our family this week through our little shihpoo, Sprinkles.

For our family, Tuesday began like any other day. We woke up and began preparing breakfast. While breakfast is being prepared, our 5 yr old feeds the outside dogs, Snowball and Cotton, both Great Pyrenees. This particular morning, Sprinkles was also outside and decided to help Snowball eat her food. This was never a problem when she shared the dish with our cat Lolli. As you can see, they would both plunge their heads into the bowl at the same time![Continue Reading]

Butchering A Cow

butchering a cow tips and techniques

“Butchering a Cow” might sound like a step-by-step tutorial, but I really just want to share with you how we butchered our steer Brisket (while encouraging you to also branch out beyond your comfort zone).

We purchased Brisket when he was a few days old from a local dairy (and steer-ified him soon thereafter). As his name implies, we considered him not as a pet but  future meat for our table. Last week, that happened – Brisket was re-located to our freezer.[Continue Reading]

No More Milk!

preparing to calve how to dry off a cow

It is sad.

Then again, it is good.

First, the sad part:

We are no longer milking Emme, our family milk cow. Needless to say, we are really missing the fresh raw milk… and cheese… and yogurt… But most of all – the ice cream!

That’s right, no more ice cream for dinner – I mean literally, dinner consisted of ice cream many nights. If you remember, we had many flavors of ice cream like Blueberry, Coffee and of course, Vanilla, for dinner on hot summer nights through the end of September. We have reverted to our time living in Switzerland and adopted the European tradition of having our biggest meal midday and a light dinner in the evening which, after all, ice cream is! It was especially refreshing after working in the vineyard heat all day.

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Dogs and Porcupines Quills

how to remove porcupine quills

Who knew – dogs and porcupines don’t mix!

Well, ours don’t anyway!

After losing Bob, a much loved dog to coyotes, seeing a coyote not more than 80 ft from me in the vineyard in broad daylight, and waking to a coyote circling our chicken pen one morning, we decided to get pro-active in protecting our farm.

About the same time, friends were leaving the area and offered us their great Pyrenees, Cotton, whom they felt would make a good family dog and would adjust to us easier than a cross country move. Cotton very quickly adapted to our family and has become a valiant worker in protecting us from the coyotes. In fact, she worked all night running from one end of the property to the other and slept all day – the job was almost too much for her!

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