Category Archives: cattle

County Fair Fun!

These pictures aren’t the greatest but I wanted to share all the fun things that happened last week at our county fair!

Our niece bracing her lamb.

Our other neice, Jill. Her sheep was being very stubborn and holding up the class but Jill handled it like a champ.

Jill setting her lamb’s feet in the proper place. She ended up winning her class!
Our nephew showing in the Cloverbud class. The little ones are supervised by an older helper and no ribbons are awarded. It is a great way for them to learn.

The best part: my caramel apple!!

It is hard to tell in this picture but this steer weighs 1800 pounds!

Aren’t the sheep cute in their pajamas!

We went up on Sunday night to see the animals and exhibits. Then we went back on Tuesday to watch our nieces show their sheep. They did great and I learned a lot from watching.

Do you attend your county’s fair? What’s your favorite thing to see or do?

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I Wish I Was A Cow…Or A Cat!

Can you see them?


What about now?


This is how our two calves spend their days. They aren’t real interested in eating their corn or picking at the hay. They don’t even go wild for the lush green grass like I expected. They mostly lounge around the pasture and sleep in the sun. It is a beautiful sight, and I’m jealous.

We don’t have any set plans for the weekend yet. We may head up to the beach tomorrow and get Brian’s Mom’s camper settled in to her lot for the summer. I can hardly wait to get back to the farmer’s market in Port Austin. It is the best one around by far, especially on holiday weekends. Then we have a lot of work to do around home, as usual.

What are your plans for this weekend? Is the weather supposed to be nice? I’d love to hear about it.

P.S. This just in…he’s trying to help me type with his back feet I guess.

#09 is Trouble!


Things are all under control now, but we had a not so fun experience with this calf last weekend. It was time get them out of their little pen inside and out on the green pasture. We worked on the fence for 2 days to get things fixed up for them. We had calves in that fence last year and they did fine with it. All we did was add a hot wire around the top and tighten up the rolled fencing. Three sides of the pasture are rolled cattle fence and one side is the horse fence (4 strands of high tensile hot wire).

We put the calves in the trailer and let them out in to the pasture. They ran around a bit and all was fine. We parked the trailer. Calf #09 promptly climbed between the strands of hot wire and went to visit the horses. I tried to corner him in the horse pasture so he went between the strands again and took a nice run around the yard. At this point we realized that neither of us had plugged the fence charger back in after our last minute repairs. Great.

Anyhow, we got darn lucky the first time. We were able to corner the calf in the yard – right next to the trailer! Here is where Brian impressed me… neither of us had a rope to catch him with so Brian got as close as he could and then tackled the calf. The calf is small but not that small. Brian just gave it a big bear hug around the neck and held on for dear life. I opened the trailer door and Brian drug him in! I was amazing, and we were pretty lucky that it worked.

So we plugged the fence in and let the calf out again. Bad idea. Again, straight through the fence and in with the horses. At this point we were both pretty ticked off as you can imagine. We had a lot of plans in mind for the day and calf roping was not a part of them. That time the calf stayed in with the horses. Brian grabbed a lasso and we started trying to corner him. We would almost get him cornered and then he would run off. We have a great cow horse, Rocky, so I saddled him up. The only problem was I couldn’t ride him in the pasture because the other horses kept chasing us and I didn’t want to get kicked (Rocky is not very dominant in the herd).

So picture me, Brian, and Rocky herding this cow around the pasture on foot. For an hour or more. Rocky was a big help really, I think he was much more intimidating them the two of us alone. When we finally got the calf cornered I pushed Rocky around so he was standing sideways, blocking about a 6′ spot. Then Brian could rope the calf while I covered the other gaps.


Once the calf was caught, I’ll be damned if we were going to let him go again. We compromised by putting a halter on him and securing him to a fence post on about 30′ of rope, inside the pasture. That way he could still approach the fence and figure out that it was hot. About midweek I untied him from the post but left the rope on in case we had to catch him again. Last night I took it off completely. It seems to have worked (knock on wood) because he’s still in today.

Oh the joys of farm life!!

Real Milk?

Remember all the times I’ve mentioned that we mostly just buy dairy products from the store now? Well that might change. I looked in to a cow share program a while back. I gave it some thought and then put it out of my mind. Then out of the blue the program coordinator e-mailed me again just to make sure that she had indeed responded to my first e-mail (she did). That same week a new intern started at my workplace. We got to talking and it came up that she is part of the same cow share program. Her family loves the milk and doesn’t plan on switching back.

I am still a little leery about the whole thing, to be honest. The milk comes straight out of the bulk tank on the farm. It is from Certified Organic cows. It is not pasteurized. I know there is a huge debate over whether or not pasteurizing is important. I think it is safe to say that if the cows are healthy there is no life-threatening risk involved. Still, there are recommendations that pregnant women not drink unpasteurized milk. God willing, that will apply to me one day (far away). So I have to think there is some risk, however slight. I’m the type to forgo recommendations about raw eggs to indulge in cookie dough. More than once I’ve had horse poop on my hands and eaten at a drive thru without washing them. Asparagus and peas taste best when you’re still standing in the garden. But raw milk? I don’t know.

Anyway, thanks to our intern, I’m drinking a glass of the stuff right now. I just wanted to try it. Really, it doesn’t taste much different. The best way I can describe it is like this: it tastes a little more like warm milk, even when it’s cold. Do you know what I mean? Like it has more flavor or something. I haven’t seen any obvious separation in the carton, just some tiny specks sticking to the edges. I’ve been told that the butterfat content isn’t very high but they’re trying to improve that. I’m going to try making butter to see how it goes.

BTW, I’m thinking home pasteurization would be a perfect compromise, especially if we do get our own cow. I’m not sure that is very practical though. Plus, I think the home pasteurizers I saw were very expensive.

Does anyone have any experience with a cow share program? What are you thoughts on the whole thing? And please, don’t jump my ass with any anti or pro raw milk campaigns. I’m not interested in the debate so much as how this type of thing has worked out for other people and their families. I have a strong desire for dairy products that are healthy and local.

Farm Update


No particular topic today, just thought I’d fill in with the latest happenings in our life. I thought this blog would be more of a day to day journal of the farm but it seems like every time I sit down to type I feel the need to find a specific topic. Well, not today.

I considered titling this post “The Downside of Farming” because things haven’t been the greatest around here lately. Brian found 7 baby Holstein calves for sale last week and we bought them. They were cheap and we thought it would be nice to have some calves around again since we still don’t have a place to bring our bigger cattle home to. Anyway, cheap isn’t cheap when they all die on you. Brian’s sister took 2 and we kept 5, but we only have 2 left. The other 3 basically died of scours which is a broad diagnosis in calves. I fought hard to save the last one, taking his temp and tube feeding him milk and electrolytes. Didn’t work. I am pretty sure now that they probably never received any colostrum which gives them very low chances of survival. They remaining two are doing okay although the one acts like he may have pneumonia. I’m going to call our large animal vet tomorrow and try to get an antibiotic injection for him. I hate using antibiotics but don’t much like watching them die either.

I have mentioned before (to Brian) that I would like to eventually start a small herd of cows and raise our own calves that way instead. It is hard to justify that when there is such a surplus of Holstein steers in our area. In any case, we both agreed not to be tempted to bring anymore calves home until we can find an honest, reputable farmer to deal with. It is too hard and too disappointing to lose them, and it isn’t helping our financial situation much either!

Our 4 ewes have been doing well. They are full of energy. It is very heartwarming to watch them jump around like babies when it is time for dinner. However, there is bad news there too. One of the ewes we purchased at the MSU sale developed a few wart-like lesions on her face a couple weeks ago. I initially thought it was either a pyoderma (bacterial infection of the skin following mild trauma) or a papilloma virus (causing warts). I’m still not exactly sure what is going on but when I inquired about it to the previous owners they “mentioned” that she had a case of sore mouth as a lamb so it could possibly be that. Sore mouth is a very contagious sheep disease that can spread to humans and can be life threatening for lambs. This is obviously a big concern since all 4 ewes are (hopefully) due to lamb in the spring. I am still not convinced that she has, or every did have, sore mouth. The signs seem more consistent with a papilloma virus. I’ll update here when I figure out more.

On a lighter note, the chickens are continuing to lay very well despite this cold weather. We get 5 or 6 eggs a day from 6 hens! I’ve been sharing the eggs with our friends and family since we have too many for us but not enough to sell.

It is always hard to post about the negative side of farming because A) I don’t want people to think badly of us, and B)I don’t ever want to come across like I’m asking for sympathy. However, I know that we all make mistakes and face hardships. It has really helped me to follow other farming blogs and see that even when you are uber prepared, animals still get sick and things happen. Check out my sidebar if you’d like to see the obstacles others are facing.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Our Winter in Pictures!

I’m away from home at the Michigan Vet Conference this weekend. I want to get a post up but don’t feel like saying a lot so I thought it would be a good time to post some pictures. These are all from the last few months (some are from fall). I’ll take advantage of the hotel’s wireless and upload these now instead of fighting with my connection at home. Enjoy!

Brian’s grader, our grain setup in the background.

Our first batch of Seventh Generation TP, Maci apparently wanted it out of the box!

The TP neatly stacked in the cabinet. We really like it BTW.

Sam doesn’t help much when I’m sewing.

Our Christmas tree with all western ornaments this year.

It is hard to see but look close: you can see Maci’s paw about to clock Baxter upside the head, and him about to fight back. They box all the time!

He crammed himself behind the printer to recuperate.

And they’re friends again…usually not this cozy.

This is from early fall. Brian built this calf shelter in one day. I had mixed feelings about treated lumber and decided it is better for us than replacing/rebuilding every few years. I was so proud of him. 🙂

My first every meat loaf. I’ll post the recipe someday. It was a special request from Brian when I announced that I’d like to start making a meal plan. He said it “tasted like meatloaf” which is what I was going for!

Our new logo, many hours in the making. What do you think?

An interesting pic I thought, it shows how badly we need to insulate around our basement.

Brian’s latest project – a new sheep feeder!! We used the plans found here and he made it in just an hour or two. Works great and saves a lot of hay waste.

Rocky & Shady, our two Arabians.

Pistol & Pooh Bear, relaxing in the sun.

They have hay 24/7. That is how they stay warm. They have been doing great even in this extreme weather, with only a couple wind blocks. The four of them can eat a round bale in 2 or 3 days in this kind of weather.

This is a typical Sunday, when we’re lucky.

Funny, I have similar pictures in all four seasons now. Don’t believe what you hear – chewing is not always a phase!! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse in to our life during the past few months. It can be kind of crazy around here but we (usually) think it is worth it. How do these pictures compare to scenes from your own life? Which pictures do you like and want to know more about/see more of?

I’ll have a more substantial post up sometime soon!

BIG CATTLE (Sorry, just have to vent!)

So I got this little gem in my inbox today from a close friend:

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I’m sure those of you who aren’t in the cattle business don’t understand the

issues here. But to those of us who’s living depends on the cattle market,

selling cattle, raising the best be ef possible… this is frustrating.

As far as my family, we don’t eat at McDonald’s much (Subway is our choice

of fast food), but this will keep us from ever stopping there again, even

for a drink.

The original message is from the Texas Cattle Feeders Association

American cattle producers are very passionate about this.

McDonald’s claims that there is not enough beef in the USA to support their

restaurants. Well, we know that is not so. Our opinion is they are looking

to save money at our expense. The sad thing of it is that the people of the

USA are the ones who made McDonald’s successful in the first place, but we

are not good enough to provide beef.

We personally are no longer eating at McDonald’s, which I am sure does not

make an impact, but if we pass this around maybe there will be an impact

felt.

Please pass it on. Just to add a note:

All Americans that sell cows at a livestock auction barn had to sign a paper

stating that we do NOT EVER feed our cows any part of another cow. South

Americans are not required to do this as of yet.

McDonald’s has announced that they are going to start importing much of

their beef from South America . The problem is that South Americans aren’t

under the same regulations as American beef producers, and the regulations

they have are loosely controlled.

They can spray numerous pesticides on their pastures that have been banned

here at home because of residues found in the beef. They can also use

various hormones and growth regulators that we can’t. The American public

needs to be aware of this problem and that they may be putting themselves at

risk from now on by eating at good old McDonald’s.

American ranchers raise the highest quality beef in the world and this is

what Americans deserve to eat. Not beef from countries where quality is

loosely controlled. Therefore, I am proposin g a boycott of McDonald’s until

they see the light.

I’m sorry but everything is not always about the bottom line, and when it

comes to jeopardizing my family’s health, that is where I draw the line.

I am sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send it to at

least ten more (30 x 10 =

300) …

and those 300 send it to at l east ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) … and so

on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will

have reached over THREE MILLION consumers!

I’ll bet you didn’t think you and I had that much potential, did you? Acting

together we can make a difference. If this makes sense to you, please pass

this message on.

David W. Forrest, Ph.D ., PAS, Dipl.

ACAP Department of Animal Science

Texas A&M University

Phone (979) 845-3560

Fax (979) 862-3399

2471 TAMU

College Station, TX 77843-2471

*********************************

This was my reply (can you tell I’m trying to be nice?):

I think that’s a bunch of crap personally. 😛 The USA’s standards on raising beef are incredibly loose compared to Europe’s. We get to use all kinds of chemicals and hormones and insecticides. Plus, blood & bone byproducts from cattle are fed to chickens whose byproducts are fed back to cattle which has the potential to spread disease just like feeding cattle to cattle. Mad cow disease can potentially be spread that way, that’s why Europe outlawed all of that type of feeding. Just my two cents! 🙂

*********************************

How stupid! The whineass big cattle ranchers are getting mad because they’re losing their market, so they turn it in to an “imported cattle is bad for you” bit. Oh please. Maybe they should wake up and learn to give the consumer what they want (through small-scale quality cattle raising) and then they wouldn’t have so many problems. I am all for Made in the USA, but on this one I have no sympathy.

Thoughts?