Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15th.

Is kind of our last frost date this year. It's supposed to be May 15th, but this year is throwing all 'averages' out the window. We're expecting a light frost tomorrow night.

Yesterday we had our first harvest of the season.

It was so late due to several things - the weather, the garden area taking a lot of work to get ready (I'm converting a feedlot), children harvesting shoots or stomping on the plants ...

We've lost an animal in the last few weeks and I haven't felt up to talking about it until now. Almost a month ago now, we left in the morning to go to gymnastics. The red setter that had visited our chicken coop once before had become a regular visitor because he (much to his owner's extreme annoyance) and Butterfly were great friends. Since they were playing and I couldn't catch him to put him outside the gate, I left the driveway gate open for him so that he could leave. When we came home, both Butterfly and the setter were gone, which was unusual since Butterfly never ran off. The next day, the owner of the red setter came by and said he had found Butterfly hit by a truck. We buried him - it took a loader to dig a hole big enough. I tried to tell myself that he had a longer life than he would have if I'd have left him running in the pack, but it still hurt all of us to lose him. The red setter hasn't been back.

We've gained a few animals also. I have 64 chicks. Hopefully at least 25 of them are females for my egg-laying flock. It would be cheaper to order only as many females as I need, but I order straight-run so that I am not responsible for males being sent through the grinder. It's a small thing, industry wise, but it's a big thing for me.

We also have three little bottle beef calves.

If you are reading this and live in the city, this is something you need to be aware of. When you buy beef at the store, you are contributing to the feedlot industry. There are so many reasons that the feedlot industry is horrid and needs to be reformed - this is one that I wasn't aware of until last week and it made me ill when I found out about it.

The modern dairy practice of removing calves from their mothers at birth - most of the time before it's gotten colostrum or even been washed off - has always horrified me and there is not much sadder than watching these little calves, some just a few hours old being pushed through auction barns, terrified, confused, and looking for a mama and food.

A large feedlot in our area buys 'open cows' that ranches and small producers get rid of. These are supposed to be cows that didn't get pregnant , so are a financial drain for the producer until the next year, but some are simply cows that didn't get pregnant fast enough, so their babies will be 'off schedule'. When these come into the feedlot, they may or may not be allowed to carry their baby to term. If they are, the babies are left on them for 12-24 hours and then are pulled off and sold and the mamas are sent to slaughter. For some reason, this horrifies me even more than the dairy practice.

My husband just barely found out about this and bought three of these beef calves - two males and a female - for us to bottle feed. We have access to free organic raw milk to feed them, so that's been good for them (and us).

Our weather has been warmer, but still not warm enough for us to play outside after it gets dark. We have gotten to enjoy some beautiful sunsets ...

and some star-watching.

And laughing. Even the cats are laughing.


debbiedas said...

Horrifying is right. Oh my. So glad you have the space and ability (and compassion) to care for some of these precious creatures. We eat little beef - but it is always organic from a butcher we trust. They are grass-fed, and free-range. All local. I haven't purchased any type of meat at the regular grocery store for years. Terrifies me.
So sorry about your dog. Loosing loved ones is hard - not matter what. -Debbie

Jess said...

I'm so glad you're sharing little bits about factory farmed animals. I also try to do that on my blog when it's relevant to my posts. People just don't know. Beef and chicken just come wrapped in cellophane right!?

I am so sorry about Butterfly. I loved LOVED the post where you shared his name with us. Rotten things happen. At least your family had the joy of knowing him a short while, and like you said, even that short time was much better than he would have had otherwise. (hugs)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about Butterfly!

Taylor said...

Sorry to hear about Butterfly- that's sad news and I hope the pain turns into memories of a good friend very soon. What a beautiful dog...

Calves are an awfully good cheer-up though. Look at those cute faces :)

Cindy's Custom Creations said...

Poor Butterfly. :-( Reminds me of our neighbor's delightful kitten Jasper. So sad.

Those calves are so cute though! I'm sure they all have adorable names too.

Sarah said...

Cindy, only one has a name so far. Maggie is the all red one, the female.

Lindy said...

How sad to lose a pet! It just makes my heart hurt.
Living in the burbs, I really didn't know anything about how big production animals are raised. Makes me a little queasy. I will never look at that plastic package of burger quite the same.

country girl said...

I haven't been to your blog in quite a while. I still love it as much as when I first found it. You are so right about the cattle; we only eat beef (and other meats) that are raised locally in a humane, non-antibiotic free way.