Sunday, July 25, 2010

It doesn't work that way.

I was a city girl when I married my husband. Didn't want to be a city girl, but that was what I was.

I've put up with a lot of embarrassment over the years as I've learned the basics of living in the country and caring for animals, so you can imagine my (quiet) (okay, not so quiet) (okay, I may have laughed like a hyena) satisfaction when the following conversation happened between my husband and me.

Me: "Guess what? I found out that one of my hens is a setter! All of those eggs that we've been missing? She's been hiding them. She was sitting on a big pile of them when I found her and had the setting posture down and even hissed at me a bit - and she's such a sweet hen!"

Matt: "What did you do with the eggs?"

Me: "Well I didn't know how old they were, so I had to chuck all of them. I felt bad too, because she'd been hoarding them for at least five days."

Matt: "Why didn't you let her stay on them and hatch them out?"

Me: *blink* *blink* "Um.... " *blink* "We don't have a rooster."

Matt: "Oh. That would make hatching them out harder."

Yes it would.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Maggie's progress.

Who is Maggie? Maggie is our female bottle calf. She got her name because one day when I was feeding her, she popped the nipple off the bottle and sucked on it by itself for awhile like a pacifier before dropping it - hence, Maggie. My husband's a big fan of the Simpsons.

When I found out that my husband had gotten a beef heifer, I started making big plans. Big, four to five-year plans.

First step: Tame calf. Train to walk on lead. Gentle and get her used to being touched all over.

Enter a niece and nephew who came and stayed for a week. Their job was to take a heifer who didn't like to be touched and give me back a heifer who was friendly and could walk nicely on a lead.
That picture was taken after a week of working with her. The first day was not so pretty. Little calves are amazingly strong and that calf dragged my niece from one side of the pasture to the other. It was fun to watch the two teenagers work with her and never lose their temper and, as asked to, hand me back a gentled, trusting calf at the end of the week.
So step one has been completed.

Step two: Keep her gentled as she gets older. Breed her to a dairy bull when she's old enough.

Step three: Milk her with her calf on her side. Here is where my plan could take longer - if she has a bull calf, I'll breed her back to the dairy bull again and pray for a heifer. If she has a heifer calf, I'll work with the heifer calf like I'm working with Maggie now to gentle her.

Step four: When the heifer calf is old enough, I'll breed her.

Step five: Heifer calf has baby, becomes my 1/2 beef/ 1/2 dairy milk cow. Maggie becomes a friendly pasture cow.

It's a good plan. I think. It's a loooong plan.

And I'm not terribly attached to it, either. If our situation changes, I'll sell Maggie. If she doesn't end up gentle enough for a milk cow, I won't be too upset about it. If she keeps having bull calves, well, I'll get a new bull. ;-)

So that's Maggie, and that's her progress. She just spent two weeks with our cows and their calves which she really enjoyed (and it helped calm the cows down also, watching her come to us every morning and night to eat). Now that they've been taken to pasture in Wyoming, she's back in the goat pasture with her 'brothers' and getting walked every day again.

This plan is long, much longer than my normal garden/farm plans. I keep thinking I should make five- and ten-year plans, but to be honest, we don't have any idea where we'll be in that long - hopefully not here still. How far out do you plan on your farm/homestead/city yard?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Today's Color.

The girls have a Rainbow Garden. It's made out of an old tractor tire that we rolled home on our walk down the 'farm road' one night. It was big and heavy and unwieldy and the girls thought I was a superhero for getting it all the way home. I kinda am.

We went to a nursery and let them wander and pick whatever flowers they wanted that were in our price range. They decided to make a 'Rainbow Garden' and walked around saying 'we have Red Butler, now we need Canary Yellow' and 'we can't find Buddy Blue!'. Eventually they found all the colors - even some white - and we all agreed that blue flowers *are* hard to find while green flowers really aren't necessary. And I've found that I really, really like verbena (the red, purple, and blue in the front of the picture).

We've even gotten a few strawberries out of the deal. It's so nice to look out the window and see a huge mound of color - especially since our flower garden is having a hard time with the cold weather we've had all spring and summer.

And it's princess approved.