March 17, 2010

I'm so glad its spring.  Flowers are blooming in my yard, my favorite antique rose seems to have survived the freeze this winter, sugar snaps are coming up, we are getting four eggs a day, the kale is looking beautiful and tasting sweeter.   Fresh air is flowing.  The children are working together to get ready for Kid Market.  And all in all we are so grateful for spring.

But there has been weird juju as well.  With the cows, its been one thing after another.  ElderB. got a freakishly bad case of mastitis three days ago.  We treated her with Pen. G and she responded within a day.  Which is good - she doesn't have antibiotic resistant staph, for instance.  And the vet was out, incidentally,  yesterday to confirm her pregnancy so we could dry her off.  Only, she is not pregnant.  I actually thought I was going to cry when the vet told me.  I had to compose myself so I could finish hearing what he had to say without looking like a crybaby cowgirl.  If ElderB is not pregnant its likely she's barren.  Not good.  Not as bad as a dry open cow.  But bad enough, given our financial investment in her.  And the fact that Ras is also open.  My partner, who is 68 and has been doing this a long time said, "Honey, I'm so sorry.  Farming usually isn't THAT hard." 

The vet was optimistic about Raspberry still being open at two years old.  He said to give her more time to grow up, that she and the bull are young and she may settle yet.   Which leaves me ... not exactly optimistic.  But grateful I don't have to send her to slaughter.  Except that financially, we could really use the beef and a bigger return on all the resources we've put into the cows so far.   But for now she gets a reprieve and we get another shot at another dairy cow for the herd. 

And then this morning she charged me.  Raspberry charged me.  Moi.  I could not believe it as it was happening.  She put her head down and did her best to take me off my feet.  I won that confrontation.  But I walked away shaking.   It happened so fast I'm not even quite sure how I won.  I think I kicked her head.  I must have.  In any case, she ended up running from me instead of vice versa.   Humph.

The vet said two interesting things.  Farmers are constantly searching for the best formula for feeding their dairy cows - literally the best feed formula but also the best way to feed and how much.   The vet said he visited a prison dairy in Ohio.  Obviously, they have a lot of time and free labor.  So the cows are cared for meticulously.  He said they weighed the milk every day from every cow.  The next day each cow got one pound of feed for every three pounds of milk.  He said that is an old fashioned method and it seems to work as well as any other he's seen.   And then he mentioned that cows will often go into a negative energy balance when they first freshen.  So they lose weight dramatically.  (Some call this "milking off their back" and its not pretty to watch. We might say ElderB. milks off her back.  And lately shes' been shedding.  But it started way before the weather turned.)  He said that when cows have been in a negative balance and they finally level out to a positive balance, they often drop their coat and start to look sleek. 

1 comment:

Cecelia (CC) said...

what a lot of education you are into!! hats off to you!! should I consider coming over to ride May or drive the boys?