Raising Calves

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        Today I want to share with you what “hibernation” means to a farm girl/milkmaid. I’m in charge of all the baby calves……until weaning age that is. This in itself keeps me fully “grounded” and at home most of the time. I’m sorta like the old timers. I go to town for supplies about once a month. Give or take a few days. Haha  Raising calves is a big job so I recruit lots of help from the kids. We all work together.  136.jpg     Here’s my partial row of calves. As soon as they’re born we put them into their own little hutch. I like to call it their cozy little condo. Every single calf needs to be vaccinated ASAP and then we feed them fresh colostrum to give them a good, healthy start. Without these steps their life can be pretty “dicey”. Calves will pick up bugs very easily and if not caught in time they’ll be dead within 24 hours. Just like human babies……constant care.  239.jpg        Bedding down hutches is not a favorite job. It’s back breaking work and Marshall says it’s the worst job on the farm. Our winter was extremely wet and muddy which calls for lots and lots of bedding. The dogs think it’s great fun!  160.jpg     We only had one set of twins. I kept them together for a couple of days so they could “bond”. That’s the “mother instinct” in me. After a few days they go their separate ways. Baby calves do best when they have their own hutch.  044.jpg     We had all colors this year. Mostly brown, black and red. The red was my favorite. They’re always such cute little stinkers…..and then they grow up.  113.jpg     I always do the “hat thing” at Christmas time. It takes so. much. patience. They hate that silly thing on their head….but I think it looks so cute. Can you see that look? It’s saying……Oh the disgust and shame! Get that stupid thing off of my head!  266.jpg       Speaking of shame……little “Dixie chic” was so mad at us for doing this to her. Just look at her face! She is so ticked! Oh my…..Candace and I just laughed and laughed. Too much fun! Well, that’s all for now. More winter pictures coming up next………………..Carol

 

This is Me

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     Hallelujah! It’s finally spring! With that being said, I decided it’s high time I crawl out of my “hibernation hole” and start communicating with humans again. It has been a long hard winter.     275.jpg      I want to start out with a little introduction of myself and my “farm crew”. I was born and raised in Ohio on a grain farm. I met my “cowboy” and he brought me out here to the wild, wild West. We started our dairy farm in 1993 on his family farm in Northeastern Oklahoma. This is where we’ve been ever since. I milk cows twice a day, seven days a week. I love the cows, but the work is hard and the stress is real…….so I turn to gardening for therapy and self-care. Gardening heals the heart and soul.  271.jpg      We have 3 young farmers. We depend heavily on their help around the farm. We have no employees, so this is 100% family owned and operated. We’re just a small little speck compared to all the gigantic dairy farms all over the country. Candace is the oldest at 22…then we have Michael (on the left ) at 18. A senior this year. And the kid…at 16. All hard workers and keep us alive and kicking.  228.jpg     I try to share on this website a little insight of our life on a dairy farm. We have good days…bad days…and really bad days. The picture is a perfect example of a very bad day. In fact, this has happened to all of us at one time or another. You simply wipe it off and keep on goin’. It happens!   265.jpg       We have one Brown Swiss cow. She’s a bit on the sassy side, but gets away with it because she’s beautiful.  133.jpg     Most of our cows are Holstein and Jersey or Jersey crossbreeds. Holsteins are big and bossy and capable of producing lots of milk. Jersey / crossbreeds are smaller, but give excellent butterfat. That helps with your paycheck. Cows are a lot like humans. Some are super friendly and easy to get along with….then others are sassy and a pain in the neck to have around. You just have to learn to deal with all of them. However maddening it may be. So, that gives you an idea of what we are all about. I hope you come back and check up on us every now and then. I write about anything from cows, calves, dogs and cats….to all my gardening and flowers and even some farm food. It’s nice to be back……………..Carol

Timeout for the Milkmaid

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       Speaking of timeout…..that got me to thinking. Maybe it’s time for the “milkmaid” to take a timeout instead of the “farm boys”. I’m not planning on camping out in a calf hutch or anything crazy….just a simple R&R from writing. I’m going to leave you with a few of my favorite farm pictures while I take a rest…….       038.jpg      I love the red calves and the red and white. Brings some extra color into my black and white world. This calf was born with an extra dose of attitude. Cute little stinker.    057.jpg     Oh my….what a sweet little pup. My favorite little Dixie chic. Her bark is definitely worse than her bite. She barks at the big cows and when they turn on her…….she runs for her life. Haha Sissy girl!    067.jpg      This calf was born two days ago. I saw it hiding in the grass on my return trip from feeding calves. Those big furry ears were a dead give away.      003.jpg      Fall sunsets are the best! I was in the barn milking and decided to sneak out for a little break. I’m so glad I did or I would’ve missed this beautiful scene. I was sitting in one of my favorite garden chairs and had a perfect view. I just sat there and enjoyed. I eventually went back to work.     048.jpg           Our farm boys….couldn’t do this without them. Michael is a senior this year. He used to be my big helper……now I’m his little helper. He’s bigger, stronger, and faster than what I am. Time flies when you’re having fun……or something like that. Marshall is still the baby of the family….keeps us entertained with lots of drama.    018.jpg       Our farm girl is finally coming home in December. Praise the Lord! It’s been a long time a comin’. This was on a short visit home and the pup was soakin’ up some sun while listening to some tunes. What a sweet picture.     055.jpg     Last but not least…..my morning sunrise while feeding calves. All was peaceful and quiet. What a lovely start to another day. I’ll miss you and hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. Eat plenty of Halloween treats and lots of turkey for Thanksgiving……..not to mention the scrumptious ham for Christmas. I love the holidays. I’ll catch up with you all after the first of the year. See ya soon………………………..Carol

Pretty Faces

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       We are in full swing of the calving season. We might have 4-5 calves in one day. It’s a crazy and hectic time of year. So many faces to feed. Every morning and every night. I’ll share with you some of my favorites…….     033.jpg      I have a fairly short row of hutches for now……it’s growing daily. This is where I get my walks in…..all winter long. Raising calves is complicated. There’s so much to do every day. I can easily spend hours and hours working on the whole operation.    031.jpg     When the north wind is howling and it’s freezing cold……these hutches are nice and cozy. Maybe a calf hutch could be the “timeout” place when the “boys” are naughty. Earl included. Just a thought……..      083.jpg        Don’t kid yourself…these calves are the biggest photo bombers. If I wait around long enough I can get some really crazy pictures. This is “Tongue out Tuesday”….but I can’t remember if it actually was on a Tuesday. Does it matter?      081.jpg     They always like to give me a “pretty please” look to try and get more milk or an ear scratch. Or they start “screaming” at me to make me think that they haven’t been fed yet. They ain’t nobody’s dummy…..smart calves.  That’s why I sprinkle a little bit of milk on their nose so I know who’s been fed. Smart Milkmaid!     078.jpg        And yes, I try to teach them to always keep their nose clean. haha A wet nose is a healthy calf. Watch their eyes. Their breathing. Look for droopy ears. All signs of sickness. It’s called cow lingo. I can have a full on conversation with a cow/calf. My life in a cows world.     036.jpg       They have attitude just like humans. They hold their head up high and give you that look…..I dare you! It’s pretty cute when they’re little, but when they get to be older…it’s not at all funny. Then it just gets to be annoying. So, that’s my life right now. Cows, calves, cats and dogs. And tons of cow poop. I need a vacation…………………………Carol

Organize and Utilize

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      My little garden shed was a total disaster. I had neglected it for months. So, now that it’s time to put my garden toys away, I decided I had to do some cleaning and organizing.  073.jpg        It’s always a sad day for me when I have to put “patio furniture” away for the winter. As you can see my description of patio furniture covers a wide range of stuff. I had to organize just to fit everything into my little hut. The sleds and ice skates will come out at some point, but I’m in no hurry for that. Brrrr………  070.jpg            I cleared the old table just in case I get inspired to make a few wreaths for Christmas. Everything depends on the weather. I’m hoping for a mild, dry winter which is basically every dairy farmers wish.     072.jpg       I stacked my doors inside and wrote one last memo on my chalkboard. The only ones that fit my budget are chocolate and whiskey. I’ve been a chocolate lover for ages. Not sure about the whiskey….but the “old timers” swear by it.  Life isn’t easy…….   069.jpg            Outside the door is my little cilantro patch. I’m not sure how the seed got carried over to this point, but I’m happy with it. I make homemade salsa all the time. Any “cowboy” that I feed always likes to have chips and salsa. So, I planted a bit more the other day. Cilantro loves cool weather.       068.jpg          There you have it….my rustic garden shed. Fits my style and holds all my “stuff” throughout the winter months. My Dr. Pepper sign is gold! I’ve looked high and low for another one….they are elusive. Once I do….I’m buying 2, 3, maybe 4. Until then……..this Milkmaid is getting ready for hibernation…………………….Carol

Total Makeover

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      The gardening season for Oklahoma is winding down. I’m ready for a break, but it also means that “old man winter” is just around the corner. I’ve seen that corner before and I’m not impressed. So, I’m trying to squeeze in as much late summer gardening as possible.       010.jpg      This flowerbed is out by the edge of the road and has caused me great distress ever since I built it. A few weeks ago as I was mowing the yard….I happened to take a good look at what was happening. I gasped in horror….it was looking hideous………………     032.jpg      Thanks to a full summer of neglect….this was my masterpiece. I hung my head in shame. I’m sure my neighbors thought that my taste was “dead”. Right then and there I decided that this needed an extreme makeover. When the “milkmaid” gets an idea in her head, there’s no stopping her.     031.jpg      The next day I made a trip to my favorite garden spot and bought some new plants. I also headed for the back pasture and loaded up some beautiful compost. The soil in this corner flowerbed is a “killer”. Hard and ugly clay dirt! It’s a beast to work with.      014.jpg      I pulled out all the ugly and shoveled fresh compost. I had planted perennial grass along the back side and was tired of the look. It wasn’t performing like I wanted and so I decided it must go. This stuff was huge. First I had to shovel all around the base to loosen it up. Next I took a big heavy duty log chain (like we use to pull tractors) and wrapped it around the base. Then I hooked it up to the four-wheeler and put that baby in four wheel drive. Yes siree…where there’s a will, there’s a way. I hauled it straight to the burn pile.    015.jpg         I planted crepe myrtle bushes in place of the grass. These do wonderful in our hot Oklahoma summers. They bloom for weeks and put on quite a show.      011.jpg       It was quite a work out, but I was totally pleased with the results. The death look was gone and in it’s place was bright and colorful. Now I can hold my head up high when the neighbors drive by. And I can sleep at night knowing that I conquered another hurdle in my gardening world……………………….Carol

Pumpkin Season

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      I wish I had more time and energy. I’m so behind in my “story telling”. There’s so much to say, but so little time. And when I do have time…I’m too tired. It’s a vicious cycle I’m living in. Things are looking up though…it’s football season…..and pumpkin season.      006.jpg      This is our first “pumpkin” of the calving season. A cute little stinker-pie. We had 4 angus bulls with the herd since spring. So, you know what that means. Lots of black calves this year. I’m kinda excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. I know what awaits me for the next 6 months. Help!     007.jpg      Here’s Momma. She’s proud as a peacock. She’s a first time heifer which means this was her first calf ever. She did a fantastic job as first timer. Young heifers don’t always cooperate. They’re young and dumb. Cows and humans are so much alike. I remember being young and dumb. I’m not young anymore, but still dumb at times.    002.jpg      Black angus calves are so much easier to take care of than any other breeds. Holstein calves tend to be frail and weak. Little Jersey calves are stubborn and tiny. Black calves are stout and strong. That’s just my personal opinion after feeding calves for 25 years. Feeding calves is an “art”.

     It was quite a rodeo getting “momma” into the barn. First time heifers have never been milked before and they have no idea what to do. It takes lots of patience (which I don’t have) and time. It’s maddening. Some don’t have a forward…just reverse. Some are wild and mean and others are stubborn as a mule. Once they realize they get to eat though, you can’t get them to leave. They eventually figure it out and behave like the rest of the herd. So, we’re getting geared up for lots more little pumpkins to come……………………….Carol

Happy Fall

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       I love fall! Welcome black cats, scarecrows, and pumpkins. So, amidst all the chaos of stacking the barns full of hay I had a few free hours one afternoon. What should I do?     007.jpg     My front porch was in desperate need of some TLC. So many cobwebs and big fat spiders. All due to summer long neglect. I got out the ladder and a bucket of soapy water and went to work. I scrubbed from top to bottom. My Mom would’ve been so proud of me. She loves to clean. Too bad she doesn’t live close by.    006.jpg      It was time to get all fall decorations out. I always like to have my front porch decorated for each season and holiday. The only problem is….everyone comes to the back door. I don’t even have “trick or treaters” that stop by. We live too far out in the country. But I still like to be prepared…just in case. And you can forget about the carrot and celery sticks. That’s not happening at this farmhouse. I’ll pass out the real deal!    003.jpg             I’m in love with fall plants. Mums, pansies, and all colors of pumpkins. By summers end some of my plants are looking like death so these make everything look cheerful again. The little black kitten is my photo bomber.    009.jpg         So now that everything is nice and clean….the farmer can safely open the front door and shine his spotlight all around when the dogs start barking. My “farmer” is scared to death of spiders and will scream like a girl if one gets too close. It just so happens that I have a few rubber spiders that make for great entertainment. I need to put them to good use this week…………………….Carol

Slamming the Door

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      Ok…let’s get this show on the road. We’ve got 2 truck drivers…a tractor in the field loading the wagons…and a tractor at home putting it into the barn. Hop in and come along. I’ll show you how it’s done. It’s actually not too bad…if you can stay awake. Grab some caffeine…turn your music up loud…and speed down the road. It’s late…you’re the only one out and about.    031.jpg      We did get half of it hauled off before dark. Then we had to stop and do the evening chores. Several hours later you’re finally ready to go at it again. Michael is the “loader man”. He’s a machine! He’s got it down to a science.    035.jpg      We like to have them all bunched into piles of seven. That saves so much time when we pull into the field. Marshall did the bunching. That’s a perfect job for him, and he’s very good at it.     040.jpg     And finally….this is me. The truck driver has to pay attention and pull up at just the right angle…and make sure you have a full load before you take off. Otherwise the tractor driver will shoot daggers your way and be flailing arms like a wild man. Not that it has ever happened…maybe. I’m the one that gets all the crazy hand signals…screaming and hollering…and evil looks. I’m left handed…everyone else is right handed. They think I do everything backwards. I’ve learned exactly what to do and what not to do.     042.jpg      Dixie Chic rode up front with me while the big dogs rode on the back. She’s got the best seat in the house.     039.jpg          This is Earl’s job. Stacking hay in the barn. He’s a pro at it. I’ve done it before, but it takes me forever and it gets very frustrating. Marshall and I were bringing them home as fast as we could and he had them put up by the time we came back with more.      044.jpg       On Thursday morning the hay barn was empty….by Friday morning it was full of hay. What an awesome feeling. It smells so sweet when I walk out to the barn. We finally finished and walked into the house around 12:30 Thursday night/Friday morning. A nice hot shower and a soft comfy bed….never felt so good. And then on Friday when it was raining….I had myself a nice long nap. It was so rewarding. Now we can finally slam the door on the hay barns. If we had doors…………………Carol

 

Farm Girl Birthday

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      Another crazy week on the farm. So much happening. Our 25th anniversary…my birthday…and all kinds of hay to get in the barn before the rain. Guess what we did to celebrate? Work, work, and more work! Farm work and cattle have no respect for holidays/celebrations. So, I’ll give you a quick rundown of my special day………………     029.jpg      Marshall was alarmed when he realized I was turning 48. He told me….”Mom, you are almost..?” and then he stopped. He couldn’t say 50. So, I have officially declared war on “old age”. The gray hairs…under eye bags…arm flab…and the most dreaded of all…the chicken neck. This is not my finest moment here, but wanted to give you the “real”. I was feeling a lot of sleep deprivation at this point. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening……..      019.jpg            I was running from the milk barn to the hay field all day. At some point I looked up and saw my personal message that Michael wrote on my chalk board. What a lovely surprise. That was better than an actual gift. It’s still there. I’m not going to erase it for another week.     001.jpg  On my special day….we mowed more hay…raked…and baled. Oh yes, and we hauled late into the night. I also went to the dealership and had a hydraulic hose fixed and got some “lug” bolts for the tractor. When I go to the parts counter I give them the farmers instructions and sometimes a few of my own. For example…the big round thing that fits on the little thingy. You know….the whatchamacallit?! Then I try to get a free cap because I know how much money we spend at that counter, and they just laugh at me. Nothing is free anymore.     018.jpg    I did not have time to smell the flowers on my birthday, but I have big plans to celebrate next week. What matters is that we got the hay in the barn before the rain hit. I ate a bowl of cereal at 11:30 that night and hit the hay. It was an exhausting day. Then up and at ’em the next morning. To be continued……………….Carol