The Gang

The Gang
October 2008 Sweet Potatoe Harvest

About Me

I am a busy mommy of 6, seeking to be a loving, godly helpmeet to my husband and a biblical discipler to my children. God has blessed us with a child with Autism. May the lessons that the Lord is teaching me and our family be a blessing to you and yours!

My Favorite Books

  • Bible
  • Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
  • Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
  • Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
  • Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
  • Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
  • The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Some folks read my blog to keep up with the family. Some read because they like following our farm and all that we are learning in the making of it. I'll do my best to keep both groups happy.

This blog is about the first "normal" thing that we have had happen on the farm since December. I said I'd write about our cow trauma's and this is it. In December all was going well with the adult herd, with the exception of some mild cases of mastitis (so we thought) until we lost Holly just before Christmas. She was supposed to calf on Christmas and died just a couple days before. She showed no signs of being sick. The day before she died I watched her eating, chewing her cud and got to feel the calf moving. She looked totally healthy. I checked on her last at 10 p.m. and when I went out in the morning she was dead.

In the meanwhile, the yearlings and calves started to have issues. They are kept at what we call "the other farm" or the "lower farm". There is another barn down at the other end of the dead end where our neighbors rent the house and we use the barn and most the land around the house to graze the herds. We started to loose one summer calf every 5-7 days. The first one was because we thought Caleb had thrown a bail of hay on it and killed it. The others, we weren't sure but started to guess that the bull was killing them.

Two weeks after Holly died we lost another one of our best milk cows, Kipp. She too was eating, chewing cud, drinking and had all the happy cow signs then was dead 6 hours later. This death led to us getting 2 different vets out to the farm to look over the herd. We also had all the dairy cows tested and discovered that we had a severe mastitis issue. We knew many of the cows had mastitis, what we didn't know was that it was an incurable type. You see, when our cows get sick we don't usually use antibiotics. We use natural treatments first and medical treatments as a last resort. Both the vets stated that they thought the reason for our losses was too much stress on the herd due to lack of shelter.

This fall we had hoped to get a hoop barn up for the cows. However, time didn't allow and we hoped and thought with the guidance of our landlord that the herd would do fine. We were all sad when the stress led to us loosing 2 to death, 2 others to cull because their udders were useless and probably one other to cull once she calves in April. We still don't think that it was any one thing. We think it must have been a combination of things that for some reason allowed the girls to get sick and not be able to kick it.

This story sounds bad but when I tell you the numbers...... we started with 8 milk cows and ended the winter with 4. We started the winter with 6 calves and ended with 1, and 5 heifers and ended with 4. BIG losses for a little farm.

I must confess that I didn't handle these losses well. I reached a boiling point which caused us to really talk through and evaluate what we needed to change. I told the kids: "We cannot say that we are learning if we do not change anything based on what we have learned." So by mid-January Phil and I took over all the chores and I learned how to milk the cows with Elizabeth.

Since we have made these changes we have slowly worked the kids back into chores with a LOT of supervision and I continue to milk with Elizabeth every day. The health of the animals seems to have stabilized. However, I cannot explain to you in words how anxious we were about Bonita calving. You see, we hadn't had a normal birth since the summer. We prayed and watched Bonita closely as she got closer to calving. Finally on February 24th we woke to find a nice big healthy bull calf that the kids named Boris. Bonita has been giving us a beautiful creamy 4+ gallons of milk a day!

It is hard for me to express all that we have learned this winter. But I do hope we have LEARNED which means that the changes we've made will allow for a successful winter next year.

We have since added another cow and 5 heifers to the herd to try to get our milking numbers back up to where we want them to be. When all the heifers finish calving by December 2011 we will have 13 in the dairy herd. The next cow is due any day and once again we are praying and being vigilant in watching her for any signs of stress.

On a different note... we are trying to get my Boston Terrier to mate with a local stud so we can sell some terrier pups in June. My children don't need the "birds and bee's" talks... they get cows and bulls, chickens and roosters and now boy dog and girl dog training. :-) It is a great way for us to share with them how beautifully God has designed the cycle of life.