Still Here

Yes dear faithful reader, we are still here. If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve seen that we have been ridiculously busy. But for those of you who only follow us here must think we’ve dropped off but that is far, far, far from the truth. So here’s a quick summary of what’s been going on here.

Bovine: In order to keep milk flowing, you gotta make babies. Cows do not just spontaneously give milk. Their normal lactation runs for about ten months or so after giving birth. This was something that we probably didn’t give enough thought to. At first, we just figured we would artificially inseminate but that’s not as simple as one might think. The simplest way to breed a cow (or any animal for that matter) is to have a bull. So we started searching, and searching, aaaaand searching. We were just unable to find one that fit our budget as well as our desire to improve our herd. Then we learned of a Mini-Jersey bull that might be for sale. I called and YES! he was for sale, so we got him. We’re a little behind the game though. Normally you’d give your cow a 30-45 day break before she was due to give birth and start a new lactation, it looks like our cows are going to get about a 6 or 7 month break. Oh well.

Fowl: All kind of crazy stuff here. We have one last batch of broilers growing out on the pasture. We’ve processed all of our old laying hens for stewers. We replaced them with young Rhode Island Reds. We have 125+ Black Austrolorp chicks in the brooder for a future laying flock. We also scored a small flock of heritage turkeys to raise for Thanksgiving and Christmas. To top all THAT off, we stockpiled 3 tons of non-GMO feed for all these birds. Next year we will be exponentially increasing our poultry production to keep up with the growing demand.

Pigs: We have pigs now! YAY! We’ve decided to start raising Large Black pigs (yes that’s the name of the breed) because they are a pig that will graze on pasture without being too destructive. We also acquired a Tamworth to grow out for ourselves.

Rabbits: Nothing really new here. We’re still trying to get ourselves more productive in breeding and raising. Keeping them on pasture has been a real challenge since they do dig and we’ve lost a considerable amount of productive time chasing and catching escapees.

Garden: After spending hours prepping and planting only to have chickens destroy it, I’ve about given up on the hopes of any type of strawberry crop next spring. So a lot of focus has been going into chicken control. I recently met with another farmer who practices biodynamic farming and is raising enough food on one acre to support himself. After seeing his place, I’ve been REALLY encouraged at what we can do with 7+ acres. I hope to be able to drastically increase our vegetable production next year.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Now back to work.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Great job finding a mini-Jersey bull for your Dexter cow. The people we bought our first Dexter from raise some Jersey-Dexter crosses; they’re called Belfairs, I believe.

    We, too, have swung back to live cover over AI. Our first AI experience was great, and we got our lovely Dexter heifer. But our next two AI ventures (on the heifer and her mother) both failed. At the advice of the AI clinic, we had them come here to do the set-up and AI, but neither time took. We did do one last AI for our older cow because the AI clinic had our straw and we wanted to use it up. They did it at their clinic and kept her for a preg-check so we knew she was bred. I doubt we’ll do AI again now that we’ve found a near-ish farm that will rent us a bull. That will permit us to keep our cow on the premises for milking and working with the calf instead of sending her away for two months for AI and preg-check.

    We met Large Blacks at Nature’s Harmony Farm and were quite impressed with them. We’ve raised 2 pairs of Berkshire Crosses now and really like them, too. There aren’t any Large Black breeders close enough to get pigs from so I guess we’ll stick with the BerkshireXs, but I do love those Large Blacks!

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  2. Didn’t you get your cow from Hope Refuge Farm in Manchester, KY? If so then your Sara is our Kiera’s mother. Why are y’all not going to have her any more? What farm has the bull for rent? We are offering ours for lease.

    There is a breeder that has registered Large Blacks in Taylorsville (between Rome and Cartersville).

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  3. Yes, Sara is your Kiera’s mother, and our Siobhan is her half-sister! I had forgotten that. We’re not keeping her permanently because she has horns and we’re pushing 60 and not really into the horn scene. We’d rather have polled animals. Also, my husband only wants us to keep one cow so of course that will be our Siobhan that we bred. Freedom Farms in Philadelphia has bulls for rent, on or off farm. Or maybe I should say lease. What bull do you have?

    I’ll have to check out the Large Black breeder, thanks!

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    • We have a mini-jersey, he’s A1/A2 & comes from foundation lines. I’ve been hoping someone would like to breed to him as he eats plenty and economically, our best option is to eat him :-/ after we do our pregnancy checks.

      Yeah, I’ve spoken with Freedom Farms and they were beyond our price range. Just made more sense to me to buy one.

      Do you have Sara sold already?

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      • He sounds intriguing, although both Sara & Siobhan are bred now, due probably in April so we aren’t looking at breeding them any time soon. Have you thought of advertising on the Dexter websites? You might find people that would be interested in leasing him.

        No, we haven’t listed Sara yet because we’re waiting for this calf. It’s going to be a nice one because she’s bred to Serenity Oak Farms Taco, a real nice bull who is deceased. We’ll wait till the calf is born to list her because we’ll want to keep her till it’s weaned. She gave us Siobhan who is a really great heifer (they liked her at FF’s), but they won’t lease a bull for live cover with a horned cow. All in all, since we only want one cow plus a steer or two being raised for beef, Siobhan is our choice.

        We bred Siobhan to one of FF’s bulls on-farm, but want to have a bull here when the calf comes so we can breed her back while we keep working with the calf and milking her. We have already requested Cash from FF for this coming spring, but I love the idea of using a Mini Jersey bull so if you keep him, let’s keep in touch.

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      • Ok, well when you do decide to list her, please let me know. Are you going to milk Sara or just let the calf handle it?

        My email is eastwestfamilyfarm@gmail.com. Thanks for suggesting the Dexter sites.

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  4. I forgot to ask, are you milking Keira? How’s it going? Oops, I just realized these comments are posting with my WordPress identity, so let me change to my identity for my farm blog. I guess I have a dual personality! 🙂

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    • Yes we milk Kiera and our other cow Carla. Kiera has been awesome, and after some brouhaha Carla, is turning into a nice little miller too. With three boys, we never have enough milk.

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      • Keira would be awesome–she was trained by Kim! I think we’ll just milk Siobhan (she’s due first), but I might milk Sara. Kim did. Not sure we can drink all that milk with just two of us–course I’m sort of counting my chickens before they’re hatched, right? Don’t even have the calves yet!

        Good luck on the Dexter sites. We’ll definitely let you know when we’re ready to sell Sara before we list her.

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