I’ve been away a while, but now I am back!
Look out for new posts coming soon and new skills. As well as a revamp of the blog, new pics, and new ideas.
Quick update: Ruby, the house cow, is milking well after calving 2 weeks ago. Last year she had twins so we had no milk, but we are waiting for the eventual beef.
Cheese and yogurt making are ‘in’ for 2012 in preparation for the next batch of school visits. We had Labneh cheese for lunch and Greek yogurt for supper last night. The Greek yogurt was home made from a batch of yogurt which was then strained through a muslin, but for not as long as the Labneh cheese. The cheese also contained salt.
Farming, especially with livestock is not without its funnier moments [I believe the famous phrase is ‘never work with children or animals’] and we have had an absolute classic this morning. I have just stopped laughing long enough to try it get it down in detail and hope that those who read this blog will find it funny too.
Ruby, the house cow heifer calved as you know 2 days ago. The calf while he is so small cannot manage to drink all she produces and it is time to start to get her used to the milking machine. Once we start milking properly the plan is to milk her in the mornings only and leave the calf on all day, removing him from her side at night. It is the ancient cottager’s system whereby you can rear beef and have milk at the same time and we will let you know how we get on. There are websites with information too.
Jethro put the halter on her and then moved her bucket with the feed to a better place in the byre to tie her up near the milking machine. Ruby is a very greedy girl and very swiftly plunged her head into the bucket of meal while at the same time inserting one of her little short horns into one of the long thin pockets for tools on the right leg of Jethro’s boiler suit. At this point they were both completely stuck, tied together as it were. Jethro unable to move and Ruby unable to eat. There followed a lengthy tussle between the two of them and a lot of cursing from Jethro. He was trying hard to get free but remained stuck fast and stooped low as she pushed harder and harder downwards in the direction of the bucket while grunting from the effort as she tried desperately to reach her delicious food.
Me, I was paralysed with laughter, clutching the gate for support, silent to start with as I thought it would be bad form to show my intense amusement but in the end something gave: the seam on the boiler suit burst open with a loud ripping sound, Jethro was released, Ruby finally got her food and I could actually laugh out loud. Oh dear… the tears of merriment still fall every time I think of it.
The good news is that Ruby coped with the clusters of the machine well and only lifted her legs in a minor protest once or twice and we milked off about 2 – 3 pints. She soon settled and stood quiet when Jethro scratched her back. The part milking out will help the heifer as she is a well bred Shorthorn cow, bred to be a good yielding cow and the calf is only sucking one teat at present and is replete on that. This is Ruby’s sire.
Of course it could have been worse, there may be those who point out that Jethro could have been hurt but he wasn’t. Ruby really likes people and should make an excellent house cow in due course.
Yesterday, we checked the fences in preparation for the coming of THE HORSE on Monday. This link shows a picture of her, she is the beautiful mare on the left at the top of the page.
All seems well, the field is nothing like as wet as we thought it might be, and there is only a small task to do. We need to remove the old and rather manky round bale of hay [ the cattle in the shed will pick over that if we put in in as bedding ] and we need to also also remove the ring feeder. This year’s group of ram lambs are about to be moved across from another field to graze with her and keep her company. Eventually she will live most of the time with the house cow, Ruby, but she is indoors at the moment and due to calve at the end of January. The horse is used to living outdoors, and is coming with her thick rug. There is also an older ‘pet’ wether sheep [castrated male] who can join this little band of special animals, but he is also elsewhere at the moment and it is too complicated to get him back on his own. Other livestock will join this happy little band from time to time as they will always be in the field nearest the house and we always have a procession fo special care animals throughout the year either needing extra food, observation, veterinary care or just plain old TLC.