Tag Archives: milk

Been absent for a while

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.


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a [very] funny film but beware the [very] bad language

We have just been sent this and feels it needs a much wider audience, however if you are sensitive to bad language, then please do not watch. Complaints will not be accepted, watching is your choice.

Will you ever look at a chicken in the same light again, and did you really know that wheat grows in the ground?


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all change

Well, this week the first of the cattle came in for the winter, and the very last of the rams went out with the ewes but not before one of our best rams died suddenly as he waited in the shed.

As an older member of the team the anticipation must have been too much, or at least that is the reason we prefer most to believe. His place out with a particular batch of ewes was immediately taken by another home bred ram, and finally the rush of shepherding work at this time of the year is over and Jethro can settle back into a quieter routine.

Next to come in will be the calves, born this year. Those that were born in the spring and are old enough will be separated from their mothers and housed, the youngest calves will come in to another shed but their mothers will  come in too, and one of the bulls. The main herd of spring calving cows will remain outside on the drier chalk grassland.

Poor Ruby has slipped her calf, it was due to be born around the end of January, and was completely formed, a bull calf but without all his hair. The legs and the head were the same colour as Ruby, but the rest was still bald. It was a very sad sight when the vet pulled it out, and she was so very keen to mother this stillborn bundle of a calf.

It means no milking for us until she calves again, perhaps in the autumn next year. The vet says that around 1% of cattle sponatneously abort, there does not have to be a reason. I think in 5 years we have only had 3 slipped calves so we must be under the average but still it is hard particularly as Ruby is the family’s only cow whereas the rest belong to the farm business. It is not quite the same.  Unusually for farmers we do admit that Ruby is a pet, she leads from a headcollar and ties up and is so quiet even visiting children can milk her. I daresay when she is recovered and after she runs with the main herd and the bull for the winter she will take a bit of gentling again.


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Unfortunately after the excitement of last week and the thought that perhaps I had at last found the right horse, it was just not meant to be.

A delightful ride out, unaccompanied, which made my heart sing while my head firmly told me that this delightful little horse was too green to be considered. If he had had another 6 months riding out then the result would probably be just what I am looking for.

I have also sadly discounted the other one who had up to now run a close second. My head told me she was good and steady but my heart wasn’t really interested in her.. funny how vitally important it is for the two to be in unison. 

As I have said before finding a good horse is like finding a good husband or wife… very difficult but it can be done.  Although unfortunately for many it is not always first time, and there is always the settling down period for all parties whether they have four legs or two.

Good sheepdogs fall into this same category and right now we are still looking for one of those as our good old girl has finally retired from the field, she is still very fit in body but her mind is not as it was. Her life span is not however guaranteed as she has taken to chasing vehicles and biting tyres in a big way and can no longer be easily stopped. The Manitou wheels are her favourite this week and just when she has a big chunk of tyre in her teeth, the machine often goes into reverse. We have tried everything we can to prevent her doing this but we do still allow her out in the yard when we are there to take her chance otherwise she’d be shut in all day and she’d hate that.

Anyway, I am not too downhearted over horses and am just off to ride another one today. What could be better than riding in the glorious sunshine? Even with over two hours to drive each way.

Like before, on the phone, this horse sounds good and could be what we are looking for,  but I no longer read too much into what people tell me. I ride it and handle it before deciding what to do next.

Sleeping on a difficult decision is always useful too. When young I was particularly hopeless at this, but age has helped to temper my impetuous nature a little, and I am optimistic that there is a little horse out there somewhere with our name on it.

The lambs continue to arrive in a steady flow, helped along by the glorious weather, and Ruby is over her mastitis and providing us with milk once more.

POSTSCRIPT: this is my 100th Post! When I started to blog I had no idea how quickly 100 posts would come around. Time passes quickly in our busy lives and the words seem to flow from the fingers quickly too. Thank you to all my readers and particularly those who are kind enough to take the time to comment.


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I had a laundry disaster this morning while washing the white coats which we wear for meat sales… I mistakenly left a black ball point pen in the coat pocket, even though I had checked the pockets. On removing the washing from the machine, while avoiding the puppy’s razor like teeth, an black inky mess stood out from the bright whiteness of the coats resulting in a huge groan from yours truly.

Then, I had a brainwave from something I had seen on the Victorian Farm.  In the programme which covered washday and laundry [which took all week and nothing else could have been done] a dim memory flashed through my neurons at lightening speed. MILK! Long before the age of modern detergents milk had been used to remove ink.

As we have a house cow and we have plenty of spare milk I soaked the two white coats in five litres of milk for over two hours and duly washed again at 60′ with my usual persil non-bio plus a whitener. Result. I hung the coats out in the sunshine and instead of black streaks all over I just have a couple of stubborn very small ink marks which I think is a really great result.


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the wonders of modern medicine

The Noroclav cream syringes filled with both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory in the form of prednisolone have worked wonders on the heifer’s udder.

This morning Ruby’s udder appeared to be back to normal, and after this morning’s milking the third and final dose was administered into each quarter via the teat. The recommended dosage is 3 syringes per teat at 12 hourly intervals. This has now been done and we hope all will be well.

I also discovered that the withdrawal period is not as long as I thought, perhaps I just did not read it right without my dratted reading glasses! 60 hours is the stated requirement so doubling that puts us on 5 days so by next weekend we should have a good supply of fresh milk once more.

Tonight’s milking was also straightforward, so here’s hoping.


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a ripping good yarn

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.


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