Frustrating!

I hate not knowing if I’m doing the right thing or not.  I hate the learning curve involved with learning how to take care of a different animal.

I think I might have overfed Gwen two days ago and now she’s not interested in eating much grain.  I’ve tried several different types of grain mixtures, but she’s not going for much.  Of course, this means her milk production is going down in a hurry.  At the dairy, she was giving about two gallons per milking.  This morning, she didn’t even give a gallon.

I’ve thought about just letting her go dry until she calves, but I’d like to get her into a routine here, learn to lead (Gel is helping with that) and so I can learn to milk her better than I am.  It’s gotten much better, but we are still a long way from having it down to a routine.  It saddens me to think of how many cows like Gwen who end up at the processing plant because they were lame, or were not producing enough to meet the needs of a commercial diary.  She is incredibly sweet and patient.

As I write this, she’s out in the front pasture grazing.  I put her out there for the first time last night.  Just as we went out to milk the goats, it started pouring, then hailing!  Gwen went the wrong way to come back into the goat pasture so I went out with Gel to turn her around.  Good dog that he is, he turned her and brought her back into the pasture.  Gel is helping with the halter breaking.  Maybe this will help him to learn to hit heels as I won’t let him come around to her sides or head.  He isn’t much of a gripper anyway; only when he is getting run down by an angry goat or sheep or if I tell him to bite.

Oddly, Gel has been wanting to go out in the middle of the night.  I think he might feel a bit out of sorts with the puppies in the house.  While Wally will disagree with me, I’m not so sure Split is being a banner mother.  She takes care of them well enough, but if the puppies get too far away from her in the whelping box and start screaming, she tends to lie there and ignore them.  Maybe that isn’t a problem.  It’s been so long since I’ve had a litter of puppies.  As I write this, everyone is quietly either nursing or up against her belly.  The problem is that I need to keep her shut into the whelping box.  She comes back and feeds the puppies as she should, but if something exciting should happen, and to Split most everything is exciting, she comes flying out of the box like a rocket, strewing puppies every which way.  She often goes back in the same way.  Maybe one day Split will slow down.  I hope Rosemoon’s daughters are ready to step up their activities!

The horses are settling into the back pasture pretty well.  I was a bit concerned when I let them out this morning.  It was quite cool so they were fresh.  When I opened the gate, the three of them galloped into the pasture and headed down towards the back.  As I walked out so I could see them, I said to myself, please Al Bin, don’t jump the fence again.  He didn’t and soon they came galloping back up into the paddock, then turned around and headed back out.

Yes, three horses.  We have a red mare named Cherry who is here on a free lease for Wally to ride.  It was an offer we couldn’t refuse.  She came with a saddle and bridle and she’s here for as long as we want her.  I’ve ridden her, but Wally hasn’t yet, but hopefully this weekend we’ll be able to ride.  We were going to run another line of field fence this weekend, but I think the ElectroNet is doing the job for now so we can take a break from fencing.  Fencing is incredibly hard work!

Between the cow, the puppies, the horses (worrying about them running through the fence again), my work situation and who knows what else, I’ve been very stressed.  On Monday and Tuesday I woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep.  The cold I had is trying like heck to go into my chest.  Little things like the floor of the goat shelter has been wet and no matter how much straw we put down, I couldn’t get it dried out bother me.  I think I fixed that situation yesterday with 15 bags of sawdust (from a local cabinet maker) and we’ll stop and get another 10-15 bags this weekend to put down.  The sawdust has done a good job in the area in front of the goat shelter.  It was a mud pit, but it’s quite dry now.  Of course, having the sheep up here for about a week not too long ago didn’t help keep the shelter floor dry.

Until later …