As I write this, we are having a thunderstorm!  According to local lore, that means we’ll have snow within ten days.  What it does mean is that I can’t get out to milk for a little bit. It also means I’ll have to wear my muck boots.  Glad to see the rain, we need it, but it makes for treacherous walking.

Gwen has behaved herself two milkings in a row now.  This morning, I’m going to try to just tie her using her collar rather than putting a halter on her.  Yesterday morning, I sent Gel down to the back pasture to bring up the three calves who were at the furthest end of the pasture.  Gel brought all three up at a good clip.  I left them with Gwen for about an hour.  I’m sure she enjoyed that.  In three or four months, she’ll be able to stay with the calves 24/7 because I’ll dry her off.  Hopefully the baby bull will grow fast and get her bred.

Note: I stopped writing this post yesterday (Wednesday) morning and went out to milk.  I am continuing it today (Thursday).

It was still raining pretty hard.  I went down and got Gwen and put her in her milking stall, hooked her in and started milking.  She was fussy, called occasionally and wasn’t eating her grain, but she stood still.  As soon as I let her loose, she left the hitching area and continued to call.  I brought her back down to her pasture.  I brought the horses’ grain with me and went in to feed them.  Mellow Moose all but ran me down when I walked in there.  I popped her in the nose with the wooden spoon I use to stir their grain and broke it. I walked back up to the milk parlor with the intention of mixing grain for the next feeding when I saw Spot (the oldest Jersey calf) up in the front pasture.  Great.

I sent Gel for him and put him up in the poultry pasture and headed out to find the other calves.  It was still pouring and I wasn’t wearing rain gear.  The ATV needs a new battery, which we haven’t been able to afford to replace yet.  I assumed if Spot was out, then the rest of the calves were out as well.  I didn’t want to send Gel into the pasture to look for them because Mellow Moose was in such a tizzy I didn’t want to risk her running Gel down.  I walked around through the front field, down the side and then out toward the fence line of the back pasture.  No calves.  Lovely.  Looking for brown Jersey calves in the rain in an environment that is brown is really hard!

I walked back around the way I came (it was still pouring) and walked down towards Gwen (who was still bellowing) and saw the calves in the woods behind her pasture.  Good!  I went around to pull them out the back gate so I could avoid passing through Gwen’s pasture and discovered where Spot had gotten out.  In her tizzy, Mellow Moose must have charged at him and sent him over the fence.  He broke a steel T post going over the fence. I had to fix the fence before taking the calves out so that the horses wouldn’t get out.

Wally and I have decided to return Mellow Moose to her original owner (she was here on lease).  The reality is that Wally is not going to ride more than a dozen times a year and when he does ride, it will probably bother his knees.  He’s not going to want to ride at the pace I am accustomed to riding so there will be friction there.  Mellow Moose does occasionally chase the cows, she’s got a lot of Quarter Horse blood behind her, she can be difficult to be close to when there’s food involved and there’s no need to keep and feed an animal that we are not going to use.  Sudi is a perfect gentlemen when you go in to feed him, he doesn’t chase the cows (unless they try to eat his food) and he will be used.  This weekend is supposed to be very warm so I hope to be able to get out and ride him if only around here.

Back to the cow fiasco.

The two calves that we brought up was the one we raised on Gwen (Auggie) and Bullet (the bull calf).  Neither calf is terribly dog broke so Gel had his work cut out for him bringing them up.  Auggie kept trying to break to run towards Gwen and Bullet kept going in the opposite direction.

When I finally got everyone situated and back in the house I discovered I had about fifteen minutes to process the milk and get ready for work.  When I finally pulled out of the driveway, I was running about fifteen minutes late so I called work to let them know I was coming.  I was driving a bit too fast down the driveway, hit a couple of big puddles and the battery light came on.  The windshield washers started going really, really slow.  I was on the phone with the manager at MM when this was happening and I told her that I thought was on my way, but that my truck may be going to die.  Luckily, the battery light went off and didn’t come back on again.  Something must of have got wet went we splashed through the puddle.

Luckily, the rest of the day went okay, but because I had such a bad start, I was exhausted at work.  I was able to leave a bit earlier than normal and rushed home to make sure we had no other escaped animals.  Luckily everyone was where they were supposed to be.  The goats were completely out of hay (I forgot to give them more in the morning) and were starving, Mica hadn’t been out all day, Mellow Moose was frantically pacing the fence (I guess she thought she was starving too) and Gwen was still bellowing.  I expect she saw or knew that Spot had been forced over the fence that morning and that’s why she was upset.

I’ve been successful in managing the goats leaving the kids on them.  The cow has been a different story.  Before she calves again, I need to figure out a way to manage it.  As I understand it, the best thing to do is to teach the calf to lead before it is two weeks old and to tether it near where you milk the cow.  When you finish milking the cow, you lead the calf to the cow and let it nurse.  Unfortunately, Auggie is way too big (and wild) to teach to lead or tether and this morning he was out (again!) and this time, he was in with Gwen.  Of course he drank the milk I was going to get this morning and it was difficult getting Gwen up to the milk parlor.  I have been accustomed to using Gel to move cows and calves, but I think leading would be a much less stressful means of moving them.

In light of Auggie’s continual escaping and Gwen’s craziness over him, we’ve decided to go ahead and sell him and roll that money (which won’t be much, Jersey steer calves are not worth much) into hay, grain (and maybe a battery for the ATV) and in a month or so, get another bottle calf and practice leading and tethering with it so we’ll have the method perfected for when she calves again.  If all goes well and we are able to get Gwen bred in May or June of this year to Bullet, she’ll calf in the spring of 2012 and we’ll need to rebreed her 60 to 90 days later.  If we got a bull calf in February, it would be well old enough to breed her at that time and hopefully will be a well-mannered beast.  I think the thought of keeping Bullet for two seasons is wishful thinking.  While our fencing is okay, it probably isn’t secure enough to hold a two+ year old bull.

Plans, plans, plans.

Yesterday, I sold Fern’s buck baby as a bottle baby.  Lots of people love to raise bottle goats.  We sold two last year and I am still in touch with those people and they still have the goats.  Fern kept leaving the baby and we’d find him shivering.  She didn’t seem to realize that she was supposed to keep track of him herself.  She did well last year with her twin daughters so I don’t know what the problem is this year.  Maybe it’s because it was a single.  Now I’ll be milking her twice a day.

I need to go out shortly and pick a bucket of greens for a client, deliver them, go to the bank, make a run to Lowes and then get back here and try to get some more planting done.  There are numerous seeds I need to get in the ground between February 1 and the 15th so I need to get the beds ready.  All that needs to be done with two of them is getting more dirt in the beds.

Better get going and get stuff done.

Until later …