Got milk?

A couple of days ago, I pulled Gwen up from the lower pasture.  This was for several reasons.  The bull calf (who is six months old now) was still hanging off her udder and I could see that his nursing was starting to cause sores on her teats and she was looking a bit thin and right now the grass is better up here than it is down in the lower pasture.  Within 24 hours she was hollering for the calf.  I went down to check on her and found she had developed a pretty good sized udder so last night, I decided to milk her.  We were a bit awkward, we haven’t “danced” together in quite a few months, but I got almost a gallon and a half of the most gorgeous yellow (grass-fed) milk that I’ve seen in a long time.  I strained the milk and put it in the refrigerator and within a few hours, there was a good inch of cream on top.  The bull calf won’t be big enough to breed her until he’s closer to eight months old so the plan is to feed her to try to bring up her milk production.  Maybe we will have milk over the winter.  I wrote to a raw dairy list of my issues in getting her bred asking whether I should dry her off or if she’ll still cycle and breed while lactating.  One woman wrote back saying that I could dry her off and if she didn’t breed, then I wouldn’t have any milk at all.  She said that if she were her cow, she’d keep milking her and continue to try to get her bred.  At least I’ll have milk.  We’ll see how that goes.  On the list of things to do tonight is to get her cleaned up.  when I was milking her, I kept her back legs and tail clean of mud and manure.  Right now, she’s pretty dirty.  I’ll also need to keep fly spray on her as thanks to the recent rain, the flies are bad again.

Rain: as I write this, it’s pouring out.  Milking in the rain is no fun.  Milking in the rain with no power really sucks.  Wednesday morning around 5 AM the power went out.  When we loose power, not only do we not have lights, but we don’t have water either.  I had to make our breakfast and lunch by candle light.  Since I couldn’t get hot water, I knew I couldn’t save the milk.  I put on my head lamp and went out to milk.  First of all, the goats didn’t want to come out in the rain and go into a dark milk parlor, oh no!!!!  It was a wet, muddy rodeo.  No fun.  We got three inches of rain that day.

At least this morning, I’ll have water and light.  Looking at the radar, it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up any time soon so I’ll be getting wet for sure.  I can’t complain too much, we really need the rain.  The pastures were drying out and my garden wasn’t doing well.  Not too many of seeds that I planted were coming up.  Instead, volunteer tomato seedlings were coming up like weeds.  I’ll try to get some more lettuce, spinach and greens seeds in the ground over the next couple of days.  The wet soil and cooler temperatures should help germination.

Update on the rabbit experiment: I decided to pull the fryers out of the fryer pen and put them up in grow out pens off the ground.  This was for several reasons, but primarily, I felt that running around in a 10 x 10 pen, they were going to run off all that they were eating and feeding them their forage on the ground was resulting in a muddy mess and some of their food was drawing yellow jackets.  I split them up and put them in adjoining cages.  I don’t think they are too happy with that arrangement, but they’ll be okay.  I weighed one of them and he was up close to five pounds so they are about big enough for slaughter.  I don’t know if we’ll get that done this weekend or not.  Wally and I talked this morning about what we were going to try to get done on Sunday (we are both working on Saturday) and we didn’t come to a final decision.  We still need to get the ShelterLogic hay house up, but we are also talking about running some 2 x 2 wire along the bottom of the poultry pasture fence in an attempt to keep at least the heavy breed chickens confined.  They are really making a mess around the farm.  There was some run off from the goat shelter and the chickens took advantage of that and tore the ground up for dust bathing.  Now it will be a mud pit.  The chickens are really bothering both of us these days.

Damn … it’s pouring out there …

I’m still having a hard time getting one of the Creme does bred so I put her and the buck in the 10 x 10 pen to see if maybe the change in scenery will get her in the mood.  I’ve read about putting apple cider vinegar in her water to help get her to come in season.  I don’t know if it will work or not, but it’s worth a try.  Either that or I’ll have to resort to candle light and violin music.  We sold the New Zealand buck last weekend so we now only have $30 in seven fryer rabbits, two breeding age does and three cages.  Not too bad.

I guess the rain is not going to let up so I best get out there and get it done.

Until later …