Wednesday, November 13, 2013

meet Shirley

Life has been restored to somewhat more normality this week. Last week was quite a week! Daniel took the kids on school camp while I held the fort here (with Violet). There was the cow to milk, the calf to put away at night, of which I had never attempted before (fortunately he has learned to like buckets), a new calf to bottle feed (more on that later) as well as some spring cleaning to be done. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to Spring clean with most of the household away. Not such a great idea when I found myself up way past midnight trying to get the floors finished. But it is done, which is a good feeling I must say. Dust bunnies and dirty hand prints all gone.

The weather turned extra warm, the too-small water tank emptied, and so I had to hand cart bucket loads of water on the back of the ute for the cows. It wasn't easy and would probably have looked quite funny if anyone was around. Let's just say half the water didn't make it.

But back to the brand new calf. Meet little Shirley. She is now a little over two weeks and is a Jersey x Holstein. We are bottle raising her at home, and Julia has happily taken up bottle feeding duties. Daniel picked her up from a working dairy the day before school camp. This was a lot earlier than originally planned, but her owner was going away.  All their first calving heifers are bred to a Jersey bull which makes for smaller first calves. Since they keep only a Holstein herd they sell off the baby crosses.

Now, a one and a half week old calf with mild scours (which is almost inevitable when you move them) on my relatively inexperienced own was not an ideal scenario. There was much book and internet research, electrolytes given, a homemade fly repellant concocted, some Bessie milk to supplement the milk replacer, a little slippery elm and a daily egg yolk mixed in. Happily the scours have completely gone. But I can't quite get rid of the flies.





She is a lively, friendly little thing with plenty of energy. Her white patch on her back leg reminds me of a dancing cat! We are training her to lead (a calf halter has been ordered) and she is beginning to nibble on grass. Our water tank/firewood storage area has become a temporary calf pen for the summer. It will be quite some time before she will have a calf and be in milk, and meanwhile we hope to get her as used to people as possible. We have a half acre of grass here with half of that being abundant with grass right now. Hopefully next summer she will be able to keep it down. In the future we have several options of nearby paddocks from kindly neighbours, and at some stage Bessie will likely be brought to this area also.





I breathed a sigh of relief when Daniel and the kids came home. You never really know what you are capable of though until you have no choice in the matter. While I am sure this is probably a part of everyday for some people, and I do take my hat off to them, it certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone. I never really pictured myself shoveling manure, hauling water, milking and bottle feeding cows all on my own. Usually Daniel is around to help with the heavier duty things. My hair is always messy these days and I know I will never have nice nails again (not that I ever really did), but the funny thing is I don't really care that much.






It's strange the direction life takes you in. Sometimes it can all feel a little overwhelming, with the steep learning curves, with the hard physical work, on top of everything else, but I don't think I would have it any other way.


20 comments:

Colleen said...

I think your life and the area you live in look amazing. I long for a bit of land rather than our suburban block. We are setting up veggie gardens and our fruit trees are at least partly planted out and I even have a few little fruits forming on the ones that have made it into the ground. I can see that we can make this block work for us but I still long for more space and oh how I long for a cow!! lol In the meantime, I watch your blog for my cow updates and just live through you :)

Samantha said...

Wow what a gorgeous little calf. I have always wanted my own milking cow but don't know where to start. Do you have any resources you could point me in the direction of? It is amazing finding out just how capable you can be on your own. Your place is indeed gorgeous.

rhonda jean said...

Shirley is a very pretty little girl. It's great she can graze on neighbours grass later on. That's a win-win. They don't have to cut the grass, and you don't have to buy feed.

I hope you had time to relax while the family was away. xx

Samantha said...

Just noticed you have a post below with link to books and such...I must have missed that lol.

Zara said...

I think you are doing a wonderful thing for your family and the planet. Your family get pure, raw, nutrient-filled milk and you avoid the food-miles and packaging of store bought milk.
Keep up the inspiring work.x (ignore those negative people)

Margaret said...

Shirley is just beautiful, if you want her to drink from the cow, you just pour some vanilla essence on her head and on the cow's nose, the cow just smells the vanilla and in a few days of the cows milk in the calf's system it(calf's breath and poo residue on rump) will smell like her own calf and be allowed to drink, because she can't tell the difference. We used to do this fairly often to start off extra calves,I can't remember if it was nessesary to put vanilla on the cow's own calf. Hope this helps.

JaneA said...

Shirley is beautiful! One of the best feelings is having a calf lick your hand. I just love the soft, raspy tongue! X Jane http://janeheinrichs.blogspot.com

katiemedarlin said...

I admire your courage and spirit. Taking on new challenges and sharing those success and failures takes 'gumption' as my mother would have said.

The time in my life when I could tackle those things is long past and I am ever so grateful for your blog as I live somewhat vicariously through it. There will always be people who have negative things to say, it's just the nature of people.

Thanks for the blog, I truly enjoy reading it.

purplepear said...

Oh no not more offensive comments. People need to get a life. Well done you fo rcoping on your own. I know I struggle here when I have to do it and I don't have little ones to add to the mix. Your new calf is simply gorgeous, and I have green grass envy right now.

A little bit Country said...

It's looking lovely and green where you are! Hello Shirley, and welcome. What a little sweetie. I feel the same about hair and nails too, just not a top priority for me anymore ;-) Elaina xo

Jan said...

I have been reading your blog for a few months and love it.

Don't let the negative comments override the wonderful life you are creating for yourself and your family. Some people must have little to do with their time, it baffles me.

Well done too on surviving on your own! You must have been proud of what you achieved on your own!

Warm regards,
Jan
www.agluttonouswife.blogspot.com

Our photos said...

Beautiful are your photos!
Greetings from Holland, RW & SK

Nim said...

Lovely animals and well done on your own, ignore people who obviously don't have a life xx

Farmer Liz said...

Shirley is lovely, she will be very tame from being bottle fed and will make a great cow in a couple of years. For the flies, try to get hold of a product called Cattle Coat, from Organica, I just put some on our cow this morning and you see the flies land and take off again right away, they hate it. We just rub it on the cattle with an old cloth whenever we see too many flies around them. If you google it you should find the company that sells it and I'm sure they will be able to get some to you. I know what you mean about the hard work, its a good feeling to know that you can lift things and manage the animals by yourself, but nice to have a helper too! My fingernails are never clean...

Lea said...

I enjoy your posts Tania and good on you for taking a stance with your blog comments. There's enough rubbish in the world without needing to read it in your blog comments too.

rhonda jean said...

Don't let the haters get to you, Tania. It is clear to all of us how well you're caring for your animals.

BTW, Nita over a Throwback at Trapper Creek wrote an excellent post today on care of the cow stalls.
http://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/butter-werks/

Kim Houssenloge said...

Oh how gorgeous!!! Lew so wants a calf and I'd love a jersey cow so maybe .....? I can't believe you would get negative comments, Tania. What on earth???? I took away the anonymous thingo on my blog too as I was getting heaps of spam. Hasn't seemed to cause issues as yet. Love what you write here:) x

Fiona said...

Shirley is adorable! When you said you did the spring cleaning it reminded me of one of the Little House on the Prairie books when Ma and Pa went away for a week and Laura and the younger girls did the spring cleaning on their own. Well done to you! You seem to have boundless energy!

Harry Flashman said...

Seems like to me you take good care of your animals. I suppose there are just a lot of people in the world with not enough to do. So they bother other people to pass the time.

Vanessa said...

Im so sorry you have stopped writing your blog, it used to be one of my favourites.