What a crazy spring. First the rain, then the tall green grass, then the seed heads announcing “you have to hay NOW”! We seized a 2-day window of sunshine and began to mow. The baler broke down, and the sun set (with beautiful color) on windrows of hay. The next day, the baler was fixed in the field, and the show went on. But everything else worked, so here are photos and videos of some of the equipment we used.
little bull calf, getting acquainted with mama
Our 11th calf was born today, a second bull calf after a string of 9 heifers. I was lucky enough to capture a video of the cow rousing the calf to nurse. Baby nosed around without success, but there will be more forays under the cow. You can see the video here
Wahoo! This grant helps us build an animal welfare station for cattle comfort in the field. It has a scratching station, free-choice mineral feeder and an oiler for fly control with organic treatments. This is going to make for some great youtube footage. But meanwhile, here are the youngsters trying to figure out what it’s good for.
yearlings and two-year-olds in the north field
Finally! After all that rain making the pastures too fragile to graze. The yearlings and two year olds have been led into the north field, where they kicked up their heels for joy. The cows and calves are closer to the barn on a hilly pasture in the background. The bull and a companion steer are cutting the grass near the farmstand. Enough of that baleage. Let the grazing begin!
just born! white heifer, black bull calf
moved out to the herd
Two more Galloways – one white, one black. What a surprise, when we went to check the water this morning! We quickly moved them to their own quiet area by picking up the calves, thus inciting the moms to follow in huffing indignation. They are both purebred Galloway heifers and will eventually become part of the breeding herd. The moms pushed the calves to their new bedding and are now chowing down. Truffles, born a couple weeks earlier has moved back to the herd and is now sporting her green ear tag #11.
Not expected until May… The vet just wasn’t on top of his game. Imagine our surprise when we found a Galloway calf in the barn this morning, hiding behind the frost-free stock tank. The really strange part was her mom was on the other side of the corral panel fence, bellowing her heart out to get the calf’s attention and to express her distress. Of course, we reunited them. She nursed immediately (hooray!!!!) and we ushered them into private quarters. Mom is extremely protective — almost charging caregivers. But she’s calming down now, and baby is sleeping off her milk stupor, while the miracle of colostrum builds her little immune system. What a joyous experience!
So… I just came across these videos of our own cattle, after attending a grazing conference and dreaming of the days to come. The winter on hay is a struggle for us all, but the grazing is what our cattle live for.
This is “Fran” a British White cross cow. Turn your volume up and you will be amazed with the grass-ripping action. Watch the tongue, grabbing the grass and cutting if on the bottom teeth. Cattle don’t have upper front teeth — just a solid pad.
Now we have a yearling grazing white clover, a low-growing protein-rich legume that has spread out and filled in after the last graze-through. The sound is probably static from the wind. We have lots of it here in South Hero.
Yes, there’s enough forage for all! Two yearlings going at it. No wonder they grow so fast!
free range chickens working hard to produce your farm-fresh eggs
The chicken tractor just rolled in, loaded with laying hens. These are happy birds, enjoying our South Hero fresh air and sunshine, free ranging for food, and supplementing with organic grain. Eggs are available as an add-on to your beef order or all by themselves
. We are charging $4.50 per dozen for these mixed-size eggs. The trusting hens are guarded by an electric fence and several roosters.
A bale of their own
life is good!
We have the Galloways segregated from the pre-existing herd of Angus/Devon and British White. The Galloways are reported to eat less than other cattle in the winter, due to their heavy winter coats. Indeed, they were bedded in the snow in Ontario, before they made the trek south. Here, they enjoy hay bedding outdoors (some of our lower-quality bales) and higher quality hay in the bale ring. They have a space in the hoop barn where they can seek shelter when the weather gets bad, but they love the outdoors in most kinds of weather. We are enjoying observing how the Galloways are different from our other cattle.