The days are getting shorter. The mornings are beautifully crisp. Warm woollen things are almost out and I’m letting myself believe that this year there will be a ‘coffee and cards’ season.
This is our calving time. It’s still warm enough for the calves to not get chills, and the calves will be little enough during the winter (the most expensive season to feed pastured animals), to only need their mother’s milk. We make sure the mamas have high quality feed, of course.
With every pair of twins born, it seems, we have a new challenge to solve or job to see to. A week ago, one of the twin calves born didn’t stand for fourteen hours after the birth. Calves need to stand to drink, so a calf with a leg or a vitality issue is at risk of dying if it isn’t caught or found quickly enough. By the time this little one did stand, his mama was no longer interested in him. Luckily, P. saw this little bull calf (and his sad plight) and ended up thawing some of the colostrum that he had saved from Ursula’s last birth. Bottle feeding calves is a super cute job, but it’s also pretty time consuming. One of the ways to lighten the load was to try to get another cow, a dairy cow this time, to adopt him as her own. Of course, milking dairy cows is also a lot of work (arguably more work than bottle feeding calves), but we opted for this option since Ursula hasn’t been giving us much milk, and because our biggest grocery store expense at this point in time is unquestionably dairy.
The good news is that after just two days of being together, Jo Petra (the new dairy cow, an Ayrshire) adopted baby bull calf George. He’s been drinking to his heart’s content. The only downside to this is that George no longer gallops to us humans, as we are no longer the (perceived) source of milk.
The addition of Jo Petra to our farm mix has meant some late night fresh cheese making to empty the evening milk jugs before the morning milking. It’s work, of course, but delicious. It hasn’t gotten old yet.
In other news, the hens are doing well and the egg CSA sold out quick. There is little money to be made with laying hens at this scale, but it’s a really solid learning for me. There is great satisfaction in having the fruits of ones labour be a good, an actual product. And to provide a humane alternative to run of the mill eggs feels important. My vegan penchant makes this a very fraught enterprise for me, but so many people eat the eggs and meat of very miserable and mistreated animals. I know this is better.
We also turned our second farm house into a rentable airbnb. It’s been interesting. Sometimes I think we should open a full on bed and breakfast because it’s so fun, and sometimes I want to subdivide the house and sell it just to stop thinking about all of the different options (and to save on laundry time and scheduling frustrations).
The kids astound me daily with their ability to be both fascinated and entertaining with miscellaneous farm props (here they are ‘fixing’ the old A-frame chicken tractor together). The garden is producing despite little to no weeding effort (next year, I say, next year the garden will be immaculate). And autumn is here.
Blessed be the equinox. Three cheers for fall.