Category Archives: Cattle

The Cow Goes Moo, and Disappearing Eggs

This evening I caught Oreo and put her in our pen where the livestock trailer will come.  I wanted to get that done tonight so that I didn’t have to worry about doing it in the morning when he comes to pick her up.  As such, she is separated from Bullseye for the first time.  Let me tell you, cows can be loud when they want to.  Oreo isn’t making so much noise, I don’t think she minds not having Bullseye bother her to nurse, but Bullseye is letting the world know.  I am hoping I get some sleep tonight.

After Oreo leaves tomorrow, I need to get a shelter/milking area built off the chicken coop so that I can go pick up our new cow, Prudence.  I have procured some of the items I will need for milking, but I will do another post on that soon.

In other news, egg production has dropped.  Part of that can probably be attributed to the fact that the days are getting shorter.  But, I have a feeling some of the chickens are hiding their eggs among the trees, hay bales, etc.  So this evening I finished the chicken run, cut a small door in the coop, and we will plan on leaving the chickens in their coop and run for the next few days to see how many eggs we get.

I’m off to bed, I need to start getting on an early morning schedule so I can get ready for milking.  Wish me luck!

New YouTube Trailer

I don’t know how many of you watch YouTube videos on a regular basis, but that is kind of my television.  One of the channels I really like is Justin Rhodes.  He and his family live in North Carolina and they are currently planning a cross country trip, in a bus that they are converting(I’m so jealous) and they need places to stop.  I applied to be one of them.  One of the things they wanted in the application is one minute video about the applicant’s location.

I needed to add a trailer to my YouTube channel so I killed two birds with one stone and created this.  Let me know what you think.  And if you do watch YouTube, please consider subscribing.  Thanks.

Back From Vacation

We were blessed enough to spend the last week in Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach actually, with our family and my in laws.  It was great, and I will have a post on the week in more detail shortly, but I just wanted to let you all know I’m still here.

Now that we’re back, it is back to the chores of daily life.  While I was cutting some grass for the animals I started wondering if there was a way to save some of this myself for the animals to eat when the grass wasn’t growing.  I am currently looking into ideas of do it yourself, small scale haylage and silage.  I’ll be sure to let you know what I decide, but if you have done either, please let me know.

I also have ordered the rebuild kit for the golf cart engine, so that will probably be a post or two, and a video as well.  I’m also tossing around the idea of rebuilding my hay wagon, if I can find time, as well as building a post frame shed/building for the pasture animals.  Lots to do before the snow flies.

What is on your to do list before winter?

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No matter how far I go, I always find my way home to this sunset

 

Huge Farming Operation

The other day we had an opportunity to visit with one of my wife’s co-workers and her husband.  They live just up the street from where my wife and I lived not long after we got married so it was fun to drive past there and show the kids.

They have a beautiful new house tucked back in the woods on 16 acres, it is idyllic.  We were able to have dinner and visit for awhile which is always great.  The kids even got to play some pool and meet their grand kids and play with them for awhile.

One of the main reasons for our visit was that they wanted to show us my wife’s coworker’s uncles farming operation.  It was just a few minutes away, and quite impressive.  I am repeating any stats from memory so forgive me if I get them wrong.

They have a large milking operation milking over 3,000 Holstein cows, which they milk pretty much 24 hours a day.  They have about 3,500 of their own acres that they farm, and then lease that many more which to my mind is an amazing undertaking.

We were able to see the milking parlor briefly, and the amount of automation that goes into that is a sight to see.  The stanchions for feeding the cows while they get milking are all automated and raise up when the cow is done milking, allowing the cow to leave the milking parlor.

In the barns where the cows spend a lot of their time, the cows each have their own waterbed for laying on to rest.  Apparently it helps in their digestion.

The kids were then able to see some of the calves in one of their calf barns.  When you have an operation as big as theirs, calves are being born just about every day, and sure enough we saw a calf that was born that morning.  It reminded me of last spring when we bought five steer calves to raise.

The last stop on the tour was the swimming/fishing pond and what I will call the party barn.  They have created an amazing spot for their family to have get togethers and visit.  They have the swimming pond, to which they added a zip line, water slide made out of plastic culvert pipe, and a couple swings that swing out over the pond.  They also have a sand beach volleyball pit and a soccer field.  The party barn was a big open, very nice barn that had bathrooms and plenty of space for the family to gather.  They have a set up that I am envious of, and someday hope to have similar.

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It was a very impressive operation, and I was honored to have it been shared with our family.  I can’t imagine trying to manage that amount of property, animals, or chores.  Honestly, it’s not something I personally would be interested in, but it is very cool to see.  I’m more of a, couple of cows, pigs, chickens, etc on as much grass and pasture as possible but we need some of each to make the world go round.

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Another Great Rodeo Weekend

This past weekend we were at another Sparta Rodeo.  The oldest three and I went on Friday, to try and help out any way we could.  I am not a rodeo person per se, I didn’t grow up with rodeo events or horses.  The most experience I had with horses was a good friend of mine in high school having a couple horses that we could go ride wherever we wanted.  It was my first taste of riding without having my horses nose in the butt of the horse in front of me in line, and it was a lot of fun.  But I didn’t grow up in the country “culture” of rodeos, and FFA, and 4H.  I am learning, but it isn’t something I am extremely accustomed to being around.  That being said, it is just a fun, and relaxed atmosphere.  Rodeo people are nice, they let your kids ride their horse, or golf cart, or four wheeler.  They share their food and drink.  They teach you how to throw a lasso so you can rope a bull.  In short, they are good people.

Friday night was the speed show.  It was fun watching people of all ages compete in the events.  The contestants ranged in age from about 5 to 60 and while they all wanted to win the buckle, which is the prize for first place, they were all rooting for each other to do their best.  Some young girls all really wanted to win, but when the day was done, they genuinely congratulated their friend for beating them on that day.  It was nice to see.

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I think my favorite event was the rescue race.  It consists of a two people on a team.  One team member stands on a barrel at the end of the arena.  The other team member has to race down to them as fast as they can, get them on the back of their horse, and race back out of the arena.  It was quite fun to watch the different ways people tried to jump onto the horse.

On Saturday late morning there was an event called Cowboy Poker.  Everyone gets together for a ride from the camp grounds to downtown Sparta.  They visit seven stations around the town obtaining a playing card at each station.  Out of their seven cards they make their best 5 card poker hand, and the winner takes home the pot.  A good time was had by all.

Saturday and Sunday evenings were the main events, the actual rodeo.  People chose their spots on the hill surrounding the arena and cheered for their cowboy, or bull, and laughed at the rodeo clown’s antics.  My middle kids’ favorite event is the boot scramble.  They have the kids come into the arena and take off their shoes.  The clown and pickup men then scramble their shoes at the other end of the arena and the first person to get their shoes on and give the clown five wins an ice cream.

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Any time we are away from our home parish for a weekend we enjoy visiting different parishes.  Cathedrals are always a draw if we are near one, and this weekend we happened to be.  The Cathedral of St. James in Grand Rapids is a beautiful church.  The Mass time that happened to fit our timing also happened to be a Spanish Mass.  It gave me a chance to brush up on my Spanish comprehension skills.  I have to say I probably understood about half of the homily, which isn’t bad considering I haven’t spoken the language on a regular basis in at least ten years.  I was very proud of our kids, despite not understanding the language, they behaved well, and HB1 even understood some of the homily himself.

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I was happy to be able to make it this year, last year I was sick so the family went without me.  I enjoy helping out where I can, visiting with people who I haven’t seen since the last rodeo, and relaxing around the camp fire looking at stars.

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I hope to be able to get a video together on the rodeo soon, so look for that on the YouTube channel.

Until then…

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Putting up Hay for the Winter

It has been a dry summer, so much so that the grass hasn’t been growing much at all.  Because of this the sheep and cow are currently eating hay and I will probably have to give them another bale soon.  I’m not sure hay prices are going to drop so I wanted to get some hay now.  I was able to find someone who could deliver 10 bales yesterday, so I pulled the trigger and had it delivered.  Delivery was the best option for me, I could only fit four round bales on my trailer, if I really work at it so it would take me three trips to get the ten bales he was able to deliver.  At over an hour and a half round trip, it was money well spent.

I used the tarp with which they transported our house.  It kept the inside of the house from blowing away on the highway and is over 70′ long and probably 12′ feet wide.  When they were leaving after putting the house together they asked if I wanted to save the tarps or throw them away, I definitely wanted to keep them so they have been stored under the house since then.

This should hopefully be enough hay for the winter.  We currently have 13 bales, one of which I will give to the animals while the grass grows back, and if we are lucky we will get a couple more bales when they bale our field in the fall.

If you’re interested, here is the video of me moving it with the tractor.

A New Video…Segment?

While I was out working on the pig pen, I realized that some people may not know the different types of fencing I was talking about so I made a quick video.  I am thinking of making it into a series, A Homestead Minute.  Quick little videos that explain something that I probably didn’t know just a short time ago, that others might be interested in learning.  Let me know what you think.

Odds and Ends

The weather has turned hot again.  We had three nice days, lows in the lower 80’s with low humidity.  Unfortunately we are back to highs near or into the 90’s with high humidity.  All that is to say working outside is no fun at all in that weather.  I am what you would call a sweat-er, and when it’s humid I sweat by the bucket full.

I have been able to get some things done over the last few days.  I am getting close to having the pig pen ready for our piglets.  I got the hog panels up and stapled to the fence posts.  I still need to pound some T posts in between the wooden posts.  I also need to hang the gate and strap a section of the hog panel onto that gate, but we are getting close.  I hope to have a video of my progress up on YouTube shortly.

I also got a small start on getting a tree off our path through the woods.  The boys and I went down there with hand tools and cleared out the area around the tree so I can get down there with the chainsaw and get that tree cut up.  It has been on the path since late last fall, so this is long overdue.  The boys really want it off there so they can take the golf cart through the woods.  There will be a video on the progress on that project coming shortly as well.

Other than that it is mostly trying to stay cool and keep the animals as comfortable as possible as well.  Checking waterers several times a day to make sure they don’t overheat.  With the heat we have been using the pool almost every day, definitely worth the Craigslist purchase.  It has also allowed B2 and G1 to become so much more comfortable in the water.  They have gone from not wanting to put their faces in the water to being very comfortable, to the point where they are talking about joining their older brother on the swim team.  It has been nice to be home, and not be re-packing for another trip.  As much as I love traveling, and visiting friends and family, being home is really nice as well.

Until next time.

Back From Vacation

As most of you probably know, I don’t talk about where I will be ahead of time, it’s just not something I do.  However, I’m happy to tell you about it afterwards.

This past weekend the family and I traveled to the great state of Wisconsin, place of my birth, and location of the majority of my extended family.  We left after my wife was done with work on Friday, and spent the night at my parents’ cottage.  It shortens the drive to WI by a couple hours.

The next morning we headed to WI to visit those who were available on my dad’s side of the family.  As an aside, I hate Chicago.  There is a very real possibility I will never drive through that city again.  Traffic is never good, among other reasons to hate it.  After passing that forsaken city, we were able to see my grandmother’s new apartment and then head to my Aunt and Uncle’s house.  It is one of the places we frequently stay when we visit WI, and because of this the kids especially enjoy spending time there with them.  It doesn’t hurt that they have 40+ acres, a pond, and four wheelers.  This year, HG1 knew she was old enough to ride the four wheelers so she was excited to go to my uncle’s four wheeler school.  He sets up cones and obstacles and has them master certain concepts before allowing the younger ones to turn up the speed on the four wheeler, and the older to ride the bigger quads themselves.  I didn’t have to pass the course.  I was able to get some cool video on my phone while we were riding, which I hope to get up in a YouTube video soon.

The next day we visited with my Mom’s side of the family after going to Mass in the morning.  This aunt and uncle have a great setup for family parties which allows for areas for the kids to play, adults to visit, and comfortable seating no matter the weather.  The highlight for me was watching a game of “red light, green light” that even the adults got in on.

Monday morning we were able to have breakfast with some of my very best and long time friends.  While they are not blood relatives, they are most definitely family and loved accordingly.

That afternoon we got back to my parents’ cottage and were able to spend the evening in the lake enjoying the bath like water.  We swam again Tuesday morning, before heading home to get ready for a short work week.  When we got home, there were a couple packages waiting for us including a thermal cover for the pool, and HB#2’s newest purchase.  He used some birthday Amazon gift cards to buy a remote control truck.  It is one that should last a little longer as it is a step above toy, but still a step below true hobbyist.

This past weekend away will end my streak of not being home for any weekend the month of July, spanning five weekends.  As much as I love traveling and seeing friends and family, it will be nice to get some things done around the Homestead.  The garden is being taken over by weeds, so I hope to get that under control and give the grazing animals some treats.  I also have a project that needs to be built for in the house, which I will be posting on.

I’ll leave you with a picture of one of my favorite places.

Until next time…

Gettin’ Guinea With It

American Guinea Hogs that is.  As many of you know I have been wanting pigs for awhile.  The breeds that I have been looking at were Mangalitsa, American Guinea Hog, and Idaho Pasture Pigs.  I ended up learning more about the AGHs at the Mother Earth News Fair and finding a breeder near me that could get me two boars and two gilts that are from different litters.  I am going to buy them registered, so that I can sell breeding stock if there is a demand for it.


The plan is to keep the friendlier of the two boars, and butcher the other for bacon.  Mmmm…. bacon.  And other pork of course.  One of the main reasons I decided on the AGH was that they pasture well, are a lard pig, and are significantly smaller than other even heritage hogs.  An AGH boar will top out around 300 lbs, give or take, where many other breeds could be 600-800 lbs.  The downside is that they get to butcher weight slower, but the taste is said to make up for it.  They are included on the slowfoodusa ark of taste.  I have put a deposit down on them and will be able to pick them up sometime in the next few weeks.

In the meantime I have listed most of our sheep and Oreo for sale.  In fact, I will be calling someone back about Oreo later today.  Selling her quickly would pay for the pigs, and make the pasture last significantly longer.

I am still trying to spend more time on the YouTube channel, and if you haven’t checked it out, please do.  Homestead Dad YouTube.  I am hoping the videos continue to get better and more polished, but it is obviously a work in progress.

Always moving forward.  Until next time.