animals · birth · cows · farm animals · Uncategorized · weather

Meet “Cold Pizza”

Back in March we bought some cows.  We bought two longhorn, one bred and one with a calf, a bred lineback and a steer.  The cows all have their own stories and personalities.  One day I’ll take time to write more about them.  But this entry is about the lineback cow.


We named each of the cows.  Any cow that is destined to the freezer has a food name.  The mama cows don’t have food names.  We had a hard time coming up with a name for the lineback, but a little research showed us that this particular breed was a New England breed, so we named her after Ken’s grandmother who was raised in Cape Cod.  Genevieve became Jenni-beef, or Jenni for short.

Jenni is kind of a bossy cow, and has been rather unfriendly to us.  But she loves bread as a treat so she tolerates us.

When we got her we were told she was due in December and had no problem giving birth in the past.

Along comes November and she looked HUGE.  We expected her to deliver earlier than expected.  It became a daily question:  has she had the baby yet?  Answer:  no.  Kids were frustrated with us asking constantly.

December came and went.  January brought crazy cold temperatures.  Wind chills reaching -20*.  So, of course, on January 2 at 10:15 am, with temps in the single digits and wind chills below zero, our 10 year old comes in from doing her barn chores and says that Jenni is giving birth.  Time for warm clothes and heavy boots and a trek through the snow.  Sure enough, two hoofs are coming out.  Birth is imminent!  Right?  Wrong!

By the way, you can see the cow shelter at the left edge of the picture.  But apparently it wasn’t good enough for Jenni to birth in, she prefered to lay on the cold snow.  (You can also see the white calf Milkshake, who was born on our farm in the spring.)


We continue to trek in and out, from the warm house to the pasture to check on her.  Some progress is made, but by noon there still isn’t a calf, progress hasn’t been made beyond the hoofs and a small amount of the legs.  Ken decides to open the barn so that she can get some warmth.  She gets up, and while moving the cow into the barn she sucks the baby back in.  Ken calls the vet.  The vet is on another emergency call, but isn’t too far away and will come to us as soon as he can.

By 1:30 or so we can see the calf’s nose along with hoofs and legs.  Maybe the calf will be born without the vet.  Nope.  And around 2:15 I was certain the calf was dead.  The tongue was sticking out stiff and I couldn’t see any movement.  Jenni was thrashing around violently and looked in tremendous distress.  I was concerned at this point for Jenni.


Vet showed up a bit after 2:30, pulled up in his 4 wheel truck, just started pulling out items from his truck and came into the barn where Jenni was on the floor.  He quickly assessed and informed us that the calf was in a good position and the calf just needed a pull.  He wrapped a chain around the legs, braced himself and pulled.  I took a video, but didn’t manage to get a still picture in the 15 seconds it took to pull the calf out.

Calf came out, vet checked and said the calf was alive, but it was good he didn’t come any later because it was close.  He told us to keep Jenni and calf in the barn for a few days bc of the cold.

Vet was in and out in less than 15 minutes, off to another call after ours.  I still don’t even know the vet’s name.  We will get a bill in the mail.

In the spring when our longhorn had her baby she immediately got up, started licking the calf, nuzzled it until it wobbled over to nurse about 75 minutes after birth.  Jenni was different, likely because of the very difficult birth.  But she just didn’t seem that interested in the calf.  She licked the calf some, but not with much effort.  She really liked the hay bales more.  Almost an hour later, the calf was still down, shivering, and Jenni was not that interested.  So I got a couple of older towels for Ken and our 14 year old to rub the calf.

A newborn calf is supposed to be up and walking by an hour, and nursing shortly after that.  Ken and E got the calf dried off with towels and then had to help it stand up and walk.  Jenni kept trying to get into position to nurse, but the calf was confused and couldn’t get lined up properly.  I joked that the calf wanted to be a manatee and nurse up under the armpits instead of by the stinky parts.

We had to help the calf get in position, but even then she wouldn’t nurse.  She wanted to suck on E’s fingers.  This is the point where I said we needed to name it after a dumb food, like cold pizza, microwave popcorn or ramen noodles (all three of which I actually like……).  For now, until we find out the gender, the calf is called Cold Pizza.

Jenni, who has never been a friendly cow, let us do all sorts of things to help the calf start to nurse.  Eventually Ken and I had blocked in the calf so it couldn’t back away and E was squeezing the teets into Cold Pizza’s mouth.  This is a beef breed, not a milking cow, so far as I know she has never had her udders touched by people.  She seemed to understand that we were going to help her and never acted skittish or nervous about us being right there, touching her, manipulating her calf, etc.

I don’t even know how long it took before the calf nursed a little, but there was a lot of talk about heading to Tractor Supply to buy colostrum and replacement milk– something we definitely did NOT want to do.  Finally we saw the calf sucking and swallowing.

Then we had to prep a place for them to stay the night.  The barn in its entirety is not safe for them without supervision at  this point in time.  However, there is an old pig stall that we had not cleaned after moving in, so we called up the other teen to come help clean and prep the stall with hay for bedding, food and water.  We had to bribe Jenni to go in with bread, and pretty much pick up and carry the calf over because it decided it was tired and wanted to nap.


We didn’t get back into the house until after 7:30.  It felt like midnight.  We were cold and tired.  Ken, E & I were all in need of a shower after handling the wet calf.  I’ll spare the details.

So yesterday was my planned start back to school for 2018.  Ha!  Instead we spend the entire day waiting for the calf, worrying about the calf, and taking care of the calf.  It was definitely a memorable first day not-back-to-school!

animals · cows · farm animals · peacocks

Cows are Comical

On Sunday I picked up some hay bales.  We drove the truck into the pasture with the cows and hilarity ensued.

First, the cows were fascinated by the truck and trailer.  They gathered around and inspected it from all angles.



Once we offloaded a hay bale the cows were in heaven with scratching.  Lots of scratching.


More scratching.  Lots of scratching.  Maybe a nibbled bite or two.  But mostly scratching.

Then the peahen came into the pasture for some unknown reason.  Two of the cows, Dinner & Milkshake, always chase her off quite adamantly.  The other cows never care that the peahen is there.  And none of the other birds elicit such a response!



I never knew cows had such personality!


animals · chickens · farm animals · guinea · mowing · peacocks · tractor · Uncategorized · zero turn

Adventure Filled Day

I thought today would be filled with normal busy-ness.  My to-do list included 15 items, some of which were easy (give dogs flea/tick/heartworm meds), others were lengthy (mow).  I did not complete my list, but I made a good dent, even with all the detours!  Some of the list was easily delegated to the kids.

I started my day by mowing the goat pen.  The silly goats are not as fast at eating as the weeds are at growing.  It was a quick mow, and I kept the blade high so it won’t take long for the weeds to be tall again.

Moved on to mowing most of the park area, then the backyard.  Unfortunately, our backyard is badly sloped, which resulted in this:


That picture is from a few weeks ago when hubby did the same thing.  I had foolishly thought that since the ground was dry this time the mower would be able to handle the slope.  I was wrong.

Hubby was at work, so my oldest and I copied his method and got the mower (both the machine and me!) out of this predicament.  Tractor to the rescue!  The chain and winch is actually supposed to be for trees, but I think right now the usage is tied between trees and getting the zero turn out of the fence….


Meanwhile, back at the barn…..

When P and I went up to get the tractor we found the goats had escaped and were eating  chicken scratch out of the storage bin.  This is their first ever escape where they weren’t coming toward our voices.  They were pretty easy to get back to their pen, if they had been super stubborn I would have pulled out the secret weapon to goat love:  rabbit food pellets.

I was able to get back to mowing and got a good bit done today.  There is more to do tomorrow, but not too much.

Our peacock keeps showing off!  He is gorgeous.  We really need to name him and his harem.


I need to get a good picture of his tail completely out, but he hasn’t been in the right position when I had my camera handy yet.  This pen is temporary- in a few weeks they will free range.  This is really barely big enough for him to spread his tail in one direction (the other direction has plenty of room).  It is sufficient for him for learning where home is and will be great for night time once they are all free ranging.

Lots of normal stuff and tasks handed to the kids.  The goats escaped again, this time into a different weedy part of the yard.

I took the teens to youth group, and when we got back they had to do their nightly animal chores.  Hubby came out to look at the peacock with us and I had to take the goats on a walk.  Except the goats were out of their pen again!  E thinks they are mad that I mowed down their weeds, I think mowing the weeds opened up their eyes to the possibilities beyond their pen and showed them an easy escape route.

The goats love their nightly walk.  They pretty much lead the way.

The white goat is Storm, the black one is Confetti.  They are spoiled rotten and I love it.

About a week and a half ago our guinea fowl quit coming back to the barn at night.  We will see them and hear them occasionally during the day, so we knew they were nesting somewhere.  The older girls had unsuccessfully searched for the nest over the weekend.  Tonight while I was out with the goats I heard the guinea, so I suggested they might be nesting in the cow pasture.  E went off and after a while yelled “I found them!”


They are nesting in a pile of brambles we had cut down from the fence line– a mixture of honeysuckle, autumn olive and wild rose.  Between the brambles and the cows, they seem to be really safe, we hope!

E brought back 26 eggs so we could incubate them, leaving 5 for the guinea to brood.   Potentially they will lay more.


So now we have 40 guinea eggs in the incubator.  Oh my, not sure what we are going to do with so many if they all survive!

Current bird totals:  7 free range chickens plus 1 rooster, 12 pullets we raised from chicks that will free range after Fair.  A pair of Mille Fleurs (bantum chickens) that were given to me by a nice man at a Poultry Swap.  21 Meat Chicks that are almost 2 weeks old, living in a cow water tub in the half bath by my laundry room.  Those will be gone after Fair- either sold at Fair after showing or made into freezer meals.  3 guinea that free range, 4 peafowl.

Current egg totals:  40 guinea eggs in the incubator and 5 in the nest, 30 chicken eggs in the incubator and a bunch in my fridge (yum!), and a few peafowl eggs that we aren’t incubating, waiting to see if the birds will do it on their own.

Yikes.  We seem to like collecting birds…..


animals · farm animals · guinea · Uncategorized

Fowl Adventures –Part 1

Not long ago we went to a poultry fair to buy a rooster.  We came back with a rooster, 2 mille fleur bantums and 4 guinea.  The guinea caused quite an adventure and the three oldest kids wrote about it.guinea feather

Written by P, age 14:

There and back again a Guinea Fowl’s tail

A long time ago in a barn far, far away.


There lived a Guinea Fowl and his friends. This Guinea Fowl’s name is Dave. Dave never liked being in cages but now he was in a cage with three other Guinea Fowl. Their names are Dumb, Dumber and Dumest. Dumest was so dumb he didn’t know how to spell his name correctly, and he didn’t know how to fly ether.

Dave was let out of his cage so he and the others ran into a bigger cage outside. Not much better than the small cage but it had dirt to peck at so not all bad. The big monsters left the cage and went to the next one.

And here is when Dave’s thoughts begin: The monsters came back later. We were enjoying the outside cage and the monsters chased us out into a slightly smaller cage inside, closed the door to the outside and then left the inside cage. We were all alone except for the chickens next door. I was so sick of the cage; I decided to take the leap of faith over the walls and into the rest of the barn.

Then I saw it: a small demon approached me. I flapped my wings and chased it. I ran as fast as could which was faster than the demon could run, and I started pecking at it. It then hid under a part of the floor. I had defeated the demon.

Two of my friends flew over the walls of the cage but Dumest was too dumb to fly so he just walked around in circles. We walked around for the rest of the night chasing off demons and other monsters until morning.

The biggest monsters came in and tried to catch us, but they foolishly left the door open so me and Dumber got out! But Dumb and Dumest got caught.

Two monsters went after us they started circling us. Then all of a sudden one lunged at us and we ran. The monsters were right behind us so we ran straight but one got in front of us. We turned in unison but the monsters were on our tails. We took off and aimed for the roof of the prison. We got to the roof and the monsters circled the building until I glided with Dumber right behind me. We landed in a field far away from the prison and the monsters didn’t chase us. We were free!

Or so we thought.

We saw that Dumb and Dumest were trapped. Me and Dumber went to save them and that’s when it happened. The two monsters started chasing us again! I ran away, but Dumber went into their trap and was caught and thrown into the cage with Dumb and Dumest.

It was not safe for me to be out in the world alone so I had to go to the cage and rescue my friends. I went there. The doors shut! I was trapped in the prison and the two monsters were smiling. One pulled out a net and they both started chasing me! I ran and flew as long as I could, but they caught me and threw me into the cage with Dumb, Dumber and Dumest. Then they picked up the cage and put us in the inside cage, turned off the lights and it was dark once again.

The next day the monsters opened the door and a terrible beast ran in. we had to break through the door to get away. Me and Dumb flew away. The monsters chased us a little bit but then walked off. But Dumber and Dumest were trapped in the cage once again. Dumb soon gave up and went back in but he didn’t appear in the trap so they didn’t catch him.

I went in and looked for him but I was caught! Later he was as well. Until further notice we seem to be stuck here and here we will stay.

The End


For you information “Monsters” are humans

“Demons” are cats and “Beasts” are dogs.

This story should not be taken too seriously, since it was written by a bird!





animals · farm animals · peacocks

More feathered friends!

It’s a long weekend here, and that usually means we get bored…..and when we get bored we scour craigslist for new animals!

Today we started by searching for pheasant eggs.  That search was not successful, but in our quest we found both guinea eggs and peacocks!

Side note:  two of our guinea are not returning at night, they seem to have decided to nest and we can’t find their nest.  It is likely we will lose them to predation, so finding replacements is necessary for tick and bug control!  Besides, they are so fun to watch walk around.

20170529_140508First step:  build a special peacock carrier.  The tails of the male will break if they try to turn in most cages, so there is a special way to make one that allows for the tail.  We did our best to estimate the correct dimensions.  We also packed up the dog cage to bring the peahens home in.


First we drove 45 minutes to pick up guinea eggs.  From there it was an hour drive to the peafowl.  The seller first grabbed the peacock and he was feisty.  Our diy cage was way too big and he was able to move around too much, so we jury rigged another idea and Ken pulled off his undershirt and we wrapped the peacock in it.  The peahens were much easier to contain, less skittish and no tail worries.

We drove the 75 minutes home, and then had to finish setting up their new home.  We had started this morning not sure where to keep the peafowl, then 20170529_193010decided that an add on to the back of the barn was the perfect spot to keep them.  It is fully enclosed and has high rafters for them to roost.  The previous owner had used this for sawdust storage.



The peahens had laid a few eggs, and the seller let us have them.  He said last year they sat on them and tried to hatch, but the male was young and the eggs weren’t fertile.  But this year they might be, so we set the eggs up for the hens.

First we brought in the peacock, we were most concerned about his travel arrangements.  Thankfully he was fine.  He has a couple of broken tail feathers– a few happened before we got him and a few additional ones during the trip.  But he will shed all his feathers in the fall and regrow new, so it isn’t a big worry.


The peahens were much easier to relocate into their new home.


Within minutes two of the peahens were in the rafters and not much after that all four of the birds were up high.  We spent quite a bit of time building a lower perch for them and it seems like they don’t even care about it, they like the highest roost, of course!

After this, we set the guinea eggs in the incubator, they should hatch in about 28 days.  This is a fun comparison between a peacock egg, chicken egg and guinea egg.


We will keep them in here for a couple of weeks, then start to let them free range.  It’ll be fun to watch them walk around on our park!  They are so beautiful.




animals · chickens · dating · farm animals · Tractor Supply · Uncategorized

Dating, Farm Style

Teens make great built in babysitters.  And they are cheap labor!  I pay mine in ice cream.

So now that we have teens, hubby and I are able to go on dates again.  It has been wonderful.

Partially because we live in a rural area now, and partially because we are just weird, most of our dates involve going to Tractor Supply.  And those same dates lead us into impulse purchases and “trouble” almost every time.

2016-12-30 21.10.19

One of our first dates, back in December, led to us getting chickens.  We had been following some craigslist ads, but found a flyer at TSC and picked up eight chickens that were already at laying age that very day.  Almost immediately we were getting 2 or 3 eggs.  Now we get up to 8 in a day.


adj3I spent several weeks taking pictures of the eggs.  I love looking at my farm eggs nearly as much as eating them!  The speckled ones are my favorites.

chicksAnother time we purchased a dozen adorable fluffy chicks!  Those guys lived in our extra bathroom for weeks before we moved them to the barn.  It was fun hearing the little peeps from the kitchen.  The dogs especially loved having the chicks in the house, because our dogs are crazy!


Other impulse purchases while going on TSC dates:  seeds, gardening stuff, honeybees, apple trees….the kids say that every time we go on a date we bring home a new project!