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!


The escape of Bluebell

After a couple of months of busy County Fair stuff (which I really should blog about……) and then regular not-so-blog worthy life, today P walked out to the front porch to discover one of our cows had escaped her pasture and was eating our bushes in the front yard.



It’s a good thing I really hate those particular bushes……


It appears that the cows managed to open a gate that wasn’t completely locked (but was also not easy to open), get all around the garden area into the other pasture, into the chicken area/former compost area.  Then Bluebell led the charge to freedom.  Thankfully P was able to close the gate before any other cows got out and Bluebell is the easiest to manage with copious amounts of bread.

Eight loaves of bread later we had all the cows back in the right field.  Wrong Way Rhonda was mooing madly at us for giving Bluebell so much bread, or maybe because she wanted freedom, too.


Pictured above are Dinner & Geneibeef (Genevieve), as Ken and P lead them to the correct pasture.  The other three cows (Rhonda and the two heifers) were already back at the hint of bread.  These two are more reluctant at following direction, but still love bread.

Bread– pied piper to cows.  Who knew?


animals · guinea · hemlock · peacocks · plants · Uncategorized · weeds · wildflowers

Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons!

I can never resist the opportunity for a Princess Bride reference, even if it is a stretch.

I have been curious about all the plants on our property, and learning a lot.  We have found all manner of edibles:  the cherry tree was a favorite until the birds ate all the fruit (the kids had eaten all they could reach anyway).  Now we have mulberries in bloom and soon we will have wild raspberries.  All fun!  We also have a peach tree full of unripe peaches and baby grapes on the vine.

About a week ago I noticed a patch of tall white flowers, that I thought was perhaps Queen Anne’s Lace.  I had heard there were some dangerous look-alikes to the wild carrot, so I did some research and discovered that we did not have edible wild carrots, but instead had Poison Hemlock.  Hemlock- the one that Socrates drank in tea form when he was sentenced to death.

These weeds are giants– way taller than I am (which admittedly isn’t that hard).  And some of the stalks were 2 inches in diameter.

Thankfully it isn’t dangerous to touch like wild parsnip or poison ivy.  Hemlock is only dangerous if ingested or gets into an open cut or your eyes.  So I suited up in long sleeves and a bandit mask.

It isn’t a strong plant, much easier to cut than honeysuckle, so I was able to use a branch trimmer.  The trickiest part was not falling down the slope into the creek!

On a positive note, we saw a fawn.  No picture, the baby was old enough to scamper away in the tall grass and was quicker than E was.

It took about an hour to get the big patch all down.  Then E pointed out another much smaller patch on the other side of the meadow. On our way there we startled a woodchuck.  It was cute.  Not a great picture, but there it is!

The positives from today:  the hemlock is all cut, we saw the fawn and the woodchuck, and we found large amounts of monarch food:  milkweed!  We also discovered a pawpaw tree, so we are looking forward to trying the fruit.

And finally a bit of humor….apparently the guinea fowl want to be peafowl.  They keep hanging outside the peafowl pen, clucking at them.  Crazy guys!



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…..



Fowl Adventures- Part 3

A news article, written by S, age 9

Daily News:  Barn Break!

Today two guinea fowl escaped from the barn.  When they got out of their pen Scarlet and Ellie tried to catch them by opening a door to their outside pen.  But then they flew away.  Then Pippin, Ellie and Scarlet tried to get them back into the barn but failed.  We are hoping that they will come back tonight.  Please read our other news stories.  P.S. one went on the roof.  Thanks for reading


Fowl Adventures- Part 2

Written by E, age 13:

guinea 1

Research first

People always say ‘do your research first’ well now I know why.

One fine spring morning my parents left the house to purchase a rooster. A simple task, or so it would seem.

I was left the pleasure of staying home to do chores. They shouldn’t be long I tell myself, all we need is a rooster and they might surprise us with a few more hens.  I try to convince this to myself as I set of to do my work. But I know my parents too well, they will not just get a rooster like they plan too. I wouldn’t be surprised if the forgot the rooster all together and purchased another cow instead.

Well they were gone for quite a while. Five hours to be exact. I am curious what they have as I see the familiar red truck pull into the driveway. My Mom comes in and instructs us to wait in the house until my dad gets off the phone so that he can surprise us with whatever is in the back of the pickup.

“What did you buy?” I ask her even though I already know she won’t tell me.

“Just be patient, then you can go see what we bought,” she tells me.

I’m not at all surprised by her answer but I had hoped she would tell me, or grant me permission to go and see.  After a while of pestering her trying to get an answer, she informs me that they did remember to get a rooster. This is a huge relief because if they had forgot to get a rooster they would have to go back again and then who knows what would happen.
An hour later I am so tired of waiting that that she allows me to go up to the barn to see what they bought, even though my dad is still on the phone. I slip my shoes on and run there. When I get there from the bed of the truck are four of the ugliest birds I have ever seen. They have vulture like heads that are white, blood red waddles, and a brownish red bump right on the top of their heads. Their silky feathers don’t complement their heads. haven’t got a clue what they are, but I know that I don’t like them.

In the truck are two more cages, the first with the rooster. It’s a relief to know that he wasn’t made up. And in the last cage are two cute chickens one hen and a rooster. These two have silky feathers and feathered feet. To my satisfaction, they did not buy any mammals. But I still have to figure out what these ugly birds are, and why we have them?

When my mom makes it up to the barn she tells me the ugly birds are guinea fowl and that they will eat ticks, mites, mice and other small pests. This is good news, I feel like I can like them a little better now. She also tells me that there are two breading pairs and we will incubate and eggs they lay. Which to my displeasure means there will be more of these ugly birds running around our property. Even if I like them better than when I first saw them I still don’t like them.

Finally, my dad gets off the phone and we move the rooster in with the hens. The little chickens move in with our rabbits which live in cages in a horse stall. And last (and in my mind definitely least) the ugly guinea fowl get a horse stall of their own as a temporary home. When all the animals seem happy we go inside and finish our day out without another thought.


The next morning when I get to the barn there is a guinea fowl on the rafters and two on the ground terrorizing the barn cat. Well, now there is a problem, I have three lose birds in our barn. And my parents– who did no research– didn’t know that they would fly away at the first opportunity. I chase them for a little bit trying to get them to fly back into their stall. No such luck. If I can’t use force to get them back in I will try to trick them. I open the stall door which leads to a little pen outside. The walls of the pen are high and the birds should not be able to fly out.

As soon as the birds see the light the go running for the door. And for a short moment I am allowed the pleasure to think that my trap actually worked. Until two of the three guinea fowl prove me wrong about the pen and fly over the fence wall and into the open. Luckily, I am able to chase the third one back into the stall where it belongs. But the other two are still lose, and there are no barn walls to keep them contained.

I go ask my mom for help and she said she would be up there soon. I, who knows nothing about these silly birds, go to get a fishing net to try to catch them. As you can probably guess this didn’t work. It made things worse, one of the birds flew onto the roof and the other ran out of sight.  I know I looked very foolish walking around the fields with a fishing net looking for a bird but I did it anyways.

After a few hours, I gave up. If my parents had only researched first they would have known these could fly. But no, what would be the fun in knowing what kind of a mess we were getting into? In my mind, I stamped the two ugly birds lost and went on with my day.

At about 1:00 I set a trap for them.  By some miracle, I was able to catch two and all three of us were in one piece. I threw chicken scratch all around the door and waited for the other two to come back.

By the end of the day I had caught all the birds and decided the could have free reign of a closed up barn because I didn’t want to do all of this again.

The next day I bring my dogs with me to the barn to feed all the animals, and because nothing can go well the dogs spooked the guinea fowl and two of them bang open a door and are free. I wonder if I will even have another day in my life where I am not trying to catch these ugly 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!