Thursday, May 29, 2014

Selling our rabbits, gardenning updates, and cow shenanigans

Well. What's up around here. So many things, we sold our rabbits, we've done a wee bit of gardening, and we've had plenty of cow related happenings.

Lets start with rabbits.


It took a couple months to be okay with it, but I gave up my rabbits. It just wasn't working out. They were good rabbits, but naturally, the very active boys startled the rabbits often when we were trying to groom them. And grooming them after the boys went to bed and before our bedtime of 9pm wasn't really working out.

I'll also be honest - I wanted to spin, so I wanted the fiber to be produced on our homestead, but I didn't end up liking rabbits. I might be a little sensitive to smell, and although they were generally clean, they still smelled like... rodents. I guess they just aren't for me, and that's okay. 

Empty rabbit hutch waiting to be transformed into a brooding house.
I also decided that now is not the time for me to start this hobby. We are doing home renovations and trying to do a bunch of new stuff this year. This home dairy is new to us and has plenty of challenges. Getting the garden up and working the way we want is challenging too. Maybe another year when gardening, chickens and cows have less for us to figure out.

Gardening.


Brassicas

Celery and Rosemary
Most of the starts didn't do too well. We started on the greenhouse too late and they needed to be moved out into that warmth earlier. Our house isn't incredibly warm and we couldn't afford that many heat pads for under the trays. We've got one tray of a variety of perennials that we might be able to make work, and we have two trays of tomato plants that should do great!

I purchased organically grown cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and celery from a local school, and some rosemary (naturally grown and all non gmo) to pot from the grocery store. I'm hoping for a couple cool days to stick around when the garden is dry enough to work so that we plant the brassicas at the right time. I planted them on a warm day one year and the broccoli bolted. Oops.

We are going to save the extra seeds we have for next year or for a fall garden if we can learn that this year. 

Onions with volunteer radishes and one mustard plant.
Since the onion starts failed, be planted more seed in our raised bed and they seem to be doing much better. If we need to continue the season for them to get bigger, we have hoops and plastic.



Oh, and we got some organically grown strawberry and raspberry plants! 5 out of 7 raspberry plants are doing okay. The strawberry plants seem very strong!


Cows.


Eesh. You name it. It's happened. Or we've thought it was. Or we caught it early.

Mastitis - she showed the very beginning signs (salty taste and froth bubble that don't pop and stick to the side of the drinking glass) so we caught it early and cleared it up.
Barnyard smell in milk - she was sleeping in a messy but warm hay pile because it was still cold. Sprinkled some wood chips so the dampness and odor wouldn't be absorbed through her udder.
Grassy smell in milk - Needed new hay. The haylage was a little strong smelling at the bottom of the bale.
Calf got loose and decided he preferred it - Three times! One time while I was 30 minutes away and our neighbors kept him away from the road until I could get home to capture him. My farm friend came over and helped me put another strand of electric on the fence so that Buddy couldn't sneak under it anymore.
Buttercup had lice, or worms or something! - she started shedding really ungracefully and I thought she must have some sort of parasite since I had read that that is the common cause of hair loss. We decided to treat her for worms since she was also loosing weight suddenly. Turns out, she's just not graceful at shedding her winter coat. She's been rubbing it off when we aren't looking and making it look terrible. No lice or pests in sight.
Buttercup had weight loss - we started feeding her more alfalfa pellets to help with that, which might have aided in increased milk production in conjunction with the new pasture.
We put the cows out on grass - which is awesome, but also lead to sickness, we'll get to that too.
And just yesterday, Buttercup's milk smelled sickly sweet and the whole house wreaked of it (just to me, of course, no one else smelled it) - this was bad. Little did I know. But thankfully, as my husband said, I have a super power: my insanely and annoyingly sensitive nose and taste buds. So we caught this issue early and the awesome family cow forum helped me figure out what was going on.

Because of several factors and putting her out on pasture, which nearly doubled her milk production, she started getting towards clinical ketosis. Which can get really ugly! Like, an animal with no appetite and a downer cow! Thankfully, she was still acting totally normal, had an awesome appetite, and did not have the emergency type symptoms. We were told that we could get ketone test strips at the pharmacy, so I got some and we tested her. She had moderate levels of ketones. The test went from 0 - 160 and she was 40. Everything we read said we needed to keep her eating and to tempt her with sweet food if she wouldn't. Her appetite was not an issue, so we left her out in the tall grass overnight and didn't separate Buddy. This morning, we tested her ketones and they were 5-15, trace to small! One more day and I think she'll be fine.




I had forgotten that this could be an issue this time of year. I had been prepared for ketosis and to act fast if it happened right after calving - but I had expected the issue to remain hidden until it was emergency time. Of course I'm very happy that we would catch it early and to know that it was so manageable. It was actually so mild compared to the way people describe it that I was confused as to how much I really needed to do for her at this stage. She's doing just fine and giving her as much time to eat into the night as she needs seemed to help her out.

So that's our update. It's been crazy. But we are loving it. Sitting out on the lawn with green herbs, new plants, cows, chickens, and tall green grass to look at, is wonderful. All this hard and mostly enjoyable work is finally to the point of some sit down enjoyment. I wouldn't trade it for a 2 month vacation. Seriously.








1 comment:

  1. So happy to see an update from you! It sounds like you've had your hands more than full with cow issues. Hoping things even out for you soon :)

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