Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Day the Cows Came Home: Green Acres Weekend Update

Last week I mentioned that we were preparing a nursery of sorts...for baby cows.  We moved a shelter to an area outside the garden and fenced off a small paddock for the new arrivals.  And on Friday, just as promised, our friend and long-time farmer Mr. Woodward came rolling down the driveway in a pickup rigged with gates for containing livestock.  Our livestock.  Was I ready for this?  Did it matter at this point?

I made dinner while Byron and Akea accompanied Mr. Woodward to a local dairy farm, where male Holstein calves are typically sold since they don't exactly have the equipment needed to keep said farm in operation.  Charlie and I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I wasn't worried, though I wondered what was taking so long.  Later I found out that buying cows involves quite a bit of "truck leaning."  This is apparently a social activity amongst the farming community, in which you lean on another farmer's truck and make small talk for awhile before getting down to business.  Unfortunately for anyone who comes here, we don't have a truck...we have a minivan.  And "minivan-leaning" just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? 

I eventually went out to weed the garden.  Finally, I heard a beep on my cell phone and opened it to find a blurry photo of two baby cows in the back of Mr. Woodward's pickup.  Two seconds later I ran in to get my camera, which I found still hooked up to the computer from the previous day.  After declaring to myself that I was the Biggest Dork Ever, I slammed the battery into the charger and shoved my cell phone into my pocket.  Shaky phone camera would have to do.

Not long after, Charlie and I saw the truck slowly making its way down the driveway, then driving into the yard and narrowly missing Charlie's bike on the way to the cow nursery.  Two small baby calves were tied to the truck, looking somewhat distraught and thoroughly confused at having just been hauled down the road at 45 miles per hour.  Byron then proceeded to pick each one up (they're about the size of large dogs) and carry them out of the pickup and into the little paddock.  My phone's camera managed to capture these, um, precious moments in all their blurred glory.

Once the cows were settled, Mr. Woodward promised to come check on us (humans + bovines) next week, and off he went.  Since the cows had been fed that day, we didn't need to worry about that, and they quickly nosed around their new surroundings, sucking my boots and the kids' hands in the process and then kicking and bucking quite a bit before settling into their shelter.  I ran inside to see if my real camera's battery was at all usable.

Meet Cow 1...

...and Cow 2.

The kids dig this.
 Since we are raising these cows for meat, we're not supposed to name them, but several have been thrown around, such as "Heart Head" and "Half Moon."  I suspect raising these boys will be difficult on several levels, but we are going to try to climb this mountainous learning curve as gracefully as possible.

Anyway, be sure to check back to read about our feeding adventures with the calves!  (I'll just quickly mention that they think Byron is their Mommy.)

In the Green Acres gardening world, there is some success and some failure and lots of weeding.  My main concern and complaint are the tomato plants.  I started 13 Brandywine and 11 Rutgers from seed, and I think two Rutgers have survived and maybe four Bradywine.  I grudgingly had to shell out about $20 this weekend to buy tomato plants from people who actually know what they're doing, while I continue to wonder what went wrong with my tomatoes.  I watered them.  I fed them.  I put them outside for several days before planting.  I even talked to them, knowing my singing voice would surely kill them instantly.  But alas, they became compost.  However...

...the potatoes are happy.

And I'm hoping I get some sugar snap peas this year, although the plants I started from seed didn't do well and I directly sowed the remaining seeds a bit late.
I'm linking up to Homestead Revival's Barn Hop; click below to visit some fantastic blogs!


  1. Cute heart face! When my parents had that farm we raised animals for meat and we still named them. We had Red Fox and IC Rogers and Oinky. My parents just told me straight up that they would be eaten, so there weren't any surprises.

  2. OMG I am so jealous.I want to add a couple of cows here to the homestead.How did you go about finding wher to buy from??I am new follower(adding you to the list)Please come on over and visit our family blog.
    Barn Hop#13

  3. Thanks for the comments! Jamie, if there are dairy farms in your area, you could check and see if they have any male calves to sell.

  4. I grew up on a farm and live on a small farm now, and butchering the calves I raised has never gotten any easier! And I can't eat my own chickens either! What kind of farmer am I? Aw well, one with a big, soft heart I guess.

    Your little steers are so cute, I just love it when they suck your fingers! Feeding calves from a bucket was one of my favorite jobs as a kid. I'm sure your little ones will love having those calves around.

    Visiting from Homestead Revival Barn Hop!

  5. I've heard that farmers will sometimes eat each other's meat instead of their own! It may come to that...we'll see. :)

  6. Hey there again, GAMama~
    You asked about tomatoes ~ I have started tomatoes in a variety of places such as in the greenhouse, on a window sill, under grow lights in the garage and on top of the refridgerator all with varying success! Some years when the winter was especially mild, tomatoes sprouted all over my garden from the previous years unharvested fruit! Lately I have been starting them in the greenhouse (in late March, early April) with a heat lamp on at night, and have had great success. I have not learned restraint in my planting however, and plant the entire seed packet X 4 varieties of heirloom tomatoes = over 200 tomato plants! But I am learning lots and having a lot of fun in the process! If I lived close I would give you all the tomato plants you wanted! ;~P Don't give up, each year is different and seeds are different. Keep trying until you find what works for you and in the meantime, buy some nice healthy plants to enjoy this year!
    Bless you!

  7. Great post! We are planting snow peas for the first time this year. I guess I better get the trellis out like yours. Ours were planted directly into the ground - and doing about as well as yours.