No Calf, yet….

You’ve heard of the watched pot! Well, we’re walking over to neighbors for dinner… maybe she’ll decide the pressure is off and will go ahead and do the deed.  Actually, her due date is Jan 19th! But really, I can’t believe she will hold on that long though.

Udderly dysfunctional… for a calf

A few pics of udders that might have some problems!

these are NOT our cows, but you can see a few pictures of problem udders when cows are bred for increased volumes of milk. A calf would have significant difficulty nursing from one of these udders.  The first udder would be difficult but could be done if she were shown repeatedly, where to go for the milk.

Today’s calves still “search” much higher up, where the udder were traditionally.  That’s why the high udder on our old world jersey is where the calf will located it easily, by instinct. Read the rest of this entry »

How to tell when it “time” to calve…

Yesterday I was saying that Chocolate is close to dropping her calf (i.e. birthing)… so a few other hints that it is getting close.  Her udder (bag) has filled out! She doesn’t have the huge bag of a standard Jersey, or the ground dragging bags of Holsteins. So when you notice her udder… it means something is going on, as well as when the teats lengthen and start to look full.

The temps dropped to the high 20’s last night… so glad our cows tend to deliver in the daytime when the temps have warmed up.  Chocolate’s udder looks fuller today, and the teats are beginning to angle OUT (the better for a newborn calf to find). And even better some of the teats are beginning to show drops of milk… dripping out.

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When the calf is born, and starts looking for a teat, it is so funny to see.  The teats will just be streaming milk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chocolate getting close to delivery

Warning: there are some graphic pictures of real life, in the slide show!

When a cow is close to delivery her bag will begin to fill up with milk, her teats lengthen, and mucus will show-up on her perineum.  Her very full belly was low to the ground and looking very wide, NOW looks less full. The calf has moved up and back.

The calf has moved into position, to the birth canal. The ligaments around the birth canal have softened so they can stretch and let the calf through. We moved Chocolate to the big pasture so she will have room to move around and to choose her birth place. The other cows will provide security and protection for her.  The birth, when it happens, tends to occur fairly quickly.  Smaller breeds of cows don’t have the birthing issues of the large breeds.

Chocolate is an old world jersey… closer in heritage to the original stock that was brought over in ships when the english colonized the american colonies.  They came

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from the Isle of Jersey (southern tip of the english isle). They are currently at risk for being lost, as their numbers are so small.  Most Jerseys were bred up in size so that they would produce more milk.

Chocolate is just a few inches shorter than our standard Jersey, Bessie, but she looks fuller in body. Standard jerseys have a more boney look to them, while the old world’s still have some “meat” on their bones.  They don’t give us much milk, but for a small family farm, that is just fine.  Our OW Jersey will live for 20 years, a jersey in an industrial dairy has a life span of 4 years, usually. We are after quality, longevity, and health… and give up “volumes” of milk, for that tradeoff. We also choose to milk once a day, which puts less demand on the cow.

We want to use Chocolate for breeding more OWJerseys because she is naturally polled (i.e. no horns), she has an excellent temperament, and gives good milk. She never gets sick (no mastitis, infection in the udder, which is a reoccurring problem in standard jerseys). We don’t want to lose the older genetics.  While she will not give as much milk, the milk she does give is high in butterfat… i.e. will make good butter, cheese, & other milk products.

Two-Income Trap…

This talk by Elizabeth Warren is an excellent overview, done in March of 2007, of what has happened to the American Middle Class.  She follows the development of the changes in middle class american from WWII, up until 2007.

It’s especially pertinent because the “progress” we thought we were making had some subtle traps that created rather unexpected results.  This youtube presentation, through the Univ of Calif channel, starts off a bit slow with intro but after the first 4 min, it quickly kicks into high gear.

Warren’s research into the causes of bankruptcy shoots down many commonly held beliefs and shows how we are especially vulnerable.  Note that this talk was done BEFORE the economic stresses of 2008.

Her contention that adding the 2nd income triggers unexpected fixed costs (example: moves you into a higher tax bracket), leaves you less resilient (i.e. fewer options) to deal with changes that WILL happen in your life. I would suggest that there were even more repercussions, significant ones, than she brings up.  But first, take a look at what Warren has to say… map out an hour to watch this!

Fish talk…

It’s pretty cool… being able to put one’s thoughts down but really, there should be a point to it all.  One of the most frustrating  things I keep running into is LOOSING interesting info that I want to share. So, I need a place to “place” all those “goodies” that I can refer other’s to if they have an interest in what we are discussing.

It would be excellent to have a place where other people can suggest interesting things to look at. So please bear with me while I figure out how to do this… and if you have any hints or suggestions on how to do it, post it!!!

Just to start, I find an excellent TED-talk to check out is a humorous introduction to the problem of how to keep fish on our menus.  How I Fell In Love With A Fish. It’s less than a 20 min clip and worth the time to view it.

At some point I’m guessing there will be a place to actually PUT interesting links, rather than in the middle of a blog posting.  Something on a side column.  I’ll check it out.

from The Heritage Farm…

Ruminations from The Heritage Farm… Something I do, as well as the cows on our farm, ruminate.

We started farming, with real live livestock, less than five years ago.  Turns out that cows are ruminate animals… they have four stomachs, each very specialized. They eat grass/forage and send it off to the first stomach where they have some handy little helpers known as “microbes” that begin to break down the cellulose in the food.  It’s just too tough for cows to digest by themselves.  Instead, they sit a spell… chewing their cud.

The first stomach, called the rumen, is a holding area where the microbes get started with their work.  Then, in a very “earthy” fashion, the cow coughs up a bit and chews it, over and over, until it is broken down enough to send it on to the other stomachs.  There the nutrients and energy are retrieved and utilized by the cow. It strikes me, in a strange fashion, that I also ruminate.

Often, I hear/read something that just doesn’t sit right.  I can’t take it at face value and send it on its way. It bugs the heck out of me.  Sits there like a big lump waiting to be dissected until the parts begin to make sense of the “whole”.   Instead I need to take some time and turn it over and over in my head until it begins to make sense, and make sense applied in the real world. I ruminate, break it down and work it over, until I can pull all the good stuff out of it and use it to make sense of the world unfolding around me.

chewing her cud

If you care to hear about some of the results of those “ruminations” check in occasionally,

or sign up for an email when something gets posted.  It might be interesting to share our thoughts,  as well!

It should be an interesting trip… and perhaps useful in a tangible way.

Rumination in action!

Before cows ruminate, they must first eat some food… hay, pasture, forage (leaves, stalks, etc).


Actually, cattle have one stomach with four compartments.

4 different compartments

Cow Stomach with 4 compartments

They are the rumenreticulumomasum, and abomasum, with the rumen being the largest compartment.The reticulum, the smallest compartment, is known as the “honeycomb”.

Cattle sometimes consume metal objects which are deposited in the reticulum and irritation from the metal objects causes hardware disease.

The omasum’s main function is to absorb water and nutrients from the digestible feed. The omasum is known as the “many plies”.

The abomasum is like the human stomach; this is why it is known as the “true stomach”.

Cattle are ruminants, meaning that they have a digestive system that allows use of otherwise indigestible foods by regurgitating and rechewing them as “cud”. The cud is then reswallowed and further digested by specialisedmicroorganisms in the rumen. These microbes are primarily responsible for decomposing cellulose and other carbohydrates into volatile fatty acids that cattle use as their primary metabolic fuel.

The microbes inside the rumen are also able to synthesize amino acids from non-protein nitrogenous sources, such as urea and ammonia. As these microbes reproduce in the rumen, older generations die and their carcasses continue on through the digestive tract. These carcasses are then partially digested by the cattle, allowing them to gain a high quality protein source.

These features allow cattle to thrive on grassesand other vegetation.

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