The Milkman Comes to the Farm

February 10th, 2014 by Kim

I’m sorry I’ve not posted on the blog for so long…it’s been a rough couple of years.  I’ve been struggling with adrenal fatigue, and the old brain just has a hard time thinking clearly to write.  I probably will not be posting very regularly yet, but will try to get something up here occasionally, so don’t give up on me yet.  I HAVE been keeping the Herdbook, Calf Corner & Stock for Sale pages updated, though, so please check them out.  As a quick overview, 2013 was an encouraging year, with a 100% heifer calf crop, which has really grown our little herd!  Our very first cow, S&H Hilltop Sara, has come back home after selling her 4 years ago, along with an incredibly nice heifer at her side.  And that brings to me our latest, most exciting addition yet…our new future herdsire.

Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman

Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman

We are delighted to introduce our new young man, Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman, who arrived here about two weeks ago the whole way from WA.  When Emerald Park Farm decided to sell him, I jumped at the opportunity, knowing what he had to offer with his bloodlines.  He is Knotting bred, top & bottom, and both his grand-dams are high volume producing Galaxy daughters.  He has a scrotal structure much like his grand-sire, Serenity Oak Farm Taco, who has proven to significantly tighten udders on his daughters.  Needless to say, we have high expectations of the Little Man, and can’t wait to start seeing his daughters here on the farm.  We have a big start for him this year, with 7 heifers to breed!  He should be a great bull to follow up on the solid foundation laid by Rousseau.

Belle Fourche Rousseau

Belle Fourche Rousseau

And speaking of Rousseau, yes, he’s still here doing his thing.  He has been an excellent foundation herdsire, and his daughters so far are well improved over their dams.  This has meant that we are keeping his daughters to breed, and are usually selling their dams on to a new home.  We don’t particularly want to linebreed, and while AI is an option we will definitely be putting to use at times, we felt it was time to bring in a second, unrelated bull.  Rousseau will not be moving on until either the two of them can’t get along anymore or having two bulls on this property is too hard to manage, we just like him too much.  We still have plenty of straws left to sell from Rousseau, so if you want to put him to use in your Dexter herd, see his page in the Herdbook for details.

Fall on the Farm

November 7th, 2011 by Kim

Mares at the big pond on a beautiful fall day.

Things have been a bit busy around here this fall.  Between everything going on & experiencing some writer’s block…well, you can see I took a little break from the blogging.  So now I have so many pictures I want to share that I hope this doesn’t get toooo long!  Here’s what things are looking like around the farm this fall.

The ditch along the driveway, fixed & with new culvert put in.

Drainage Work

We were finally able to get everything arranged with our friend Steve to do our drainage work in the cow barn pasture.  Dry weather, a week off & a rented backhoe and we were in business.  He put in a couple new drainage swales across the paddock, regraded it all, and fixed the ditch along the driveway, as well as some other things.  The first big rain after he was done, he showed up to inspect it all & see how it was working.  It appears to be working great…I think the swamp days are over!  Read more »

Drying Herself Off?! A Poopy Puzzle

October 10th, 2011 by Kim

BoPeep gave me a bit of a scare a couple weeks ago.  Her milk production dropped drastically one day, and I was worried that maybe she had just decided to dry herself off since Hershey left.  But after doing some investigating, I came to a different conclusion.  Here’s what happened.

Our "weed" growing along the orchard lane between paddocks.

We had previously moved the cows to the brand new paddock over on the “horse side” of the farm.  They had grazed the nice, tall grass in that paddock for a week, then I moved them through the other 2 paddocks next to it over the following 2 weeks.  At that point there was still a good bit of grazing left in the new paddock, so I decided to give them another week in there before moving them the whole way back over to the “cow side”.  Bo was with the herd & I was going out with the halter every morning to lead her in to the cow barn to milk, and then returning her when we were done.  About half-way through that second week on the new paddock, she gave me only 3 quarts at milking instead of her usual gallon and a half…and, yes, I was sure she let down nicely & gave me all of it.  I left her out in the corral behind the barn for a few minutes until I was ready to take her back to the pasture, puzzling whether she could really just be drying herself off suddenly.  Then I saw her poop….an unusually runny, squirty mess.  “Hmmm, what is going on?”  But she didn’t seem to be feeling sick or acting “off”, so I took her back to the herd. Read more »

That’s So Cheesy!

September 26th, 2011 by Kim

An excellent, easy-to-follow book by Ricki Carroll.

So, since weaning Hershey, BoPeep has been giving me about one & a half gallons of milk every morning when I milk.  We use a good bit of milk for breakfast, drinking & cooking…but not THAT much.  So what do we do with all that extra milk?  Well, that’s cheesy…I mean…easy!  We make cheese…and butter…and yogurt…and sour cream…and ice cream.  All these delightful dairy products from our very own fresh, raw milk!  It’s been wonderful.  And, believe it or not, it’s not very difficult.  I found a great book by Ricki Carroll called Home Cheese Making that has been a huge help.  Here are a few things to whet your appetite.

A jar of cream with clabber added, to make sour cream. Clabber is started in the same manner.

Keeping It Clean

Before we talk about making things from raw milk, it’s important to know how to keep your equipment clean so you don’t inadvertantly spoil your dairy products.  Everything from your milking equipment to milk jugs, pots & cheese-making utensils needs to be properly washed & sanitized before coming in contact with raw milk.  After use, rinse milk equipment with cool water first, to prevent milk stone from forming.  Milk stone can be as simple as a thin film of milk residue (that you can’t even see!) left behind on items.  Next, add some vinegar to your warm, soapy wash water to help remove any remaining milk residue, and scrub items well.  Rinse, then dunk in a bleach solution to sanitize, and rinse again with fresh water.  A bleach residue left behind can ruin your cheese-making efforts as well.  Then leave items to air dry. Read more »

A Big Let-Down

September 12th, 2011 by Kim

Chucky & Hershey have their last buckets of feed here Saturday morning.

Well, it’s been a noisy week on Hope Refuge Farm.  BoPeep did not like losing her young’un!  Not that I really enjoyed leaving mine behind either, but at least I didn’t scream my head off for 3 days after getting him settled in at college.  But all in all things went pretty smoothly with weaning, in spite of the bellowing.  Here’s how our week went.

Stephanie tries to make friends, but Hershey's not totally sold on the idea yet.

The cow herd had been moved to a newly fenced pasture paddock on the “horse side” of the farm before we left for Michigan.  So Friday (Sept. 2) evening I brought Bo, Hershey & Chuck (Eavie’s steer calf from last year) back to the cow barn.  I penned Bo in the barn corral like I normally had been for milking in the morning, and put the two boys in the front yard-turned-pasture paddock.  I knew things would go better if Hershey had a friend to keep him company, and even though Chucky is about 9 months older than Hershey they’re about the same size & get along great. Read more »