Crossed Every Which Way

Josie came into heat again Thursday morning.  It’s day 18 which isn’t unusual, but I wasn’t expecting it until Monday.  My driver who was to take her over to meet her bull fell through or else she’d of been there sometime on Thursday.  But I was able to call the AI Tech who works this area and he came by Thursday late afternoon.    Hopefully if she cycles like she did the last couple times, she will settle down and we caught her in time.  The bull semen lives for 24 hrs so as you can imagine it’s better to be earlier then later.   I’ll know in another 3 weeks if it took.  As of Friday morning, she was still BAWLING.  I think the neighbors who missed the last blessing of heat, must of thought she had mad cows disease.  She never got feisty with me, but I also never turned my back on her or bent over with my butt in the air.  They will mount anything and anyone.  Not me!  Friday afternoon she settled down.  Now we wait.  I hope that the AI wasn’t too early, but if it was we will have to try again.  All good things in God’s time.  Heavens knows we’ve been waiting long enough for this.

Her sire is WF Duncan ET.  I’m not sure what all that means, but he is suppose to throw some good calves.  So, now it’s time to cross our fingers and toes and knees and just about anything you can cross and pray that Josie will be pregnant and give us a healthy calf in 9 months.  Mark your calendars and set your watches!

My AI Tech is Allan Pickett.  He’s been doing this work since he was in high school.  He went to our local h.s. and knew this area when we had dairy farms all around.  He doesn’t get many calls to come to this area anymore, but was more than happy to accommodate me.  I was thrilled that he was very responsive and came when called.  It was a very good bargain….$28.  That doesn’t even pay for his gas.  I felt like I should of given him a tip.  I mean, he did have to reach into places that most people don’t.  He was very nice.  Did I say that?  Well, he was.  Anyone that is gentle with my Josie is a friend of mine.

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DSCN5224My day was spent watching Josie.  It’s a fact that a cow in heat that is watched up to 6 times during the day has a better chance of settling then one that you only observe a couple times.  Plus she was really being obnoxiously loud and the only thing that quieted her was my presence.  So I drug a chair out close to the pasture, propped my feet up and read my Organic Gardening Magazine…which by the way had a very nice article on winter squash.  So I sat and listened to the feathered ladies behind me chit chat and occasionally Josie would check to see if I was still there.  She was the quietest she’d been all day.

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My son, the Tender Hearted Warrior, was crawling on his belly stalking the deer with his bow and arrows.  He shot at one, but the arrow was too heavy and feel at her feet.  Better success next time.  He’s quite the marksmen.  When he was just a little tike at Stockade Camp, he won all the marksmen awards!  (you know just a paper plate with ribbons hanging from it…but it meant everything to a 6 yr old!)  He hasn’t lost his eye and he’s taking right after his dad.  Honey shot his bow the other night that he hasn’t touched…..well, probably since we were married almost 30 yrs ago….and BINGO he hit the target dead center!!  What a guy!

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Can you see him right above Joy’s back.

If you’d like to skip over to my new home you can find me there now.  I’m still unpacking the boxes and rearranging the furniture, but for the most part I’ve moved in.

Remember, we’re still Peaceful Acres we just are using a different address!

Butterflies & Bees

Photo Credit to Blue Melanistic

Photo Credit to Blue Melanistic

One couldn’t ask for anything more to bless their gardens and farms with than butterflies and bees!  I’m not sure why I named my business that, Butterflies & Bumble Bees…..I think I was thinking of things that described nature that abounded with beauty and grace and hopefully my business would do the same providing for the poor in India.

(As a side note:  Butterflies & Bumble Bees is moving to a new home.  It is only temporarily closed, but will reopen soon with a new face!  Along side my shop will be a new home for my blog and all will be found at Butterflies & Bumble Bees dot org….If you love Peaceful Acres….as I do….you can still find it right here, but I’ll be posting on my new blog….when?…..I don’t know for sure, but it will be soon….but don’t fret, I’ll make sure you can find me where ever I go and I haven’t left yet….there are stories and tales to come…..like Josie coming into heat again….pics to come on Monday!!!!  Hang tight, don’t go anywhere!!!)

Back to Bees……They are on my mind again.  I’ve got lots of butterflies flitting and fluttering around my little farm during the summer months, it’s bees that have got my attention lately.  Anytime I have honey bees stopping for a snack I am persuaded to leave alone the flowers they are feasting on.  Besides cut flowers make me sneeze and wheeze!  And since the honey bee population has declined we ought to think about ways that we can lure them to our gardens and farms for pollination and food.  You know without them food as we know it will cease.  Maybe that’s why scientist are now creating food in a petri dish.  Now that sounds nourishing, kinda like eating a cardboard box.

While recovering my body from Chronic Lyme Disease and it’s many friends, I stopped all sweeteners even fruit for over a year or more.  Then I allowed myself raw honey due to the fact that it doesn’t raise ones blood sugar levels.  I took a friends word on that (I haven’t researched it but I have heard others refer to it that way) and I’m glad, because I do love local raw honey.  It’s suggested that eating local honey will help with allergies….I haven’t noticed yet, mine are worse then ever.

I’ve lined up my local raw honey for the winter and hope that my stash lasts me.   If I run out then I’ll have to try and locate some more, but for now I’ve got 20 lbs on order from the President of our local bee keepers society.  He has mostly Black Locust honey and that’s good, but I like Wild Flower and various others best.  I’ll store it in small jars just in case it starts to crystalize and I can warm it slightly.  Or just scoop it in my tea as it is.  It’s still good.  I learned my lesson with a 5 gal container of honey I bought once.  It did start to crystalize and it was nearly impossible warming the 5 gal container in the bathtub.  If I store anything for any length of time I prefer to use glass, so I can avoid any leaching from the plastic to my food.

I’ve signed up for the Winter Bee Keepers Class.  I’m really excited.  I’d love to have my own hives and my own honey.  Just like anything else, it takes time and a little money to get started.  Nothing compared to getting the bovine girls though!  So don’t be surprised if next year sometime I add honey bees to my little farm!  But it might have to wait until the following year since hopefully next summer I will have a new calf and milk enough to swim in!!!  All things in God’s good time.  Plus if I have to wait until the following year, then I might as well wait until we retire the next and move to the mountains!  We’ll see, I’ve lived my life like that for too long….tomorrow.  Don’t do that.  Learn to be content where you are.  As I say, “Bloom where you are planted!”

In the mean time, here is a good article on the honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder.  A very interesting assumption.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it was High Fructose Corn Syrup poisoning the honey bees.  Look what it’s done to our health.

Don’t forget I’ll give you a link that you can RSS and follow me onto greener pastures, but for the mean time, I’m right here!

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

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Josie woke me Monday morning complaining about the grass Popsicles.

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We had our first snow….actually unusual for Maryland on Sunday, October 17.

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The chicken yard is very, very mucky after 4 days of non stop rain…I guess it did stop long enough to snow!

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Room for one more?

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Finally some thawed green grass!

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The barnyard needs more rock.

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A lone Cleome survived the killing frost.

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One faithful friend remembering another….

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Boomer’s final resting place, surrounded by life giving herbs.

Josie is Heating Up

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Last Monday morning, oh, about 1:30am…..Josie started MOOOOOOOing and woke Honey up. I finally heard her at 3:30am and every half hour thereafter. She bellowed alllllllllllllllllllllllll day long. She was a girl looking for her bull. I was very very glad that our nearest neighbors were on vacation. And I’m guessing they are too! As soon as I heard her I said to myself….she’s in heat. Well, Honey didn’t know what to think so he’s outside walking all around the pasture like a good guard dog would do. He didn’t find anything and tried to go back to sleep.

It all started last Sunday, when Josie gave Joy a 20-30 minute bath. She fit the bill from what I read. Licking, curling lip, bellowing, mounting Joy.

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Hold still while I get your neck.

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Boy your ears are dirty.

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You’ve really gotta do a better job washing.

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Time for a few head butts!

Last Monday Josie bawled until early/late afternoon and then she stopped. Then Tuesday morning, she had a bloody show. My window of fertility is very small and it seems to me that will be late Monday afternoon on the 26th. I’ve got my calendar marked 21 days ahead, so like clock work she ought to come into heat again at the end of the month. It’s a good sign that she’s having strong heats after her stillbirth.

Honey and I have decide along with my new cow mentor and vet that she ought to be bred now. That will give us a July calf and that will be good for Josie and the calf. There will be an abundance of green grass for the needed nutrients that Josie will need in the last two months or pregnancy. She will have a better start on this next pregnancy and we pray that it goes well for her.

I’ve been working hard to build her condition after the dead calf. She’s now on our pasture being supplemented with organic orchard grass hay, organic apples, organic carrots, sunflower seeds with molasses and organic mangels for treats. I give her probiotics, Selenium w/ Vit E, occasional herbs, Kelp, Cow Minerals and Vit C.

I JUST found a bull to be our sire….all for $25.00!! Wahoo! He’s 1/2 Jersey & 1/2 Limousine. He’s been throwing heifers, but if I get a bull, he’ll be a good beefy bull. And I JUST talked to my beef man and he’s agreed to transport Josie over to the mountains for her rondevu!

She’s not the only one heating up! I never thought I’d be giddy over such a thing!

All things work together. Amen.

(Joy has got to go!  She is nothing but trouble and I’m guessing she’s going to the Arctic Box!  If anyone wants her, come and get her!!!)

More Bang For Your Buck

Who wouldn’t like to know that the food they are buying or growing is providing the ultimate nutritional value? Who wouldn’t want to know that their food is worth the price they are paying? I would.

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I just purchased a refractometer. It was very reasonably priced and will be a way for me to measure the nutrients not only in the food I buy, but also the food I grow for my family and my cows.

You might remember that when I was on a Pasture Walk last week, I asked the “soil expert” if he could explain Brix. And his response was simply that brix is measuring a plants sugar. What he didn’t say possibly because he didn’t know any better is that sugar is only one component of brix.

Brix simply is the “level of the crop correlated with its nutrient-density; brix is a valuable measurement in determining the nutritional value of the crop”. Rex Harrill explained in an interview posted for the Weston A Price Foundation how simple it can be to test our own food for brix. Using a refractometer you squeeze a few drops from the crop being tested onto the prism and “when the drops fall on the prism, you close the cover plate to spread it out and then look through the viewing end of the instrument where you will see an etched scale generally calibrated in 0-30 or 0-32 degrees Brix. Just as a pencil appears bent when placed in a beaker of water, the light passing through the plant juice droplet is bent so that a clear line is shown against the scaled background. The amount of bending is directly related to the richness of the plant juice (richer juice bends the light more).”

Rex Harrill continues to explain the work of Dr. Carey A. Reams:

“The genius of Reams-style farming is that he devised a way to calculate the energy released when various fertilizers worked their way down to equilibrium. For instance, Reams didn’t suggest that his clients simply scatter so many pounds (or so many tons) of ammonium sulfate on an acre of land. Reams taught his students how to calculate the energy that would be given up by a single molecule of ammonium and then determine exactly how many pounds of that, or any other fertilizer, to apply. In conventional farming fertilizer excesses are generally wasted and ultimately go off the land into the ground water, while shortages create a limited crop yield. Reams-style farming not only creates superior output, it is also very economical because any fertilizer applied is used by the plants, not lost. Dr. Dan Skow is probably the best known teacher currently explaining this desperately needed scientific aspect of agriculture to students around the country.”

He goes on to say; “Brix is a measure of energy. A high-Brix plant emits a far superior energetic electromagnetic spectrum than a low-Brix specimen. Insects “see” in this range and they “attack” plants with the weakest emanations. When the grower finally understands that all that talk about how healthy plants “resist” insects is really another way of saying that the strongest plants don’t attract insects in the first place, they are on the road to understanding Reams agriculture. A refractometer is merely a way for us to see by proxy what insects see with their eyes.”

I’m anxious to receive my refractometer that I bought on ebay. I found an organic farmer about an hour from our home who sells certified organic grains and hays. He gave me a bale of Orchard Grass Hay for my girls to taste. I thought I’d need a lesson on picking out good hay by sight, but once I got home and compared this new hay to the old hay I purchased…..well, it was a no brainer. The evidence was obvious to me. When I walked into his barn, my nose came alive with the fresh smell of hay. It smelled green.

The refractometer will tell me if his hay is all that it’s meant to be.  It will also tell me if my bovine girls will be getting nourishment this winter from his organic hay.  Dr Nelson Arden, DVM explains that nutrition is everything.  He says, “Poor intake of energy (and protein) always leaves the animals in poor shape to fight off any problem, be it metabolic (the prolapse) or infectious (the mastitis and salmonella infections.)

As One who has followed the Weston A Price diet for almost 3 yrs, I’ve often used the term “nutrient dense”.  Using a refractometer is a sure way to measure if my food is indeed nutrient dense.  Rex Harrill goes on to explain that low brix food will be tasteless and watery and those with high brix will be robust and flavorful.  His site gives lots of charts for you to know what the brix measurement should be on the foods you eat.  He was asked in the interview if one could measure brix in milk and meat.  He replied that milk of course could be measured because of it’s liquid state, but meat…..well, why not measure the brix in the pasture to determine the nutrient density of the grass the cows are eating. Because the pasture with the highest brix reading will produce highly nutrient dense meat and milk.

I believe that Dr Nelson Arden, DVM got it right….

Nutrition is everything!

Wordless Wednesday

YEAH RIGHT!!!!!

Did you really fall for that?

Come on….then you don’t know me.

I’ve never been wordless. Ask my father, who use to pay me 25 cents for 15 min’s of silence! Really. I don’t ever remember getting the money. Ok, maybe once!

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I think Josie’s body condition looks good two weeks after we pulled a dead calf. Since giving Josie and Joy additional supplements to the little grain they get daily, their coats are velvety soft.

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Here she is catching a few winks and dreaming of more grain. (Please excuse her dirty backside.)

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Joy is wearing a new spiked nose ring. I put the bovine girls together on Sunday, hoping that we will be able to see a standing heat in Joy. But, I didn’t want to take any chances of her trying to suck Josie again. She looks pretty cute! And she manages quite well at swinging it out of her way.

As soon as I put the girls back together on Sunday, Josie started sniffing Joy. She made the funniest faces. She’d curl her upper lip up and smile toward the sky! Then in the evening when I was saying good night, Josie tried to mount Joy! That’s what’s called a standing heat. Of course Josie is twice the size as Joy, but she tried. I marked my calendar.

We made a decision this weekend about whether to get a goat or another cow. We decided to use what we’ve got, because I don’t want a third cow and Honey doesn’t want a goat (YET). Joy will be 12 months Oct 20 and she is near breeding age. We will begin AI-ing her soon. I called my AI tech and gave him a heads up that I’ll be needing his services for my heifer. Now I have to order Jersey bull semen!

Another first! OMIGOLLY, who ever thought I’d be talking like this??? Not me! When I first started using these terms, I’d whisper in public while blushing….AI you know, artificial……they’d get it before I’d have to finish it. Now I just let it all hang out. No shame here.

Honey and I agreed that we’d continue to try and breed Joy until the latest calving date acceptable to me, which will be in January. I’m not thrilled about having a winter calf. I think there are just too many issues to worry about. I am willing to have a calf no later than October (9 months gestation). So we have quite a few months to try, probably beginning in November with two possible conception dates 21 days apart. The sooner the better for all of us, but not too soon for Joy. She’s grown quite a bit this summer and I’ll measure her with the dairy tape to get an estimate on her weight. If all is good then it’s a go!

I’m looking for a Miniature Jersey Bull as the sire. Here’s a pic of Pvt Pyle! Since Joy is a petite girl, I’d like for her to have a smaller calf and Mini Jersey’s have a smaller frame than Standard Jerseys. Or I can find a Registered Jersey sire that breeds small calves. So many things to think about.

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Joy has really pretty coloring now, although it’s bound to change before she’s 2 yrs old.

An Attempt To Revise Pasture Walks

Well, I couldn’t find the “auto-saved” version of the Pasture Walks post, so I’m going to attempt to list a couple things I remember adding.

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My Bovine Girls on a Pasture Walk of their own!  They come running when ever I enter the pasture.  I do love my girls!  The feelings are mutual!

I was a little ticked that there wasn’t a disclaimer at the Pasture Walk when I signed in with my name, address and phone because when I got home and read some of the literature, this is what I found. “Conservation plans in most counties are voluntary, however if a landowner participates in USDA sponsored programs, an approved conservation plan may be required.” GREAT! Maybe they will forget me if I don’t go back for more pristine pasture walks!

The article titled Farming for Health in Acres USA, said, “There are those, including some consultants (might I add Soil Experts!), who do not understand what the sap/juice brix reading means or how to feed a crop to get brix to increase. They tend to believe that the soil test prevails over all else and seek to find the perfect soil test report. As a result they cannot seem to grasp the brix principles.” Aaha, I did step on the “Soil Experts” toes or rather his entire foot! No wonder he was offended that I asked about Brix.

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Acres USA goes on to say, “Only plants take in carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll and sunlight to manufacture sugar.” Everything that a farmer harvests comes from this sugar! It’s basic elementary botany!  That even I am beginning to comprehend!

It was quite obvious that I wasn’t with kindred spirits on this walk. No one there except the older “Soil Expert” had ever heard of brix. Neither did most of them care what it was. There was one lady that I’d been chatting with and she did say, “I learn something new every time I come on one of these Pasture Walks”. But I’m afraid it fell on deaf ears.  I would think that even horse owners would want to create high brix grass.  The more nutrients an animal gets from the grass they eat, the healthier they will be.  Granted a horse is not a rumanent animal.  A cow has to graze on grass or hay 24 hrs a day!  They graze and they rest.  They graze and they rest, all day long.  My girls ancestors were chased by predators and so they will graze ravenously filling their rumen and then they will go some place safe and rest, bringing up their cud working on good digestion.  They do this 24/7!  They truly are amazing animals.  All the while making delicious, nutritious milk from grass!  Wow!  That’s why I care about brix.

It’s reported that researchers at MI State U, in the early 60’s demonstrated that foliar applications for nutrients are up to 10 times as efficient as soil applications pound for pound. Why on earth (no pun intended!) would I spread 1 ton of lime per acre (as one of the horse lovers at the walk did) when I could spray my pasture crop with a sea mineral and reap greater benefits by raising my brix? I’m still trying to figure it all out, and I’m so glad that Acres USA is available to this green horn! (I can’t even figure out how I’d get 1 ton of lime! I sure can’t get it in my mini van or Honey’s little Ford Ranger! That would be at least 3 tons that I’d need!) I am adding nutrients to my soil though. I feed my bovine girls kelp every day. They love the stuff and they kindly deposit it all over my pasture for me. When I mow I sorta spread it around, but not too much since cows are very picky about eating anything that’s been touched by their poop. My pasture is now christened with beautiful lush green mounds of grass where the girls have left their poop. And they won’t eat it for 3 years! My pasture is going to be beautiful in 3 years.

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Cow Pie crusting over and drying out

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This is the area that Joy has over grazed because she was tethered here at night. She’s roaming free on the range now! Happy Cows!  You can see the mounds of green grass that were fertilized with cow poo.  But they pass those up.

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Notice the deer in the background….they stay out of the fenced in pasture for the most part. A little fawn will wonder in once in a while, but they haven’t been a problem for me. For the most part my pasture is looking pretty good with a diversity of grasses. I’m trying to device a plan to work in rotational pasture management and possibly use strip grazing next year. That will allow them to graze an area for a day, a week or what ever I think works best. When I think they’ve grazed it sufficiently, but not over grazed it, then I’ll close it off with electric and move them to the next pasture. After I’ve rotated them around to all the areas, then it’s back to the original area and we’ll start all over again.  I suppose there should be a sacrifice pasture that they can use and eat hay until the others are in the proper shape to move them back to.

So much to think about.

Happy Trails to you until we meet again!