September 1, 2016

So much going on at the farm!!  It’s only been a few days since I posted, but too much has happened to wait!  Knowing that we will be getting 6 new calves, we decided to plan a calf  barn.  We are putting it in the middle of the pasture for multiple uses.  Our initial plan is three stalls, one large area to store hay, and one kitchen area with sink to clean and store equipment.  Our plan is to use the idea from Mulligan’s Run here.  So we have purchased a metal 18 x 21 carport.  This was installed by Twin Carports.  They arrived at 7:45 am, had the right equipment to install without electrical, helped me orient the carport properly and were finished shortly after 9 a.m.  They did a great job, and had a great sense of humor as seen in the above photo of my carport and the crew.

We picked up two additional calves last night, adjusted the size of our temporary pen that we made under the tractor shed with hay, and built a bottle holder rack for six bottles, as we know we will end up with six calves, which would make feeding them a zoo by myself.   We got the idea from this youtube video.   Honestly, as a new farm/homestead, I don’t know what we would do without youtube!  Feeding the calves this morning (with two new calves) was a frenzy though.  Our first two calves picked up earlier did beautifully.  However, the two new calves were another story.  One took to the bottle as long as I held it, then he ended up coming out of the pen between hay bales.  The last new calf would not take a bottle.  I ended up letting all the other calves out, but him.  He still wouldn’t take the bottle.  I went back to the house and left the bottle in the holder for a while  (about 20 minutes while watching out the window) to see if he would drink by himself. Nothing.  I had been told that they were using bottle holders at the dairy farm where I got him.  After a while I came back out to try feeding him while holding the bottle.  I expressed some milk into my hand for him to suck on then led him to the nipple and put my free hand under his mouth.  Finally he started drinking and finished the bottle.

Then I left him in the pen and came to make another bottle (kind of as a reward and to continue training).  I went back out to feed him and he seemed to have the handheld down pat, so I started working with him on the bottle holder.  He ended up getting it, but I had to keep expressing milk into my hand and leading him back to the nipple before he caught on. Whew.  I think I had milk from head to toe after the morning feeding with all the calves.   Usually after they finish their bottles, I leave them in the pen for about a 20 minute calming period, then I let them out to roam around our yard.  Otherwise, they keep headbutting me to, I don’t know, let my milk down?  The two new calves wound up in my flower bed.

The other addition to our farm recently is a Mighty Mule gate opener.  I can’t tell you how nice it is not to have to get out of the car, open the gate, then move the car, and close the gate.  We found that we could stand on the front porch (probably about 100 feet away) and hit the remote to open and close it when company comes.  Life’s little luxuries. . .


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