Friday, November 30, 2012

Homestead Chore #2 Manure Management

Manure. If you have a dairy cow, you have a lot of it and it has to be dealt with daily. Every day after the evening milking, the cow pen has to be *mucked out.* Each cleaning gets a wheel barrow full of old hay mixed in with manure. It's an average sized wheel barrow. This gets done every day. Rain or shine, heat or cold. Life or no life ;- )

I'm sure your asking, "Where does all of that *stuff* go?" Well, during the winter it gets dumped into the garden. The garden is HUGE. When the spring weather starts coming on, Hubby then tills it all into the garden. Does it ever make a garden grow!!! Best natural fertilizer there ever was ;- )

During the summer months we kind of scatter it throughout the 5 acres we live on. (Most of it goes into the woods.) Believe it or not, the smell is just about nonexistent. Once it has been in the sun for a few days it all dries out.

As you can see from the above pictures of *the girls* they LOVE it when a new pile gets dumped into the garden or woods. They will make a run for it once they are let out of the coop. They pick and scratch through it looking for bugs and grain. They are sort of our little composting machines. They know what they do are are really good at it ;- )

Farm chores and manure control, they go hand in hand when you own a dairy cow ;- )

Matthew 6:33


Monday, November 26, 2012

Homestead Chore #1- Reality (Keeping A Dairy Cow)

 Yep, AnnaBelle, ALWAYS the cow in every one's business. Anyway, long time no post again. So much to write but not a lot of time. Farm life along with life in general just keeps ya busy.

I thought I'd start the day by telling you what my daily farm chores are. I would hate to think that anyone would look at my blog and romanticize farm life. It's a lot of hard work yet rewarding as well. I'll start with keeping a dairy cow. Keeping a dairy cow can be downright disgusting at times. Yet, that is the way it is with animals.

Here we go:

Milking starts at 8:00 in the morning and again at 5:00 in the afternoon (winter schedule.) Rain or shine. HOT or cold. Life or no life ;- )

The mornings milk goes to the pig and the chickens as well as the cat. The evenings milk is used for butter making and milk use in general. That is as long as AnnaBelle is having a good day and doesn't decide to *release* her bodily fluids during the milking. (That is the most irritating thing that she does.) If she does decide to do that, the milk then goes to the animals again. No, I am not giving my other animals the milk with urine in it. I have gotten quite good at *sensing* when she is about to *go* and jump up really fast with the milk pail to get it out of the stream (more like a flood.)

When that does happen, I have to stop milking, go get several buckets of water to wash away her mess and then wash her teats and udder down again. Then the milking continues.

Once the milking is completed (morning) I put away the dirty dairy rags and sweep floor of the barn. At this time the *barn* is a four sided structure with a tarp placed over the top to keep me dry if it rains. It has no sides and does not keep out the elements. (Still working on it.) I am not going to complain though, as long as I don't get rained on while milking ;- )

Milk is then taken to the pig and chickens. The new Buffs absolutely LOVE AnnaBelle's milk. It has also been great for making their egg shells hard. So hard that it it really takes a *whack* on the side of the bowl to crack them ;-)

After all of that is done, I go and make sure that all of the animals have plenty of fresh water. In the winter time, such as yesterday, you sometimes have to break the ice to get to the water in their bowls. And yes, some of the water pumps freeze and you have to find one that is not frozen through and use it to haul water back to the cows. I mean LOTS of water and is it ever cold.

That's the morning milking schedule......

The evening is pretty much the same except I take the milk and strain it and then chill for our consumption. It's usually a gallon.

The cows have to have their water checked at least 4 times a day more during the summer months. You could get one of those self watering bowls, but I prefer not to spend money on something that can be done on my own.

Tomorrow's farm chore post - managing the manure. Romantic ain't it?

Matthew 6:33