Archive for August, 2008

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Apple peels

August 29, 2008

Yesterday my mom and I put up around 50 quarts of applesauce (I lost count after 40) and the critters on the “ranch” were the recipients of the leavings.    I wish I could have taken video of the cows trying to eat the peelings.   It was like watching a comedic rendition of some one trying to eat a never ending tangle of pasta.

By the time I got home last night I was so beat that the thought of carrying water down the hill to Maggie and moving her post and pounding it into another spot…. etc, etc was just too much and I decided I’d see how she reacted to me and if she behaved I was going to turn her loose.    She allowed to me touch her without holding on to her lead rope, so she was turned loose to the pasture.

This morning both she and Matilda were waiting at the fence for me.   I’m guessing they could smell their second helping of apples peelings coming.   Koozy also got into the mix and chased the cows off of the first bit of apples.  Maggie ran into the open corral and Matilda (who shared apples with Koozy last night) just ambled off a few feet.   I gave her a pile of apples and she allowed me to stroke her back while she was eating.   Then I took the rest over to Maggie,  she allowed me to touch her briefly and was rewarded with her own heap of apples.

I will keep working with the girls on allowing me close, but I think I can safely say that step one of turning them into family milk cows is complete.   The next step will be training them to enter the milking stanchion and allowing me to touch their lower body.

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Good Morning!

August 28, 2008

I left Maggie and Matilda on pasture last night, and they did just fine.  Matilda came trotting right up to the gate looking for a treat when I showed up this morning.   She let me take her by the halter and lead her into the corral where I tied her up.  I wanted to be able to approach Maggie without having Matilda tagging along.

Maggie did her strange little growl at me at first, but when she saw I had treats she lightened up.   I was able to give her treats and touch her as much as I’ve even been able to, even without holding on to her lead rope.   I was very encouraged by that!

After carrying water down the hill to Maggie (boy is that getting old FAST!) I got the rubber curry comb and went over to Matilda.  She was a little leary of it at first, but of course treats soon took her mind off of it.   I think she did very well for her first experience with it, especially since Koozy was hovering wanting to know why she was getting treats and a brushing instead of him.

So all in all it was a very good morning!  Now I’m off to make gallons and gallons of applesauce!

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Out to pasture!

August 27, 2008
Maggie & Matilda

Maggie & Matilda

After nearly a month of working with the heifers in the corral I felt confident enough in my work with Matilda to think that I would be able to catch her in the open pasture.   I was also getting frustrated with seeing my hay supply dwindle when there is plenty of browse in the pasture, especially after all the rain we had last week.  However, Maggie is hard to catch even in the corral when she is trailing a lead rope, and I can’t turn her out to pasture dragging a rope, finally about 3am this morning I hit upon an idea.

So instead of tossing them some hay when I went out to feed them at 7am I pounded in a t-post and staked out Maggie using the 25ft lunge line.  Matilda followed me down the hill to stake out Maggie and then followed (well “chased” is probably the more accurate term) me right back up into the corral looking for treats.  Seemed rather disappointed when I left.

Grazing

Grazing

I can watch them and Koozy (our miniature donkey) from the house so am able to monitor both theirs and Koozy’s behavior.   He did trot over to them and got them a bit riled up, but when I hollered at him to “leave the cows alone!” he moved off and kept his distance every since.

About 2pm I went out to check on the girls and took a few treats.  I wanted to see how they would react to me approaching them.  At first Maggie was very nervous and she made growling sounds, but once she realized I had treats she was fine.  I did not attempt to touch her other than her taking food from my hand.

Matilda on the other hand, had no problem walking right up to me.  I was able to take a hold of her halter and lead her a few steps away so she was out of Maggie’s reach and then was able to stroke her back just like I have been doing for the past week.   As long as there were treats involved she was content to stand there and let me keep the flies off.    I have a feeling that it is going to be the same way when I start milking her next summer – as long as there is food in front of her she will be willing to cooperate with a minimum of fuss.  At least I sure hope so!  🙂

Maggie

Matilda helping herself to apples

Matilda helping herself to apples

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Cow Milk Stanchion

August 26, 2008
Click on the thumbnail to see a larger image

Click on the thumbnail to see a larger image

Well I finally got around to building the girls a milking stanchion.  You may be wondering why I’m building one now when it still nearly a year before it will be used.  Well at the rate it is taking me to tame these two I figure I’d better get started on getting them used to eating in there.

I built it under the carport so I could keep and eye on Ari and Bekah and stay out of the rain.   Not sure exactly how we are going to get it down the hill and into the corral, but I have a feeling it is going to involve putting the forks on the tractor.

Although the plans I came up with after looking at other’s creations is for a Dexter sized cow, it should still work just fine for smaller Jersey’s and other breeds of mini milkers as well.

I know a lot of folks have stopped by my blog looking for milk stand plans for goats, so I’ve included a materials list and a few measurements along with the pictures in case anyone is looking for plans for a cow milking stanchion.

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Unusual Weather…

August 19, 2008

After a unseasonably hot spell last week we started having thunderstorms which is even more rare in this area.  We had thunder rumbling along with the occasional fast and furious rain showers most of yesterday.   The thunder rumbling was making all of the critters a little jumpy and I wasn’t too keen on being out in it myself so I didn’t do any more than feed yesterday.

Sometime Sunday evening Matilda managed to get her lead rope off.  There is no damage to it, so she must have had Maggie’s help.   I didn’t clean the corral or work with them at all yesterday due to the weather, so today they had to adjust to me in a rain jacket.   Blessedly Matilda is such a chow hound that a few chunks of alfalfa cubes and I was able to grab a hold of her halter and lead her over to where I had hung up her lead rope.

I have to tie them both up when I’m working with them or the untied one will harass the tied one and me looking for a handout.   Matilda quickly adjusted to the sight and sound of my rain jacket, but it took Maggie a little longer before she was willing to stand for “touch before treat”.  Overall she did really well.

When I was done I released Matilda from the lead rope, since she was easy enough to catch this morning I figure there is no need for it now.  Maybe by next week I can start letting her out to pasture during the day.   Alhtough I’m not sure how she will react to being seperated from Maggie.  And of course it will require a reintroduction to Koozy.

Speaking of Koozy he just loves Bekah!  She is the one that brings him treats twice a day while I’m working with the cows and she is also the one that usually brushes him.   He will bray when he sees her coming, but otherwise barely makes a sound.

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Finally some progress with Maggie!

August 15, 2008

I was very pleased with this evenings training session.  Matilda will now allow me to touch on either side while tied and will allow me to touch her when she is untied on her left side when eating grain but not hay.   Apparently hay isn’t worth the intrusion.

Maggie, on the other hand, has not progressed much at all until today.  Tonight I really worked on the “touch before treat”.  She started out fighting and moving and gradually settled a wee bit.  But every time I would go get another handful of treats we would have to start over almost from zero.

I got tired of that and would offer the touch/treat and if she moved out of reach I stepped back and didn’t offer her anything.  She eventually caught on and would move her body back over into reach, but harrumphed at me most every time.  🙂   Eventually I was able to run my hand the full length of her back.  And then was able to keep stroking her back/shoulder while she was chewing without her stepping away.

Needless to say I am feeling renewed sense of hope that I will eventually be able to turn these two into some good family milk cows.   Providing of course that they turn out to have decent udders and milk production.

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More Fencing!

August 13, 2008

I finally got tired of dealing with the makeshift cattle panel gate we were using to enter the buck pen.  So yesterday I bought a real gate.  And after considering where to put the gate I decided that I was going to redo the whole fence line.   Hubby has done enough post pounding lately to not be at all thrilled with the idea, so I said I would take care of removing and reinstalling the fence if he would just set the gate for me.

The kids “helped” me install the new fence line this morning – which means they followed directions and stayed out of the way of the fence stretcher.   It was the first time I’ve used the new stretcher by myself and it does make it a one person job.   That stretch of fence is the tightest on the ranch and I’m feeling pretty proud of my efforts!  🙂

Moving the fence and installing a real gate means an easier chore routine for me, and more room for the boys.  It is more space than some small herds have so with only Stormy and Sunny in there most of the time they should feel like kings!