Archive for September, 2008

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Milk Stanchion in need of modification

September 15, 2008

This morning I put the girls apples on the platform of the stanchion and after they had eaten everything they could reach from the side, Maggie stepped up onto the platform and was about half way in when Matilda goosed her!    Maggie of course freaked out, scrambled around and then ducked under the side rail.

The good news is the stanchion survived intact, the bad news is that I need to add a lower rail so they don’t think they duck under.   And I have to figure out where that rail should go so that it won’t block my milking efforts later on.    Not sure yet just how I’m going to figure that out, since measuring the cows is not going to be happening.  🙂

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Milk Stanchion Training

September 14, 2008

Friday afternoon we got the milking stanchion moved into place in the cow shelter.  Not suprisingly the girls kept their distance from it, although within a few hours Matilda just had to go take a closer look.   Saturday morning I fed them apples next to it, and then left them a flake of hay on the platform.   This morning I placed their chopped apples on the platform too.

My first goal is to get them used to being around this strange new thing.   In another day or two I will try to coax Matilda onto it with food, but if that doesn’t work after a couple of days worth of trying then I will have to hook on the lead rope and be a bit more persuasive.  The reason for the focus on Matilda is that I hope to get her AI’d during her next heat which should fall right about Oct 1st.   And for that she has to either be trained for the stanchion or I have to rent a squeeze chute.   I don’t plan to breed Maggie until January so I have a little more time to convince her that standing in it is a good thing.

And speaking of breeding, I’m still trying to figure out the best course of action and what bull to ultimately use.  Costs are higher than I was originally quoted, so I’m having to do some careful planning.  Hopefully I will get an order placed tomorrow so that I will be guaranteed of having the straws here when the time comes.

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Progress with Maggie

September 10, 2008

Matilda has been letting me touch her back pretty much whenever there is food in front of her.  Maggie on the other hand has only let me grab her halter and hold her while I briefly touch her shoulder – if apples are the treat involved.

Yesterday I was so behind schedule that I just tossed the apples over the fences and went on with the rest of the chores.  Today I went into the pasture to hand feed them like I normally do, and Maggie allowed me to touch her shoulder and back without my having to hold the halter! Behold the power of APPLES!

Thankfully the neighbor that we had gotten the apples from called yesterday and said she had a friend with an apple tree that wanted to know if we wanted some for the animals!  Oh yeah!

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Apple Butter

September 9, 2008

My friend Holli gave me this great apple butter recipe a couple of years ago and I just love it!  Very simple and since I usually make it overnight we wake up to a wonderful smelling house in the morning.

All Day Apple Butter

5 1/2 lbs of apples

2 cups sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

Peel, core and finely chop apples.  (I shredded the quarters in my Salad Shooter) Place the apples in a slow cooker (crock pot).  In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Pour the mixture over the apples and mix well.  Cover and cook on high for 1 hour.

Reduce heat to low and cook 9-11 hours (now you know why I do it overnight) stirring occasionally , until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.

Uncover and continue cooking on low for 1 hour.  Stir with a whisk if desired, to increase smoothness.  Or you can use an immersion blender if you want to make it extra smooth after its finished cooking.  Personally I prefer it a little chunky.

Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze.   This makes about a quart total.

I have found that if you put this into hot canning jars and with hot lids they will seal and then there isn’t a need to freeze or refrigerate.  If you want to be absolutely certain you could run them through a pressure canner like you would applesuace.

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It’s finally Friday…

September 5, 2008

Of course when you work with animals it really doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, they still have to be taken care of.  But it is a good time to reflect on the progress that was made this week.

On Sunday I moved the does that were in with our herd buck Sunshine back onto the does side of the pasture and moved Stormy (the wether) over with Sunshine.   Lots of screaming the first 24 hours!  Sunshine has only been with the Mame and Molly since he got here so he was missing his familiar companions, and of course neither Stormy or Allie were happy about him be separated from momma.   Stormy is still calling for momma a lot, and she hangs out along the fence line to keep him company.   Wednesday afternoon all the does and chickens were sleeping next to the fence and the boys were sleeping on the other side.  One big snoozy family with only a bit of wire keeping them apart.  🙂

I’ve started milking Allie twice a day now and she still isn’t giving very much – about 2 cups total, but at least the taste has improved dramatically!   Bekah is able to have a glass or two of “yummy, creamy goats milk!!!”  every day now so she is thrilled.   And she likes being able to help me get Allie prepped for milking.

On the cow front I finally got a glimpse of Matilida’s udder.  Lots of long guard hairs are covering up some pretty tiny teats, and there is some white on her udder.  According to an “old wives tales” Dexters with white on their udders are supposed to be good milkers so I hope that there is some truth to it.   Only time will tell how she will actually develop.

We have been blessed to have a plentiful supply of apples from the neighbors so all the critters have been getting daily apple treats.   I quarter them for the cows and they make wonderful training treats.  The past two mornings I’ve been able to grab Maggie by her halter and make her stand for touching, so I at least have confidence that I’ll be able to catch and tie her if needed.    They are also getting along better with Koozy (donkey) – this morning Bekah gave him his apples first and he was sharing them with the cows.   In fact he and Maggie were eating off one of the same big apples.  Never thought I’d see that happen as she is usually the most skittish of him and moves off anytime he even looks in her direction.