In Memory of Ruby

The goats are still on the farm.

Over the summer, our three became five.

Lavender had a little billy, and Dad brought home a little orphan the kids named Buttons from the auction. You can read about Buttons coming to the farm here.

But sadly, where we once had five, there are only now four on the farm.

With having sold the cows and the sadness of their departure I didn’t want to have to post additional sadness for you all.

As you can imagine, the children are grieving and we’ve all taken this very hard.

And yes, it’s a goat.

But she was not just a goat, she was that one of a kind goat that will never be replaced in personality or in our hearts.

rip rubyIf you didn’t have a chance to hear the stories or meet our dear Ruby, please check out these posts. You’ll see why she was totally one of a kind.

Ruby in the Morning

Ruby having fun. 

We bottle fed this little goat with a Pepsi bottle and a goat nipple. Every morning she greeted us at the milk house door and came in to get her morning head pat and back message.

goat milk in Pepsi bottle

She played with the kids. Her flying jumps across the flat bed trailer are legendary, and the happiness she brought the children of my brother and my own kiddo’s is priceless.

Ruby was a special little goat. She thought she was “just one of the kids.”

She raced them down the farm lane on their bikes and laid in the grass beside them as they rested in the shade. She picked up after them as they carried chucks of hay to the other animals and dropped some along the way.

When she saw you coming, she always had to come say hello. And while some would complain she got under foot, more now her closeness is missed even more.

The first thing I look forward to when I get out my vehicle at the farm is seeing Ruby.

Oh, how we will miss that little goat!!!

So much that I can’t get her or her daring and playful personality from my mind. Each morning I sit down to work on finishing a current manuscript, I find myself writing about Ruby instead.

For a little goat like Ruby, I don’t think there is better way to celebrate her presence on the farm with us than writing a children’s book, do you?

Rest in Peace, Ruby.

IMG-20150403-01557

We were so blessed to have you for the short time you graced us here on the farm.

 

 

Cow vs Price of Milk

When milk prices drop shouldn’t the price of what’s producing it?

Simple economics tells us that when we have a surplus, prices can drop, and when we have a demand greater than the supply the product becomes more valuable and increases.

So what does that have to do with the prices of cows?

Let’s think of it like a shopper, shall we?

I go to the store. I buy milk. I buy cheese and grab that pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. I may even grumble at paying $3.59 for my gallon of milk.

The factory should just produce more milk, right?

Go tell it to the cow!

It’s never a good idea to assume. So, we’ll say ‘most’ people know milk comes from cows.

Now, let’s think of it as a farmer (or the farmer’s wife, or daughter… you choose).

If the price of milk drops. It drops for the farmer. Hence, the pay check just got smaller.

So lower milk prices means the farmer needs to ship more milk in order to get a bigger pay check.

The farmer most likely has a family that needs fed, too.

It’s not like he can go out to the cows in the barn and say, “My dearest cows, I know your doing the best you can to help fill the tank, but could you eat a little more and produce more milk this week? Little Joe needs a new pair of glasses.”

While cows are known to respond to some commands, a pep talk isn’t one of them.

Which leaves the dairy farmer with a choice:

1. Buy more cows

2. Cut back on the feed bill (in the barn and in the house)

What do you think the farmer chooses?

What would you choose?

My guess is, the farmer buys more cows.

Seeing that the price of milk  has fallen for all the milk producers, and not just the farmer, there are going to be many farmers looking to add a few more cows to their herd.

There’s that economics thing again. Demand = higher price.

Cows are a lot like Apple products ( I mention this due to the new release of Apple’s smart watch). Remember when the iphone came out and everyone stood in line and Apple ran out? There isn’t always enough of a product to go around.

Cows are God’s creation. They cost about three to four times more than a smart watch or even an iphone for that matter.

This is good news for those selling cows, bad news for the dairy farmers, and has nothing to do with the price of milk in the store.

But it will.

Anyone want to forecast the economics on that in the future?

Springing Ahead

Having turned our clocks ahead an hour this week, I’ve come to realize that time really does fly.

It’s been month, I know. A lot has happened, so I’ll give the short of it.

We moved back to our old home before Thanksgiving. While I now am greeted by the sounds of traffic and a city bus in front of the house every morning instead of a work horse and Amish neighbors, I know, it too, is only temporary. We need to wait till we sell a house to buy a house. There aren’t many places near the farm, but I know we’ll find a place out of town, not any further away then we are now, and maybe a farm of our own.

 

The winter has been hard.

In town, the kids walk to school. Back in the country, they just cancel school. The kiddos will get out for the summer a week before their cousins.

I have seen the grass now, the snow is melting and I hear the call of spring whispering that it is near.

grassI’m looking forward to getting out of the house more, getting back to the farm, and doing some major spring cleaning.

I’m not sure how often I’ll post here, but I’ll share as often as I can. If you miss me, I encourage you all to hop over to my author site at www.susanlower.com. My first full-length novel was just released here in February. You can check it out here.

Life has a way of springing ahead on us, doesn’t it. Hold on to the hands of time, cherish the moment, you never know when you’ll get to return to it.

Are you preparing for spring? What’s the first thing you do when the snow is gone?

 

Ruby in the Morning

In the twilight of morning, it’s hard to get awake. The deep blue hue of night hasn’t faded and a morning star blinks between the rim of a cloud. Yet, the day has started here on the farm. It’s hard to get motivated when you want to go back to bed, but there are cows to milk, calves to feed, and then there is Ruby…

Ruby goat

Whenever you pull up the driveway to the barn, Ruby is there to greet you. She’s a baby Boer goat (or at least I think she is.)

I’ve come to look forward to seeing Ruby everyday, it’s one of those things that become worth getting up so early in the morning knowing there is someone waiting for you…. misses you….

Everyone should have a Ruby in the morning.

baby goat

Like most babies, Ruby likes attention. She follows us around waits for a pat on the head. She likes to show off, except when I go grab my camera. We weaned her off the bottle a couple weeks ago, she stands in the doorway of the milk parlor watching us and I think hoping we’ll show up with one of these:

goat milk in Pepsi bottleWho would have thought that Pepsi would be so creative to bottle their drinks in a container that can also get recycled as a baby goat bottle. When a bottle was inquired for at the feed store, the clerk set a bottle nipple on the counter and said, “You drink Pepsi, right? Well, you just screw this on the end of 16 ouncer.”

Some people drink coffee, here on the farm, we drink Pepsi. It’s no wonder she’s so frisky and energetic all the time.

Shh…. don’t tell Ruby that Pepsi really isn’t white.

Either way, she picks up my spirits in the morning and hangs out until the sun rises.

What picks you up in the morning and gets you going?

 

 

Meet Banana Leigh

Yesterday when we called the cows in for milking, we got a pleasant surprise. Another heifer had dropped her calf.

Yeah, we knew she was coming.

We hate to put these expecting dames in pens when they could be in the field enjoy grass and sunlight for the day as they draw near their due dates.

Since the dames in our herd don’t usually kiss and tell, we can only make an educational guess when their calves will come due. We have the vet in regularly and have them checked. Even the vet is making his best guess based on the cows size and an internal exam. Our vet is pretty close most times, but no one is perfect.

This little heifer calf was born sometime during the day. She was dry and frisky as she ran circles around her momma on the way to the barn from the pasture.

Meet Banana Leigh,

holstein calf

The kids named her, we’ve nick named her “Nana” for short.

Soon, she’ll get a number tag for in her ear and she’ll continued to get lots of attention from her young care givers.

Tomorrow, she’ll take up residence in one of the farm’s new calf huts.

calf hut

That’s my chore, setting it up and getting her and getting last week’s calf settled into their new digs.

This is the first time I can remember that we’ve had calf huts on the farm.

When I was a child, I used to carry to bottles under my arms and we had one large pen I’d go in to feed all the babies. It was my job to take care of the babies, and it looks like I’ve been appointed the job again. Only this time, I’ve got my young assistants to help spoil the livestock.

 

 

Any Dame That Can Get To Her Feet Deserves a Chance

This evening, I hand-milked a cow.

While all the modern technologies we have, there is a sad reality to farm life. It’s a reality that we don’t think about, the one that stays in the barn and effects our lives so little.

A few days ago, a heifer went into labor out in the field. She gave birth to a whooping hundred pound bull calf. Although this was a big heifer, the calf was bigger. There are always “should’ve”, “would’ve”, and “could’ve” questions in the farmers mind, but just like a woman– no one can ever predict the precise moment a baby will choose to enter the world.

For this heifer, her time came and she found struggling to give birth, so she was assisted and the while our new little Herford/Holstien bull calf is doing well.

"Doc" Bull CalfI’d like to say that Momma cow is doing good, but I can’t. Momma cow is down .

You see, this heifer pinched a nerve in her back during the delivery. The calf was very large for a first baby, and now this Momma isn’t able to stand up by herself or even walk.

Holstein HeiferYou see when a cow has a large calf it can damage the cow’s oburator nerve– a nerve that controls the thigh muscles in a cow’s hind legs. It’s very common in cows after a long, hard birth. Damage to this nerve prevents a cow from having the ability to pull her legs inward to lay comfortably or stand.

For us ladies, this isn’t as bad as it seems. We go to the doctor, a chiropractor, and maybe physical therapy. We roll around in a wheel chair and we heal.

For a dame the size of Momma cow, if she doesn’t get up within a week….well… she’s in trouble.

This is the part of dairy farming that always encloses around my heart and squeezes. There is no button to push and cry, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” to have someone come and stand her back up.

This is a farm and picking up a 1800 lb cow is no small feat, especially when there are several dozen other dames in the barn that need fed and milked, and put out to pasture.

So for now, we’ve made her a little reserved section in the barn. I can see the other dames come in and stick their heads over the petitions to visit as they wait for their turn in the milk parlor in the morning and these past nights.

Twice a day, we lift Momma cow with hip lifts.

Me on one side and my brother on the other side, we hand-milk her in hopes to keep her from catching milk fever or mastitis.

Every time we lift her, she refuses to go back down. I watch her back end tilt to fall and she’ll throw her head in one direction and moves her body to maintain her balance. She stood tonight on one hind leg and left the other dangle over it. Her appetite is still as large as any Holstein cow I’ve ever encountered.

Time is not a friend for this dame. While hip-lifters and having a section of the barn all her own, as little as it maybe, are just what the vet ordered to help speed healing, recovery is not guaranteed.

Doc, her calf, is a feisty guy. He attacks my knee and my upper leg when I come with a bottle in hand. He’s so lively and yet on the other end of the barn lies his mother. I look into this dame’s eyes and I see her pain. She moans as she rocks in attempt to move. I talk to her, I encourage her to get up!

Perhaps it’s silly to talk to a cow, but sometimes the tone of a voice can sooth and distract from the discomfort of the present. I may be human, but somethings are not much different between four hooves and two feet in nature.

Maternal instincts are one of them. Fighting for survival is another.

As long as she is eating… As long as she’s trying… I believe any dame that can get to her feet deserves a chance, no matter how long it takes her to stand.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If The Boot Fits

Fourteen years ago, I had no idea what life would bring me when I left the farm.

I exchanged my barn boots for a pair of heels that took me down matrimony lane and into the arms of a man allergic to the things I loved most – horses, cows, and the scent of fresh cut hay on a hot summer day.

I never imagined that those matrimonial heels would wear down into a pair of traveling flats, but if you’ve ever gone on a long hike then you know that only the well worn shoes are the ones best for your journey. A new pair of shoes cause blisters and sore feet, but when your meant to walk in a certain pair of shoes, you’ll know because they’ll come only in your size.

ifthebootfits

During these past years, I’ve come home for many visits. When the kids were babies, it was easier to pack them up and head to the farm.  Now that they are school age, it’s tougher to schedule visits around holidays, weekends, and other activities. That’s why we take advantage of summer.

The kids enjoy feeding the calves, playing with the bunnies, and cry when it was time to go home.  No one wants to put on their street shoes and give up the rubber pair of boots that Pap and Gram keep just for going to the barn.

The most attractive thing about a pair of rubber barn boots is longevity. They can last for a very long time – even fourteen years.

You see, with rubber barn boots, you can walk through a lot of crap. You can stand in deep puddles and your feet won’t get wet.

A pair of rubber boots is a must have on every girl’s shoe rack. – Susan Rainey  #dairydame

If only I would have known back then what I know now, I would have never left my barn boots behind.

I didn’t ever think I’d see them again.

Yet, one evening before entering the parlor to assist with the milking, my brother went down into the basement of his house and came back with a pair of black rubber boots.

They were a perfect fit!

After cleaning out the cobwebs and evacuating the spiders, it was determined those were my boots.

barn boots

Who knows how long they’ve been there. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that when the time came that I needed them, they were there. And, they still are.

Now, I slip them on every time I enter the parlor with the two dozen or more dairy cows that come through the double-six. Before I leave, I hose off the crap. Each time I come, they’re waiting for me at the milk house.

Who ever said, “if the shoe fits, wear it” was giving some good advice.

I’ve found my boots, and I’m wearing them. How about you? Does the boot fit?