We are remodeling our farm store

For those of you who haven’t been here in the last week, I thought I’d let you know that we’ve started remodeling our on farm store. That’s the room where we keep all of our freezers and our point of sale system.

The Princess, doing the demo
The Princess, doing the demo

This room was built in the 70s, for those of you who can’t date it by the wood paneling. It wasn’t the best for a sales room, but it was good enough and at least it was dry and safe. We had talked about updating it at some point in the future but this bitterly cold winter we just has decided to speed up our plans.

Starting to make some progress on the hole she's working on.
Starting to make some progress on the hole she’s working on.

The water line for my office and for one of the cows paddocks goes through the wall of this room. It was installed in the 80s and was on an exterior wall. Whenever we had a freeze, the line would freeze but always thaw out again with no problems. When things thawed out this time, so did the pipe that was now broken. Of course, old wood paneling and water don’t go together well and the paneling was ruined. Also, in order to access the pipe, we have to tear out the wall and the ceiling partially to gain access. To keep it from freezing in the future, we needed to completely replace the pipe, and also relocate it, which meant tearing out the paneling and ceiling on the other side of the room. If we’re going that far, may as well do the whole remodel now.

The before shot. The last time you'll see this room looking like this.
The before shot. The last time you’ll see this room looking like this.

The goal is to bring this room up to spec with electrical,  plumbing, insulation, lighting, and looks. The electrical is already done, and the plumbing will be in progress today. Then we’ll go back with drywall, paint, new lights, and a new sales counter. We will also be replacing one of the old windows with an insulated window and a window a/c unit, which seems like overkill now but will be welcome come July. Now when you come for a tour and/or a purchase, you should have a shopping experience as good as our meat.

Thank you for understanding while we go through this process. We hope to have it done in a few weeks and of course we will document the makeover here.

 

Internal links are back up, everything else is turned off

I have all the internal links working again so surf away on our site. However in order to get everything working, I had to turn off pretty much every plug-in on our site. That means that much of the extra functionality and customization is not currently live. I’ll be working over the next week to turn on individual plug-ins one by one till I find out which plug-in is causing the problem.

If you note that our site is down, or you see any issues, please let me know at dan@ninjacowfarm.com so I can try to fix it.

Thank you

Dan

A problem with our website, links aren’t working.

Yesterday our website broke. I, and tech support, have no idea why. The only thing we know is that when we turned off a feature called permalinks, the site came back up. What this means to you is that all our internal links are broken so if you are on a post and I conveniently placed a link to another post somewhere, something I do all the time, that link doesn’t work. I’m sorry. I will be working on this as soon as possible but today I have to farm instead of nerd so I’ll get to it asap. Until then, if you are looking for a certain page, just type it in the search bar and you should still be able to find it directly.

My apologies. We work hard on the website to make it useful and entertaining. Something outside of our control has jammed up the works.

Goodbye Hoss, hello new bull

The new bull, and his new herd
The new bull, and his new herd

Tuesday was a day for driving bulls around. I made a trip over to Taylor’s Mill Farm and met Brent to discuss buying a bull from him. Brent raises registered Hereford seed stock and that’s just what we needed. You see our breed is called a Baldy Angus which is nothing but an Angus cow crossed with a Hereford bull. Generally you alternate between Hereford and Angus bulls and that keeps the Baldy Angus line alive. However I’ve been slack on getting Hereford bulls and our Baldy Angus are turning into Angus only so it was time to get a new bull. Brent had a good selection of young bulls and I was able to go out and pick the one I wanted. Brent also is a big time believer in genetic testing and EPDs which is measure of how well the bull is supposed to pass along certain genetic traits. Whenever I talk to commercial cattlemen, or read in traditional publications, EPDs are what it’s all about. Kind of makes me wonder what my EPDs are. Based on my kids, they must be pretty awesome because I have some awesome kids.

Anyway, I don’t really go by EPDs but it was very educational to listen to someone who does. The bull I selected was supposed to be smaller framed, have smaller calves (easier birthing), and have really good fat and marbling in the meat. He is a registered Hereford so we do have some pedigreed royalty on the farm now. However I’m not sure his royal reception was what he expected.

We picked up 7 cows on Monday and put them in an isolation pasture till this weekend so they can get used to the farm and used to us. And also to make sure no diseases arrived with them. When I say 7 cows, to be specific it is 7 steers. Boy cows that have been castrated. Our new bull arrived at his new herd, ready to do his bully service, only to discover that I must think he is gay. I’m sure he is disappointed but he will get to meet his ladies tomorrow so all is good.

Our seven new steers, and the new Hereford bull
Our seven new steers, and the new Hereford bull

When I put our new bull into the pasture with the steers, it was like a hockey game. His hooves hit the ground and the gloves dropped on both sides and the fight was on. There was no pause, no sniffing, no grandstanding. He and one of the steers immediately went head to head and started pushing. Both seemed eager to see who was going to be the big man. I’ve certainly seen my share of pushing and shoving on the farm, but I’ve never seen it start so quickly. It was if that was the official greeting between cows.

Sharp eyed readers will notice something different about the cows in the above pictures, there is a white cow in the mix. He is a charolais and not something we normally will have on the farm. Charolais get to be big and do well on more conventional programs so we normally wouldn’t have one on our farm but this particular steer has been mixed with something else causing his frame size to be identical to our Angus. This allowed us the opportunity to test how black cows do in the heat vs. how white cows do in the heat, something we’ll keep our eye on as we get into summer. I’m not jumping to change breeds, but you are always tinkering and testing on a farm looking for ways to improve.

Share eyed readers will also note that the new bull doesn’t have a name. With a  wife and three kids, it seems everyone gets a name, but we haven’t had time to name this one yet. I’m sure he’ll earn one soon enough.

The last thing I did on Tuesday was to deliver Hoss, our old bull, back to my friend Dal in Erwin. Hoss was very glad to get back with his normal herd and took no encouragement to get on or off the trailer once I told him where he was going.

Why we’ve been quiet

I shared that our momma pigs had gone outside. We had one good momma with four pretty piglets and one bad mom with one piglet left. It didn’t take long for the bad mom to loose her last piglet. Then it seemed she started working on the other moms piglets. We couldn’t get her into the trailer to leave and things were getting worse with her in there. I was considering just shooting her but we finally were able to get her into the trailer and into the paddock with the finishing pigs. Once she regains some body condition, she will make the ride to the processor and come back as bacon. I won’t be feeling bad about that. Good riddance to that one. 

So our good mom with three piglets then suddenly had a piglet that wasn’t doing well. We gave her a day to see if she could get the piglet feeling better and and there was no progress. So we pulled the piglet and brought her into the house to bottle feed.  

 

We bottle fed and quickly learned we had to push the fluids in with a syringe as she just wouldn’t nurse from the plastic bottle. We also fed a bunch of pedialite via the same method. We fed every hour or so during the day, and every few hours at night.  

 

We kept the piglet under a heat lamp and on fresh hay. We did everything we could but yesterday the little piglet, the biggest and prettiest of the litter, died. 

I always hesitate to bring an animal inside to get this kind of care. Because we select for hardiness and we want the ones that don’t do well to get culled anyway. Also because it’s messy and stinky in the house with a barn animal inside. I don’t even like inside dogs. Also because the mom can usually do a better job than we can. But most importantly because when they come inside with you, it’s a lot harder to say goodbye whether they live or die. 

Latch key kids

When I was a kid there was a well publicized movement about latch key kids and the horrors of what happened to these unsupervised children. I don’t know if this issue was the beginning of helicopter parenting or if that developed on its own. When I was a kid, you rode without a helmet on your bicycle, played with fire, climbed trees, and got poison ivy routinely. As parents, we are extremely fortunate because by living on the farm, we are able to tell our kids to get outside and come home when the sun goes down. We have three neighbors who also live on the farm and who also home school so there is almost always a few parents around at all times, and all the kids know one another.

Last weekend SWMBO informed me that she’d have to go out for a few hours in the middle of the day and that I’d need to watch the kids. That was fine, except I was covering for both Miguel and Emily who were both off of work. That meant I had to go to the markets and do our normal daily pickup. The other families were on the farm so it was decided that the kids could play outside in the beautiful weather and I’d check on them coming and going. As I pulled back onto the farm with a trailer and truck loaded with produce, I found this.

Crossing to the "forbidden" land on the other side of the creek
Crossing to the “forbidden” land on the other side of the creek

This is Swift Creek. It borders one side of our land and is a pretty hard boundary to our property. We really never cross it for any reason. Of course the other side (which is EXACTLY like our side) is mysterious and magical. I know, because when I was a kid it was the same way. I pulled up to find the girls, along with their friend all crossing this downed tree to get to the other side. All three can swim, and the water was only a few feet deep and slow moving, so it really wasn’t a big deal. When they saw me, the girls were worried they would be in trouble. Having been a kid, I knew how cool it was to get to the other side. I grabbed a handful of fresh bananas I had on the truck and walked down to the creek.

Apparently this spot is clothing optional
Apparently this spot is clothing optional

King and Ruby were both with the girls, and King had apparently made repeated attempts to cross the creek by walking across the downed tree like the girls were doing, except he kept falling in. He looked like a drowned rat and was shivering and cold. The girls, who were wading waist deep in the water seemed not to notice the frigid water temps.

Success! Beyond this point, there be dragons!
Success! Beyond this point, there be dragons!

All three girls on the other side of the creek. Muddy, soaking wet, and not really wearing all their clothes but enough that they would be ok. With everyone safely across, I left the bananas on the sandy beach for a victory picnic for their return and wished the girls well. They were delighted and spent some time exploring before coming back. In another few weeks there will be snakes, bugs, briars, and all kinds of reasons to not cross this creek. The girls had hit this opportunity at just the right time and I’m glad they did.

Farm girls aren’t born, they are made, one adventure at a time.

Momma pigs go outside

Sow with her first litter of piglets
Sow with her first litter of piglets

Today the two moms went outside from the hospital barn maternity ward into a paddock with their babies. We also put the three other babies from the immaculate conception momma from a few months ago along with a few older pigs who were not growing as well as their peers. These will all be combined with 22 pigs we have coming from a friend (Hi Chuck!) in a few weeks to make the next group of pigs (called a drove or a sounder) that will stay together till finish. Miguel had to do a bunch of fence repairs to tighten up all the holes and broken hot wires from this winter. Once everything was tight, we could put the pigs where they needed to be.

The new pig trailer we built has come to be invaluable in moving all these pigs around. What used to be pretty exciting is now becoming relatively routine and easy, as long as the pigs stay in the paddock where we put them, which is not always the case.

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