Yesterday was Sunday and we had someone show up on the farm to look at some heifers we have for sale. Here are my thoughts on Sundays and boundaries!Sunday is a day of rest, a day of worship, but most of all it's our family day! We still do the chores, milk cows, pick up eggs, feed animals but we also like to take a Sunday nap, have dinner with family. I have boundaries. I don't ask people not to come out to the farm but I do ask them not to come to the farm on Sunday. I also ask people to call ahead if they are coming out to the farm, that's just to make sure we are there to show them around. When the seasons change so does our availability. Farming after all is a business. We run our farm like a business. Our business is closed on Sundays. My house is not a place of business. I will not invite you into my house, please don't be offended, I set that boundary for family reasons. That is a safe haven for my children. I have many customers that come to the farm to pick up eggs and meat from me. I enjoy the fact that they love our farm and our products that the farm produces. I also appreciate that they understand and respect our boundaries. Our boundaries and No Sundays have worked well for us as a family farm. We do understand that there are exceptions to every rule. My hubby still has to sell those heifers, but Sunday is still the day of rest, a day of worship, and a family day in my life.
I have been getting a lot of questions on what and how we feed our cows. Are they 100% grass-fed? Yes, they are on grass, when the grass is available. No, they are not 100% grass-fed.Let me start with this, there is no place on earth that grass is 100% nutritionally available all the time, even in warmer climates. That is why the camel and the wildebeest have humps. They eat all the best green nutritional grass they can during the wet season to store the nutrients in their humps for the dry season. The dry season has grass too but not the same nutrition in the grass as before. The buffalo that once roamed the big grass plains, didn't just eat grass. They roamed for a reason. They would roam to different areas for different nutritional reasons. Some fields would have plants that were fully headed out with seeds. Yes, they ate the grain of those plants. So even those animals weren't 100% grass-fed. This leads me back to the cow.
Dairy cows have come a long way for their ancestors. They have been bred to produce milk, a lot of milk. A cow that once grazed and was just for one family produced only one maybe two gallons of milk a day. Today's cows produce five to eight gallons of milk a day. That's a lot of nutrients leaving a cow's body in just one day. They have to eat enough nutrients to make milk and keep their body healthy. Now we throw another factor into this, that cow will be bred to get pregnant. She now has a fetus growing inside her, giving five to eight gallons of milk a day and keeping her body healthy. She is suppose to do this all on just grass! The buffalo didn't even do this on just grass.
Our cows can do this if it was spring here all year round. The grass is young and fresh and in the early stages of its life cycle, full of protein and energy. However, there are three other seasons that get their turn. The grass is still good in the summer but not as good, because it too is getting ready for seeding in the fall, then lays under the snow in winter. If you followed a cow around in a field she doesn't just eat one type of plant. She eats many types of plants. She knows what her body needs. That includes grains. Farmers don't have the roaming spaces that the buffalo once did. So farmers produce forage that will feed the cow to help maintain her health. But even the best hay forage can't compete nutritional with fresh grass.
Our cows get grass from the pastures, spring, summer, fall. We make hay and grow corn, for them so they can eat during the winter months, when the grass isn't available. They need the protein and energy from both the hay and corn for the winter.
If you still don't understand or think that today's cow can live off of just 100% grass, I will leave you with this thought; A woman, that is pregnant, and only eats lettuce, how healthy do you think she and her baby will be?
These are my thoughts and opinions only!
It's Wednesday, January 11, 2012. The weather is sunny and 50+ degrees out. This is not normal weather for this time of year, because even the honeybees are out. The cows were on pasture today as well just for some exercise. [slideshow]
This was the first day of the winter farmer's market. Today was a beautiful day, sunny and 40. This is not the normal weather for Michigan in January (not complaining). Fulton Street Farmer's Market is under construction and not in it's usual location. We are in the parking lot of the Salvation Army on the southeast corner of Fulton and Fuller. The Salvation Army was kind enough to let us vendors use their lot and for that I'm grateful. My thanks goes out to them. Winter market is every Saturday from 10am to 1pm until April 28, 2012. I'm sure the weather will change so for your convenience you may call or email in orders for quick pickup. That way you are in and out if the weather is bad. Thank you for supporting your local Farmer's wife! :)
[slideshow]Life on a farm is never boring but I'm glad yesterday is over. Around 11am yesterday, my husband came in from finishing morning chores. I was standing in the kitchen and happened to look out the front window of the house. I was surprised to see...COWS! Those three little words that make a farmer JUMP are..."COWS ARE OUT!" We couldn't get out of the house fast enough. We ran for our boots and coats. Yes, it's cold in Michigan this time of year. The dog and I went out one door to cut them off and my hubby went out the other door to start the snowmobile. The whole milking herd was out of the barn and heading to the neighbors yards and fields. We did round them all up and put them back on pasture. We had to fix the gate they opened. Milk production went down that night. But the cows seemed to be perfectly happy with themselves. Those are three little words I don't need to say or hear again for another year at least!
[slideshow]January 2nd is my husbands birthday, or Today! However, my husband is a farmer. He still has to do chores, cows get milked. Cows, pigs and calves all have to be fed. Today we went up to the other farm to feed the young stock, and this is what we found. A down heifer, she is hard to see in the picture because she was covered in manure and snow. This is how we cared for our down animal. First thing my husband did was check for injury and see if she could stand on her own. She was not injured but was not able to get up on her own. She was wet and shivering, the on set of hypothermia. Our job was to get her inside the barn, dry and warm her. We don't drag animals. We carry animals. We put the bucket on the tractor and worked on safely getting her into the bucket. This was a dirty challenge, we had to put a halter rope on her head and tie her head to her back leg. This sounds painful I know but its so that she can't hurt her self when she's being moved. We then scooped her up into the bucket. The second picture is of her tied and being moved to the barn. This went very well. She was untied by me and gently set down in a pen in the barn. The third picture is of her moving around getting comfy. I was waiting for my husband to carrying in a big bale of straw. I dried her off the best I could, that was a stinky job. We then buried her in straw. Straw is one of the best insulators you can find on the farm. The forth picture is of her buried in straw with water and food in front of her. She is now warm, dry and safe in the barn recovering from her ordeal. Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband farmer. It's his special day, but it doesn't matter what the day is when it comes to the farm. He's a farmer, his farm and animals come first. This applies to all holidays and special days, no matter what!