August 22, 2013

My Life KNOWS When It's Canning and Weaning Season!

We had an incident that led to housing Dodger and Stormy in separate stalls inside the barn for a few days prior to Patty and Killian being taken to Hampton’s.  Mr. Stormy gave us a little bit of a struggle helping him through a bout with Scours.

Jen and I had headed to Academy in Knoxville to pick up bag rolls for the FoodSaverNaturally – Hell always breaks loose when I leave the house.  Never fails.  Stormy managed to get his Easy Wean out of his nose.  It was raining.  And of course – he nursed on Cora – who had not nursed in over a week.

We won’t be using these Easy Wean appliances in the future.  They come off our Dexter babies too easily.  Our little yard seems to be a really good place for the babies to be fence-weaned from now on.

I’m just glad we got home when we did.  Dwayne had also forgotten to go get feed.  And Co-Op was closed.  He got to drive all the way to Lenoir City and buy feed to get us through until Monday.

Dishing out a completely different feed to our cattle in an instant is something that can downright set me to pulling feathers out of my butt.  But I had enough of the other left over to mix in for the next couple of feedings.  And we handed out extra hay.

It turned out to be a positive.  These animals went nuts over the Purina Stocker Grower.  Cora’s previous owner used that feed.  After watching them eat without flipping feed bowls and leaving absolutely no waste – we decided to stick with what works.  Our cattle have begun to lay down in contentment and chew their cud a lot more.  This is what we want to see.  It means they’re actually digesting their food properly.  The mountains of manure in the paddocks are nowhere to be found.

We’ve been able to reduce Cora’s ration back to the same feed and amount as everyone else.  We compensated a little with morning hay until we got her moved over with Artist and April.  All in all – everyone is now grazing more productively as we want.

We’ve been putting Stormy and Dodger through a gamut of training centered around their halters and lead ropes.  They’ve also been going through conditioning for getting used to us removing their halters when they come into the stalls at night – and putting them back on before they step outside for breakfast in the mornings.  The routine of off and on helps with being able to stand beside them anywhere and put a halter on them for any reason in the future.

We’re now able to stand around with them.  They have no problems letting us pet and love on them.  Both boys are settling in with common routines and almost walk right beside us.  They take no issue to walking up to us now – as well.

It’s the petty little things you can do during feeding time that can be used for big reasons down the road.  I use my ‘buzz words‘ as I did with the others.

They even stand still out in the little yard and let us adjust their halters without any need for a lead rope.  I always give a few minutes to connect ‘does that feel better?‘ to a problem being fixed – long enough for them to focus on the difference in how the fix feels.

They connect the dots in no time at all.  And a strong sense of trust blossoms enough to allow us all the time we need.  They come to understand that we’re doing something for them that will help them feel more comfortable.

There have been several various routines we’ve begun to teach and swap.  These routines allow helping them become comfortable with things like being tied to posts with enough excess lead rope that lets them eat from a feed bowl on the ground.  No more stretching in attempts to break free.  No more need to tie them up taut – as is done when they are being administered to for any animal care or grooming.  This was an issue while they were in the same paddock with Patty.  But it is – pretty much – something normal to be expected.  That’s why training is important.

They were allowed to keep their feed bowls all day for the first day.  They had not finished their rations.  But we let them slide.  They both left a little bit of feed in their bowls on the second day.  I gave them time until I finished feeding everyone and tending to the chickens before pulling their bowls and passing the leftovers to Artist and April.  Leftovers don’t get left inside the barn to encourage rodents.  And both boys decided to finish up all their rations before I took up their bowls that next morning.

The really cool thing about all this training and conditioning is that we don’t have to spend months going through boring repetitions.  One of the many wonderful traits that Irish Dexter Cattle possess is a strong level of memory retention.  For example – Bruce went months without a halter and not being put on a lead rope.  He still throws a fit when we try putting his halter on.  Always has.  Until we bring out the bucket with a treat.  And when we hook that lead rope – it’s as if he spent the day before walking all around the entire area with us.

Artist – April – and Cora are now in a paddock together.  The girls will remain with Artist until a week or so out from their due dates – if we’re lucky enough to get our young man to succeed.

Dodger and Storm will remain in the little yard for a while longer – while they go through more continued training.  Soon - they’ll be moved back to the paddock where they were born and nursed.

Bruce is now in a paddock by himself – but center to the other two larger paddocks.  He’s able to commune with everyone at the fences.  He’ll have the best of both worlds – until he goes to Hampton’s in November.

Already – in the short time since Patty and Killian were taken to Hampton’s – all the others seem to have calmed down so much.  You can feel the quiet and the peacefulness in the air.  You look at all of them during mid-day and there might be 1 or 2 standing.

Cora has already started her assertiveness toward April at the feed bunker.  But we’re working on that.  She gets a special treat for being a good girl if she shares.

Our cost for a 50lb. bag of feed has gone up almost $2.00 per bag.  And we’re driving all the way to Lenoir City to buy it.  Yet - the feed bill has gone down.  There is no more waste – period.  And we’re able to work scheduling for buying feed alongside other errands requiring driving to Lenoir City.

I’ve been really tickled by our little Fig tree this year!  This is its second season growing here.  And that little puppy has just loaded up with gorgeous figs!  I only get about a half-dozen ready each day now.  But if all goes well – it’s a sure sign that I’ll be canning fig preserves next year!

If that little Fig tree doesn’t double up next year – it’ll triple up with some wonderful fruit!

Our dominate Americauna Rooster is coming up absolutely gorgeous!  Took him a while.  But he finally got a handle on his ‘crow.‘   He had a pubescent ‘Bobbie Brady Thing‘ going on there for a few weeks.  We laughed every time we heard him!

He’s funny to watch.  I’ve caught him resting a couple times and it looks so weird!  He doesn’t lay all the way down!  He only bends his knees and ends up resting on his drumsticks!  Haha!

And the Girls are growing so big and so pretty!  Amazes me how we can end up with 24 chickens that are 95% more quiet than the other 5 we had before!  Never again will I even look at a Buff Orpington!!

We are struggling to keep up with the grass around here.  And it’s got the upper hand on us at the moment.  But we’ll get there!  One way or another – we will win that battle.  I can’t stand high grass!  Words start crawling all over me – like ‘snakes‘ – ‘ticks‘ – ‘rats‘ – ‘chiggers.‘


The garden’s going good.  I’ve been breading and freezing Okra for bagging with the FoodSaver.  I’ve been blanching and freezing green beans.  I’m gaining on a few packages of Purple Hull Peas.  We have tomatoes coming.  God willing – they’ll make it to harvesting for sauce and diced tomatoes to be canned.

The Eggplant just seems to be refusing to die.  We’ve had an awesome season of Eggplant Parmesan this year! And we have more eggplant coming every time we harvest a few.  All from 1 single plant.  I don’t get it!

There is one thing I think I goofed up on.  I thought I planted Spaghetti Squash in one of the tractor tires.  The little babies on these 2 puppies are way too round and dented – like a melon.  And if I’m not mistaken – the seeds may have come from an envelope that I forgot to mark.

I think I had one of those ‘ Screw it – let’s do it for shits n giggles ‘ days.

I only know this.  If I’d done it deliberately – they would have croaked.  With my luck – we’ll end up with some really delicious melon for Christmas.

There it is again.  The story of my life!


A Lady's Life said...

Well shoot honey. Life is GOOOOOOOD.

Deb said...

I don't think those are the same kind of weaning things we used...ours had a screw in them that would help hold them on...although our baby girl lost one once, but not till it had been on long enough for her to figure out that feeding on Mom wasn't what she should do. We just brought our little bull home now, so will see if he is weaned or not...if not he will have to wear one too.

Wish we were having trouble keeping our grass cut...that would mean we had gotten some rain. It's been two months since we had much...getting a bit to dry again, after the wet spring, it's a little bit of a surprise that it's THIS dry...but after last summer not a total surprise. It's turned warm again, but least it's not been as warm as long this summer as it was last! :-))