7/18 AM 1.7 gal Another hot day but less humid. The fan is helping a lot to make milking pleasant for me and clearly for HH. She was very quiet this morning. But at one point about halfway through she very quietly picked up her near rear and set it on the rim of the milk bucket. Fortunately her foot was clean and I had the opposite edge of the bucket braced with my knee so no dirt fell in the bucket and no milk was spilled. I (fairly) quietly said “No no no” and held her foot down firmly to the floor and pulled hard on her rope. She gave me a stare. When I sat down again she tried it with her off hind foot, also lifted her tail. By moving swiftly I managed to catch most of it on the shovel and pitched it out the window. For the remained of the milking she Ws quiet and meditative.
When I turned her loose instead of leaving she carefully explored and sniffed all around the barn, ignoring Henry. I finally had to pull her out the door. While he was sucking she kicked him quite a bit, seemed really annoyed with him.
7/18 PM Milking was very quiet this evening, apart from Henry’s turn whichis getting to resemble a calf roping contest. Stewart plans to take him tohis new home tomorrow. It remains to be seen whether my net work is less ormore. Definitely will be more milk to handle. I guess I’ll have to start making cheese unless the pigs can drink more than I think. A beautiful evening, warm but not hot, humidity much reduced. Mark mowed the lawn (Hurrah!) and Martin scanned sample pictures for Keeping a Family Cow.
Total for today 3 gal and a bit.
7/19 PM HH awful. I went out to milk a half hour early due to dinner invite and started with the hind teats. Constant dancing and prancing with her hind feet even while eating. She seems to dislike any milking of her hind teats. She aimed a lot of irritable deliberate kicks my way. She missed because I dodged. But I got so mad at her I actually gave myself a headache. She just turned and stared at me with cowful eyes.
Total for day a little shy of 2 gal.
7/20 am Nobody came for Henry. He’s still there the big lummox. I pulled him off pretty fast this morning. HH was kicking him all the time. I am able to lead him back to his pen and clip him to his rope by letting him suck my forearm. It would be impossible for me to pull him. He is surely 100 lb and very lively.
This time I began with the front teats and she was still letting down. The hind teats were actually dripping, something I have not seen before. She started out just as aggravating with the near rear. I stood up calmly and tightened the rope for a few seconds, then said No a few times while holding her ankle. She was a lot better. I milked the front completely before starting on the back using the second pail and emptying it part way through. She has to be watched constantly and is always advancing and retreating to the extent of her rope making me move a lot. The unevenness of the floor is a great added inconvenience as neither the stool nor the bucket has a reliable footing.
7/20pm Stewart came for Henry in the late afternoon, leading him away on a leash and he certainly did not cooperate. I was prepared for HH to be fractious too when she discovered his absence but the opposite proved to be true. It was the quietest milking session in a long time even though it took much longer due to the difficulty I have in milking her hind teats. They are better than at first but still short and tight.. Letdown was good or better than usual. Total for the day 3.6 gal.
7/21am Last night was the kind of night one hopes never to have again. Two cars pulled into the driveway at 10pm. (Muffin never moved. She really is getting old). I went right out and a group of young women asked “You got cows?” Sigh. Yes, Helen and Howie were both up the road at Stewart’s. Henry was bellowing relentlessly and Helen had responded by breaking down the fence somewhere. Alone in the dark with a flashlight it is very hard to herd cows. The light confuses them and cattle are weird at night anyway. Of course they were circling around in Stewart’s garden snatching mouthfuls of his corn. I finally headed them towards home, then had trouble getting them into the barn.. I locked them in w/o food or water and went to bed after 11. I got up at 4;30 and let them out to graze. HH came in for milking as though nothing had happened although Henry was still bellowing and had all night. HH quiet again this morning. I got slightly over 2 gal. Stewart came over early. He thought moose has been in his garden but I told him the truth. He has sent for an electric anti barking collar to see if it will stop Henry bellowing. Also took the calf teat bucket so H will have something to suck although it is missing parts. Off now to spend the morning fencing. Damn!
7/21 PM I couldn’t find a breech in the fence along the road. Later I heard on the grapevine that the cows were seen over at David Hutchinson’s place. They must have gone way around the end. I couldn’t deal with that today so I closed off the whole North field. I check it out tomorrow if I can. It’s said to be coming on very hot.
Milking was quiet but I found out why H is s touchy about her rear teats. They are badly eroded at the base from Henry’s lower incisors. I put a lot of salve on tem. Other than that touchiness H was excellent.
7/22AM HH super touchy this morning about her off hind teat and fairy touchy about both hind teats. The areas eroded by Henry’s teeth are pretty well cleared up. Milking took 40 minutes and wasn’t that much fun although I didn’t lose either the milk or my temper. That off hind quarter remains hard with a stubborn mass that doesn’t soften as it should when milked, the result no doubt, of chronic holding back. No sluggishness of the milk going through the filter. I did a lot of massaging. I poured off to the other bucket every time I had 2″‘ of milk she was so kicky and restless.
2 gal +3 cups of milk.
I think Martha (the cat) has stopped feeding Prunella’s orphans. They won’t stay in the box and are too young to drink efficiently from a saucer and are staggering around the buttery mewing. Stewart says Henry is still bellowing and he’s ready to take him to auction.
7/22pm HH totally pissy this evening. Milking was very unfun. I poured to the second bucket every time I got 2″. I don’t think there is any particular soreness anywhere in her udder. She was just crabby and seemed to have it in for me. I could still hear Henry periodically bellowing. It’s hard to believe that means much to her though. She wasn’t answering.
7/23amThis morning I was determined not to get mad at HH no matter what, just remain coolly analytical. All the same I nearly lost it a few times, not that it appears to affect her. She just turned around while I was lecturing her about meatloaf and licked the sweat off my arm. I can finish the front quarters in 5 to 7 minutes. Then it takes at least a half hour to do the rear quarters because of her walking forwards and backwards and constant threatening to kick. I decided to see how far I could count squirts before having to let go and did not get beyond 10, mostly 3 or 4. This is intolerable. I intend to spend part of today ,or all, rebuilding the feed area. I don’t think I am up to building a stanchion. I hope to invent some way to keep her from moving forwards and backwards.
The off hind quarter does not seem sore and by refusing to give up I got most of the hardness out, well half of it. Despite her behavior, she was letting down OK. I think it was a big mistake to keep Henry around so long. I think I should have got rid of him three weeks ago, about July 1. I feel sure the hardness resulted from her holding back on him due to pain. This of course would not be likely to occur if he were not following her and feeding ad lib.
Mom, as I walk out the door it occurs to me that someone with a book called “Keeping a Family Cow” should have strong fences. (Ha!) Good morning! (My email from son John this morning)
I replied that perhaps I should get rid of all stock (cattle) and devote myself to lofty theoretical advice like most of the practical advice I see. -J
7/23pm Despite visitors I made good on my vow to construct improvements to the eating area for HH. My workmanship is deplorable but HH no longer has to reach way low for spilled grain and can not dribble grain out front so there will be now more getting down on her knees like a goat to stretch for it. Milking was altogether quieter. The mass in her off hind quarter seemsa bit less, definitely not worse. Total for the day 4+ gal.
Friday July 24 AM HH definately less frisky with the improved feeding arranagement but far from perfect. She still threatens frequently to kick. I tried counting squirts between times when I had to stop and shift my own position or that of the bucket either because she threatened to kick or because she stepped forwards or backwards. I counted only the squirts with my right hand so the actually number of squirts is double my count. Mostly I was not able to count about 20 but once reached 89 and a couple of times got over 50. 2 gal 2cups
7/24 pm…milking not too stressful in comparison to what she sometimes does. Weather pleasant. At Farmington Farmers Union today I ordered a device called Kickstop. It looks like a giant C-clamp which appears to lock onto a couple of Karate points or something. They said it wouldn’t be in for 10 days.
Total for day 2 gal exactly.
Sat July 25 AM I long for Kickstop to arrive. However, I find that counting squirts helps keep my mind off getting angry. Whether I get angry or not seems not to affect either her behavior or letdown but it gives me a headache. I read in Sci. News that somebody got around to exploring the way anger affects men and women. Most men reported feeling better after having gotton angry whereas most women said they felt sick. A couple of times I got up over 100 squirts but mostly did not get past 20. The mass in her off hind quarter is almost totally resolved. At no time was there any hesitancy about the milk going through the filter so it was not an infection. She certainly does not have any sensitivity in that quarter as an excuse for churning her feet around.
2 gal exactly.
25pm HH the worst ever tonight. Only got 1.6 gal, 3.6 for the day. I just watched her through the binoculars paying a lot of attention to Howie. This time she may really be in heat.
Sun July 26 About 8pm last night I could see through the binoculars what look like heat activity, HH lurching after Howie. At 9 I confirmed roaring heat with an effort to mount Howie. I ran out and called her and she came galloping. I retreated inside the beefer pen where they both followed me and I quickly shut the door locking them in, not caring to have any midnight calls “Your cows are out”. No fence is proof against a cow in heat, at least none of mine, in case she heard an answering bellow off somewhere. I let her out at 6am to refresh herself. She was quiet. I milked at 7 (late for me) and she behaved more normally. Whenever she really kicked I gave my best imitation of a roaring bull which I must say controlled her as well as any of my other devices. I feel tired and groggy today, sniffley, and my hands are weak. These are hay fever symptoms no doubt brought on by the bushhogging of the fields. It took me a good 45 minutes to (weakly) milk but production was back up.
2gal + 1 pint.
26pm Not too bad this evening although strong moral force was required. Heat period past.. Total for day 4 gal 8oz.
Jul 27am After about 3 minutes of quiet milking HH began purposeful kicking. I started milking without the rope loop but then I stood up and put it onto her. I gave her some samples of my unladylike barking yell (not exactly the Horse Whisperer – ed.)that’s been working pretty well to get her attention. Her kicking is far more purposeful when I’m working on the hind quarters. I feel sure this must relate to the bruising that Henry gave her. She has formed a habit and everybody knows how hard it is to change the habit of a cow. She added to her commentary by making two big plops and urinating. I caught the urine in my handy bucket as usual. I can’t remember who taught me this trick but it sure helps to keep the area more pleasant. I am not usually fast enough to catch the plops on a shovel unless I am already on my feet. But so far I have managed to scoop it out of the way before she steps in it. Towards the end of milking she as usual sort goes to sleep and is perfectly quiet the last 5 or 10 minutes. Unfortunately by then she was no longer letting down and I was forced to leave some milk behind in her resistant rear quarter and ended with only 1.7 5 gal. Maybe she’ll make it up tonight.
27pm Helen came in quietly as always. On her side right where I tend to put my head she had the imprint of having lain in a cowpat. I cleaned her up as best I could but somehow it seemed overwhelming. I sat down on my stool with my bucket and wept for about three minutes. Then I rested my foot against her leg and said ‘no kicking” a few times. The moment I began milking she began kicking. I stopped and put my foot against her leg again and gave her my snarling bark. I continued to do this all through milking everytime she threatened to kick which is countless times in the nearly 35 minutes it takes me to do what should be 15 minutes of milking and am hoarse. However I guess she hates this yelling more than anything else I have attempted. I just roared and touched her leg with the back of my arm. She clearly hates yelling and puts her ears back and looks at me with horror in her eyes. She didn’t let down very well either. Yelling is exhausting and gives me a headache. Maybe it will break up her kicking habit. Only 3.5 gal for the day. The task is made extra hard by not being able to move my stool around due to the uneven floor. I don’t know how to approach the project of a new floor. Must think about it. Because of the stool situation and I spend a lot of my time squinched up feeling like the woman in the magician’s box.
7/28AM I was a good half hour late this morning, did not leave for the barn until after 7. Then the first thing I did was plug in the circular saw and take two legs off my milking stool. This way it can perch on the stepped part of the milking area. Trying to find a place for my butt with or without the stool has been a big part of the strain of milking. I forgot to put the rope on HH and decided to try again getting along w/o it as I have tried often before. I began by milking the front quarters fairly completely. She objects far less on the front quarters at all times. However I had to start out by putting my foot against her leg and included a faint roar just to remind her. This now works better than the rope which in any case is scratchy against my face. I did not put it on at all. HH was letting down well. I moved to the hind quarters only when milk was streaming onto the floor (after about 10 minutes). She then began marching forwards and backwards and threatening constantly with both hind feet so I yelled a bit louder. A lot of the time I could manage only 4 squirts before she either moved or offered to kick. With my head against her flank I know when she is fixing to kick as soon as she does and move my arm against her leg which forestalls it but sure slows things down. This morning she began using her off hind leg to kick which is much harder to see coming. She continued to let down, did not switch her tail much, did not poop, and I ended up with a really full bucket within and inch of the top, the most milk ever. My right hand actually gave out and I had to strip one handed with my left. I gave her chin a good scratch before letting her out. One thing about cows, unlike horses they show no signs of holding a grudge. So although milking frequently devolves into an adversarial relationship this seems more based in the cow’s dogged commitment to habit than anything else. 2.6 gallons! There were some tough clotty bits on the filter probably due to her finally fully letting down that off hind quarter. 28pm Maybe we have turned some sort of corner. HH not at all bad tonight. I had to start out by setting my food against her leg a few time and making a soft grumbling noise. And she tried a few tricks with her off hind foot . I reached under with my foot and set it against her leg along with more mumbling about ‘how would you like to go live in the freezer?’ Did not put on the rope. She marched around about as much as ever but walking not kicking and settled down to meditate sooner and let down quite well. Total for the day 4.5 gal. It sure would help if the floor were not so uneven. It is had to find a place to set the bucket down flat.
7/29 AM This was the quietest milking ever. HH acted like a real cow. I set my foot very lightly against her leg before starting, barely touching her and whispered ‘no kicking’. No rope of course. I milked the front quarters first and she scarcely moved. I was in an uncomfortable position due to H standing very close to the awkward ridge in the floor so I could not set my chopped off stool down properly. But I milked the front fully (half a bucket) with no disturbance. Then I started with an empty bucket on the rear and she continued cooperative. I still have to milk two fingered for the first 10 minutes which makes slow going but I can deal with that so long as she isn’t kicking. She did as much marching back and forth as ever but no threatening. Marcia and I discussed last night how much this resembles starting a filly. So much frustration, so much crowing about progress only to be back at square one the next day. I do hope I/we are over the hump and Horrible Helen Heiferlump is ready to be a proper cow and do her namesake credit (dear old Helen Leslie). This morning a little shy of 2 gal. 7/28 PM Another reasonably quiet milking much like this morning. Exactly the same amount of milk just shy of 2 gal. Almost 4 for the day. I gave Helen lots of kisses. Blackie has sent her half grown chicks off on three own now, four of them. I think she is starting to lay again. Two roosters were fighting for her favor. She still hops in and out of the pen every day and has taught her children to do the same. They go back in the henhouse at night and are able to reach a high perch by themselves. For some days I went out every night and lifted the smallest one up. I was going to buy a single use flash camera today but most of my errands had to be abandoned because the car quit in Rumford and I had to call AAA.
7/30 Thursday Another nice quiet milking. There was some tail switching when I started the rear quarters and at one point I put my foot against her leg and spoke quietly. The only thing that slows me down is her very frequent walking forwards and backwards. And of course the smallness of her rear teats. This morning I began by taking a whole-hand grab on them instead of the thumb and finger grip I have had to use (or else she would kick) and that’s when she swished her tail. She also makes a plop halfway through milking but I caught it on the shovel mostly and pitched it out the window. It took 7 minutes for the two front quarters, virtually no change from a month ago and about 20 for the rear. She is letting down much better. The rear teats stream milk all the while I’m doing the front. I used to be able to set the bucket to catch this with Clarinda but I’m not ready to risk that with HH. 2 gal. 1 cup Remarkably good behavior considering we had company in the barn and I jumped up to chat and left her standing. H remarked upon this by making a messy plop and stepping in it when I wasn’t looking and even got her tail in it a little bit so I was especially grateful for her otherwise good manners. But she didn’t let down as well and I only got 1.75 gal. Total for the day 4 gal less about a cup.
7/31 Company in the barn just as I started on the hind quarters. HH heard him long before I did and raised her tail. I caught it all on the shovel. Apart from tensing up, she stood perfectly still when Stewart came in. He needed his Havahart trap back because a skunk is getting into his grain area. It was still out in my henyard where it never caught the raccoon. Stewart chatted awhile about his daughter’s wedding tomorrow. Also admired Sidney and Adelaide. Agreed two more months and they will be prime pigs. I told him I may have found some hay. I didn’t feel I got all the milk this morning but 2 gallons + about a cup and a half is slightly up from yesterday. PM. Helen quiet and orderly despite visitors in the barn again. Marcia arrived as I was nearly done. H didn’t lift a foot but ceased to let down. She was friendly and let Marcia pet her. Total for the day 4 gal 1 cup.
8/1 2 gal 1 pint. HH perfect for milking of front quarters but restless for rear quarters. Did not lift a foot but walked around a lot and even bellowed. She bellowed a lot while waiting to be milked. Maybe because I was nearly a half hour late. PM. Uneventful, milked 1/2 hour early wanting to get to the lake and dinner with Harper and family. Total for day 2gal. Weather superb.
8/2 AM Another fine day but I woke up with a raging migraine probably due to sampling all three desserts last night at camp on top of steak. It was hard to get up, harder to head to the barn. But as usually happens, I felt better after milking. HH behaved well. She had a fairly copious bloody show, the sort of thing one might see at the end of heat but heat was Sunday July 26 a week ago. PM. Production was down a pint for the day. It might be my fault. My headache left me but I felt weak and slow all day. Maybe H got tired of letting down. Dear Harper, Jennifer and Elijah were here most of the day helping me with computer stuff. 3.8 gal today.
8/3 For the last three milkings I have been able to move straight from milking the front quarters to the back without getting up to change buckets. I can keep going fast enough to keep a foam on the milk. I still get up towards the end to change buckets because although she is not kicking she is usually marching back and forth and it is hard to safely whisk a full bucket out of the way. This morning I could in fact have stayed with the same bucket but I lost my nerve and changed when nearly done; she remained steady while I got up. To keep going like this without stopping for anything gets to be a game sort of like winning at solitaire.
Last night I took off her halter leaving just the collar with the bell. I’ll be sorry if later she gets loose when next in heat and I have to try to lead her without a halter. But she should be more comfortable. 2 gal. 6 oz PM. Tonight I did the entire milking without changing buckets even including stripping! a tad under 2 gal;. total for day 4 gal – about 1 cup or less
8/4am Another very quiet milking. I was again able to finish milking including stripping w/o shifting buckets. I did have to shift my position a number of times but nothing startling and I felt she let down satisfactorily. However I ended up with a couple of ounces under 2 gal. I suspect this is a downward trend in production due to drier grass and more flies. I might get a response to more grain or higher protein % but it would not be worth it to me. I have switched over the last few purchased between 14% and 16% Blue Seal Crunchy and Cargill Texture. She is getting 8 lb/feeding. PM. Everything fine but production sharply down. I didn’t get my 2 gal this evening. Total for day 3.75 gal.
George Weeks brought by 200 bales of pretty good hay today. It’s stuff that should have been made in June but rain prevented haying so now it is stemmy. But is well made hay. It contains some second growth. I stood by the hay elevator and took off the bales and also stacked so my hands are pretty tired after milking. You can’t wear gloves for this. Not a single bale broke although Stewart hurled and tipped them off the load pretty vigorously. I could tell George who was upstairs with me stacking was getting nervous.
8/5 Total for the day a bit under 4 gal. George brought another 75 bales, these for Stewart stored in my barn. H well behaved.
8/6 AM 2 full gal. this morning. H quiet. Seems to like the new hay fairly well. I finished milking in 20 minutes this morning, best time ever with H. 4 gal total.
8/7 is It’s hot today. Maybe I should have turned on the fan. H marched back and forth a lot. I had to keep moving the bucket and this is difficult to do safely when it gets nearly full. At one point I slopped out about a cupful. To maintain my rhythm I sing the old round:
A farmer went walking upon his Grey mare His daughter behind him so rosy and fair.
Tra la la la, Tra la la la Tra la la la la, la la la la la
A raven cried croak and they all tumbled down The mare broke her knees and the farmer his crown
Tra la la la, etc
The mischievous raven flew laughing away And vowed he would serve them the same the next day
Tra la la la, etc.
This morning I was not able to get past the second couplet before having to move the bucket. She let down fine however, total 2 gal 2 cups counting what spilled.
I’m putting out a flake or so of the new hay after milking and Helen and Howie are eating it. The pigs are looking very good. They get lots of skim milk, slops from camp, swine feed, and I wash out their feed and water pan each feed and throw lime around. The lime has reduced the smell to near nothing. Two bantam hens are setting. Today was Grammie’s birthday. I will take flowers to the cemetery later.
8/8am Helen was bellowing loudly by 5:30 and kept it up, milling around on the north side of the barn instead of coming in. The mystery was solved at 6:30 when I went to let her in. Somehow the gate was closed so she couldn’t get back to the barn. I’ll have to ask Stewart if he knows how it got closed. It could not blow shut as it is not on hinges, just tied to the post with rope so must be carried open and shut. Odd. She behaved OK at milking but I only got 1.8 gal. I don’t know how long she had been w/o water. For the last 4 milkings I have completed the actual milking in 20 minutes. That is gratifying. This time is unlikely to be reduced much except as her production falls. Her hind teats will always be slow during this lactation I expect as they are small. I can get a better grip than a month ago but still not a full hand grip as I can on the front ones. She definitely lets down better than a month ago and sometimes I get a slight second letdown. Beautiful Maine weather but no rain lately and the grass is slowing way down. PM It was seriously hot today. Hot weather tends to depress milk production. Company arrived in the barn during the last ten minutes of milking and H quit letting down so I don’t know if she would have made up this morning’s deficit. Total for the day 3.6 gal.
8/9 I got brave and carried only one bucket to the barn this morning. H was not as quiet as sometimes and it gets difficult to shift the bucket without slopping when it is very full. She seemed to be well on the way to making up for yesterday’s poor production but then she stopped letting down for some reason. Just heiferness I guess. I did get 2 gal + 1 pint. PM Quiet. Total for the day 4 gal.
8/10 AM 2 gal, HH quiet. Cows sure have sharp eyes. On her way out the barn door she paused to sniff a fledgling barn swallow which was on the floor wedged into a shadowed corner in some lumber. I would never have seen it.
I caught it and put it back up on a rafter. The barn swallows have been very agitated lately. They are bringing off their second brood. I guess this morning they must have pushed them out of the nest. I don’t know how any of the babies make it past the first day on their own. I saw a cat running off with another.
Yesterday I saw that the bantam which has been sitting out near the road had 8 chicks. I took them some yogurt. They made it through until this morning. I took them clabbered milk and mash. 8/10pm Total for today 3.8 gal. At dusk I found and boxed up the bantam with new chicks. For some reason she returns to her nest at night. I put them in the cage I made for the former sets of chicks. The chicks kept popping up like popcorn and are so small they easily go through places in the cage wire. I am too busy to fix this and have shoved various objects against the weak spots in hopes of containing them.
8/11AM H gave 2 gal 2 cups this morning, letting down smoothly. During the restive transition period which always coincides with her finishing her grain and my finishing the front teats she presented me with a large cowpie, also urinated. I caught the latter in a plastic pail and was able to remove the first contribution before she stepped back into it, what cows always do given the opportunity. It drizzled all night, mush needed rain, and new grass is coming up in the fields now they have been bushhogged. Also I am putting out a leaf of or two of new hay twice a day which they are eating. Somewhere among these occurrences lies the answer to her improved production this morning. The little free living bantam rooster is all by himself now. All his hens are setting or mothering chicks. He looked very wet and bedraggled in the rain, his elegant iridescent tail dragging on the ground. Total for the day 4 gal.
8/12am I set the alarm for 5am so as to be able to leave for the airport at 7 to pick up Barby. It’s now 6.57 so I won’t quite make it. H glad to see me early but gave only 1.8 gal. The little bantam has settled down to life in a cage, her first experience of this am sure. There are 11 chicks. PM. I milked at 5:10, almost exactly a 12 hour interval, considered ideal. I got 2 gal but she did not make up the missing2 cups of this morning. Total 3.8 gal. I took the bantam chicks some yogurt as I do not have chick starter and the layer mash I’m giving them does not have enough protein for chicks. Heavy rain today on the way back from the airport and considerable at home. I still haven’t found Sukey’s kittens. Silly thing has them outside somewhere I know. Gary says the rooster is a Phoenix.
8/13am 2 gal + 1 cup I believe I would have gotten more but Stewart came in to borrow grain about halfway through milking. When I got done there was still a hard mass in the off rear quarter that wouldn’t give way. I’m anxious to see if she responds to the change to Nutrena (Cargill) feed I have made. I have used Blue Seal for years but there are currant news reports of undernutrition on Blue Seal admitted by the company. They say a computer error resulted in adding insufficient vitamins. Some growers have lost many chicks as a result. However there are anecdotal reports going back at least two years in which poor growth of feeder cattle and poor performance on the track is reported. My neighbor Stewart has had devastating losses of turkeys, chicks , ducklings and piglets while feeding Blue Seal. In the case of the piglets I’d be more inclined to blame poor nutrition from feeding restaurant slops as the slops I have seen have been mostly pasta and dessert with very little protein. It is down in the forties this morning and the new grass is wet, cold and fairly lush, ideal conditions to cause bloat and I’d be very worried if this were early June rather than mid August. H must have eaten a lot if the wet grass before she came in for milking. For the first time I recall she did not head straight for the water when I let her out. PM 1.9 gal.
8/15 A lovely bright morning. H gave exactly 2 gal. I had expected a bit more of a bounce in production from the new grass, perhaps the change of feed. That does not appear to be happening. On the other hand, I just checked the calendar and tomorrow she is due to be in heat and that knocks down production. Guess I’ll keep her in tonight.
8/16 Sunday Helen was perfectly behaved this morning and gave exactly 2 gal. There was a somewhat alarming thunderstorm going on at milking time which did not seem to affect her mood. It worried Muffin a lot. She wanted to be left in the house but when I told her not to be such a wuss she followed me to the barn. I don’t like dogs in the barn when I’m milking but she stood outside with her nose stuck through the crack in the door with the eaves pouring down on her. So I took pity and let in. She was no trouble. After milking H didn’t want to go down the ramp. She thinks it will be slippery. I opened the alley to the beefer pen but she didn’t like that either and kept going back and forth debating her options. Finally she decided on her usual exit to the barnyard and water tub. It wasn’t slippery after all.
The bantam with 11 chicks was out in the storm and I couldn’t find her. I don’t see how anything so tiny can keep 11 chicks dry but when the sun came out there they were all fluffy. The four that I used to have to lift up at night to their perch are now teenage hens and the rooster has started to chase them. They still go back in the hen house every night and fly to the top beam. I haven’t clipped their wings so every day they fly out of the henyard and spend the day going everywhere.
8/17pm I tried milking the rear quarters first which I never do to see if it made a difference. H clearly didn’t like it. She also hates it when I milk one hind quarter and one front quarter. This experiment netted me only 1.5 gal, 3.5 for the day.
8/17 The little bantam was still there this morning and it looks like all the chicks but they hop around so fast it’s hard to count. Cool damp morning, H very quiet. 2 gal and about 2 cups. But I experimented again with milking one front quarter and one hind quarter together and right away she raised her tail and urinated which I caught in the bucket. For some reason, habit no doubt, having one hind and one front being milked really annoys her but I hope to get her over it because it never comes out even. Both the right side quarters run out before the left. PM I guess I may as well accept lower production. 1.6 this evening. Total for the day 3.65 gal.
A new set of kittens has emerged. The mother is totally wild and hisses if I even look at her. The kittens would like to be friendly. Two are beautiful white with grey beanies. The other is tweedy looking. I hope I can tame them. I twiddled a string or the general crowd and some other older ones played.
8/18 1.9 gal. I’m reducing Helen’s grain a bit since she is not responding to the feed. I gave her 3.5 scoops this morning instead of 4. PM 1.6 gal, 3.6 for the day. H was restless, acted like flies were bothering her but there weren’t any. Lifted each of her back feet once and flipped with her front. Didn’t let down too well either. The hens seem to be responding to the Cargill grain. More eggs.
8/19 2 gal + 1 pint. I was a half hour late milking mostly because I have nice company, Barby. HH very good, letdown just fine. I didn’t see the white kittens.
Laura called from Texas to tell me more about her Lily. Lily is still a heifer with an attitude. They are keeping calves on her mostly and milking only once a day bringing 3.5 quarts into the house. Lily is 3.5 months into her lactation and they have weaned one pair of calves and put a second pair on her. She has accepted them like a champ. But she still cooperates very poorly with milking.
PM. About 1.8 gal this evening, I guess 3.9 for the day. A bit better than yesterday. When I unhitched her instead of going out she turned and inspected everything in the room. I slipped around her and moved the full bucket under the shelf. I remember once old Hope tipped over a bucket of milk when sniffing it.
It’s a beautiful day. I’m going to stay overnight at camp and leave the animals on their own.
8/20 HH began bellowing as soon as I appeared this morning. Also she didn’t let down too well although I was not late getting to the barn. There was a loud inexplicable thump in the barn about the time I moved to the hind teats. That may have slowed her down. I got about 1/2 cup less than 2 gal. PM About 1 cup less than 2 gal tonight so for the day, 4 gal less 2 cups, say 3.9 gal
Nothing to report but a friendly cow. Barby watched milking for awhile.
8/21am I’ve been attempting at least a few squirts each time doing the near rear and the off fore teats which she objects to. I manage a few more each time before she gets antsy, and this morning I was able to finish up stripping that way which speeds things up a lot. I could tell she noticed but this morning but she accepted it.
2 gal 1 pint
PM… Barby and her friend Maxine came to the barn and took flash pictures of me and Helen which may or may not account for tonight’s poor production, just 1.6 gal. For the day, a bit under 4 gal.
8/22 am Helen had perfect manners this morning but she gave only 1.9 gal. Another bantam hen that has been setting in the feed room had hatched chicks this morning. I lifted her up and she was plenty mad and fluffed up the size of a soccer ball. I brought her a plate of laying mash and yogurt but at midmorning she hadn’t budged. More must still be hatching. There is another bantam setting in the hayloft. I climbed up the ladder and checked under her but no chicks yet. Whenever I climb the ladder into the loft all the barn cats get an alarmed round eyed look. I guess they thought only cats could get up there.
8/22 PM Production today was only 3.5 gal. It certainly is puzzling and disappointing that she is dropping off like this. The bantam in the feed room finally let her chickies off the nest in the late afternoon and they were all eating the plate of yogurt and mash. There appear to be six chicks. The other bantam still has all her 11 and they are all striped and pretty.
8/23 am Helen’s manners were excellent again this morning. She was slow to go out the door and down the ramp. We both stood gazing across the dewy morning fields now at least half green. Here and there I could make out the little dark dots of the barn cats out watching for mice. The feed room banty hasn’t started to move her family. I took away the partly eaten plate of food and left the door open to encourage her. 2 gal + 1 cup which Barby and I shared while it was still warm.
8/23 PM Perfect cow again this evening. Is this getting boring? Not to me! But before I could milk I had to respond to an emergency. I could hear desperate peeping somewhere. With my monaural hearing I haven’t a prayer of identifying the direction but I finally found the little sinner under the ramp. I crawled under and managed to poke it out with a stick but then it got away into the tall grass. Fifteen minutes later I finally caught it. I suppose it fell through a hole in the floor of the feed room; the hen is now out and about. When I carried it back to its mother she flew straight at me from five feet away. Knowing from of old the confused courage of bantam hens I was ready for her and fended her off with one hand while tossing the chick among its brothers and sisters with the other. The little white hen that has been setting in the hayloft hatched hers today and at midday I took them a plate of yogurt and bread crumbs. It was no mean trick carrying these up the ladder. Then this evening after milking I heard more peeping and caught a cat in the act of swiping another lone chick, maybe from the loft. I went for the cat and barely grabbed its tail and it dropped the chick. The feed room hen had settled her family for the night so I stuck it under her wing with my right hand while she pecked my left. I hope there are no new hatches immediately. Blackie is assembling a new clutch in the milking area which should entertain Helen again! 1.6 gal tonight. 3.6+ for the day.
8/24 am Everything quiet in the barn, no desperate peeping. Helen was well mannered but did not let down fully. This could be because I gave her short rations of grain. I am about to run out and don’t expect to be able to go for any until tomorrow. Or it might be because the no-see-ums are out again. I was bitten on the arms.
Blackie has 13 eggs in her nest now. She ought to sit down pretty quick. 1.95 gal.
Blackie sat down on her nest today. I meant to remove some eggs after dark but forgot. Instead Barby and Marcia L and I went out in the dark and I boxed up the white banty in the loft. I should have tried harder to count the chicks. There was just handful after handful of them to pop into the basket with her. I put them all in the feed room. It was raining at milking time, a nice warm rain such as cows like and she didn’t want to come in. I mopped her off with a towel as I wouldn’t want drips in the milk. I did run to Randy’s for grain so gave her a big dinner to make up for short rations this morning. She wouldn’t leave down the ramp so I let her out through the beefer pen.
Neighbor Stewart stopped in to see if I would agreed to pasturing a cow he wants to buy. I said yes if he will maintain the fences including new fence in the Pocket Field. Under 4 gal a bit.
8/25 am 2 gal. this morning, no problems. Light rain meant good grazing with little need to stop for a drink. Helen didn’t even bother after I let her out. She’s very friendly now. The white bantam with black speckles that we carried down last night had her family up and around this morning. I counted ten but some may have moved over to the other hen. I couldn’t count hers. She was plumped down on top of them giving them a nap. Whitey very soon moved hers out of the feed room and into Henry’s former calf room. I suppose she felt like an intruder in the feed room. I left the back door of the barn open a bit so she can move them outside if she wants to. Also removed six eggs from under Blackie. I left her 6 or 7. That’s plenty.
8/25 PM I milked half an hour late because of having taken Barby to the airport. Helen didn’t let down well and was a bit restless. It is raining and three of the bantam mothers are outside with their families now. The one that sat in the feed room remains there even though I’ve been leaving the door to it open, much against my principles.
8/26 am I was slow this morning and didn’t milk until 7:30. Helen was restless, kept stepping around, even lifted her feet high enough to kick a couple of times but didn’t actually kick. I gave her a grumbly look. I’ve left her feed at 3 scoops instead of 4 since she wasn’t responding to an increase or to Cargill Textra. She quit letting down at the last. That may be why I got a bit less than 2 gal.
8/26 PM Whew! As soon as I got into the barn I could hear relentless peeping and half a dozen cats scurried from one spot where they had been listening attentively. After about five minutes of frustrating monaural listening I spied the stray chick through a crack. It was standing in a sunbeam on the ground under the barn floor. Not a chance in the world of me or anybody else catching it down there (except a cat). I wished I had the Sticky Chickie Stick Barby and I were mentally inventing, a sticky pole to catch a chick like flypaper. I had to milk with desperate peeping going on which Helen didn’t like any better than I did. She stepped around a lot, raised her tail and let loose. I only got a scant 1.5 gal. of milk. All the while I was urging St. Francis to send the chick back out in the open where it did in fact go. But it emerged right next to the chicken yard so every time I was about to grab it, it went through the wire and I had to make a long detour to get another chance at it. It finally wandered off into the tall grass and I caught it. It had fallen through the feed room floor. I thought I had all holes covered with stuff but not so.
3.5 gal today
8/27 am Helen and I were greeted by peeping again this morning, I couldn’t see from where. H was disturbed enough to lift her tail twice and make a cowpie which I caught entirely on the shovel, and also pee which I mostly missed because I had set the bucket too far away. After awhile the peeping ceased. I don’t know if the chick found its mother or got carried off. After all that H let down pretty well. Got 2 gal.
I boiled up an elegant breakfast of stale pasta and muffin mix for Sidney and Adelaide. With skim milk, they thought they were in pig heaven. The no-see-ums were insane out there this morning. But there are virtually no flies around the barn, even around the pigs. I throw lime around the pigpen any time it starts to smell. But I think the bantams are the main fly control. They circle the barn all day in a constant sweep.
8/27 PM Helen didn’t show up at milking time for some reason. I called and rattled the bucket to no effect. A half hour later she wandered in from somewhere. In the meantime, the beat goes on with the chicks. In the middle of the barn floor surrounded by nervous circling cats, were the seven chicks of the hen that’s been living in the feed room. The cats seem to know they shouldn’t snatch chicks, or perhaps they fear a furious hen will appear. Somehow the mother of these chicks, hereinafter to be referred to as Dumb Cluck, had got underneath the barn. I suppose she had tried to lead them forth and they didn’t follow. I could hear her under the floor clucking for them as they loudly peeped. I guess a hen’s instinct does not extend to going in search of the chicks; they are supposed to come to her. Not knowing what else to do, I caught them and put them in a styrofoam box with some screen on top. H showed up and was a restless customer even though there was no peeping. She gave 2 gal. After I let her out I found I had underestimated the jumping ability of the chicks. They had dislodged the screen and all escaped and two were missing. Now I could hear D. Cluck under the floor making her “come and get it” call and I could see her through a crack scratching up a cloud of dust and she had one chick. Maybe there was another I couldn’t see. If not, one got et. The remaining five, still in the feed room, were responding to their mother by scratching busily on the floor above her. It was pretty cute. Then they went to the corner where she has been taking them for the night and cuddled together. I put the styrofoam box over the lot, well weighted this time. So they should be safe for the night. Maybe tomorrow I can reunify the family. 4 gal today.
8/28 am As I walked out in timely fashion with my buckets I was greeted by the sight of my neighbor, Stewart, bringing my cattle home, Helen Heiferlump and Howie Dingbat. He looked out of breath. The irksome pair were, of course, high as kites. We put them in the barnyard while I let out chickens and got things ready. When I was ready for Helen to come in, somehow they had vanished again. When I finally found them they were coming back across the lawn from my vegetable garden. I got Helen in OK and tied her up but Howie was very shy and it took about 15 minutes to entice him inside the barn.
Of course I let out the chicks that I boxed up last night and as soon as they had enough to eat they began squeezing out of the feed room so milking was again accompanied by a chorus of peeping. H and I did our best to ignore it but the little sinners kind of closed in on us. Try to imagine assertive peeping from five fluffy things about 3″ tall. H quit letting down and only gave 1.75 gal. While I was putting her into the beefer pen with Howie a cat got one chick. I threw something at the cat and it dropped the chick which dived inside a wall. I pried it out with a long stick and decided what the heck. I chucked it out into the sunshine with Whitey and her already enormous brood. Then I caught the other four, which were huddled in panic and tossed them in amongst the rest. Whitey accepted them without flinching. No signs of Dumb Cluck this morning.
I then began walking fence and assessing damage to my garden. I can’t find the broken fence. A lot of my Brussels sprouts got eaten though. H&H are staying locked in on hay and water for the day.
8/28 PM HH & HD are still locked up but seem contented. I was unable to find the breech in the fence but that is no doubt because the afternoon was so hot I couldn’t face walking fence line. Of course as soon as I had merged her chicks onto Whitey, Dumb Cluck showed up perky as could be with the two missing chicks. If I can find both moms after dark I will put some back with D. Cluck. Poor Whitey looks overwhelmed. And neighbor Melody said there was a skunk around last night.
Helen knocked over the bucket tonight. She didn’t mean to. I just wasn’t paying attention when she stepped forward. I lost about 2 quarts leaving 3.5 gal for the day.
8/29 am Helen and Howie both started the day bellowing to get out of the barn. I was afraid Helen would be filthy from lying in the barn all night but she was absolutely clean. But I only got 1.75 gal.
Last night after dark I found Whitey and swiped a handful of her chicks and gave them to Dumb Cluck to even things out. The chicks don’t seem to mind at all.
Later this morning I walked the fenceline with greater care and found where they had gotten out. It was pretty much inside a lilac bush and hard to see. Luckily in my cruising I came across a good metal stake and have made a solid repair. But now they have tasted Brussels sprouts and beans no telling where they may crash in next.
8/29 PM Low production tonight, only 1.4 gal plus a pint. 3.25 + a pt for the day.
8/30 am Started the day with a thudding headache. I milked in dim early light with my eyes shut and my head pressed into Helen’s bag, my hands feeling weak. By the time I finished the front quarters I had broken into a sweat and the strength returned to my hands and my headache was only a shadow.
One of Blackie’s four teenage children attempted to crow this morning. Such a funny noise, but Phoenix answered right away.
8/30 PM 1.75 gal, 3.75 gal total (this entry rates no bookmark! Joann must have out with the girls -ed.)
8/31 am HH had perfect manners this morning. But I only got 1.75 gal even though I was a half hour late. A beautiful day. The vet will be along later to bob Stewart’s bull calf.
8/31 PM Perfect manners again, perfect weather. 1.75 gal tonight. Somebody came and wanted a kitten. They took one of Prunella’s orphans. All survived, even the smallest we call Little Bit. But I’ve managed to give away only two. If you’re in Maine, free kittens…
9/1 PM While milking it occurred to me that production might be dropping because there is something about hr water that H doesn’t like. It looks clear but there is algae on the walls of the tank. I’m going to try letting the water run all night at a low flow and see if it makes a difference. Total for the day 3.5 gal.
9/2 AM 1.8 gal The hose fell out of the tank at some point so my water change experiment must continue. I’ve put a C-clamp on it now. The pigs are full of good humored enthusiasm as pigs ought to be. I’m serving them boiled potatoes this week courtesy of Cousin Marcia. She gave me two five gal buckets full of old ones. This is a real saving on swine feed and Sidney and Adelaide like them.
9/2 PM 1.6 gal this eve. A bit under 3.5 for the day. No positive effect yet from running water in the tank but I did notice this evening that she took an extra long drink. Even though there is fairly good grass and she’s been coming in with a full rumen, I put out hay and she is eating it so maybe she is hungry.
9/3 AM Production was up slightly this morning. H gave just a hair under 2 gal. And I again noticed her taking a longer drink. However it rained last night so all her grazing would have been wet. This usually gives a slight boost. Dumb Cluck now leads her small troop out of the feed room when I open the door. She has a louder more hysterical sounding cluck than the other hens. Presumably this accounts for the louder more alarmed peeping response of her chicks. It puts one in mind of Chicken Little, “The sky is falling!” Hens and chicks have a constant cluck/peep conversation at all times which serves to keep them together and sharing food finds.
9/3 PM I plugged a radio in at the milking area. HH walked in and whirled right around and ran out. But I told her it was OK, nothing to worry about, so she turned around and began eating. But she sure didn’t let down very well so I still don’t know if the water renewal program is doing any good. When I turned her loose she made a thorough inspection of the radio. When she began to eat the cord I pulled her on out. She does seem to be taking longer drinks. And I AM throwing down some hay whenever she shows an interest in it.
9/4 AM It rained during the night and this morning is warm and misty. Helen and Howie weren’t in the barn and I discovered this was because once again the gate to the North Field was mysteriously closed. This is the third time this has happened. When they realized I’d opened the gate both HH and H ran full speed to get around to the barn. I ran to get out of their way. What with that excitement, the radio on and perhaps the fact that tomorrow she will be in heat, Helen was alert and restless all through milking. At one point she stepped so far back her feet slipped off into the gutter and I thought she might be doing a bellyflop onto me. When I got to the point of milking one each front and back teats she quit letting down. I think this is why I didn’t get a full two gallons.
9/4 PM Helen was in roaring heat this evening. She wanted to stay with Howie and I had to push and shove to get her in for milking. Then she turned right around and headed back down the passageway to the beefer pen where they hang out. It’s about as wide as a cattle chute. She was starting to butt he door down so I climbed over the rail and tried to back her out. Impossible, I was afraid of getting mashed, so I got the pitchfork and backed her out with that. Then she wouldn’t go into her tie-up, just ignored her grain. She was circling all around, pooping and switching her tail. I got flecks of manure all over me. I finally got her clip fastened and she was quiet for milking but gave only 1 gal. + 3 pints. After I put her back in with Howie, where they will spend the night locked in, I filled their water tub and it ran over and I stepped in muck above my ankle and my clog disappeared. I fished it out and rinsed it off and went in for a shower. Dumb Cluck has mislaid another of her chicks and is down to four. I could hear it peeping for awhile under the barn, then all was silent. I suppose, like John says, to the cats they look like lunch boxes on legs. I’ve called AI.
9/5 AM Helen is still in heat but this morning I was prepared for her antics and got her into her tie-up more quickly. Neither she nor Howie wants grain. He had still not eaten his last night’s serving. H was clean. I guess she has not been lying down much. She didn’t kick even though there was plenty to make her nervous. Dumb Cluck was ranging around calling one chick that was in the milking area and MPBN was giving us Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music. Howie was bellowing and H was answering, none of your smooth calf talk. These were big loud “Here I AM” bellows and she is still keeping it up an hour later with just a breath between each one. I got 1 gal + 3 pints, same as last night. I’ve pinned up last year’s breeding slip next to her in case the technician goes straight to the barn. It feels like Fall today. There’s a cold brisk wind and scudding clouds.
9/5 PM The technician arrived about 10:00 and I selected Aerostat. Nathan pointed out that this breeding is only two days off of last year’s date (Sept 3). I hope it took. Heat is such a nuisance. She was still hard to get in but ate most of her grain. Production up slightly over this morning: About a cup under 1.5 gal.
9/6 AM A beautiful day. Helen was hesitant to come in but it may be the memory of having to remain tied up yesterday for AI. She didn’t quite finish her grain and did a lot of stepping around but production has risen a bit: 1.75 gal this morning.
9/6 PM Helen was still reluctant to come in and did not dive into her grain. Instead she roamed all around in the milking area sniffing the radio, checking out the other three tie-ups, pulling down some ancient hay that serves as insulation to the adjacent chicken room and eating it as though she had discovered a treat. What she reminded me of was a kid stalling about going to bed. Once in her tie-up she still did not eat her grain with any enthusiasm but production is edging up. I got 1 gal + 1.5 quarts.
9/7 AM A bunch of grain had built up in Helen’s feed pan because she isn’t finishing it. Howie is eating his so I doubt anything is wrong with it. Anyway I removed it. There is always the possibility that the cats have defiled it. Again this morning she was hard to get in, and once in she diddled around before letting me tie her up. She gave just a shade under 2 gal. It’s another soft warm misty day, perfect cow weather. The pigs are getting ever harder to feed. I have their feed basin on a chain and I haul it up every time and wash it out. I have to replace it before pouring in their feed but they have already put their muddy feet in it. Then they get in the way of pouring so it splashes on their heads. Then they shake their ears splashing skim milk all over me. They are so piggy! I can’t seem to stay ahead of their bad manners. But they are friendly (towards me) and don’t stink at all and there are no flies or mosquitoes. There is a huge array of giant spiderwebs above them, each with a great big spider like Charlotte. The guy wires of these webs are so strong that they don’t necessarily break even when I run into them. Yipes! But I’m sort of getting used to it.
9/7 PM Helen again was very strange about coming in. She was not enthusiastic about her grain (Cargill Textra). I’m going for grain tomorrow so will try Blue Seal coarse 16% again although I still don’t trust them following the scandal. I had let the layers out to forage, also son Mark arrived during milking so H was agitated. No kicking, but she raised her tail and made a big cow flop. I cooked up a big tub of stale pasta and cornmeal for the pigs. With added skim milk it was a special treat. I made a great effort to see that their basin was on a level footing so as to minimize waste. These rubber basins are really too floppy and they have taken to bending the side down and spilling dinner. Tonight Sidney snapped and wuffed at Adelaide. She was intimidated and backed off and was going to just eat spilled food. But I took a sharp stick and shoved it into Sidney’s neck to hold her back from hogging everything. She appeared to have the impression that Adelaide was doing it and stopped snapping. All this is making pig feeding rather fatiguing. Only 1 gal. and 1 pint of milk tonight.
9/8 AM A misty moisty morning about 60f. Helen came in when I tempted her with a bucket of grain. She went straight into her tie-up and finished off her grain pretty well. I got a little less than 2 gal. Not so good. Sidney and Adelaide didn’t fight this morning, maybe because their breakfast was less gourmet. They do give one a clear definition of “hogwash” if it means something that’s a waste of time with no meaningful outcome.
9/8 PM I bought Sidney and Adelaide a galvanized tub to feed from. At least they cant bend the sides down and spill but they can tip it up. I gave them a lot of giant zucchini boiled (it’s that season!) plus their hog feed and they thought it was good enough to fight over. Helen was again reluctant to come in for milking. Then when she did come in, Howie dashed in after her. This is when I appreciate that I AM always careful to have the door to the feed room and the door to the front lawn shut, no exceptions, before she comes in. As it was, I still had a time of it getting him back outside. She ate her old grain without enthusiasm and left a bit. I wonder if she settled. Howie still acts awfully interested. 1. 75 gal. 3.6 for the day.
9/9 AM Helen trotted right in this morning and gobbled her grain. I had cleaned out her pan of all old grain and started her on Blue Seal, her old favorite. She licked out her pan. I have no way of knowing if she really prefers it that much or if her appetite has returned for some other reason. Only got 1.75 gal. Sidney and Adelaide got along with each other OK. Maybe they weren’t so very enthusiastic about boiled cucumber trimmings (with hog feed, of course). It’s only 50f this morning. Cool Canadian air has arrived.
9/9 PM I finally found Sukey’s kittens. I had it pretty well narrowed down but would never have thought to look in the place they really were. I had not even known my four foot granite front doorstep actually sits on a granite pier and there is a very small crawl space under it. It has rained most of yesterday and all of today and perhaps it got a little too damp under there and the kittens came out. I gathered them up and brought them in the house. There are four and they are exactly one month old, just toddling, and like Sukey’s earlier kittens, perfect little fluffy Hallmark darlings. Helen raced right in tonight and ate every bit of her grain. Of coarse she was dripping wet so I dried her with an old bath towel. The temp was 55f all day but there was no wind so she and Howie grazed steadily. H gave 1. gal + 7 cups. Not too good. That’s only about 3 gal and a quart for the day.
9/10 AM Helen raced in this morning and finished off her grain. She stood very well for milking. I’ve stopped trying to have the radio on as she clearly doesn’t like it. I don’t want it either. I so very much do not wish to hear the name ‘Monica Lewinsky’ spoken. The pigs were no trouble this morning. Their breakfast of zucchini and a few moldy cucumbers boiled and topped with spoiled cream seemed to suit them. I took some pictures of them. Only 1.6 gal.
9/10 PM I raced through chores so as to be back in the house before the timer went for my bread in the oven. Succeeded. All animals cooperated. H gives every evidence of preferring Blue Seal grain. 1.75 gal tonight. 3. Only 3.35 gal total
9/11 AM Helen was mooing to come in this morning and was full of enthusiasm. I got 1.9 gal. It’s a beautiful autumnal day. The pigs shared their breakfast nicely. While I was washing up the buckets I glanced out and saw a pesky neighbor dog molesting my hens and chicks and cats. I yelled for Muffin (as usual asleep under the table) and we ran out. She woofed dutifully but obviously could not see the yellow dog, by now bounding towards home.
9/11 PM Stewart came to borrow grain while I was milking (I was expecting him.) Curiosity overcame Helen and she stopped letting down. I just got 1.5 gal. Perhaps she’ll catch up in the morning. She looks great. So does Howie. He looks about as good as a Jersey steer can be expected to look. Total 3.4
9/12 AM Helen gave 1.9 gal this morning just as yesterday. I’m having some luck taming the kittens in the barn. There is a dark tweedy colored one, a black one and two white ones with grey beanies. One of the white ones is long haired. I can now stroke them with my finger while they are eating. I throw out cracked corn for the bantam families and Blackie’s four young adults from her June clutch. Otherwise they pester the cats so much they are afraid to eat. The chickens seem to have gained moral ascendancy.
9/12 PM Very odd weather today. It feels like a thunderstorm but nothing happens. Stewart hadn’t brought grain after all so Helen was on short rations. Then Stewart returned some while I was milking. H didn’t stop letting down at all when he poured it in front of her. But I still got just 1.5 gal. Today’s total 3.4
9/13 AM I couldn’t sleep so got up about 3:30 and did leftover jobs until 6 AM. Helen was way down by the river grazing in the early sunshine but she walked straight up followed by Howie. All the animals were glad to see me early. All three families of chicks were up and scratching. I threw the pigs some hay to get them warmed up. It was 44f. Got 1.8 gal. milk.
9/13 PM A very fine day, warm and airy. Although it is Sunday, I had to go find feed for Helen having allowed myself to run out. Towle’s said they had it but when I got there it was all sold, probably to Stewart who was also out. I drove around to every place in Rumford and finally found feed at Richardson’s Dairy where they are milking 45 cows. The place has got geological layers of junk outside along the parking area and inside the “store” which looks more like a ravaged flea market literally piled floor to ceiling. But a lad showed up and sold me two bags of Blue Seal course 16 dairy a dollar cheaper than elsewhere. I once worked for several months at Richardson’s milking cows and that diary barn and milk tank area was perfectly clean inside. Let’s hope it still is. I got 1.8 gal this evening from a friendly cow. 3.6 gal total. For the first time since I’ve been managing my remaining seven hens, today I got seven eggs.
9/14 AM I was about 45 minutes late getting to the barn this morning, catching up on my sleep. I was mobbed by 25 chicks and three mother hens and a large number of cats. Helen didn’t seem to be bothered by my tardiness but part way through milking, Stewart, who was also late, came in for hay. Helen knows his truck and was up on tiptoes and ceased letting down well before he came in the door. I could feel her bag go all hard. She knows him and likes him; it’s just the way cows are. It reminds me of a toddler feeding herself; that spoon just stops in mid air if company arrives. The pigs had a sustaining breakfast. For the first time in years my bread turned out inedible. I carefully followed the instructions to start sourdough and make the bread, a three day process, and got adobe bricks. I even soaked it in hot water before giving it to them. 1.6 gal
9/14 PM Helen had a lot of loud mooing spells today for no reason I could discern. When I went to the barn to prepare for milking I discovered that Helen’s nemesis, Blackie, had hatched out five chicks in a corner of the milking area and as usual acts like she owns the place. 1.6 gal. tonight. 3.2 total
9/15 AM Halfway through milking Helen gave a great whuffing moo and jumped. I couldn’t see what was behind me but later figured out it was Blackie and her chicks stirring around. Helen hadn’t known she was there. I guess if we can be afraid of mice and spiders, a cow can be afraid of a hen and chicks! Blackie appears to fear nothing and is quite officious. There are five chicks. I set her with seven eggs. One didn’t hatch and I’ve no idea why she didn’t show up with six chicks. Cows make this sound halfway between a moo and a bark when alarmed. Goats and deer do a similar thing. I got almost 2 gal this morning. 1.95 gal.
9/15 PM Just a bit over 1.5 gal this evening. 3.5 total
9/16 AM Another perfect bright blue day. 1.9 gal this morning from a very cooperative cow. The pigs were cheerful as usual. I’ve been observing a plant resembling a cucumber vine which came up just outside the pigpen. Some stray seed, no doubt. It now has runners 4 ft. long and a lot of male blossoms. I’m hoping frost will hold off until it tells me what it is.
9/16 PM Today I went for feed, all kinds. All day was perfect weather. Helen and Howie look so beautiful out in the pasture. 1.6 tonight. Total 3.5
9/17 AM Helen inadvertently stepped on my foot while I was milking. It was my right, and she stepped on it with her right front when she stepped backwards. I sure was glad to be wearing my heavy rubber clogs! Even through that it hurt quite a lot. She didn’t seem to want to let down this morning. The whole job was like stripping. I got 1.75 gal. The pigs were happy with their breakfast of 50/50 skim milk and hot water with pellets. It was kind of cold this morning, 42f.
9/17 PM When I went out at 11:00 to collect eggs I saw Blackie in the poultry room with her chicks and I thought, “Just like with her last brood, she believes she belongs in here.” (She is an Auracana hen, not a bantam.) When I looked for eggs at 2:00 I saw a sad sight. Two of her chicks were in the hen water pan, one drowned, the other with its head still above water and peeping. I felt so badly. I know I should always keep a board in all the water basins so that little critters that fall in will have something to climb out on, and in the others where chicks abound, I do. I gave the peeping chick back to Blackie hoping she would warm it up. She was talking to it. But a little later when I checked, she had walked off and left it and it was prostrated, very cold, but still alive. I took it in the kitchen, wrapped it in flannel and warmed two potholders in the oven and put it into a potholder sandwich. I warmed two more potholders and kept changing them. After about a half hour life seemed to surge back into it and it began peeping loudly and acted fully recovered apart from all its fluff pasted flat. I took it back out and located Blackie, distracted her with my right hand and set it down near her with my left. She ignored it but it trotted along with her. Later I looked out and saw it all fluffed out again and perfectly normal. But it seemed like I didn’t get much done today. Helen was good. I got barely over 1.5 gal. 3.25 for the day.
9/18 AM Temp down to 40f this morning. I only remember one other year that frost held off this late. Usually we get a killing frost by September 6 followed by warm days that seem sad with all the flowers dead. All the animals were happy this morning and Blackie’s chicks (just three) are chirpy. Helen gave 1.8 gal. Averill’s brought 20 potted raspberry plants last evening. Now my work is cut out digging twenty holes!
9/18 PM No animals caused trouble today. All seem to be enjoying the glorious Fall weather. Helen’s production is clearly on a downward slide. I increased her grain last week from 4 to 5 lbs. per feed and have not seen a response. Tomorrow I will cut back again. 1.5 gal this evening. 3.3 gal for the day total. I will say, milking has gotten so easy and fast it takes less time to milk than to set up and wash up.
9/19 am Another beautiful day, 44f this morning, each one seems a gift. I was late getting to the barn this morning. I wished I had my tape recorder along. Every animal was talking at me. Helen was standing at the gate mooing, a great swarm of chicks of all sizes was peeping and the two roosters crowing, cats and kittens were mewing insistently and the pigs were making their particular whiney sound, a sort of “Meeee” they do. Most people know about pigs grunting. And there is the seldom heard squeal audible in the next county. But pigs have a number of other vocalizations, in fact are quite talkative. Helen was quiet and sweet during milking. But I only got 1.6 gal.
9/19 PM A shade under 1.5 gal, 3 gal for the day. I’m off to Portland to meet daughter Sally and Grandson Rafael.
9/20 AM We didn’t get in until 12:30. It seemed like a very short night. I got the chores done before Sally and Rafe were up. It’s another beautiful day, no frost, so the dahlias and morning glories are still a show. Rafe lost no time this morning in getting the lawn mower fired up. Sally admires the fine sight of Helen and Howie in the green fields; and down in the veg garden, a large crop of Brussels sprouts forming up. The fields would not be green but for the bushhogging they got in August. 1.6 gal
9/20 PM It was a perfect Fall day. Sally and Rafe tore around the fields looking at everything and bringing in trophies. Sally tried her hand at milking too. She is a goat milker of many years experience and has plenty of forearm muscle. Helen was reasonably cooperative but did a lot of stepping around and tail switching. I discovered that Muffin had snuck in to watch and this may have disturbed her more than the new milker. Dogs do make cows nervous. I took over about half way through. Got 1.6 gal. 3.2 total for the day.
9/21 AM 60f this morning. Pretty unusual for the time of year. I took a chance and left the radio on during milking thinking perhaps Monica Lewinsky has gone out of fashion but no such luck. Helen finds radio annoying but she continued to let down. Later Sally came in to observe and that caused H to leap but she heard Sally’s voice and kept letting down; she has already come to associate Sally with apples. But when I started cross milking, one front one back, her bag hardened right up. I have to keep trying to get her used to this as her quarters never come out even. I fed the pigs another big vat of cooked zucchini and tomato squish. They won’t eat much raw veg.
9/21 PM Before milking I put out milk for the cats and was able to catch the beautiful white kitten I’ve been trying to tame. We brought it into the house. Sally joined me in the barn to milk and did the front quarters. Then she took some flash pictures while I finished. Helen leapt when the flash went and didn’t let down much after that. While I fed the pigs the cows got out. It took me a long time to feed them because Sidney was being very piggy. She has her front feet in the tub and was tipping it her way and shouldering out Adelaide. I stood there with my stick into her shoulder holding her back. Meanwhile, Helen and Howie were sneaking in the back door of the barn and out the front. When I started back to the house there they were going out the driveway. Helen would have come right back when I called her but not Howie. He kicked up his heels and shot off down the road so she went with him. I yelled for Sally and Rafe, now back in the house reading magazines I guess but nobody could hear me. I discovered I actually can’t yell as loud as I thought. Finally I got their attention and they ran down the road heading ’em off and turning ’em while I stood near the front gate to turn ’em in to the front yard. (Sal and Rafe are accomplished herders) H & H were pretty full of themselves once back in the yard and ran around with their heads up but I soon had them back where they belonged. I actually didn’t figure out how they got out until after it was all over.
9/22 am Very warm, 60f overnight and very foggy. Sally did part of the milking but turned the cow over to me when it got restless which I think had nothing to do with Sal. Got 1.6 gal. We caught a long haired black kitten as company for the white one which was crying. That stopped its grief but the black one seems terrified to come out of the cat carrier although we left the door open all day. They are eating OK. Sally planted a lot of the raspberries using rotten pig manure from the pile Stewart left out back of the barn.
9/22 PM It began raining about noon and has not stopped. The farm needs it. Sal and Rafe want to reinforce the pigpen. It’s beginning to look as though it wouldn’t hold them it they really wanted to get out. I think we will go with electric fence. 1.4 gal this evening, 3 for the day
9/23 AM A banner day! Sally did the first half of the milking, I did the second, and Helen gave over two gallons! Two gal. plus 2 cups. I can’t say if this is because of the rain – she is eating wet grass and perforce consuming extra water. Or a delayed response to the increased feed which in fact I cut back three days ago. Or it may mean she is safe in calf. There was a definite step down in production after I had her bred which is one indication of conception, ordinarily temporary. And more celebration! Son Martin is giving the farm his ’80 Dodge van, full size V8. What a difference this will make. Sal and Rafe and I have ideas tumbling out of us for things we can now do with a farm vehicle. I can even take my own pigs to the butcher. And of course, go to the dump. Hurrah!
9/23 PM There is a steady cold wind out of the south west and it’s going to bring frost. We’ve picked the tomatoes and covered a few things. If I wake up early enough I’ll spray the dahlias. Son Bret researched chainsaws for me. He suggests a 36cc Husqvarna. I’ve ordered it. He doesn’t expect me to use it myself but we’ll see. Our vet had lunch with us today. Animals all healthy. Helen gave a little under 1.5 gal tonight. Total for the day 3.5 gal plus a bit.
9/24 AM Yesterday was a one-off I guess. Only got 1.75 gal this morning. Helen seemed touchy and not in the mood to let down very well. But I did return her to four scoops of grain. We had our first frost of the year, exceptionally late. It was only down to 30f at the house but it knocked out the dahlias of course.
9/24 PM Helen kicked when I washed her udder and kicked worse when I started to milk. I knew at once she must have an injury. Right, her off front teat has a cut more than an inch long and running horizontally. It’s on the inner aspect and about two thirds of the way up. It is gaping open about a half inch. It is cut cleanly through the skin exposing the fascia but not into the flesh of her teat. I went ahead and milked the other three quarters without much trouble although not surprisingly she didn’t let down very well and I only got a gallon. I milked about a cupful out of the injured quarter into another container and gave it to the cats. She actually didn’t seem particularly flinchy about having the teat grabbed but my hand would stick to the open wound and in between squirts when my hand peeled back, that is what hurt her. I slathered it with wheat germ oil, my sovereign remedy, and left her in her tie-up while I called Dr. Cooper to ask if he thought it needed stitches. He said he couldn’t say without seeing it, but perhaps not.. We agreed it could wait until morning. So she’s out for the night. 2.75 gal today.
9/25 AM Helen came in nicely this morning but was afraid to be milked. She started kicking right away until I reminded her I was not touching the sore teat. It looks all black and crusty and of course that quarter is bursting with milk. I got a gallon and a pint from the other three. The injured quarter is her best quarter. I tried to get a few squirts from it but she lurches and windmills her legs. But there is no blood in the milk. I left her in the tie-up. If the vet is not here by 10:00 I’ll try using KickStop and work on milking her out. I wish he would call. I feel distracted and forget what I mean to do next. Sally and Rafe have gone to the MOFGA fair. (Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association)
9/25 PM I did try using KickStop on Helen but it makes her lose her balance. As soon as I tried to grab the sore teat she lurched and started to fall over on me. So I gave up the attempt. She was obviously in pain but did eat some hay and apples. Dr. Cooper came around 12:45. He gave her a preliminary sedative in her tie-up. Although she was frightened of him, I succeeded in leading her outside where he tied her to the rear bumper of his truck. He wanted her out on the grass for cleanliness and because it was a bright day, far better light than would be possible in my barn. She threw herself around and went down lying on the wrong side. We had to untie her to get her up. Then he gave her the complete shot of anaesthetic and she went down correctly on her left side in about two minutes.. I was pushing her over that way. Her rope halter was tied to his rear bumper and her right hind leg was roped to a lilac bush some distance away to prevent kicking or at least to clear the field of operation. The first thing he did was insert a plastic tube into her teat to drain the milk. It poured out in a constant stream. Dr. Cooper said the wound still looked very good. It proved to be T shaped rather than just a slash. The only necrosis was at the lower edge of the T part of the tear. He had to trim off two slivers about a 32nd of an inch wide. It took quite a lot of stitches. He left the straight down part of the T open a little bit to drain. He also put on a small bandage. He gave her a penicillin shot and left me with a week’s supply of tetracycline to put on her feed. Then we went into the house and ate some sandwiches. When Dr. Cooper left Helen was still not on her feet but she was up on her brisket. She got up later on and ate grass but at normal milking time was back down. Her appetite is still OK. I got her in to her tie-up with grain. I milked the three teats one handed. She was still wobbly and came so near to falling on me that I rolled out of the way on my back. I got one quart which I gave to the cats. Her bandage had fallen off so I slathered her teat with wheat germ oil. The teat drain drips continually. After I let her out she drank for about five minutes. She had not drunk all day, having refused water from a bucket.
9/26 AM Helen trotted right in and ate her doctored grain as though nothing was wrong with her. When she let down, milk began pouring from the sewed up quarter in a stream larger than regular milking. I positioned the bucket under it and I think I would have got my usual amount of milk this morning had she not kicked over the bucket. I lost about half of it. She did it on purpose just because she thought I might be going to touch her sore teat, I guess. I yelled sharply and she settled down. My other thought was that she might be in heat. That always makes them naughty. Today would be the day she comes in heat if she is going to. Before letting her out I squirted the contents of a vitamin E capsule directly onto her injury. We watched her back outside with Howie. We saw no signs of heat.
9/26 PM All day we saw no signs of heat. Helen came in briskly and didn’t kick. She was no less touchy about her sore teat but I was more careful. I suppose I got a bit over a gallon which I gave to the animals. Today I bought a chainsaw. I haven’t had one for years. It’s a Husqvarna 36cc. Rafe says it goes through wood like a hot knife through butter. There are many trees and branches still on the edge of the field from last winter’s ice storm. He and Sally spent hours today on field clean-up.
9/27 AM Milk production from the three operative quarters did not exceed a gallon by my estimate. I am not measuring it since it goes to the animals rather than into jars. The indwelling cannula in her stitched teat was gone. Probably it had not been missing long as that quarter was essentially empty. I did not insert one of the temporary drains the vet left. These remain in place through only one milking. I will need somebody to hold up her tail to immobilize her when I insert it as she is still violently opposed to having me get near her sore teat. Before daybreak we had an electrical storm followed by steady rain. But it is very warm.
9/27 PM Sally held up Helen’s tail so I could work on her teat. She had her head down eating grain and when I took hold of the end of her teat to clean it she did not object. I had to insert a temporary drain and was a bit clumsy but with her tail held high to immobilize her it wasn’t too difficult. Milk immediately began pouring out. She stood fairly well for the remainder of milking although is clearly warning me not to touch her sore teat. I put vitamin E and also wheat germ oil on it to aid healing. It is beginning to look less angry. I removed the drain before turning her loose. I think I got over a gallon including what pours out via the drain.
9/28 AM Sally again held up Helen’s tail so I could wash her sore teat and insert the cannula. I doubt I could do it alone. It’s an amazing sight to see the milk gush out. But she is not much in the mood to let down and I could tell considerable milk was left behind. I got 1 gal. 2 cups. I accidentally let her out before putting vitamin E on the wound however it looks pretty good. Something came in the night, probably the raccoon, and swiped half of Lil Red’s family. She had 10 chicks and now she has five. She herself was not to be seen until about 8am. She must have been hiding. Phoenix, her husband, took over the babysitting during her absence. He looked worried and just kept milling around with them.
9/28 PM Helen still kicks instantly and purposefully at the least touch to her sore teat. But it looks healthy and isn’t swollen. I can’t believe it hurts that much now. I got a gallon and a half tonight. It helps to massage down her bag while the cannula is in place. I put the vitamin E on her stitches this time. Lil Red roosted high up in the barn tonight but three of her chicks couldn’t make it. After dark Rafe and I lifted them up. We also put Dumb Cluck into a cat carrier. She fought vigorously against this outrage. I have a rotten cold. Rafe and Sally have has them but they are recovering. 1.5 gal tonight.
9/29 AM Sally helped out again this morning with holding up the tail and did about half the milking. The injury looks pretty good. We got a little shy of 1.5 gal. It’s down to 38f this morning, bright sun, and the mountains are assuming their Fall quilt of glorious color. I don’t think we lost any poultry last night. One of my barn cats has had a severe injury. It is the one I call Fritzi. She is the only really friendly one out there. She drags herself around like she has a broken back but there is nothing you can see. I see to it she gets food. I realized when I let out Dumb Cluck this morning that the cat carrier in which she spent the night has an old sweater that cats had been sleeping on. No wonder she didn’t like it.
9/29 PM I feel really sick but everything went OK at chores. Sally helped. I got about 1 gal 1 quart. All the bantam families managed to climb up high. Nothing is too high for a raccoon but perhaps it helps.
9/30 AM This morning I was able to insert the cannula without Helen’s tail being raised to immobilize her. H started waving her feet but I said “No!” and she settled down. I know I am not hurting her, it is just residual touchiness. Sally and I shared the milking. We got a generous 1.5 gallons. It’s another fine sunny colorful day. My cold has gone into a bronchial cough though, so I’m way under par. I don’t think we lost any poultry last night. I’ve tossed out all the kittens from the kitchen except two. They were getting too rambunctious. They are adorably cute but nobody is stopping to take them to new homes.
9/30 PM Helen was no fun this evening. Sally had to hold up her tail for quite awhile so I could insert the cannula as she was kicking determinedly. Sally began the milking and H kicked over the bucket on purpose. I held up the tail until Sal completed the front quarters which means milking the right front while massaging the left front quarter to encourage the milk to pour out through the cannula. This is very successful on the whole. I gave the last dose of tetracycline tonight, then called the vet; he feels we can safely discontinue it. The wound looks fine. Sally and I are both more or less crawling around with our colds. A little under a gal. tonight due to loss.
10/1 AM Helen is still not cooperative about anything happening around her sore teat but other than that behaved well. Sally is feeling unwell so she just watched after helping me by holding up Helen’s tail. I’ve made an appointment for Oct 23 to take the pigs to the butcher. Drizzly rain today. 1.5 gal
10/2 AM Helen again was skittish about coming in. We think it’s the tail raising that disturbs her most. However I did need Sally to hold it up while I inserted the cannula. The sore teat looks healthy. And that quarter does not seem to be getting mastitis. But her production is dropping. I only got 1 gal 1 quart this morning. I’m still pretty sick.
10/2 PM Tonight I used KickStop instead of tail raising to immobilize Helen. It’s like a giant C-clamp that runs from her groin over her hip bone. She absolutely is not able to mover her legs with this in place but is unsteady and could easily fall on me. She shows no sign of it hurting her though. She keeps right on eating. Sally steadied her with a hand on her hip. If I have to use it tomorrow I’ll try loosening it one notch and see it is still works. Only got a bit under 1 gal. tonight. But I do lose upwards of a pint a day from the teat with the cannula because it is impossible to keep it positioned over the bucket all the time while it is running. 2.3 gal today
10/3 AM 48f this morning but feels colder. Helen remains reluctant to come in for milking. I tempt her forward with a bucket of grain. I was able to get the cannula in this morning without restraint, Sally holding the light however. I doubt I could do it without the light. H was very cooperative during milking. I got 1.5 gal. All the poultry present and accounted for this morning. The layers are looking scrappy. Some are molting. However I got six eggs yesterday from seven hens. That’s the best in some time.
10/3 PM Helen was touchy about coming in, Sally had to hold her tail while I stuck in the cannula, then later she decided to be afraid of the drop light which was down at floor level where it didn’t belong. I got 1 gal exactly. 2.5 for the day.
10/4 am For the first time this year, I had to break ice on the animals water. It was 28f at the house. To get Helen in this morning I had to close the outer door and chase her in. She refused to be tempted by grain. She stands on the ramp hesitantly and gives Howie a good butt whenever he shows signs of coming for it (the last thing she wants is for him to get that grain, it’s hers or nobody’s she apparently thinks) Once in her tie-up she remained uncooperative and even walked against the bucket causing me to lose at least a quart of milk onto the floor. She dislikes the milk pouring from the cannula to hit her leg and this causes her to step around an extra lot. She even started to kick so gave I her one of my barking yells. She immediately stopped moving but also stopped letting down. I can’t work on the sutured teat and quarter effectively to get milk flowing again. So I rarely am able to get all the milk from that quarter. We’ll be lucky if she doesn’t end up with mastitis in that quarter. Later this morning Stewart’s huge sow and one piglet showed up in our front yard. Two of my sons, Mark and Martin, and grandson Rafe were painting the fence and they helped drive her home. But not before she thoroughly explored our barn and lawn. Word comes back that once home, instead of returning to her sty, she paused to rototill a long row of Stewart’s garden, then took a rest. Mark said, “Like a 900 pound gorilla, she sits where she wants.”
10/4 PM Big excitement today for Helen and Howie. Melody and Stewart brought over their calves. That’s Henry, Helen’s May calf, and Herbie, the companion Holstein calf (steer) they bought. Helen got very excited and the calves, which had previously been tied or confined, did a lot of running. With proper cow instinct, Helen mooed after them and when they paid no attention trotted nervously after them to defend them from evil. For a while I was worried Henry might be remembering how to suck. This could still happen but I’ll face that problem when I come to it. It will be a much happier situation for the calves and company for Helen after Howie goes to cow heaven. But I don’t know how I’ll keep all these names straight. I was able to insert the cannula without using restraint. The sutures and cut look healthy. I think she’s kicking by habit now. Got 1 gal. and a bit under a quart. I’m not certain of my day’s total because of the spill this morning. About 2.5 gal.
10/5 AM Helen ran in pretty well this morning although I had to walk into the field to call her away from the calves. I only got 1 gal and a bit under a quart but was able to insert the cannula without restraint. After milking I experimented with grabbing the bad teat and trying to get a squirt. She reacted very little. I don’t think it hurts her. Tonight I’m going to try normal milking and see what happens.
10/5 PM Hurray! I milked tonight the normal way. Helen didn’t even wince. I got less than a gallon possibly because (sob) she was back in heat today, roaring heat. I guess her operation with anesthetic caused her to abort because this heat does not relate to her schedule. It’s a week early. I’ve called AI for tomorrow morning. When I was feeding the pigs she followed me right into the gap where I stand to lift their bucket over the fence. Howie was right behind her and jumped her as she stood. This kept her mind off advancing on me but I was definitely ready to climb in with the pigs. In other great news, Sally and Rafe finished fencing the Pocket Field today and we let the cattle in. How wonderful this is I can scarcely say. That field has been unusable for almost ten years. We’ve been mowing it to keep down weeds and it should now be in better shape than much of the rest of the place. George Weeks is on his way here with fifty bales of hay so I expect we’ll be eating a late dinner. It’s already dark. 2 gal 1 pint today
10/6 AM About 25f this morning. The hoses and water basins were all frozen. Helen was very tricky to get in this morning. Then after about five minutes into what looked like quiet milking she exploded into kicking. She kicked with her right (near) leg and sent the bucket flying. I was soaked and so was she. She even damaged her tie-up by pulling back. I was some mad! I yelled at her a lot. I ended up with about .75 gal. I think I might have had a gallon and a half. She seemed to have a lot of milk this morning. Perhaps her behavior was in some way related to being in heat although there were no other overt signs of it this morning. I had a short night due to late phone calls and awoke with a sinus headache and I’m still shaky. The vet is coming later on to check Helen’s state of recovery. She’s still in her tie-up waiting for AI (artificial insemination) I hope he arrives while she’s still tied up. George and his wife Diane did come last night with the hay. It looks very good. It was $2.25/bale picked straight out of the field. If we want more it will be $2.75 as it’s all in his barn now. He has finished haying for this year.
10/6 PM The AI man arrived and this time I had her bred to the Jersey bull Comfort Royal ALF. He is noted for producing daughters that give a lot of cream, consequently he is not in much demand in fat obsessed America but, we were told, is popular in other countries where cream is valued. Dr. Cooper stopped in at lunch time to see Helen and we gave him some lunch. The sun shone all day and it got beautifully warm but a hard freeze is expected tonight. Helen came in at milking pretty easily and stood still for the first five minutes. They she began threatening to kick and generally waving her feet around so I switched to the hind teats until Sally arrived. The KickStop device doesn’t work very well or else I lack the knack. It makes her sway as though she may tip over on me. I ended up having Sally just hold up her tail while I finished milking. This is not a procedure which encourages let down. She gave just shy of a gallon.
10/7 am Helen came in reasonably well this morning and permitted milking of her sutured teat without complaint for about three minutes. Then she became restive and made a plop. She was letting down poorly. I moved to the hind teats and waited for Sally to come and hold up her tail. That quarter has returned to being her best quarter. I actually gave up before getting every drop of milk, always a poor thing to do, because I didn’t want to stress her any further. The tail holding immobilizes her but perhaps it hurts. Certainly she keeps up an unhappy “mmmmmm” sound. We all watched while she made her first exit down the fine new ramp Rafe has built. It was 28f again this morning. We’re still carrying in the potted plants every night but some are looking pretty discouraged just the same.
10/7 pm Hurray! Helen behaved extremely well this evening. I did have to call her to come home. It was such a lovely evening and all the cattle were down by the river. She doesn’t feel she ought to leave the calves and tries to get them to come along but to no avail. Their instincts seem to have fizzled. I added a scoop of alfalfa cubes to her feed which helped keep her occupied. I started right off with the sutured teat. She was slow and reluctant to let down and jumped at each small disturbance but did not lift a foot. She seems able to hold back preferentially on that quarter. I just kept quietly milking that quarter while shifting to the others and she never lost her cool. I do hope that soon I can rely on quiet milking so that once again milking is a time of day to look forward to rather than dread. Sally and Rafe have launched themselves into further fencing projects. Also they brought home ten more bags of sawdust.
10/8 am It’s warmer and raining this morning. Helen was nowhere to be seen and didn’t answer my call. I fed the pigs and still she did not appear. I knew she must be down in the new area, the Pocket Field, because I could see the calves. There is a lower section where she can now graze unseen. She finally decided to come home about a quarter to eight. Her calf, Henry, that’s moved back here now, came along and caused a further ten minute delay before I could persuade her to come in. Then Henry bellowed the whole time but it was not for Helen. He was trying to find his buddy, Herby, the other calf. These calves are six months old. I took off Henry’s halter which was beginning to bite into his face. Helen was restless during milking and started to kick but after I gave her the Rebel Yell she stood like a lamb. I got slightly more than 1.5 gal.
10/8 pm Once again this evening it took a long time to get Helen in, a good 15 minutes of coaxing and tempting her with apples before she finally made up her mind and marched right in. The good feed in the Pocket Field may be a factor. Her rumen was full. Rafe had put in new flooring at her standing and she wasn’t sure she wanted to step on it at first. But she got over this more quickly than I dared hope. I got 1 gallon and a pint. 2.6 gal for the day. I believe I see a slight upward trend. One of Blackie’s chicks from her June clutch that hatched in Helen’s feed trough laid her first egg today right in the nest box. I’ve been hearing the young roosters practicing up so thought it must be time for an egg. It is very tiny.
10/9 am Helen was waiting for me this morning and walked right in. She was agitated all through milking though and at one point kicked her right (near) foot way up in the air strewing sawdust into the milk. I poured out a bit to get rid of it. Howie stood outside the back door where the new ramp is and bellowed for her incessantly. She did not answer but that was undoubtedly the source of her nervousness. Many’s the time I’ve observed that by the time a critter is due for the freezer its behavior begins to make you really look forward to the day. Production is going up. I got 1.5 gal this morning. Helen is crazy for apples. Sally brings her lots of falls. But she doesn’t bring enough to account for any naughty behavior. Sally and Rafe go walking in the woods and byways and have found many wild apple trees. They carry plastic bags and bring home apples and other treasures. Yesterday I went along and identified sloes for them. They had not known of their existence. I’ve shown Sally how to identify chanterelles in hopes she may find a patch.
10/9 pm No mushrooms and only a handful of sloes but applesauce from the wild apples they brought home yesterday is first rate. I canned some. Helen didn’t come in as swiftly this evening as this morning. She had to stick her head into her new stanchion that Rafe has partly built. It doesn’t hold her yet. She was pretty jumpy during milking what with all the new construction. Her new standing has a bit of spring to it. I got 1 gal and close to a quart of very clean milk. After milking H didn’t want to step out into the rain so I let her exit through the beefer pen. I left the ramp door open while I did some cleaning up after her and she walked around and came right back in up the ramp! So I guess she isn’t really afraid of anything. 2.7 gal. for the day.
10/10 am It’s still raining. The barn is leaking badly. Helen came in hesitantly and sniffed carefully at all the new construction projects and the Skil saw. She is still uncertain of her new standing and steps about in a jerky fashion that makes me nervous that she is about to kick. But she didn’t. I got 1.5 gallon (skimpy)
10/10 pm Hard rain all day. Helen came right in and entered her new stanchion for the first time. She didn’t mind it at all. Rafe and Sally did a great job. I got a gallon plus a quart tonight giving us 2.75 gal for the day. Her production is definitely improving. When I fed the pigs Sidney bit me. They had tipped over their tub and she was impatient with the fact that I had to turn it back over. She didn’t bite very hard.
10/11 am It’s still raining and the National weather Station in Gray has been interrupting radio broadcasts with flood warnings. I can heard the river rustling in its banks, but we’re on high ground here. Martin brought me his Dodge van last night for a farm vehicle. It’s an ’80 full size automatic and looks too good for rough work but it surely will make it easier to bring home feed. It was a rodeo this morning getting Helen in. Howie, Henry and Herbie all want to come in while Helen wants to give the matter more thought. I’ll have to talk this over with Stewart. Helen accepts her stanchion very well. At one point after she was through gobbling her feed I saw here writhing her head around to see if she could get out. As soon as she found she couldn’t she settled right down, no struggling. She gave slightly over 1.5 gal. It remains hard to milk the quarter with the teat that she tore. The milk just doesn’t come out easily.
10/11 pm By opening the back door at the new ramp I was able to get Helen in before the others figured out what was happening. But then they bellowed relentlessly all the while I was milking making both me and Helen nervous and irritated. At one point she lifted her tail and made a plop which she seldom does during milking except when she wishes to make a statement. Naturally she didn’t let down her best but I got 1 gal. plus a quart. The rain seems to be letting up. I canned six pints of applesauce from the wild apples Sally found. 2.75 gal today.
10/12 am Helen came in nicely up the new outdoor ramp this morning avoiding confusion. She stood well and gave over 1.5 gal. But she did do another big plop halfway through milking which of course I had to jump up and clean away. At times like this I am especially grateful for the 20 bags of sawdust Sally and Rafe filled and put in the barn. I arranged for a burn permit for this morning. Sally wants badly to burn some of the tree trimming trash and the rain has finally stopped. It’s a perfect day for burning.
10/12 pm They succeeded in burning one huge pile down to a few stubborn lumps. Rafe also brought in another considerable load of sawn-to-length maple from a tree down at the edge of the Pocket Field. Later he climbed on the barn roof to fix a bad leak. He does this by first throwing a weighted string over the barn then uses this to drag over a rope. He puts one end of the rope around his waist, the other to the bumper of the van. He said the hole looked as though a meteor had burned through. There were lesser burned spots around the edge of the large hole. I suppose it must have been lightening. In any case, thank God I didn’t lose the barn. Helen was perfect this evening but I got just one gallon. Blackie has lost another chick and is down to one. She’s gotten that one up on the highest roost with her. Today’s total 2.5 gal. plus a bit more.
****Today being a fairly typical day on the farm, here is how the three of us currently here spent our day. My new alarm that crow like a rooster went off at 5:30 but I turned it off and slept until 6:15. Sally got downstairs ahead of me and started the tea. I fed Muffin and a swarm of cats. Most of them get dry food but I give Sukey canned food because she is still feeding several kittens whose combined weight surely exceeds her own. They are adorable friendly kittens. I must put up more signs around town, Free Kittens. I went to the barn at 7:00 while Sally worked on her journal, drank tea, surveyed her various job sites near the house, and fixed breakfast. When I came in with the milk she and Rafe were eating and my breakfast was ready but I wanted to feed the pigs first so Sal ate my egg and I fixed another later. Sal and Rafe drove the van down to the Pocket Field and sawed up more wood and brought it in. Then they drove to a place on a nearby dirt road where wild apples are falling on the ground and brought home two five gallon buckets of not bad apples. Next the worked on piling up the trash on the burn pile. I phoned the fire marshal for a permit. He was out on a construction job but his wife graciously filled out the form, drove it to his job site for his signature and brought it to me. Sally would have been deeply disappointed had they been unable to burn that pile today. They have only one more day here. First we all had bad colds, then it rained and rained. I worked at my computer awhile, then dressed to go in to town. Before I left, neighbor Stewart stopped in to discuss how I can grain his calves. It’s complicated for me because there is no easy way to feed them without Howie (18 months old) getting more than his share and Herby (5 months old) getting nothing. Henry, (6 months old) is less of a problem because he is very assertive. He’s Helen’s May calf. I needed to go to the bank, the post office and the hardware store for pint jars. My trip was a total waste of time. I forgot it was Columbus Day. The bank and post office were closed and Towle’s was out of jars. Back home I did my email and some other writing, hung out two loads of laundry, swept the buttery, looked at the big smokey fire, and got lunch. We had tuna salad with raw carrots from my garden. After lunch Sal and Rafe did cleanup in the veg garden with the weed trimmer and lawn mower; they could supervise the fire from there. I talked to my phone pal in Texas who has a cow with a mysterious (to me) udder problem. Next I made a poppyseed cake and invited cousin Marcia over for coffee so she could say goodbye to Sally. I used the recipe in the Australian Woman’s cookbook. It calls for soaking the poppyseeds in milk for a half hour which enhances the flavor of the cake and makes the seeds less gritty. While it baked I checked on my poultry and lay down for twenty minutes and read a bit of H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O’Brian. Marcia arrived about 3:00 and we all four drank coffee and ate cake for an hour. I got out the good china for the occasion. We all had a good time remembering clever sayings of her mother and my Grammie, who was sister to Marcia’s grandmother making her Marcia’s great aunt. Both old ladies were noted for their wit. But Rafe soon got bored and sloped off to read Smithsonian magazine. I then began barn chores while Sal and Rafe decided it was a good time to patch shingles on the barn roof. Rafe got himself up there (it’s a high barn) belayed with a rope around his waist that ran over the ridge pole to the bumber of the van. He patched the worst hole which he said appeared to have been burned through as though by a meteorite (his theory). After I brought in the milk I put potatoes in the oven and fried pork chops. Sally cut up her apples and put them on to boil for about 8 quarts of sauce, I’d say. She also made a nice salad out of some of the last of the tomatoes and cucumbers. While things were cooking I took in the laundry. Then I made a milk gravy for the chops and we had a nice dinner. After dinner I wrote this and Sally strained and processed 8 quarts of sauce. She and Rafe ate bowls of applesauce with lots of thick cream. Right now Sally is making butter, about two pounds. It’s 9:30. Rafe is watching old movies. I didn’t get as much done today as I would have liked because my back is bothering me and I still have a touch of sinusitis. Sally loves tea. I forgot to put in the three times she came in and made herself a cup of tea. And Rafe and I had coffee in the late morning. And somewhere in this account we ran the dishwasher twice and reloaded it. Last of all, I carried in the potted plants in case it freezes *****************************
10/13 am Helen stood fine for milking but presented me with another plop halfway through. Looks like she’s forming a habit, darn it. But I caught it all on the shovel. She finds that shovel under her tail somewhat disconcerting so perhaps she’ll quit. Getting her in this morning was tricky and I’m not sure how I would have managed without Sally. All were swarming about . She appeared to believe I was about to pass out feed outdoors which of course was true, once she was in. Sorting this out took about 15 minutes and does not improve my mood. Coaxing her with apples was what finally got her.
10/13 pm Again Helen came in without much hesitation and stood nicely. Rafe fixed up tie-ups for the steer, Howie, and the two calves so that I would be able to feed them without their fighting. But only Howie showed up at the barn so was the only one to get his supper. Helen gave a gallon plus nearly a quart making the total for today about 2.9 gal. Earlier, Stewart and neighbor Barry, owner of a skidder, brought his equipment and winched a piece of granite weighing several thousand pounds back into position in one of our granite walls. It was displaced during the winter by the snowplow. Now the lawn has great mashed spots from the skidder tires but never mind, it’s worth it to see that granite block back where it belongs. I never thought to see it. What fine neighbors I have.
10/14 I did chores extra early today because today was the day we drive to Portland and I say goodbye to Sally and Rafe. The animals were all well behaved. I was able to give grain to Howie and Henry but Herbie stayed far down in the field. Sal and Rafe made a last trip to the river and then kissed the doorjamb. It rained all day, down and back and is still raining at 9pm. In the evening Helen actually raced in for her dinner and milking just like the old days. All the steers were at the barn so all got their grain, even shy little Herbie. I raced his pan outside to him and he had to stand in the rain to eat. This is the best I can do until I can train them to tie-up positions. On the way home from Portland I stopped in Auburn for supplies including pain tablets Aleve which sister Barby recommended for the pinched nerve type pain to my right hip. I took one the minute I got back in the car. I had been dreading unloading five bags of feed but was able to do it with scarcely a wince. This morning I got 1.5 gallons and this evening 1 gal +1 cup. 2.55 gal.
10/15 am It’s raining again today and I believe it rained all night. Helen marched right in again this morning and stood like a champ. She gave 1.5 gallons + 1 pint. Poor Phoenix, the rooster, looks so bedraggled. He has only one tail feather now. He’s been dropping them here and there.
10/15 It’s raining still. Another improvement the last two milkings, it’s getting easier to get the milk out. Either I’m getting stronger or she’s letting down better. I didn’t see anything of Little Red this evening. I notice Whitey has Red’s chicks. They were all lined up on ascending rungs of the ladder to the hayloft, five to each rung with some left over. Where can she be? 2.75 gal for the day
10/16 am Rain has stopped and a cold wind is blowing. Little black and white Herbie came through the door this morning for his grain. I think I saw Little Red. The cattle aren’t eating their hay. They spend all their time grazing so the grass must still be better than the hay. The pigs are looking very sleek. I must be feeding them enough to satisfy them as they don’t fight much over their food. But they always finish it off. I throw hay in for them every day. They have made a nest with some t it but some of it they eat, just for fun I suppose. They can’t be digesting much of it. I spoke to Sally in Chicago this morning near where granddaughter Rosie is at school. Rosie is eager for a share of the pork when it’s ready and all her friends want some too. Sally said, “I thought they were all vegetarians”. Rosie said, “But now they’re all hungry!”
10/16 pm It’s blowing up cold. I brought in the last of the root vegetables. Helen came in nicely and gave slightly over 1 gallon. Little Herbie was right there lined up with the others at feeding time fighting for his share. All the cats have become ravenous I guess trying to put on weight for the winter. 2.5 gal today plus one cup.
10/17 am It wasn’t as cold last night as I expected. Only down to 32f. All the animals behaved nicely, no trouble. However I have not so far had any luck getting a collar onto Howie, 18 month old Jersey steer. In early September I had him so I could put my arms around his neck but during the weeks of Helen’s teat injury it was so much trouble getting her in that I had no opportunity to keep up with handling Howie. Now he has grown suspicious. So far as I can tell, the bantam families have suffered no further losses. It’s getting more difficult to be sure because they are now all much of a size and intermix. Some of the mothers have taken to roosting higher up in the rafters than their young ones can fly. Phoenix still roosts in the cedar tree by the house all by himself. His early morning crowing is right next to the guest room window and drives people nuts.
10/17 pm Quiet milking, got 1 gal + 3 cups. It was a beautiful day. For some reason, possibly to make a liar out of me, Sidney and Adelaide had big pig fights when I fed them tonight. I expected them both to have bloody ears but they did each other no visible damage. They snap like dogs. When not eating, they sleep all cuddled together in their hay nest. They have much nicer living quarters than most pigs of my acquaintance. 2.75 gal today
10/18 am It’s a beautiful day, cool with blue sky and white clouds. The boys have gone off to climb Tumbledown. All the animals were well behaved although the pigs obviously were disappointed with their breakfast, nothing but pig pellets and water with very few scraps and no milk. They didn’t fight, just ate with less excitement. Helen gave exactly the same as yesterday, 1.5 gal + 1 cup.
10/18 pm Again tonight, the same amount of milk as yesterday, 1 gal 3 cups making 2.5 gal for the day. Feeding the pigs isn’t much fun Outside their pen where the cattle trample through is a mire. The mud pulls my boots off if I’m not careful. And the pig’s feed bucket is very heavy to lift over the fence. The boys had a wonderful climb but had to wait almost half an hour at the top to pass through Fat Man’s Misery, the crevice at the top of the trail. A large number of school children were ahead of them. Friends brought one and a half pickup loads of wood for me today. Such a kind thing to do.
10/19 am We had a beautiful dawn today but strange. There is a warm wind blowing and it’s 55f. Helen and the boys were nowhere to be seen. I called but the wind carried my voice away. I went ahead and fed the pigs first so as not to waste time. Finally I caught a glimpse of Herbie. His shining black and white shows up better than the brown of the Jerseys which is a remarkable camouflage in this season. They were out of sight in the Pocket Field. Helen finally heard me and came in by herself throwing things out of sync for graining the others. I kept her in for a few minutes after milking so they could finish up and to amuse her I gave her some of the super good hay I got two weeks ago. It is soft, green and fluffy. She loved it so much she didn’t want to leave her stanchion. 1.5 gal + 1 cup again this morning.
10/20 am Down to 32f this morning and all four were lined up at the door. The steers fight over their buckets causing spillage and waste. I look forward to the time when I can tie them up but that’s impossible until Howie and Henry have collars and I can’t get one onto Howie. Howie’s date with destiny is in two weeks. I hope we can load him without a collar. Helen was very good but gave just 1.5 gal., no more.
10/20 pm Neighbor Stewart got a nasty injury to his shin this morning while using his walk-behind tiller. The metal flap that hangs down the back to prevent kicking back of dirt failed to prevent the kicking out of some shrapnel-like object. It cut to the bone right through his pantleg. The cut was about three inches long. Tough Stewart thought to repair the damage with Bag Balm and Band-Aids but fortunately could not locate any Bag Balm. When I got there he had tied an athletic sock around it. It obviously needed stitches. Melody took him to the emergency room and they scraped out bone chips before putting in the sutures. At milking time, instead of coming in with the others, Herbie, the black and white steer, began running away down the field as though his tail were on fire. So he missed his dinner. There is a high wind and after milking Helen didn’t want to face into it to exit down her new ramp. So I let her back out through the beefer pen. On the way she made a big plop. When next I looked there was Mouncey, my big altered tom cat, doing his best to cover it up with loose straw! I really had to laugh, he looked so serious and worried. I didn’t let him see me laughing. 1 gal + 10 oz. tonight. 2.5 gal today (plus 10 oz)
10/21 Today I took the van to Rumford and picked up grain for myself and Stewart. Total for the day 2.5 gal + 3 cups
10/22 am We had a gorgeous pink dawn. All the animals behaved well. I’m cutting back a bit on feeding the pigs as they don’t act quite so hungry. This morning I gave them 1 gallon of milk with only three scoops of feed instead of four. I know Stewart will not be able to take them tomorrow unless we get a lot of help. Helen loves her meals in the stanchion. I’m giving her three scoops of 16% feed (Cargill Nutrena), two scoops of alfalfa pellets, several apples and a flake of the excellent second crop hay that I don’t want anybody else to have. She doesn’t even want to leave her stanchion when I’m finished milking. She has gotten used to the radio being on, too. This morning: 1 gal + 24 oz. Way down.
10/22 pm I had to wait several minutes this evening for Helen to be willing to leave her stall. She finally walked out with a big mouthful of hay because Howie was outside the door bellowing for her. Stewart won’t be able to take the pigs tomorrow. I didn’t know this for sure until 8pm so gave them only a very light meal. They require a one day fast to make for easy loading. I’ll give them a big breakfast. Only just over a gallon this evening and 2.4 for the day.
10/23 am After milking I left Helen in her stanchion to finish her hay because she didn’t want to leave any. I took the milk in and strained it and came back with the pig’s breakfast. By then she wanted to get out probably because she was afraid I’d forgotten her. The pigs had a good appetite this morning. I called the butcher and the next available appointment is December 2. That means a lot more feed to buy. The cats are ravenous these days. The more cat food I put out the more they eat. I guess they want to be fatter for the winter. 1.5 gal less about 4oz.
10/23 pm Another beautiful fall day but colder. Helen really loves her special hay. She just bolts it down. Production for the day was identical to yesterday, 2.5 gal less a couple ounces. Blackie takes her one chick up to quite a high perch each night. There it nestles between her legs facing backwards and endlessly crooning a little twittering song.
10/24 am Another beautiful Fall day so far in the 40’s. I’m trying leaving Helen in her stanchion after I’m through milking so she can eat her hay. I can use this time to go get the pig food. So far although she does eat she is clearly worried that she has been forgotten. No doubt the same feeling I get after a nurse shuts me in an examining room and nobody comes back for half an hour. I only leave her for five minutes but it’s enough to make her do a plop so it leaves me with clean-up work. I will keep trying in hopes of winning her confidence. She happily keeps eating until she hears me leave the barn. Exactly 1.5 gal this morning.
10/24 pm I left Helen in her stanchion after milking and went in for the pig food. This time when I got back she had not made a plop. But she was ready to leave. She insisted on heading for the inside beefer pen door rather than outside into the beautiful evening. She seemed interested in the hay in the feeder so I climbed into the loft and threw down more. I had to go up the difficult ladder because Whitey and 11 half grown chicks roost on the good ladder. 1 gallon plus 1 cup tonight. 2.5 + gal. today
10/25 am Helen very good but she still doesn’t like me to leave the barn while she’s locked in her stanchion. Can’t really blame her. But I can’t hang around long when the milk needs straining. The cattle are eating more hay now. The value of the grass is declining. After leaving her stanchion Helen insisted on going straight through to the beefer pen and started right in on that hay along with the three steers. The chickens range far afield now looking for bugs. The cats also hunt constantly (when they aren’t nagging me for food). In the last week they have brought in four baby rabbits already dead or I would have tried to save them. It’s heartbreaking but there’s nothing I can do about it. If I didn’t have cats I’d have rats and mice. I never see any rodents near the house or barn nor any evidence of them. 1.5 gal + 1 cup this morning.
10/25 pm It’s getting colder. The ground may freeze tonight. I poured water on the new rose bushes and the new cedar so they can be sure to go to sleep moist. I started using some of Stewart’s hay tonight. The calves are beginning to eat a lot of mine. 1 gallon tonight. A scant 2.5 gal for the day.
10/26 am Another clear day, colder. Helen had to break the ice on her water tank before she could drink. The chicken water had a half inch of ice. It was 26f at the house. They all went right out to graze, not interested in their hay. Helen gave about 1 cup less than 1.5 gal. Blackie’s four June chicks are pretty well grown up. They look like three roosters and one hen, darn it. Two of the roosters face off several times a day for a little cock fight. The hen ought to be laying but so far I have found only one tiny pullet egg and that was more than two weeks ago.
10/26 pm This afternoon it was beautifully warm. I took a walk along the river hoping to find some blackthorn fruit for Sally. I didn’t find any but I believe I found the barbed wire that tore Helen’s teat last month. I wasn’t wearing gloves so could only loop it up. I will have to go back with wire cutters. I also found a suspicious sunken damp spot in the field. Tomorrow, or as soon as I can find the time, I will take some Aleve and a shovel and go dig it up. Could it possibly be the break in the line that is stopping my springwater from reaching the house? Helen gave one half gallon and a few ounces tonight. Even so, not enough to bring us up to 2.5 gal. today, not quite.
10/27 am Down to 24f this morning. The animals were all cheerful The sun is shining. The cattle all went straight out to graze. I notice that Henry hangs around Helen, his mother, even though they were separated for three months over to Stewart’s and he is weaned. The vet called and will be stopping in around noon. I usually give him some lunch and I’ve thrown a quick casserole into the oven. But I’m going out anyway to try digging up my spring line. Any delay and the ground may freeze. No digging after that. Helen gave 1 gal + 3 pints this morning. Perhaps the water is too icy. Or else she’s in a hopeless decline. She’s getting plenty of good feed.
10/27 pm I dug down more than three feet where I believed my spring line might be broken but found nothing. Such a disappointment. Then Muffin and I went out in the woods and had a look at the swamp. It’s still pretty wet. Because of my vet coming I could not go for feed. The pigs were the only guys completely out. I boiled up a gigantic pan of all the stale pasta, enough for tonight and breakfast. They also got a big bundle of Brussels sprout leaves. They seemed to really like their dinner. I got just over a gallon tonight bringing the day’s total to 2 gal + 6 cups. Lousy. I left the water in her tank running a dribble in case it needs a water exchange. I don’t think it’s going to freeze tonight.
10/28 am Milk production was up a bit this morning. Just shy of 1.5 gal. Helen is rather cute now as she picks her way around inspecting things in the barn before she makes up her mind which exit she will take this time. I warmed up the pasta with hot water for Sidney and Adelaide and added a few more goodies such as leftover whipped cream and some more Brussels sprout leaves. Now I must definitely go for feed.
10/28 pm Now there is feed for everybody again. As soon as I got home it began to rain hard and has not stopped. It gets dark so early with the time change. I’m grateful to Rafe for arranging some lighting in the barn. Helen came in dripping wet. I dry her thoroughly with an old bath towel so there will be no drips in the bucket. Not that she is especially unsanitary. Cows are cleaner than dogs or cats or just about any other animal because they never roll and don’t have any other habits that get dirt or manure on them at least when out on grass. But I still don’t want cow flavored rainwater in the milk. She gave a bit over a gallon tonight which brought today’s total to 2.5 gallons less about 2 oz.
10/29 am Only 1 gal +1 qt this morning. All the livestock apparently happy. The rain stopped and the sun is out. It feels like spring. I checked my calendar this morning and noted that Helen’s heat should have been two days ago. Nary a sign, so I guess she’s in calf. The depressed production could be a result. Here’s an excerpt from an email from son John in Australia. They have just bought two calves and a cow at a local auction. “Well, the “Luck of the Luicks”, as grandma L. used to say, held out with our new cow Buckwheat (my name – she is dark). First of all, she has a gorgeous temperament. She came with one adopted calf (some beefer), and immediately accepted a little Jersey heifer as well. So we only have to milk her if we feel like it. Secondly, yes, it was me that gave her first trial milking, but she was gentle as a lamb. I kept thinking about your heifer diary, and thanking my lucky stars, especially since we are completely unprepared. I just looped a rope around her horns, and tied her to the wall of a rickety little shelter in the paddock with some grain and Lucerne hay, sat down with a little bucket, and milked out what little the calves had left. Nary a lifted hoof. B. is not a classic Jersey beauty, but this certainly proves the old adage “beauty is only skin deep”. She has an impressive set of horns. Her udder is fairly compact and teats are fine. She freshened for the first time about four months ago – pretty impressive for a young gal?
10/29 pm 1 gal exactly tonight. 2 gal + 1 qt.
10/30 am There’s a high wind today with alternating sun, clouds and sprinkles. All the cattle were down in the pocket field this morning. The wind was in my face and it took some yelling to get Helen to hear me but the moment she did she started immediately walking for the barn. It is always astonishing how fast walking cattle move. She gave 1 gal + 1.5 quarts.
10/30 pm The great 100′ dead Balm of Gilead tree near the veg garden that Rafe wanted to cut down fell today in the wind. Only the larger of its double trunks fell. It has been standing dead for years worrying me. I didn’t even hear it fall. I was in the kitchen next to my noisy Cuisinart making butter. It fell right on the new fence Sally and Tom built. The trunk is huge, close to 3′ at the base and this is what hung up on the fence . Amazingly, the posts did not break but they may in the night. The top smashed the poor old apple tree pretty badly. Helen and her tribe of boys came and inspected the damage. I could tell she was pondering the possibilities of stepping through but thought better of it and led them all away. The wind was very high all day. 1 gal and about 1 cup tonight. 2 gal and not quite a half.
10/31 am It began as a beautiful morning in the 40’s but more storm is expected. The fallen tree has now forced the fence to the ground so I’d better go swathe some wire around to discourage adventuresome cows. All the animals are frisky but well behaved. Helen gave 1 gal and close to 2 qt but I was nearly an hour late milking.
10/31 pm While I was dishing up Helen’s dinner I heard rifle shots not far away. I looked out the feed room window and saw a hunter down in the Pocket Field, the last field. I shouted “What are you doing in my field?” Whoever it was ran like hell into the woods. Later I asked Stewart what he thought we should do. Jerseys look an awfully lot like deer. Probably Stewart will pick up some signs tomorrow. Deer season opened today. Tonight Helen gave 1 gallon + 1 cup to make today’s total 2.5 gal. Better than I expected since the interval was foreshortened by my milking a little early so as to be ready for Trick or Treaters. One mom wanted a white kitten which I happen to have but could not find. I hope she’ll come back tomorrow.
11/1 am A fine Fall day with none of the wind and rain the weatherman foretold. Helen gave 1 gal. + something over a quart. This morning I heeled in some plants and pulled some kohlrabi for the pig’s lunch. My back is still twinging as it has been for a couple of weeks.
11/1 pm I didn’t see anything of Stewart today. But Sally called and reminded me she and Rafe flagged the property line with tape. I’ll pick up some No Hunting signs when next I go to town. The mom who wanted the white kitten came back for her today. I caught the kitten with little difficulty. I’m so glad to have found it a home even though it’s always the prettiest cats that find homes. So our cat genes here run ever more to black with white bibs and paws. Tonight Helen gave 1 gal. and just enough to bring today’s total to 2 gal 1.5 qt.
11/2 am All the cattle were down in Pocket Field at dawn. I called Helen and she ignored me. Ten minutes later I called again and she came marching home accompanied by Howie, the big guy. The two calves didn’t stop grazing so they missed their breakfast. When they finally meandered in after milking I had to tell them they were out of luck. No way could I feed them with both Helen and Howie butting in. When I fed the pigs they got their heads in the way when I poured the bucket. They shook their heads and big ears like pinwheels and sent pig food all over my face. Fortunately for me their breakfast was just water and grain, nothing yukky. Helen gave 1 gal and nearly a half.
11/2/pm I didn’t hear any shooting today. But I did buy a few No Hunting signs. The weather is turning cold and blowy. We might even get snow. I didn’t feel like going out in the woods with my signs. Maybe tomorrow. I forgot to let out the chickens at noon but a few hopped over the fence. Then they couldn’t get back in. One of them decided to roost with Whitey up on the ladder. Her children now crowd the rungs and that big hen caused a mighty flap. Small ones kept falling off and having to fly back up. I don’t believe they ever settled it very comfortably. 1 gal tonight.
11/3 am 1.5 gal exactly this morning. All the cattle are wolfing down hay now. It seems to be pretty good hay.
11/3 pm Stewart brought over a nice horse trailer he borrowed and backed it up to the door of the beefer pen. I need to tempt Howie to walk in. I put his grain inside but he didn’t fall for it. Both calves hopped right in. Maybe tomorrow morning he’ll try it. I hope to avoid a rodeo. Helen gave 1 gal plus 1 pint tonight.
11/4 am Helen gave 1 gal +just over 1 qt. I got Howie loaded all by myself, mirabile dictu! I was able to separate out Helen by letting her out the other door after milking. And it wasn’t too hard to tempt Henry out of the beefer pen but the other calf, Herbie, had to be coaxed forward one step at a time with grain. I needed them both out because they had no inhibitions about hopping in the trailer. They jumped right in and ate the grain as fast as I set in there to tempt Howie. After that I just sat quietly in the beefer pen with my new Martha Stewart mag for about a half hour until Howie finally couldn’t resist the buffet I set out for him of fancy hay, grain, alfalfa cubes and apples and just walked into the trailer. I moved swiftly and silently and put up the butt bar, then closed the doors. I had practiced with the doors to be sure I knew exactly how to close them fast. I hope he enjoyed his last meal. It doesn’t do to get too sentimental about one’s steer. Stewart and two friends arrived to help not two minutes after I got the trailer door closed. If they had arrived any sooner the distraction would have stopped Howie from walking aboard. I’m sure they were as relieved as I was.
11/4 pm No word from Stewart about how Howie’s trip went. I stopped in with grain I picked up for him but I think he must have gone right out hunting when he got home. Helen and the calves showed very little sign of missing Howie. I was rather surprised at this. Helen gave 1 gal and a bit. 1 gal + 3 pints for the day.
11/5 am Helen gave 1 gal 3 pints this morning. We’re having a fine clear brisk morning. Feeding the calves is now a much quieter occasion. It was very hard to put out three buckets of grain with both Howie and Henry being very pushy. Little Herbie, the black and white calf, remains very shy. I noticed this morning he was standing outside while Helen and Henry scoffed hay.
11/5 pm Helen gave me a surprise this evening. While I was stripping the last of the milk she just picked up her hind feet very high and daintily stepped across me and the bucket and walked away! I have failed to lock the stanchion and when she was finished eating she apparently felt no obligation to hang around. I got a bit under a gallon as a result. 2 gal 2.5 pints for the day.
11/6 am There was a full moon last night and it was pretty clear. There was a half inch of ice on the water this morning and of course the hose was frozen. Herbie has lost his bell. I took off his collar. It was getting a little tight and if left on as he grows would not only inhibit his cudding but makes an animal harder to catch. It seems to spoil their disposition. 1.25 gal. this morning.
11/6 pm Stewart stopped in to pay me back for the grain I picked up for him yesterday. He said that on the way yesterday with Howie they discovered that the back door of the trailer had swung open! Thank goodness I had put up that butt bar. I guess I had not done the door latch properly. Wow. If he had fallen off the trailer he could never have been caught. A scant gal. tonight. A scant 2 .25 gal. for the day. I know goats that give better than that.
11/7 am I overslept and didn’t milk until almost 8 o’clock. Helen was hanging around the barn mooing reproachfully. She gave 1 gal +1.5 qt. All the bantam families come running now when they see me. They aren’t finding many bugs and are going through the mash fast. I’ve got to get up my gumption to dress off a couple of roosters that are now 5 months old and getting pesky.
11/7 pm Now I’ve started feeding the pigs before milking so as not to have to do it in the dark. Hitting the tub with their slop is tricky enough in broad daylight. I milked a bit late this evening because good friends came and got my car started and brought more wood. The electrical system on my Merc Mystique gives frequent trouble. Helen gave a scant gallon tonight making it 2 gal + 1.5 quarts for the day.
11/8 am Beautiful sun today temp about 30f. All the animals were quiet and orderly. Before letting the chickens out I caught one young rooster and stuck him in a cat carrier. Before milking, Helen and the two calves were eating the hay I threw down last night. This is the first time I have seen Helen eating hay while waiting for me. Usually she keeps grazing. She gave 1 gal + 1 qt. After milking she went back to eating hay so I threw down more. Herbie, the Holstein calf, went outside by himself while the other two ate hay. His behavior is frequently puzzling. He was walking off as though somebody had hurt his feelings.
11/8 pm I dressed off that rooster. I sharpened up my cane knife, got the water hot, and tied hay string around his feet. But it would have worked better if I had found a chopping block instead of stretching him out on the lawn. He was easy to pluck and easy to draw but only weighed 2 lb. His spurs were fully 2″ long. Despite being only five months old he was tough. I put him on to boil before noon and at 6:00 he was still resisting. But the broth was mighty fine. I also boiled up a large pot of halloween pumpkin and old zuchinnis for the pigs. In the afternoon I went out and floundered around in the woods for an hour or more. I nailed up three No Hunting signs. There are lots of deer tracks down by the brook and the tracks of hunters too. I hope nobody mistakes Helen or Henry for a deer. Helen gave exactly 1 gal. tonight. 2 gal 1 qt today’s total
11/9 am Very bleak weather today. But Helen went right out to graze, didn’t stop for her hay. 1 gal + 1 qt this morning.
11/9 pm 1 gal. this evening … 2 gal 1 qt for the day, exactly like yesterday and I had to squeeze hard to get it.
11/10 am Bright and cold today. Helen gave 1 gal 1.5 qt, a bit better than yesterday am. I didn’t think to go out first thing and break open her water. It’s frozen every morning now so I must include that in my job description. She had broken it open with her nose by the time I got there. The ice was a half inch thich so that must have taken a good hard bump. Little Herbie, the black and white calf, seems awfully dim. Even though the ice was broken at the other end of the tank and Henry had a drink, Herbie stood licking the ice and couldn ‘t seem to figure out how to get his. The tap and hose connection inside the barn was also frozen and must be thawed before I can refill the tank. The heat tape I’ve had on it for years fried last winter. I’ve plugged in a heating pad over it and put a rose cone over the pad. We’ll see it that does the trick.
11/10 pm The heating pad thawed out the faucet. For a more professional answer, I have bought and plugged in a fancy new sort of heating tape costing $19 with a thermostat which is supposed to kick on at freezing temp and be OK down to -38f. Before I could install it I had to rout out the old fiberglass stuffing that surrounds the plastic water pipe. The pipe itself comes up through a section of 4″ plastic drain pipe that was set over it to hold the insulation. This is sunk into the ground. I had to crouch down and reach into this pipe to dig out that nasty fiberglass by hand before I could put on the new heat tape. Of course it was the sort of miserable job I should have done last summer. Helen gave 1 gal. this evening. 2 gal + 1.5 qt for the day. After supper I made butter. I got 2 lb from about 3.5 quarts of cream. Now that it’s just me here I need to make butter every second or third day.
11/11 Production today was virtually identical to yesterday. I went out and stocked up on feed in case the weather prevents a trip next week. A storm is said to be on the way and I’m not sure how the van will behave on ice. I had to buy more layer pellets. They gave me mash last time by mistake and the chickens were very wasteful of it.
11/13 Helen only gave 1 gal + 1 pt this morning. Very bad news just when I found an old gentleman who wants to buy milk. I sold a half gallon this morning. It hasn’t been cold enough to really challenge the new heat tape although it was in the 20’s today and the faucet was not frozen. This could have been thanks to insulation I piled up in the form of hay bales. The pigs got a surprise this morning. While I was doing my usual acrobatic trick of trying to pour out their swill whithout spilling any while standing on the first railing of their fence one of them bumped me and the bucket so hard I lost my footing. I almost dived over into their pen but managed to balance on the top rail with my feet waving in the air. And I did not spill the bucket thanks in part to Sidney and Adelaide backing away. I don’t know if they thought I was alarming or amusing.
11/13 pm I saw my first snow flurries today. Helen gave a tad under 1 gal tonight making the total for today just over 2 gal. Pretty poor.
11/14 am Helen gave 1 gal and close to a quart today. She had to break open her water again today. She gets up before I do. Pretty soon I’d better set up the indoor tank. I’m off this morning to pick up the beef.
11/14 pm I picked up the meat packaged and frozen. The slip gives the weight as 470# but I forgot to ask if that is dressed weight or packaged weight. I assume dressed weight. Cutting and wrapping was $141 and slaughter was $25. I hope another time, if I have help, to cut and wrap it myself and save that expense. I know how to do it and have all the equipment but last time I did it it took two days even with Sally helping. Right now it’s still sitting in the van but son Mark is coming to help me load it into the freezer. It’s 34f outside so it won’t have any trouble staying frozen. Again tonight Helen wasn’t locked into her stanchion and tiptoed away before I was through stripping so I don’t know how much was left behind. I got a bit under a gallon. This time I didn’t forget to pin her but I must not have thrust the pin all the way in. It made me feel pretty silly. First she made a big plop while making up her mind what to do. Then she was outathere.
11/15 am It’s 34f this morning with something halfway between snow and rain falling out of the sky. There are streaks of wet snow and half frozen puddles everywhere, yellow grass, an Andrew Wyeth landscape. All the animals seem contented. I should doubt if Helen and the boys want to graze in this. I’ll have to go out mid morning and throw down more hay. Helen gave 1 gal + 1.5 quarts.1 gal. tonight.
11/16 am Heln acted very oddly this morning. She was mooing to me as usual when I walked out but when I opened the door to let her in for milking and her grain she refused to come in. She ran all around in the beefer pen. I closed the outer door because it looks as though she was heading back to the pasture. All this only took about three minutes but for weeks she has showed no hesitation about coming in, bolts right in and starts on her grain. I can’t imagine what got into her. I didn’t notice any signs at her last heat date. Tomorrow would be the date again for her to come in heat. 1 gal + 1 qt this morning.
11/16 pm 1 gal. this evening
11/17 am No signs of heat yesterday or today. But Helen was once again very odd about coming in for milking. I’ve decided it is because she can’t decide whether to defer to Henry or not. I believe she vaguely remembers he is her calf, also a male. She used to butt him out of the way but now seems reluctant to do this. Since he is doing his best to bolt through the door himself this causes a serious traffic problem. Helen walked out of her stanchion again this morning even though I had put in the pin. I don’t know how she is doing this. At least she waited until I was through milking. She gave 1 gal. + 1 qt.
11/17 pm It snowed most of the day but did not accumulate much. Helen and the calves kept right on grazing but they seem to eat a little more hay every day. I made two more pounds of butter. I make butter every second of third day. Also picked up another milk customer just when production is falling. We were a little shy of a gallon tonight. 2 gal 1 pt for the day. Helen did not walk out of her stanchion tonight. I made a careful inspection of the pin. Maybe that helped. After I let her out she ate some of the ancient hay I keep handy for the pigs. She does this every night. Then she walked back and put her head in her stanchion to finish off the bit of fancy hay I always serve with her feed.
11/18 I believe I’ve overcome the problem of Helen not walking right in for milking. This morning I held a long piece of dowel in my hand to restrain Henry and give her a clear shot at the doorway and this seemed to be all it took. It’s colder today, 24f. I had to break the ice for Helen to drink. 1 gal 1 pt this morning.
11/18 pm This afternoon Henry was running like mad in the pasture. Helen ran with him a little bit. Herbie hardly ran at all. 1 gal minus a pint tonight. 2 gal for the day.
11/19 am This morning I got 1 gal + 1 qt from a very cooperative cow. The pigs like the meals I’ve been bringing them. To avoid buying another bag of feed I’ve been soaking and cooking big vats of cracked corn. With hot water and milk on it they seem to consider it a treat. They go soon to meet their destiny so I’m giving them extra vitamin E. I know this sounds hard hearted and calculating, but hey, this is farming fact.
11/19 pm A little shy of one gallon tonight despite resolute stripping. Total today 2 gal .75 qt.
11/20 am It snowed some last night, soft sticky snow with ice underneath. I nearly did a pratfall and got a milk bath when I went out early to set out the half gallon for my Friday customer. Helen gave 1 gal 1.5 qt this morning. No breakfast for the pigs but I gave them water. They are complaining mightily about their fast. Stewart will be along with some buddies to load them this morning. They need to be very hungry so they will enter the trailer for food.
11/20 pm Stewart loaded the pigs with no help. When I looked out the window and saw tracks on my lawn I knew he must be here. In fact he was just turning his rig around. He had no difficulty. The pigs were eating grain inside the trailer and did not appear frightened. I then spent a couple of hours dismantling the pig pen fence so the cows could use the run-in area. I got off the boards and wire. But I was unable to dig out the corrugated iron panels. Lots of mud and muck was piled against them. Helen gave about a pint less than a gallon tonight so that’s close to 2 gal + 1 qt for the day.
11/21 It seems strange without the pigs. Helen gave 1 gal + 1 qt. She has started drinking from the indoor tub I have set up. It always takes animals a day to two to like new water arrangements. The outdoor tub is still available. In fact yesterday I overturned it and scrubbed it out and refilled it. The chickens are barely laying, some days no eggs at all, sometimes two or three from eight hens. I understand I am to be given three new hens by Cousin Susan. I’ve set up a light in the hen house with a timer to go on at 4:30 am. Maybe that will help.
11/21 pm It was remarkably warm and sunny today. I got some things done outside and in the barn. I bundled up my new little cedar next to the barn and nailed up a sash so as to have a window in the back door of the barn. I guess the one that was there last winter must have blown out in a storm. Stewart had nailed up plywood so all summer I have not been able to see my lovely view unless I opened the door. Now I can see it anytime I look. Helen gave under than a gallon tonight. With this morning’s it made 2 gal for the day.
11/22 am Helen gave a little over a gallon this morning even though I was rather late getting to the barn. Sons Mark and Martin are here and they began the day by tearing out the remaining panels from the pigpen making it into a nice run-in for the cattle. It’s a sun trap in winter. Now they are down cutting up the huge dead Balm of Gilead tree which fell a month ago and hung up in the crab apple tree. Hurrah!
11/22 pm Helen had a wonderful day. The boys sawed up the two huge tree trunks one of which had crushed the fence. (It was a tree with a double trunk.) Out walked Helen, Henry and Herbie onto the bright green lawn. All that lush grass unmowed for the last month was her idea of a holiday dinner. All three had such a grand time. Of course the boys have now fixed the fence but maybe tomorrow I’ll open the gate and give Helen and friends another treat. I think the boys provided the farm with more than a cord of wood today, split and stacked. Generous neighbors brought me a wonderful turkey. Helen gave one gal. tonight; about 2 gal. and a cupful for the day.
11/23 am Helen gave 1 gal + 1 pint this morning. All three were in good spirits. I opened a gate so they could graze on the lawn and it didn’t take them long to find it. They are exploring all around. The weather is sunny and unseasonably warm so they are having a fine time.
11/23 pm While I was gone today doing my Thanksgiving shopping Helen broke down the barrier I had placed to prevent her going into the veg garden. It was nearly dark when I got home and saw where she was. So I don’t know if I have any Brussels sprouts left. I already have three stalks in the buttery so will not be devastated if they are gone. I had to go down in the dark and drive her back to the barn because she couldn’t remember how she had gone in there. She had Brussels sprout breath. The calves were good (or stupid) and stayed on the lawn. Helen gave about a pint under a gal. tonight. 2 gal for the day.
11/24 am We got 1 gal + 3 cups this morning, a slight improvement.
11/24 pm Most of the day I spent on pork. I brought home six boxes of chops and roasts. The cured meat won’t be ready for three weeks. I also brought home the heads and feet for scrapple which I will have to start on tomorrow as there is no room in the freezers for them. Both are full. I didn’t get down to check on the veg garden until this afternoon. Helen had eaten the tops off all the kohlrabi and a lot of Brussels sprouts. Lots of sprouts were scattered on the ground where I guess they had fallen out of the corners of her mouth. She gave a little less than a gal. tonight. About 2 gal and a cup today total.
11/25 am 1 gal + 1 pint this morning. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I should be cooking for company but first I’ll have to spend time on the scrapple and lard making. There is not room for the heads and cavity fat in the freezer and it has to be taken care of while it’s fresh.
11/25 pm I did spend much of the day on pork related duties and achieved six pounds of top quality lard. I always add vitamin E while it is in a liquid state. This will preserve it for more than a year. Stewart took delivery on 100 bales of hay today stored in my barn. It looks pretty good. The sun shone all day and it was unseasonably warm, very nice. It’s supposed to go back down in the twenties tonight so the cooked meat should be safe out in the buttery. One pint shy of a gal. tonight; 2 gal for the day. Darned heifer.
11/26 am 1 gal + 1 pt from a damp cow. It is snowing and of course it melts on her back. She and the calves were mooing this morning and the chickens didn’t want to go out. I guess they had forgotten about snow and of course some had never seen it. I pretty much pushed the roosters out the door and closed it after them. There are four of them, that’s three too many, and they pester the chickens.
11/26 pm I don’t know if this is a coincidence, but I got two eggs today, the first in several days. I left the roosters out. It rained and snowed all day but they hop over the fence and go into the barn so don’t suffer. Sons Martin and Mark were here for Thanksgiving and his little Hailey, 6. She came out to the barn and had a try at milking. She got a couple of squirts. She is a good little milk drinker. Tonight I got about a pint less than a gallon. 2 gal for the day.
11/27 am Helen gave 1 gal + 1.5 pt this morning. That is better than any recent day. Could it be a result of her now using her indoor water (convenient, warmer temp) or the fact that due to steady cold rain yesterday she stayed in all day and ate hay? Like all grazers I know of, given any reasonable reward she will graze in preference to eating hay for at least a few hours a day. Yet November grazing has poor value. The hens remain rooster-free. Perhaps that is why I got two eggs yesterday and this morning one from a hen that has not laid for weeks.
11/27 pm One gal less 1 pt tonight making 1 gal + 1 qt for the day. Helen and the boys did some grazing but also ate a lot of hay, a bale between the three of them. I managed to shove their hay feeder into a better position under the trap door in the hay mow by myself. I’ll need help for the last 2 ft. Son Martin went to Sugar Loaf to snowboard and on the way home his car broke down about an hour north at Kingfield. I got the word just when I came in with the milk so spent the evening driving.
11/28 am 1 gal + 1 qt this morning from a very cooperative cow. During the night they finished every bit of hay I put down last night and even ate some of the old leavings. I don’t know if they love the new hay or were just extra hungry. Also, Helen had drunk all her water. I opened the hen door and all the roosters which had found their way back in last night ran out to crow. Then I locked them out.
11/28 pm Two eggs today, an upward trend I hope. The cows continue to want a lot of hay. I put out another half bale at noon and some smashed pumpkins, most of which they ate. Helen gave 3 qt tonight; 2 gal.1 pt total.
11/29 am Sunday Two eggs today before 8 am. Something is working! 1 gal 1 qt this morning from Helen. I’m running low on layer mash so have given the leftover pig pellets to the bantam crowd. They aren’t impressed. I also gave them some cracked corn which they prefer and gave some to the layers too along with clabbered milk. Corn alone without added protein will stop them laying.
11/29 pm About a pint under a gal tonight from Helen. Three eggs including one from a very old nearly crippled Barred Rock hen. She always has to roost on the lowest perch because she can’t make it up any higher. I often see her trying to fly higher, then flopping back to the floor. Martin with the help of several friends and Stewart’s tow bar got his Jetta home today. The timing belt is broken so he took his van home to Portland. I finally got back to working on the scrapple today. The pot of cooked parts has been keeping nice and cold in the buttery. I got the meat off the bones and boiled up the stock again. That’s as far as I got. 2 gal + 1 pt. today.
11/30 Monday am One gal. + 1 cup today even though I was 45 minutes late to the barn. Helen resents this and made a big plop halfway through the milking which I had to leap up and remove. I’m off this morning for feed even though we have sleety rain. I’ve been spelling along the chickens with clabber, cracked corn and cracklings from my lard making. The cats have been getting milk and hog trimmings of which they have not been complaining.
11/30 pm Helen gave only three quarts this evening making the day’s total well under 2 gal. But I got three eggs again. I went out today and bought feed. The hens and cats were particularly pleased. Even with a light on the hens seem to get up late and roost early. They don’t make much of a day of it. The roosters now displaced from their cushy life with the hens don’t know where to sleep. Tonight they were huddled out on a fence rail in the rain even though there is a vast barn they could walk right into. Whitey, the bantam hen, roosts on my ladder to the hay mow along with all her progeny which are now about grown. That has caused me to climb an awkward nailed on ladder. Tonight I decided “To heck with them” and climbed the ladder among them. They bustled around in an irritated way but did not fly off so from now on this is how I intend to get up there.
12/1 am Tuesday 1 gal + 1 qt today. The weather is very warm for the time of year, up to 45f here and a strong warm wind. Hunting season is now over. Last Saturday was the last day. Most years I make an effort to keep the cattle close to the barn but this year decided to take a chance. I heard considerable firing, some of it clearly down in my woods; I guess those hunters couldn’t read but apparently could shoot straight.
12/1 pm Today I counseled a woman over the phone who is having heifer problems. They were much like mine with Helen. A heifer with an overfilled bag and no idea of how to feed her calf or stand for milking. I hope I was able to help her. 1 gal less 1 pt tonight, 2 gal + 1 pt for the day. And three eggs. All four roosters had gotten back in with the hens. But once on the roost I was easily able to catch them and throw them out into the big hall of the barn where they flapped and swore.
12/2 am Wednesday This morning, 1 gal and a scant quart. It’s still warm and sunny, not like December, but the cattle are eating mostly hay and grazing only a little. The bantams aren’t finding much to scavenge so I’m feeding them twice a day. I see no evidence of nests but I’ve bet the little sinners have got some.
12/2 pm It’s 50f two hours after dark. It must be some kind of record. The cattle grazed all day, lay down in the field to rest and chew their cuds, and Helen even had to be called in. She gave just under a gallon. 2 gal + 1 pt today. I organized chores so that I could put bread in the oven before I went out the door and be back in time to take it out; just made it.
12/3 am Thursday Another astonishingly warm day in Maine. I’m not missing the snow. Helen gave 1 gal + almost a quart. I’m beginning to have a problem figuring out what to do with all the milk even though two-plus gallons a day isn’t much by cow standards. I’m clabbering some with rennet, then pouring off a lot of whey and giving the cottage cheese to the chickens. They will drink very little milk, will eat some clabber, but will eat quite a lot of cottage cheese.
12/3 pm One big red rooster was roosting in with the hens tonight. I have no idea how he got in there unless he slipped in the door with me earlier in the day. I chucked him right out. Got two eggs today. Got a little less than a gal. tonight, 2 gal + 1 pt for the day.
12/4 am Friday Helen came in rather dirty this morning. It rained all night so she slept inside which accounts for it. There will be a lot more dirty cow mornings as winter advances. Our warm spell continues. Parts of Maine are expected to see 60f today. She gave 1 gal+1 qt this morning. When I feed the cats in the morning it’s a constant struggle to keep those pesky roosters from swarming in and swiping the cat food. I need to invent a new strategy. The best strategy would be to dress off the roosters. It’s not a problem at night because they have all roosted by then.
12/4 pm We got only a few ounces over 2 gal. tonight. Helen’s bag is in excellent condition. Always after milking it is completely soft and squishy. It was warm all day today and into the evening but a strong wind came up and it seems dark and lonely.
12/5 am Saturday 1 gal 3.5 cups. All happy except the bantams. They hate the degerminated cornmeal I’ve been offering them. It was given to me to use up on the chickens but they don’t think so. I notice they will eat it if I pour milk on it.
12/5 pm Another fine day but colder, not above 40f. Nonetheless all three bovines grazed for hours. I guess they don’t want to miss the sunshine. I was late milking this evening due to getting a computer lesson over the phone from Alaska (good ol’ son Bret) but Helen was a good sport about it. She gave less than a gallon. Total for the day: 2 gal. But I got four eggs. Stewart brought a supply of grain for his calves, Henry and Herbie.
12/6 am Sunday One gallon + 1 quart this morning. It’s raining so I put out plenty of hay. One rooster had mysteriously gotten back in with the hens. I left him there because he was so wary of me that catching him would have filled the air with dust and frightened the hens. I guess they can put up with one guy. Here’s a miracle for sure: my springline which had fed the house this 100 years quit running two years ago and all my efforts to solve the problem went unrewarded. Until today. I got up to find the spring line running and now the old granite sink in the kitchen is full once again. The spring itself, rock lined and situated 5/8 mile away, has always had plenty of water in it.
12/6 pm When I was closing the barn door behind me I set the bucket down on an uneven surface and spilled some milk. It’s totally dark at 5:15. Today’s total actually in the fridge: 2 gal. When I said goodnight to the hens I also removed the rooster. Once a bird is up on the perch or the high platform all I have to do is shoot out my hand and grab it by the legs. Two eggs today.
12/7 am Monday It’s turning cold and wintry. The two calves are looking better. They are each getting about 6 lb/day of 16% dairy ration plus all the hay they can eat and grazing. They are very friendly but are getting big enough now so that sometimes when I go in with their bucket I wonder if I’m about to be mobbed. 1 gal + 1 cup this morning.
12/7 pm Well, I figured out how that rooster gets in with the hens (he was back today). There is a hole in their ceiling. I chucked him out and then climbed up the ladder to the empty loft over the hen room with a piece of plywood and covered it over. Three eggs today. And tonight, less than a gallon. A bit under 2 gal. for the day.
12/8 am Tuesday It was down to 24f here this morning but the water system inside the barn was unaffected. All the animals are looking good. I’ll be interested to see if the cattle graze today. Last time I said they wouldn’t, they went right out and did. The pastures are all golden brown and the understory of green grass appears to be in a static state. I guess they just enjoy grazing. Slightly over 1 gal. this morning.
12/8 pm It’s snowing, has been for five hours. Neighbor Stewart had some excitement today. Last week he was given an enormous boar about the size of a moderate hippopotamus. He took it to live at his friend Barry’s a half mile away. Today two of his sows came in heat and the boar caught the scent. He broke out of Barry’s facility and trotted purposefully down to Stewart’s, even though he was new to the neighborhood. He busted right in to the sows’ pens. He apparently became resentful of Stewart’s attempts to turn him out and with his tusk he ripped up Stewart’s pantleg and opened his recent wound. Stewart had to run for the house. He decided the boar had committed a capitol offense. He loaded up his shotgun and shot the bugger. A large pig of either sex can be very dangerous. If you saw the jawbone you might think it was a wolf. But only the boars have tusks. Less than a gallon tonight, a bit under 2 gal. for the day and 2 eggs.
12/9 am Wednesday About an inch of snow remains. The bantams were very disturbed by it having never seen it before and I had to chase them out of the barn by waving my arms and yelling. Some refused to go and flew back into the rafters. Just over a gallon of milk this morning.
12/9 pm No roosters got in with the hens today. All four were lined up shoulder to shoulder on a rafter. Three eggs today. Two gallons of milk.
12/10 am Thursday A brisk sunny day today, about 24f. Some snow remains. All the animals perky and healthy. Helen gave 1 gal 2 cups. I strewed around all the leavings in the manger yesterday to improve the chances she would lie down somewhere clean. This morning she was a lot cleaner. They have started going into the lean-to area that formerly housed the pigs. I cleaned it, strewed hay and removed the front barrier weeks ago when the pigs left. It seemed a pleasant place but the cattle have been refusing to enter it until today. To me it did not smell at all of pigs but I guess it must have to Helen and the boys.
12/10 pm The sun was out all day but it didn’t warm up much. Helen and the boys grazed near the river for a long time. I guess I’d better walk down there and see what the grass looks like. It just looks brown from the house but they don’t eat brown grass. I planned to go buy grain today but the car wouldn’t start. I tried to get in a better mood by making a fancy torte. I gave a quarter of it to Stewart this evening after he brought over his trickle charger. The feed will hold out another day. A little over 2 gal. today.
12/11 am Friday It’s snowing lightly and the cattle are gobbling hay. I notice that Blackie’s one chick, now nearly grown, doesn’t hang out with her mother any more. She lives in with the rest of the hens but spends most of her time on the perch. I guess she had to go to the bottom of the pecking order. Just a little over a gallon of milk this morning.
12/11 pm The car started OK today so I went for grain. I wasn’t out of it but I try to stay well ahead during the winter. It only snowed for about an hour and a half but as I was gone during the best of the day I can’t tell how much if any grazing H & Co. did. At 2:00 they had eaten all the hay I had put down and were looking around for more but they often do that anyway. A late check on the hens revealed Young Blackie gobbling her feed all alone after all the hens had gone to roost. H. gave slightly over a gal. tonight making 2 gal. + 1 cup today
12/12 am Saturday 1 gal 3 cups this morning. I was a half hour late getting to the barn but they still had hay and water. All happy. One hen, the Lace Wyandotte, was sitting on a broken egg. The shell seemed weak. I fed ground eggshell about a week ago but perhaps it has not had time to take effect. I’ve now put out some oyster shell. Very fine weather today, bright. 24f this morning.
12/12 pm Helen and the boys grazed all through the middle of the day. Amazing for the 12th of December. There was quite a lot of sun and hardly any wind. Four eggs today not counting the broken one. Less than 1 gal tonight; 2 gal today total.
12/13 am Sunday It was down to 20f this morning and I had frozen up water and hoses to contend with. This dashed all thoughts of church. The freeze-up wasn’t as bad as it could be but was a good warning signal to start plugging in the submersible heater. The faucet itself was not frozen thanks to the expensive heat tape I bought last month. The hose fitting was frozen solid. The wash-up water was still warm enough so that I was able to free up the fitting by dribbling with warm water. I had to find a different hose that wasn’t full of ice. 1 gal. + about 2 cups this morning.
12/13 pm It warmed up to be a fine day and once again the three grazed throughout the middle of the day. I disconnected the hose that I use to fill the cow water and hung it from a ladder so it won’t be full of ice in the morning. Only about 3 qt tonight. Slightly under 2 gal for the day.
12/14 am Monday Another fine clear day. 24f this morning but warming fast. There were three eggs before 8:00am. Helen gave just over a gal. Total milk for today slightly under 2 gal. 4 eggs. Once again Helen and the boys grazed throughout the sunny middle of the day.
12/15 am Tuesday Fine and sunny, temp about 32f. Helen ate hay for about a half hour before going out in the sunshine to chew her cud. I expect that I’ll see her off grazing before long. I took pity on the layers and let them out into their yard so they could get some direct sun. No doubt all the roosters have hopped over the fence by now to visit them.
12/15 pm Of course I had to toss a lot of roosters out of the hen room tonight. I got only two eggs. I got scarcely over 3 quarts tonight. Barely two gallons for the day.
12/16 am Wednesday Another fine day, such a gift. But Helen barely exceeded 1 gal. this morning. I wonder if her insistence on grazing might actually be a nutritional disadvantage. The grass is short and probably not very valuable this time of year.
12/16 pm Helen didn’t graze long. She came back in and ate the hay I put down late morning. There wasn’t much sun in the afternoon and the temp was about 34f. Production dropping. Total for today about 2 cups less than 2gal.
12/17 am Thursday It’s snowing today. Nearly all the bantams are this year’s birds, as are the three pesky roosters, and they think snow is awful. I had to almost push them outside to eat their grain. I prefer them outside while I’m milking because they do so much flapping and squawking. Phoenix rooster got in with the big hens the other day when I briefly let them all out. In the evening when I chucked out the big guys I had to leave him because he was too high for me to reach. He is all over his moult and has feathered out again beautifully. He is not purebred so won’t ever grow the very long tail. Helen gave 1 gal + 1 qt this morning. I was late getting to the barn. Things in the kitchen were in such disarray I could hardly function. I’ve had a very pleasant Aga technician for two days converting my old Aga from kerosene to propane. Such a treat to have the Aga once again, and a perfect spot to make yogurt and clabber milk.
12/17 pm It’s still snowing and beginning to accumulate. Helen made no attempt to graze but stood outside for awhile. She came in for milking all wet from melted snow. Total for the day just slightly under 2 gal.
12/18 am We have about 3″ of snow and it’s very pretty. The bantams disagree. I had to wave a broom around to get them out of the barn this morning even though I had strewn cracked corn all around to tempt them. I had a nasty surprise when I sat down on my milking stool. A cat had peed on it. It has a plushy seat cover so I did not notice in time. I had to put up with a damp seat until I carried in the milk. I’m not sure what point the cat wanted to make but it didn’t make points with me.1 gal 2 cups this morning.
12/18 pm Today was the shortest day of the year and also the coldest. The snow appears likely to remain. Blackie hen was out of the hen room again. I don’t know how she gets out but this it the third time. When I open the door she walks back in. But this was a signal to me that she has a nest somewhere. She has never liked to lay in with the others and have her egg picked up every day. I found her nest. It had three eggs in it. I can’t let her steal a nest now. The eggs will freeze before she gets a clutch and I don’t want chicks in cold weather so I took the eggs. I couldn’t find my fake egg so I put one of my ivory billiard balls in her nest. A hen won’t return to a nest if all the eggs disappear. The other hens laid five so I was able to bring in eight eggs tonight. Total milk today about 2 cups less than 2 gal.
12/19am Saturday Down to 20f this morning. I had to take boiling water to the barn and pour along the hose before I could water the stock. I thought I had drained it properly last night. Tonight I’ll drape it over a high beam. Chores were pretty late getting done, didn’t start until 7:45. I made a pre-ski breakfast for son Martin before going out.
12/19 pm It didn’t get above 24 today and now is dropping fast. This time I hung up the hose from a beam after watering. Blackie didn’t lay in the nest where I put the billiard ball. Midday when I went to check on it she was on it and the three pesky roosters were standing by. They are afraid of me because of the many time I have caught them by the feet and they set up a loud cackle and flapping which Blackie apparently took to be a three alarm warning and fled. Later I found her egg in one of her old nests. I took it and replaced it with the billiard ball. The other hens laid zero eggs. Just under 2 gal. for the day.
12/20 am Sunday Today we have bright pure air, about 33f, many fluffy pink and blue clouds. Helen gave just over a gallon. The hens laid 4 eggs before 8am. I let Blackie back in with them. She was stuck out with the bantams last night and slept in the rafters.
12/20 pm Cousin Susie brought me a gift of five new hens and a gorgeous rooster today. I put them in with the layers and let Phoenix back out so they wouldn’t fight. I kept him in for about a week because he invariably roosts by himself in a big spruce tree by the house and if anybody is in the guest room he wakes them up. I thought keeping him in might break that habit which can only lead to him freezing to death later in the winter. But no, he’s gone straight back up in his tree. Helen gave only about 3 qt tonight, 1 gal + 3 qt today. And five eggs.
12/21 am Monday Sleet falling out of the sky this morning, very wintry. Blackie was already out this morning and slid back in with the hens when I opened the door to take in their feed and water. The new group is huddled in the ante room section of their quarters, not ready to integrate yet. Helen gave 1 gal. + 1 cup this morning.
12/21 pm Five eggs today, one was Blackie’s in her new nest in the cow milking area. Somehow she gets out of the hen room, then darts back in when I enter. The new birds are beginning to integrate. All but one were roosting up with the others. Total milk today, 1 gal 3 qt.
12/22 am Tuesday We’re having a miserable sleety rain this morning and the prediction is for high wind and falling temperatures later in the day. All the animals are warm and dry. I have a light on in the layer’s room because they have only one window.
12/23 am No entry last night due to power being off yesterday and most of last night. Milk total for yesterday was 1.75 gal. Five eggs. Bitterly cold all night and everything much disrupted by a fire in the house next door owned by daughter Sally in Alaska. A new renter was spending her first night there, all the phones were (and are) out, so it took a long time for her to raise a neighbor and for the fire department to respond. The kitchen is now badly damaged and unusable.
12/23 pm I spent most of the day on insurance matters and helping Sara, the new tenant, who is a real trooper. It is still bitterly cold but we have phone and electricity again. Helen got pretty thirsty. There is no water to the barn without power to run the pump. Nonetheless I got the same amount of milk as yesterday, 1.75 gal. But only one egg, Blackie’s, out in her private nest with the billiard ball. The new rooster, a fine fellow who resembles a Lace Wyandotte, was on the top perch in the hen house with a hen cuddled tightly each side of him, so he’ll be nice and warm. But silly old Phoenix continues to roost outside the house in the spruce. He is very likely to freeze if he doesn’t choose to spend nights the barn. I plugged in a submersible heater in the cattle water so maybe they will now be able to drink more.
12/24 The cow’s water didn’t freeze and I think she drank more. It’s still very cold, about 6f this morning, but sunny. I had to take the extension cord for the submersible water heater over to Sally’s house for the plumber’s use. I substituted a light weight one in the barn so will not dare to leave it plugged in overnight.
12/24 pm It remains very cold, 12f. I did think Helen drank more today. Total milk unchanged: 1.75 gal. Three eggs. I gave the cats an extra lot of food tonight it being Christmas Eve. They are insatiable.
12/25 am Friday, Christmas Day Helen was warm and fuzzy this morning and friendly. Got one gallon plus a cup for son Martin to drink warm.
12/25 pm Total milk for the day, 1.75 gal again. High temp today was about 12f, lots of sun. None of the animals were any trouble. For Christmas dinner we had a standing rib roast of the Howie beef and it was truly excellent. Jersey beef is one of the best. Thank you Howie!
12/26 am Saturday It was down to -0- this morning and the barn chores were cold work. But the water in the tap is still running thanks to heat tape. The water tub of course was frozen. This will be a problem until I can get another extension cord. I hope I can remember to go out often to look for eggs or else they will be frozen solid. The animals all seem comfortable. It’s only me that is complaining. I have to soak the hose end in warm water before I can screw it on. Then I have to hurry when unscrewing it to get it over a rafter to drain before the water left in it freezes. So far I have been quick enough but it means a fast trip up the ladder. Less than a gallon this morning.
12/26 pm It stayed cold all day but it was sunny with no wind and Helen and the boys stood out in the sun to chew their cuds. Only two eggs, including faithful Blackie’s. Only 1.5 gal milk today. All the bantams that can fit still roost at the top of the barn ladder about 12 feet off the ground. The rest are in the rafters. They do look so cute. I have to more or less wade through the lower ones when I go up to serve out hay and hang up the hose. Then they make whiney noises.
12/27 am Sunday We had a brilliant sunrise and it continues clear. -0- again this morning. I brought in three eggs along with the milk. Helen gave barely over 1 gallon.
12/27 pm Today was beautiful. It would have been fun to take Muffin for a walk but I thought it best to snatch the opportunity to finish up putting plastic on the windows and doors. It warmed up to 20f today but will no doubt turn cold again tonight. Helen will have water again tonight; I was able to bring home the heavy extension cord I had lent to the tenant house for their heat tape and plug her submersible water heater. Helen gave 1.7 5 gal again today. I put up a half gallon for my milk customer for tomorrow. Five eggs today.
12/28 Almost 2 gal today, a noticeable increase almost certainly due to my again making available 24 hr/day water with the chill off. The weather wasn’t so cold either. It got up to about 28f today. The two new bantams that are in with the layers are still hiding most of the time. They do dart out periodically and get something to eat or drink. I rushed through all my animal chores today because of continued pressure to solve problems relating to the fire. Phone calls! Four eggs today.
12/29 Tuesday am Blackie had already been out to lay her egg when I arrived at the barn this and was ready to be let back in. Her egg is khaki. She must be part Auracana. Helen was thirsty this morning. She had drunk all her water and headed straight for the tub after milking. One gal. this morning.
12/29 pm It’s a slip sliding trip to the barn now. The old snow, what little there is of it, has turned to ice and now snow is falling softly on it making treacherous footing. This only affects me, not the cattle. I allowed the layers to go out into their yard today and they were not invaded by big red roosters for once. Perhaps the prospect of that fancy new rooster in there made a difference. He now feels perfectly at home and he’s big and beautiful; white with black markings and a rose comb that resembles a handful of hamburger. Helen barely made it today to 1.75 gal thus dashing my hopes for an upward trend. Five eggs.
12/30 am Wednesday We got about 4″ of snow last night and it’s still falling gently. It’s just below freezing so I risked leaving the cow’s water warmer unplugged and the hen yard door open. They probably won’t go out as the poultry all hate snow but it gives them better light and air. I’ll go out at noon and close up. Severe cold is predicted for later today. 1 gal milk this morning.
12/30 pm As predicted the mercury is sinking, is now down to 4f and there are powerful gusts of wind. I closed the outer barn door to cut down on wind on the cattle. They wouldn’t care to go out tonight anyway. The layers look contented but the bantams look huddled and worried. I’m having to give them a lot of food because they can’t forage with snow on the ground. They are useless but pretty. Helen gave something less than .75 gal this evening. About 1.6 gal for the day. And 4 eggs. The house is shaking.
12/31 am Thursday Temp this morning -4f, could be worse, but my toes feel frozen after 45 minutes in the barn. Helen and the calves seem perfectly comfortable. Their submersible water warmer is doing its job just fine. There were about 2″ of water left in the tub and no signs of ice. The path to the barn was drifted right over, no trace of the path to be seen. Wrestling with that icy hose to run water for Helen is no fun. 1 gal. plus 1 cup this morning.
12/31 pm It continues cold, minus 4f this evening. The hose I’ve been using is too long and very stiff. I decided to cut it shorter while watering at noon and the only thing I could see in the barn to cut with was the hand saw. Stupidly, I did this while the water was running and ice water squirted everywhere. Henry sneaked up behind me and the first thing I knew he was trying to mount me, his idea of a friendly gesture. I was lucky not to fall in the tub. But I swung the saw around and gave him a whap. He didn’t hold it against me. He’s eight months old now and surely weighs 350. Pretty close to 1.75 gal today but I really had to work for it.