Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Guess what? I got a fever! And the only prescription.. is more cowbell!'

About a year ago, my husband convinced me that we needed more property.  We just didn't have enough grass to keep the 4 cows we had at the time!  What we needed was more land!  Well, we now definitely have just that...a whopping 18 acres of it.  So, naturally when we got here with our 4 cows, there was more than enough grass to go around for everyone.  Actually, there was no grass...the previous owners raised horses, who ate the grass down to the dirt.  Plus, it was New Year's Eve when we moved in, so grass was not in season then.  So, we had to supplement with hay.  But, I digress.  
Now that summer has been in full swing for a solid 3+ months, we have more grass than we know what to do with.  I mean, when the kids and I walk out to the barn, or anywhere on our property that is not within the confines of the wooden fence around our house, we walk through belly deep grass.  I think I've lost Andrew and Rachel a few times in the stuff!  So, the other day, my husband tells me what we need to solve said grass overload problem, is more cows!  And, since love is blind, I pretty much let the man do whatever he pleases. 
Some of our cows have calved since we moved here, so we were actually up to 6 cows total:  we have 2 cows each with a female calve, a heifer (who Phil believes to be pregnant!!  I'm hoping for a boy =), and the bull.  But a week or so ago, we added two new cows to our growing herd (one of which I think is also pregnant, but don't quote me on that one), which brings our total up to 8...oh, I forgot one...we have 9, because we are holding a cow for our cousin right now.
Actually, I'm really excited about the new cows.  There's something very quaint and soothing about looking out the window, and seeing a pasture full of cows grazing in the yard.  It makes for a very simple, quiet, and country-esque life...which, is great for raising children!  Please note that nowhere did I say in the country is hard work, but much like being Catholic, it's really worth it.  I have to admit, it's not exactly my natural tendency to be a farm-type gal.  I'm pretty lazy.  But, it's one of those paradox things that are so hard to explain.  Even though it's not my natural tendency, I really do find so much joy living life in the country, and being a part of a family who raises farm animals and plants gardens.  Now, the sewing, cooking, knitting, and more domestic type stuff....that I love!  The harder, outdoor, rough and rugged work takes more of an act of will on my part.  But, like I said, I just get a lot of joy out of this kind of life, despite my tendency to laziness.  It's strange, I know, but it's the only way I can explain it.  And, the kids really like the cows, too.  Natalie loves to name them, Rachel likes to moo at them from the window, and Andrew....well, Andrew just wants to ride one =)  He told me the other day, "Mom, I really want to ride one of those cows.  Not a horse, though...I just want to ride one of the cows.  Can I?"  Love that kid!  Not to mention the fact that those cows will not only cut back on the amount of money we have to spend on diesel to run the tractor to cut our 18 acres of grass, but they'll also be providing lean, healthy, grass-fed, hormone-free beef for our growing family.  And, there's promise of a milk cow in the future!!!  Now, that is something to be excited about!  I've always wanted to try and milk a cow.  However, we've also been toying around with the idea of getting a milk goat, instead of a milk cow.  We are still doing some research on that to see which one we want, but there will most likely be some kind of fresh milk in the near distant future.  

Here are some pictures of our new farm friends:
 She is my favorite!  Isn't she pretty?:
Philip likes this gal:

The cows we already had are Dexters.  We went with a different breed of cow this go round, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, Dexters have horns, which Phil is not too crazy about...those are some strong animals, so I imagine they can do some pretty serious damage with those pointy weapons of theirs, and while I don't handle them very much, the man I love does, so I really don't want him getting hurt.  Secondly, Dexters are a smaller breed of cattle, so they can't keep up with the grass as well, it takes a lot longer for them to grow to full size, and you don't get as much beef off of one of those cows as you would a full-sized one.  So, we went with a Limousin and a Hereford....I think...I'll have to run that by Phil to make sure I'm correct.  And, please don't ask me which cow is which breed...I have no idea.  The only ones I can correctly identify are the Dexters.  We also went with the red variety this time, because with the intense heat in the summer, we thought it might be more pleasant for the cow to not be such a dark, heat absorbing color, like black.

Also on the home front, Philip finally got the chute for the cows finished.  It looks really great!  He's been working to get the barn turned into a cow friendly place, as opposed to a a horse friendly place, and little by little, it's coming together.  The chute is finished, which means we can run the cows through there if we ever need to tag them, administer medicine, milk them, or do anything that requires them to stand still and not try to hurt us.  He also built some wooden gates to make a holding pen, should we ever need to keep any of them separated from the herd.  

Here are some of them hanging out in the holding pen, waiting to be run through the chute:

One of the new gates, and the kids watching the action:

There they are, lined up in the chute:

One of the Mama cows and her calf:

Phil, letting them out through the head gate (look at me, using all kinds of fancy farm terminology!  just don't ask me what any of it means...I can repeat what Phil tells me, and that's about it ;):

The holding pen area:

Well, I think that is about it for what has been happening around the farm.  Oh, and I use the term 'farm' very loosely....what we have here is hardly considered a farm, but it's easier than saying 'our relatively large piece of land with cows, pigs, and a small overgrown family garden'.
On a more serious note, I really want to get some cowbells for our cows!!  How cool would that be?! 


Loren said...


Cathy LeBlanc said...

It is a lot of work, and my husband carries the bulk of it, so that's good for me; however, it does require a sacrifice of time on my part, because I see him less since he's out tending to farm stuff in the afternoons a lot. On the plus side, the kids go with him to do many of those chores, so it's great for their work ethic, good bonding time with Dad, it teaches my son how to be a real man, and it gives me a break in the afternoons to regain some sanity at the end of the day =) Sometimes, I go out there with them, too, and it becomes a family affair, which is also really great. It keeps us from the 'watch TV and play video game all day' mentality of the rest of the world, which is really a plus for me. I think it is recommended that you have at least 1 acre for each cow/calf pair. You could do it on less, but you'd have to supplement with hay or store bought feed to make sure they get enough to eat, which can get pretty expensive. We do that in the winter when there's not as much grass...this year, we are going to try and plant rye grass, though, to cut back on the amount of hay and grain we have to feed. And, next spring, we want to plant a large patch of corn to store up for the winter to help with the cost of grain feed. Hope that helps! Thanks for the comment =)

Philip said...

The amount of land needed per cow is highly dependant on where you live, but in S. Louisiana I would recommend a minimum of 2-3 acres per cow/calf pair. Up north it is commom to run 10-30acres per pair. It is better to be understocked rather than overstocked when a drought inevitably hits. With 18 acres, I plan to max out at 6-8 cow/calf pairs plus a bull.

Loren said...


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