Life and Death on the Farm

By on Apr 23, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

“Do you process your cows on your farm?” The answer is, “Not if I want to sell the meat.” All meat we sell has to be processed at a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) inspected facility. The critter has to walk, not be carried, into the processing facility and must be observed by a USDA inspector before it is processed. We have processed cattle on our farm but, by USDA law, we cannot sell that meat. We can eat it ourselves but we can’t sell it. The USDA is a branch of the US Government and is run by the Secretary of Agriculture who sits on the US President’s Cabinet. USDA was started in 1862 by President Lincoln and has helped farms for over 150 years. Most farmers I know have received financial help from the USDA and it is possible many farms are in business today because of help from the USDA. From my perspective, the USDA is a good organization. I’m not...

Counting Cows Makes Me Sleepy

By on Apr 10, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

“How many cows do you have,” is a seemingly easy question I get all the time. In order to know how many cows I have, I have to count them. That is the challenge. When I run into a Utah or Texas rancher they immediately tell me they have 3,000 or 10,000 head or even 30,000 head of cattle. My next question is, “How do you count them?” My herd fluctuates between 50 and 70 head of cattle. I keep a board with the cattle names and locations but, the thing is, the numbers change all the time. Calves are born, cattle are sold, some are shipped for processing, I buy some. The herd numbers are constantly changing. We have over fifty head of cattle but pasture nineteen pregnant cows together so we can keep an eye on them. Giving birth is the most dangerous time for a cow. Most births are easy and don’t need human assistance but occasionally the mom needs help. With all the expectant moms in...

Good Fences

By on Mar 26, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

When you get a call from a neighbor at 5:30 in the morning it’s probably not a social call. Whenever I get an early morning call it’s usually because my cattle, pigs or horses are roaming the neighborhood. I don’t ignore those calls. Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.” They also keep cattle and pigs out of the garden and off the highway. No matter how often we repair the two strands of electric wire that surrounds our 36-acre farm the work never ends. Fallen trees take down the wire and heavy snow shorts out the electricity that zap our livestock if they touch the wire. The electrical charge is not strong, I know because I’ve been zapped many times, by accident. Sometimes I get zapped because my husband, Bruce, says, “Don’t worry, that fence has no charge.” Right. The funny thing is that if you are not grounded you won’t get...

Pigs and Beer

By on Mar 19, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

What do beer and pigs have in common? If you said, “Beer drinking pigs,” you might be right. I have seen pigs and other livestock drink beer but that is not what I had in mind. Depending on the taste, different types of grains are used to make beer. Mashing is a step in the brewing process that combines grain with hot water to convert complex starches into simple sugars. After about an hour of brewing, the grain is drained and rinsed to extract sugars. That’s what the brewer wants: sugars, which is the starting place for fermentation. Left behind is the starchy grain. Because the grain has been brewed it’s called “spent grain,” or “brewer’s grain,” and can be an excellent feed for everything from pigs to chickens. Because Miles Smith Farm cattle are grass fed we don’t feed the cows spent grain but our pigs are another story. Pigs are omnivores with digestive systems...

Do you milk your cows?

By on Mar 13, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

The two-day-old bull calf was weak and not interested in nursing on his mother, a black Scottish Highlander cow. The mother cow’s teats were too large for this little fellow to get in his mouth. If we didn’t do something, he would starve. Scottish Highlanders are beef cattle that produce just enough milk to nourish their calves. Beef cattle are, well, beefy with backs and butts that are well muscled to produce steaks and roasts. A good beef cow has small udders which are easy for baby calves to nurse on. On the other hand, dairy cows are bred to produce milk, not beef. The back of a dairy cow might look thin but their udders, where the milk is, are typically large. Large udders on a dairy cow are a bonus and can mean good milk production. Large udders on a beef cow can be a problem which was the case with Flash, the bull calf who wasn’t nursing. Most beef cattle are...