Shivering Calf Needs Attention

By on Jan 2, 2018 in Carole's Corner |

My fingers hurt. The plastic wrap on the hay bale was frozen and so were my fingers. Bruce got out of the Bobcat to help me, the one-woman ground crew, release the bale from its wrap and feed it out to the cattle. We were on day six of the arctic blast and the cattle needed food, lots of food. Besides food, livestock need water to survive cold temperatures so when we aren’t feeding we’re checking water. When the temperatures stay frigid for so long even water heaters won’t work. We have to check four troughs at least three times a day and sometimes heat the water with a kerosene heater I call the “Salamander” after breaking up the ice. Cattle can freeze too. I brought one shivering steer named Xander into the barn away from the wind where I duck-taped a wool horse blanket on him. Wool keeps livestock (and people) warm and wicks away moisture but despite these efforts,...

Pigs Move Forward

By on Dec 27, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 6 comments

The pigs were all piled in the center aisle, not where they were supposed to be. One or more of the two-hundred-pound pigs figured out how to open their pen door from the inside. Then, that or another pig, opened the other pen door from the outside. They were pig piled in the aisle and snoring when we found them. I’m not sure how we ended up with twenty-seven pigs in late December. We wanted to process them in November but after the fire at LeMay’s in Goffstown and labor shortages at other processing facilities, we were stuck with extra pigs and cattle into Christmas. The tide is starting to turn and we were able to send off four pigs and two beef cattle this week. One of the pigs we shipped will be a roaster pig for a traditional South American New Year’s dinner. Apparently, Uruguay, Chile, and other South American countries respect the pig because it always goes...

Livestock Relationships

By on Dec 20, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

The two sheep, Faith and Joy would not leave the trailer. They huddled behind Eleanor, the Sicilian donkey, who had placed her body between me and them. If I walked around Eleanor, the sheep ducked under her head to Eleanor’s other side. Always just out of reach. The three were working together to keep me away. We had just returned from a “Living Nativity” event produced by the Brookside Congregational Church and Friends of Stark Park in Manchester. The oxen, two white Scottish Highlander working steers, Ben and Snuff, were from my farm, Miles Smith Farm. I had borrowed, Eleanor, the donkey and the sheep from a farmer in Chichester. During the event, Mary and Joseph stayed in the manger watching over baby Jesus while Eleanor, her sheep gang, and the shepherds watched. I stood near the manger, dressed in period custom as Jewish farmer, with Ben and Snuff while the Church pastor,...

Turn Kitchen Scraps Into Christmas Dinner

By on Dec 11, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

What can you do with kitchen vegetable scraps? It might take six months but there is a way to convert leftover cabbage, carrots, pumpkins and other veggie scraps (lettuce, asparagus stems, celery stalks) into ham. Here’s how. Collect refrigerated kitchen scraps from a restaurant or commercial kitchen, we get most of our kitchen scraps from Grappone Conference Center.  Make sure there is no meat in the mix and that the scraps have never been served to humans. If they have been on a plate, toss them. Be sure the veggie scraps have been refrigerated and mix the scraps with pig pellets to provide protein that veggies are lacking. Then feed them to a pig or two. Do this for six or eight months and your pig will be ready to become ham for Christmas or Easter or maybe just ham and cheese sandwiches. This is one way to reduce landfill in a tasty and sometimes fun way. I say “sometimes...

Animals are Smart

By on Dec 4, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

There were clearly pig tracks in the dirt and the decorative pumpkins in front of the store had been eaten but there were no loose pigs. The empty scrap buckets stacked in front of the barn were tipped over and snout marks covered the bottoms of the containers but there was not a pig in sight. Every night we push the pigs out of their huts, clean the floors and feed pans. Then we fill the pans with food while the pigs watch eagerly from the doorway. The rule, that most of them follow, is to wait patiently until the pans are filled. Then on the command, “Ok,” they pile into the pen to eat. Those that jump in too soon are shooed out and have to go to the end of the line so there is an incentive to being patient. Then when we leave the pig hut we try to remember to re-latch the pen doors and put up the electric fence wire. That night either we forgot to latch the door, or the pigs figured...

Fall is the Time To Wean Calves

By on Nov 29, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

It’s weaning time on the farm, that special time of year when we are kept up all night by the mooing of the cows calling to their calves. The eight Highlander calves we’re weaning have been eating grass and hay for months and while they like to nurse they don’t have to. We try to plan all the births in the spring so that we can wean the babies six months later, in the fall. Our cattle are raised for beef but dairy operations work differently. Dairy calves are born all year and are weaned shortly after birth. The main purpose of a dairy cow is to produce milk. By weaning the calf, milk can be collected from the cow. Dairy cows are typically milked twice a day, twelve hours apart. Some backyard farms with one or two cows let the calf nurse once a day then the farmer milks the cow the other time. This allows the farmer to “take a break” from twice a day milking. We...