The following post is written by contributor, Jill from Crooked Lake Farm. Jill shares stories of the real side of farming and life on a farm. To read more, follow her on her blog and engage with her on Twitter.
Well, as some of you may have noticed I’ve been away from the blogging for a bit. I think the last time I wrote we were in the thick of calving season, here is how the rest of our spring and first part of our summer have gone thus far…
We only had to pull one calf this year, which is great! Last year we had to pull 3, so we are definitely improving. Pulling a calf is necessary when the cow—most times a heifer—has tried to give birth naturally but can’t. If the mother is left too long, the calf most likely will die, and if the calf isn’t extricated from the cows body, the cow can die as well. Although, we haven’t encountered this on our farm, the possibility always exists when a cow has birthing difficulties.
The rest of our calving season went off with very few issues. We did have a bout of giardiasis (aka Beaver Fever) that ran its course. I ended up stomach tubing electrolytes two times a day for a week straight to approximately 15 calves. Everyone pulled through with no issues and no more incidences occurred after I fenced off a slough the cattle were choosing to drink from. Both the vet and I figured that since we have had a muskrat move into our slough, it was the culprit of the issue. By having the slough fenced off, the cattle can water where we would prefer them to, in their water bowl with fresh, clean water; and the muskrat can live happy in the slough!
We were also “blessed” with over 50 cm of snow at the end of April that was a blessing in disguise, as we are currently in a drought in our area.
Due to the lack of precipitation. I kept the cow herd home longer than usual and used them as “lawn mowers” around the yard.
They cleaned up the hay yard, which hasn’t been grazed in over 3 years. Now they are out on pasture and being rotated every 3 days. By only spending 3 days on one paddock they are only able to clip off the grass. This helps keep the grass healthy and continue growing, even in years of early seed set due to stress (ie. drought). The cattle are not allowed to “re-graze” a plant this way, and by the time we make it back into the pasture where they had been it will have had about 21 days of rest, allowing the “clipped” grass to grow. Also in previous years, we always keep the “what if we have a drought” in the back of our minds when planing pasture rotation. We never graze the grass more than 50% and we always make sure there is litter, or standing dead vegetation. The litter helps insulate the soil keeping the heat out and the moisture in. Because of previous years of proper pasture management, we probably have some the healthiest grass in our area.
This is our first year farming through a drought (we starting full-time farming in 2012), and let me tell you, it’s been a stressful one. Watching as storms go by, missing you by meer miles. Planting hundreds of acres of crops, and patiently awaiting them to emerge because of the dry conditions. It’s been a real test of faith and determination. I’m very happy to have a calm farmer for a husband, and faith to know that tomorrow is another day (that will hopefully bring us rain!).
Got a farming question? Jill from Crooked Lake Farm is happy to answer your questions!