Is That Spring?

Is That Spring?

With spring just around the corner I’m feeling very jolly here on the farm. Husband has gone off ploughing for the day, I’ve got the V.A.T to finish and just got to check on the cows who are due to calve and feed little Twinkle Toes the orphan calf and I’m done! Famous last words I know as I will no doubt find a cow in trouble and be up till midnight, but I like to be optimistic. 

Twinkle Toes is doing much better now after she suddenly got ill a few weeks ago with pneumonia. Luckily we caught it in time and she recovered quickly after treatment, but I did think at one point that we were going to lose her. She ended up lying flat on the floor breathing badly with me sitting next to her talking to her quietly and I could feel the tears gathering in my eyes. Husband was making a double layered pen and adding straw in between and he asked if I was ok. For a minute I thought I would cry but I said “yes” with conviction, took a deep breath and told Twinkle Toes she was going to be fine. We debated on bringing her indoors as it was very cold but we decided the calf coat and straw would be enough and if need be we would add a heat lamp, but thought the stress of the house and being moved might be too much. Half hour later she got up, had a walk around and started munching on some hay. I went indoors to thaw out and made up her bottle and she drank it with no problems and after three days she was able to go back in the main pen with all the other cows and calves. It was all very stressful although probably more for me than it was for her!

I must remind myself of the stress animals cause as with spring on the way I tend to get carried away with adding more creatures to our menagerie. I have 3 incubators which I usually fill up with duck and chicken eggs and once I start with that I tend to keep them going all through the summer. In fact last year I was still hatching in October!

I was a bit more intelligent last year and sourced some birds that were auto sexing so I could dispatch the male chicks at a day old. They didn’t go to waste as I gave them to a friend who keeps various birds of prey. I did keep a few cockerels which I fattened and we’ve just killed the last of those this week along with three giant Muscovy duck males which are now oven ready and in the freezer. Lesson learned from last year was to leave them hanging up over night before we plucked them. Unfortunately the cockerels had lice and sitting with them on our laps plucking them we both started itching only to find the little blighters had moved home. All garments and underwear went straight into the washing machine on a very hot wash and one had even made it into my bra! It makes me itch just thinking about it. This year I used a lot of diatom powder in the sheds AND let them hang so we were all lice free!

But as the freezer and my duck and chicken pens are full, I really shouldn’t do any hatching this year. Plus I plan on going away at least once so it would be best if the house wasn’t filled with ducklings and chicks.  My mum is already booked to look after the dogs in July when we are going to The Game Fair in Hertfordshire for the day. One of the dogs Kimber, a Bavarian Mountain Hound, is currently in season and I am debating on having another litter from her. If I do they would be due at the end of April, and the pups would be with us during May and June which would be a great time of year. Kimber’s last littler was born in November ‘17 so it meant it was too cold for them to go outside and my kitchen was rather like a zoo. And smelt like one. I loved having the puppies and Kimber was a great mum so I am keen to do it again, I’m just not sure if I’m ready for the chaos! I think, like the birds, I should wait until next year. I will keep you posted.

After the writing the above, I popped outside to find one of the heifers had started to calve and we had another born that evening.

   Ten calves later, and I’m back indoors for the first time in days! Amongst them, we had a cow calve who needed help as her calf was particularly large, and then we had a heifer reject her calf. We tried everything for days but couldn’t get her to acknowledge it, let alone love it so I am now rearing her myself. So Twinkle Toes has a friend – Tinker Bell. She was slow to get going but I think we have finally turned a corner with her now and she’s doing well.

Thanks to all the crazies who gave me support when I posted on the Facebook page about her. It always makes such a difference to know there are people out there to help you and you’re not just alone in a cow shed.

Today I have finally had time to do some laundry so will be able to leave the house without mud splattered on my jeans and I have a selection of clean fleeces that don’t smell of cow. I’ve also managed to get cow spittle out of my hair. I ache all over from bending at odd angles, working the crush and manoeuvring calves around but I think I’ve enjoyed it really. Ask me in a few weeks……    

So my apologies that my blog is late, but I’m sure you all understand.

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