Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why, What and Where - Why Do We Take Calves Away From Their Mothers?


Why do we take the calves from their mother’s right away after birth?

That is a question we get asked. We have also heard from other groups that it is cruel to rip the calf from its mother. We’ve read that cows are left bawling for their calves when separated.

I’ve been here 40+ years and never once have I heard a mother cow cry for her baby. As far as the ripping part – totally false.

On our farm, most births are monitored and attended. Once the calf is born and mama has had a little time to clean the calf off, the cow is returned to another pen. The calf is moved to the next pen over and taken care of.

Why? We can control the quality of care for the calf.

Anytime a calf is mixed with larger animals there is always the chance they will be stepped on or hurt.

We don’t allow the calf to nurse because we want to know for sure how much colostrum the calf receives. Colostrum is the first milk from the cow after birth. It is thicker than normal milk and has a yellow tinge to it. Colostrum is extremely beneficial to the calf. It is full of natural antibodies from the mother. Also, there may be manure on the cow’s teats and a clean nipple is better for the calf.

The calf is bottle fed or tube fed one gallon of its mother’s colostrum immediately after milking the mother. We feed it right after birth. If there is not a gallon available from the mother we will use a bottle of frozen colostrum from a previous cow we have stored. It’s so important to feed it as soon as possible that if feeding is delayed only 12 hours the calf will lose 50% ability to assimilate the antibodies.

The calf’s navel is dipped with an alcohol based antiseptic. It helps dry out the umbilical cord.

She gets a metal ear tag. Later a larger plastic ear tag with a number will be attached to her other ear. These tags are to identify for record keeping as she grows.

The calf receives three treatments when born. She is given a dose of First Defense – Bovine Coronavirus to aid in the prevention of calf scours.

An injection of Bose for the prevention and treatment of white muscle disease (Selenium-Tocopherol Deficiency) syndrome in calves is given. Selenium is vitamin E. For the most part our forage is deficient in vitamin E and this gives the calf a boost.

The third treatment is a nasal vaccine called Inforce 3 – Bovine Rhinotracheitis Parainfluenza - which is an intranasal vaccine used for the prevention of respiratory disease.


Individual pens. Filled with shavings as bedding.

She is then moved to an individual stall in the calf barn where she is kept apart from other calves and watched. Keeping the calves separated from each other prevents illnesses from spreading. Also, young calves like to suck on each other – usually their umbilical cord area which isn’t a good thing.

The calf isn’t fed for the next 24 hours. She has received enough with the gallon at birth and we want them to be hungry enough to learn to drink from a pail.

At the second feeding the pail is introduced. If they don’t figure out the pail, we will feed with the bottle again.

At one week they are given grain. We hand feed them the grain to help them understand how to eat it.

As the calves grow they get moved from pen to pen according to age where they are observed daily.

Coats to keep them warm in the winter.

Here is another blog post from my friend Krista and how they take care of their calves: http://thefarmerswifee.com/2013/12/11/yes-we-take-the-calves-away-from-their-mothers/

REWIND Wednesday - Apple Crisp


Apple Crisp hits the spot this time of year. Here is a simple and very good version. I kind of threw this recipe together, I hope you enjoy it.

Preheat oven to 350.
Peel and slice 4 - 6 apples. Place evenly in the bottom of a greased 9X13 baking dish.

Soften 1 C butter.

Dump in 1 1/2 C brown sugar,

1 C flour,

1 C Old Fashioned Oats,

and 1 - 1 1/2 t of cinnamon.

Mix together with fork until crumbly.

Evenly spoon over the sliced apples.
Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until apples are fork tender and it is bubbling.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Minimal Monday for September 29, 2014


In the shadow of the most important man (my daddy) 
who ever pointed me to the right things in life.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Daily Ordinary for September 28, 2014

Celebrate looking forward to having a good day. Church, music 
at a neighbor's cornmaze, Sunday dinner with the family, football, sunshine. It's gonna be a good day and one to celebrate.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Farm Wife – Farm Mom – Tough Job

There is this romantic view of what it’s like to be a farm wife and farm mom. We make huge luscious breakfasts and send our husband and sons out the door to work the land. Meanwhile we stay behind and can tomatoes, make jam and sew those curtains for the kitchen windows.

Not so much anymore.

Many of us farm women are just as much farmers as the men are – imagine that!

We jump into the combine, tractors, choppers and travel over the fields just like the men do. We milk the cows, haul the poop, deliver calves and fix machinery.

On top of all those “farm like” jobs we generally are the ones who cook the meals, clean the house, wash the clothes and cart the kids.

All that is manageable and we sort of expect that, deal with it and move on.

The part that gets tough is when we get stuck. We get stuck between the sons and fathers - between the daughters and fathers - between the sons and sons – between daughters and sons and so on and so on. When you love every player on the board and one comes up against another for whatever reason it’s difficult to be the calm voice. It’s extremely hard when you disagree with the dad and he’s the boss. You then are accused of being a mom and not a rational player. I’m just going to say it here and now. Some men are just plain clueless. They have no idea how their words, tone of voice or reasoning (or lack of) comes across. Part of the problem is this is a whole new generation and the sons don’t view things the way their father does. And, the father forgets the tug and pull they had with their own father years ago.

Also in the dance to keep harmony we are usually blamed by both sides. We are accused of taking sides when all we are trying to do is blend the lines so there are no sides. At times we feel like we can never win and we are a casualty left lying alongside the road. We can’t please anyone and we disappoint everyone.

I also think it is harder for a mother to separate family and work. We have a habit of blending it all together where some of the guys can make a distinct division. Us women – not so much.

We are concerned the fall-out from a blow up at the farm will carry enough weight that it will damage the core of the family. And for most of us there is nothing more important than the family staying a family.


So while there are times that farming together as a family is a divinely, cohesive, lovely, wonderful experience it can also be hell on earth trying to keep the peace and people loving each other. As the mother on a family farm I have been on the roller coaster way too long and would love to figure out a way to jump off.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

If a Tree Fell . . . Would a Horse Appear?



About a year ago our friend, Jack, cut down our blue spruce tree. It was huge. You can read all about it and see it here: http://www.afarmwife.com/2013/08/if-tree-fell-in-alfalfa-field-would.html

And, this is the wonderful surprise we received from his hard labor. He took the wood from that tree and handcrafted this rocking horse.

Needless to say it will get good use.

Thanks Jack!




Daily Ordinary for September 21, 2014

Celebrate people who are willing to ask why. Don't jump on any band wagons without thoroughly investigating the situations. Wagon have a way of running people over.

Celebrate the ordinary

Today is the only day you have. Don't wish it away, worry it away or plan it away. Your ordinary days add up to life.



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