Heifer Calving Issues

March plagued us with unusual calving events but not due to weather events.  First and previously posted was the “trouble” issue from a first time mother and a calf to large to deliver normally.  Eddie assisted in that delivery which produced the largest calf we have ever delivered and to date the largest calf this year.

This is Trouble. Biggest bull calf ever raised on the farm. He was born to a black angus heifer which means it was her first ever calf. We don’t like for our heifers to have large calves but apparently she was fed well which helped him grow. The sire was a two-year old Angus with small head and shoulders. Can’t imagine what he will look like fully grown or his son!!

Our second abnormal delivery was an older cow in our spring herd and she had never had any issues in the past.  This time she delivered a normal to small bull calf that was dead.  Shortly after this delivery she had another small dead bull calf and then all of her insides came out.  I’m not talking about prolapse, this was all of her female organs and intestines.  Eddie put her down quickly after to prevent ANY suffering.

Then about 10 days later another heifer delivered a huge bull calf that Eddie and I both helped deliver in our holding.  This calf lived but mother and calf were weak for about two weeks but the calf is growing.

First time heifers are always a challenge but this has been quite worrisome


The last one born was also a five-hour labor ordeal with a heifer and we had an issue after the deliver that Eddie assisted.  About an hour or so after the delivery the calf was never able to get up to nurse.  We have found in the past that if the new babe and mom are left alone things usually go as expected.  We watched this calf and mother from our front porch and Eddie decided to take the heifers some grain to keep them away from the new mother and babe.  After pouring the grain he went to investigate the situation and found all of the calf’s intestine had come out of its belly button/naval.  NEVER had we seen or heard of this!  We called a neighbor and they had never dealt with it but had heard of it and was willing to come assist.  In the meantime, I googled it and how to fix without a vet’s assistance (the cost of the vet and having to take to a hospital would far out weigh what we could get out of the calf IF it survived).  We got a clean tarp and put it in the bucket of the tractor and Eddie and I lifted him into the tractor bucket without issue.  We then hauled him to the garage where our neighbor found us to work on the calf.  First we sterilized all the equipment with 100% alcohol and then poured it all over the intestines and tried to get as much dirt and debris from the navel and the intestine without bursting them.  This took lots of time and Andy was so meticulous about cleaning everything.  Inch by inch he started pushing the intestines back into the body cavity and at one point he had to make the navel opening a bit larger and after about an hour he was ready to close up the opening.  During this entire process Eddie was holding the back feet & legs and I was holding the front legs and feet, the calf did not move even being on it’s back during the entire time.  Andy cleaned the incision several times more and then closed it all with vet staples.  He gave the calf a large dose of antibiotics and covered the wound with more alcohol. We took the calf back to his mother and she started cleaning him all over again.  You have to remember that his calf had never been able to get up to nurse.  We tried to give him colostrum to no avail and in the next three days he got up three times that we saw but we NEVER saw him nurse even with mom’s encouragement.  On the fourth day he died and as an afterthought we think we should have used a system that you put a hose down their throat into their stomach for nourishment or may should have put it down immediately but we always try to save them after the mother has gone through nine months of keeping them alive.

I want to thank our wonderful neighbor, Andy Hutton, for all he did that day and help he has given us in the past.  He hauls our cattle, helps us find good buyers for our stock, helping in repair our equipment and there for us to answer our questions.  Though we’ve been farming for 40+ years it’s always good to get first and second opinions.  Andy is our “go-to-farmer”!!!

We only have two more heifers to calve and about 9-10 older cows in our spring herd to deliver. Wish us luck!!

Spring Calving Season is Here Again

Our first calf was born on March 4th and since then we’ve had six more, two this morning.  I didn’t get to see any of them until Sunday and those four were quite lively.  They’ve all been smaller than usual and one of the two born this morning in low 20 degree temps and high winds is not doing well.  Eddie says it’s very weak but is getting up, when it’s up his mom is laying down.  He took me to see the spring her and their new babes on Sunday afternoon.

They were spread all over the hill eating grain until they heard the old gray Dodge start down the driveway. By the time we got to the field gate, they were all there except the little guy born that morning.
When the cows see that white bucket they know there’s some grain in the troughs.
This is the spring herd getting some grain and bringing their youngsters to meet the old woman on the farm (me)!
This little gal was the first of the year born on March 4th. She can run like the wind and keeps her mama in a tither all the time.
Daylight Savings Time bought this little guy to the farm.
A closer shot of the newborn.






After feeding the grain and we were leaving the field I got this closeup and he was looking for mama and bawling.  She went running!!

Mama, where are you???
We went back to the stable to refill the buckets. This gives you a view of the gray Dodge (1970) and the feed wagon.
Inside the feed wagon is three ton of corn gluten. The cows love it!!

The little ones born this morning are doing better than we expected but we’ll keep a close eye on them and in the meantime, we have another mama trying to deliver while I’m posting this little ditty!!

New Cattle Working Pen

On February 20th our new cattle holding/working pen had progressed to this.

Hubby and I have been working everyday on the pen when the weather permitted.  We were delayed in the beginning due to problems finding the lumber we needed.  One of our neighbors, Mr. All, has a portable sawmill and sold us 20 of the 1 x 6 x 16 boards to get us started.  We then finally found a sawmill that took private orders and we bought 100 of the boards.  Most sawmills that we contacted don’t take private orders anymore and only sell to commercial builders such as mining operations.

100 oak boards from Bennett’s Sawmill in Lowmoor.
First row of posts are boarded and this side of the pen faces Little Mountain Road. We put heavy woven wire on first and then put the boards on top of that. We did this to prevent the cattle and calves from sticking their heads through the fence and breaking the boards. We’re learning from EXPERIENCE!!
Post holes are dug using a drill and our Kubota tractor. We are drilling into a bank of slate and sometimes had to use our big tractor and its front loader to press on the drill to force it into the slate and break it up.
Next row of posts are dug and post put in the ground with Quikrete.
And some bracing rocks are placed in the holes for durability.
This is the roll of wire that we placed between the posts and the boards.
The is the outside of the pen next to the main road.
This is the second section of boards and woven wire. We put boards on both sides of the posts for a sturdier loading chute. This needs to be sturdy because if the cows or calves are going to get honery getting on the truck, this is the spot where they’ll do it. They’ll try to back out, turn around or go over if they’re really anxious.
From this angle you can see the double layer of boards reinforcing the woven wire
This is another angle from the end of the pen to see the reinforced chute.
This gate is at the entry of the loading chute.The chute opens to an eight foot chute that narrows into a four-foot chute. The eight foot gate will swing from the narrow chute to the wider chute depending on what we are loading, cows or calves.
This four foot gate was then hung at the end of the chute where the trailer will load. You can also see another short gate about half way down the chute to help control turning and backing. Cattle are more apt to go into a wider space at the other end and that’s why we start with a 8 ft space that  narrows as you get toward the end of the chute.
This section is where the wider chute will be and the next we will board up. The posts are set and now we put the boards on. I might mention the posts are treated but the boards are not. We are using 3 inch screws to mount the boards. Once those green boards dry they’ll make the chance of coming out because the boards will shrink around the screws.
This is another section of the pen that we expanded from the old pen. We were experiencing lots of pushing and shoving when trying to separate 50 – 75 head of cattle at the same time. This section will have a gate that opens on both sides at the end of the pen toward the scale house. We can release them into the barnlot or if we still need to do some separating we can release them back in to the loading section.
Yes we have a scale house. The scales with in this building are state certified every year. We can watch the growth of the calves, we can check the weight of the cows or bulls and we can get an idea of how much weight is going to the market before they’re loaded on the truck.

This all I have for now but will continue the saga when the pen is completely finished and we can send a load of fall calves that we’ve weaned and been holding for the completion of the pen and hopefully a price increase.  I’m hopeful it will be completed this week!!!

Spring Calving Season

Our spring calving season began on March 13 with this little girl (heifer) and it was such a beautiful day.  

This little bull started our calving on the 19th, followed by the next two within minutes of each other. Now we wait for the 25 to come!!

Busy Day

I slept late this morning and didn’t get up until  7:45 so started breakfast pretty quick.  I think a good breakfast starts the day out right.  We had waffles and link sausage and cantaloupe.  After breakfast I washed up the dishes, made the bed and turn on the computer.  I turn it on and walk away when I have things I want to get done because I can get wrapped up in it pretty quick and lose track of time.

The cookie tins were depleted this weekend so the first thing I did was fill up one tin with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and the other with Snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles is one of the easiest recipes you can make and they're really good.
Snickerdoodles is one of the easiest recipes you can make and they’re really good.
My favorite recipe for Oatmeal Raisin cookies and the Mr.'s favorite.
My favorite recipe for Oatmeal Raisin cookies and the Mr.’s favorite.

After these were in the tins and the mess cleaned up, hubby asked Heather and I to go to the back fields and count the fall calves and see if we thought we should send them on to the market.  We did this and checked them all out for pinkeye or other abnormalities and found none.

Heather helped me pull two large baskets of grass for the rabbits and I cleaned out their cages and made sure they had enough water, grain and sunflower seeds and then she headed home.

I came in fed Sassy her lunch and headed to the henhouse to check on the water, feed and sitting hen situation.  I have a ISA Brown hen and a Sexlink hatching this weekend.  I testing something I read last year about the shape of eggs can determine the sex of the chicks the hens hatch.  More on that later!!

I filled up the lawn mower and mowed the inside yard and waiting for the sun to cool off before finishing.  I would like to get all of the trimming done before the showers move in tonight.  Then I dead-headed all of the roses.  They’ve been so beautiful this year.

Now it’s time to fix some supper but hubby won’t be out of the hayfield for probably another hour or so and I have plenty of time.  We’re having fried turkey biscuits, potato salad, green beans and cantaloupe.

It’s been a productive day but cookie baking took most of the morning!  I hope everyone has had a very good day!

Spring calving

2016 spring herd grazing along.
2016 spring herd grazing along.

Most of our morning was spent with our cattle, my daughter & son-in-law, and two very good friends.  We had 24 calves from this herd and they all received their baby vaccinations, pinkeye and tetanus shots, eartagged and banded if they were bull calves.  Everything went smoothly and only took about two hours.  We have some beauties in this herd and the last one was born last week.

2016 (3)Big Herd cows calves 2016 (6)Big Herd cows calves 2016 (8)Big Herd cows calves

After taking care of all of them we turned Clyde and Sam (new bull) in with the herd.  This is always a big chore but went quickly this morning since we had such wonderful help.  I hope they all know how much we appreciate giving us their time and muscles.

Now we watch them grow!!

Eddie likes to play with the little ones when they're just a couple days old.
Eddie likes to play with the little ones when they’re just a couple days old.

2016 (11)Big Herd cows calves

Babies on the Ground

Our calving season has begun and I’ll share some quick pics of the new babies.

The famous #29 that my daughter Heather has had a few issues with.  She's getting very old and will probably leave the farm this fall but she just dropped a beautiful black white face heifer!
The famous #29 that my daughter Heather has had a few issues with. She’s getting very old and will probably leave the farm this fall but she just dropped a beautiful black white face heifer!






We’ve just started the season and we have two heifers and three bulls so far.  They’ve all been very small but you wouldn’t believe the energy they have.  They’re keeping their mothers busy keeping up with them and when they run across the meadow they thing they’re Super Babies!



During our work this morning with Miracle we found out that Annabelle has pinkeye!!  This will be our first issue this year and pray it’ll be our last.  With a couple doughnuts and leftover biscuits we were able to get her up and treated her with LA-200 antibiotic.  Now we wait and hope she get’s better, doesn’t spread it to the other cows and especially to her little bull calf!!


Remember Annabelle

If you’ve been following my blog for very long you may remember a post of another orphan I had in April of 2013 and her name was Annabelle.

Annabelle was born from a hereford cow born on the farm and she was about 20 years old when she had Annabelle and died the day after Annabelle was born.
Annabelle was born from a Hereford cow born on the farm and she was about 20 years old when she had Annabelle and died the day after Annabelle was born.
Annabelle, orphaned in April of 2013.
Annabelle, orphaned in April of 2013.
Annabelle two years later is still spoiled rotten and follows us whenever we're in the field with her.  She loves bread and apples we take to her on a regular basis.
Annabelle two years later is still spoiled rotten and follows us whenever we’re in the field with her. She loves bread and apples we take to her on a regular basis.

Well, Annabelle presented us with her first baby on September 8th with a huge black/white face bull calf.

Annabelle's son trying to hide from me and my camera.
Annabelle’s son trying to hide from me and my camera.
What a beautiful face!
What a beautiful face!
This little boy can run like the wind and Mom has a hard time keeping up with his movements!
This little boy can run like the wind and Mom has a hard time keeping up with his movements!

I was worried to death about her the day he was born.  She was in labor most of the day and we try not to help with birthing unless we see a problem.  Well, by 8:00 p.m. that night she still hadn’t had him yet so Eddie and I went back to the house to get halter, ropes and pulling stick and headed back to the woods and it hadn’t already gotten dark.  When we found her she had already had him and he was up nursing and very alert.  Great job Annabelle on the your first calf!!!  We’ve learned that if you let Mother Nature takes its course is usually better for all involved.

New heifers

We’ve sold several really old cows the past three years and lost a few to the bad winters and their age.  We’re down to about 50 cows and needed to restock to keep enough money for taxes, winter feed and other farm supplies.  Eddie and Heather went to a sale and bought six cows that were due to calve within one month and as long as four months.

New cows are adjusting well to their new surroundings and already follow Eddie around when he has a bucket.
New cows are adjusting well to their new surroundings and already follow Eddie around when he has a bucket.
We kept eight of the heifers from the 2014 fall calves.
We kept eight of the mountain heifers from the 2014 fall calves.
The heifers are weaned and living in the herd of new cows for the next couple months.
The heifers are weaned and living in the herd of new cows for the next couple months.

Fourteen replacements are a good start and we may have a few more heifers we keep from the big herd.

Working the calves

Just a peek at what’s entailed in keeping our cattle and calves in good health.  I don’t know what we would do without our daughter’s help.  Farming is in her blood!

Now what??
Now what??

IMG_2251 - Copy


Eartags to match mom and calf in the event of health problems or heifers kept on the farm.

IMG_2250 - Copy

Baby shots to keep them from pinkeye, blackleg, lockjaw, and other diseases.IMG_2249 - Copy

IMG_2248 - Copy


Castration to prevent inbreeding while on the farm.  Cattle start early!!IMG_2247 - Copy

IMG_2246 - Copy


Mother’s waiting outside the gate for the babies.IMG_2245 - Copy

Our new squeeze chute is much gentler on the little ones and on the farmer working on them.IMG_2244 - Copy

Hard part is coaxing them through the metal chute when they can’t see their mama.IMG_2243 - Copy

Somebody got too close to the back-end of another.IMG_2242 - Copy


IMG_2153First baby of our new cows and she’s a red angus.  Small but very frisky.



Prissy & George Update

DSCN6987 DSCN6986 DSCN6987 - Copy DSCN6984 - CopyThey’ve grown so much after such a rough entry into the world!


We questioned whether Prissy would make it at all and then at three week she really came out of her self and then George got sick.  We noticed he was as playful and was having trouble getting up and walking.  We were told by the vet that lots of times when they are born and don’t get their mother’s colostrum in their system they will develop an infection that gets in their joints and can kill them.  Our vet, Dr. Wall, gave him a mega dose of an antibiotic and left us pills to dissolve in his milk for two weeks.  Here we are two months later and he is doing so much better.  Prissy outgrew him fast and is now about 75 pounds heavier and bossier than George but he’s coming on strong.  They’ve both tripled their birth weight, eating grain and grazing just like the other calves on the farm.  They still get a bottle every day instead of three bottles but that will come to an end when the bag of milk we have  is gone.  They love sweet feed and have started following our new cows and heifers around which is a great way to wean them.  I’m not looking forward to sending them to market in the fall but know it’s coming.  I’ll just make sure I’m not around when it happens.

Five new babies today

Today we had five new baby calves, four of which are bulls.  They’re adorable but this little bugger has taken my heart:






IMG_0022He’s got droopy little ears like a baby pig!!  The other four are adorable too but this one is my favorite.  He’s got polka dots on the front of his shins!!


Grace Has Gone to Heaven

This winter has been much, much colder than normal for Virginia, I think.  I can’t remember having a whole week of negative temperatures in our area.  We haven’t had an abundance of snow like I thought we would have (knock on wood) but the wind and cold temperatures have taken a toll.

Two weeks ago we lost one of my favorite cows.  She was a fifth generation  cow raised on the farm and though she was a headache until she had her first calf.  She was kept for breeding stock along with six other heifers and would lead those other girls through every hole in the fences or make her own wherever and when ever she wanted.  Hubby threatened to send her to market so many times.

Grace and her calf grazing.
Grace and her calf grazing.
Grace with her first calf to  survive.
Grace with her first calf to survive.
Grace with the herd.
Grace with the herd.

She lost her first two calves because her udders were so large.  Her great, great, great, grandmother was a holstein dairy cow and they can sure produce some milk.  All of her daughters were good milkers but Grace’s first two babies only lived about four days and we think starved because they couldn’t get the udders in their mouth and Grace was too unruly to pen up in a shed to milk.  We had planned last year to send her to market with the fall calves but something happened and she never made it on the truck.  She delivered a beautiful black angus heifer in early September but it took a toll on Grace.  The calf was sucking her to death and she lost a lot of weight but kept that baby of hers well fed.  During the big snow week before last, we think one of the other cows may have butted her down and she couldn’t get back up and froze during the night.  Hubby found her the next morning.  That’s the luck of farming beef cattle!  Just when you think you might get two steps ahead of the game, your forced to take three steps back!

The Nasty Beasts are Back

I’ve said in the past how much I detest and despise coyotes.Well, we have almost a month to go for the first spring calf to arrive and nasty beasts are back.  Hubby set snares and has caught two, one young male and this huge male that’s probably two – three years old.

Huge coyote male snared 02/2014
Huge coyote male snared 02/2014


If there’s males around there’s bound to be females and their mating season will soon begin if not already.  This brute could take a newborn calf away from it’s mother in a matter of seconds.  A month old calf in a few minutes if it’s not with the herd.  Of course, these cows always decide to calve out in the woods alone and the babies are then easy prey, especially with canines like these:

Two to three year old male coyote.
Two to three year old male coyote.

There’s open season on them and several trappers are trying to help but Mother Nature gives them the inate sense to breed larger welps when the group get’s killed out or dies out.  We’ve lost too many babies to these predators and stopping them is essential to our farm profits each and every year.

Coyote snared 02022014 (5) Coyote snared 02022014 (11)


Not only do they kill the calves but they devastate the deer population, all livestock and will kill your pets.

Coyote snared 02022014 (9)

Coyote snared 02022014 (8)

I hope I don’t offend anyone with this post but everyone needs to be aware of the problems this creature creates for farmers.


Working the cattle

Tuesday morning was the first time in years that our cattle were worked and I wasn’t in on the fun.  Hubby did have some help though.  Our daughter and two of his friends came to take care of business.  This was for our spring calving herd and there was only two calves that had not had their calves yet but the work needed to be done now.  The other two will be taken care of later.  The work entails eartags for the moms that are missing tags and there were a lot of them.  The moms also get their tails trimmed and if any are having issues such as runny eyes(possible pinkeye infection), thin bodies (usually a symptom of worms) or limping (foot evil lurking around)  all of these are taken care of in the spring.  The calves get their ears tagged, baby shots, banding if they’re bull calves and general care for any thing else that might show up.  This may not sound like a lot but when you have 40 cows and 30 calves going through the working chute it takes several hands, patience, and time.  They had a great day without me and had it all done in about 2.5 hours.  I thought I would show you a couple pictures that one of the guys took during the process and a couple pictures of the herd.


Working calves 05212013

Calf in head chute to keep from hurting them.


Jimmy Taylor manning the head chute 05212013

Ears tagged before leaving the chute

Banding calves 05212013

Little bulls become little steers

Babies scattered everywhere!

2013 Spring calves



Our little orphan, Annabelle

Two weeks ago today one of our older cows (25+ years) had been in labor for more than a day and finally on Saturday morning had a beautiful little red/white faced heifer.

Annabelle-one day old, tired, cold and just lost her mama.
Annabelle-one day old, tired, cold and just lost her mama.

Her Mom died shortly after delivery and we were lucky to find Annabelle because she wasn’t near her Mom.  We think Mom couldn’t get up to nurse her and the other cows came to investigate and Annabelle followed them looking for warm nourishment.  Hubby found her about 100 yards from her Mom, wet, muddy and very cold.  She was covered with the afterbirth film and mud.  Hubby came back to the house to get me and we loaded her on the back of the pickup and brought her to the house.  Luckily it was a very nice, sunny morning but still  cool.  I first got some regular milk we drink, warmed it and added about a 1/2 cup of Karo syrup and took it to her.

Calf bottle full, warm and sweetened.
Calf bottle full, warm and sweetened.


I didn’t have to work with her much at all to get her to take about a pint and then I let her rest.  I got a very warm bucket of warm with some baby shampoo mixed in it and proceeded to bathe her as best as I could and covered her with a heavy towel to keep the cool air off until she quit shivering.  She lay quietly in the yard and our other new baby, Gyp, decided to make Annabelle her new best friend.  She licked her and lay with her and nipped at her trying to get her to play.


After another hour passed, she seemed a little more active and got up and walked around in the yard so I decided to try to get some more milk in her.  She was ready for that bottle and grab hold quick.  Gyp hung around to keep her mouth cleaned off (she’s so funny) and we got another pint in her.


Then we prepared her a good warm bed in the small garage close to the house.  This building has electricity in it and made it convenient for those after dark feedings.  I filled a  clean five gallon buck with water for her and hoped she would find it and not knock it over and fill her bed with water which was a little below the bucket.  While I was preparing her new home, Gyp watched after her.

Gyp watching Annabelle in the yard while I prepared her bedding.
Gyp watching Annabelle in the yard while I prepared her bedding.


We fed her a full bottle in the mornings before I went to work and during the day Hubby would feed her 1/2 bottle every four hours and then I fed her again around 6:00 in the evening after I got home from work.  She is doing really well and growing so fast!

BUT. . . . . . . .

Another of the older cows gave birth to a dead calf on Wednesday morning and she is usually such a good mother.  Her calf was a red heifer and Hubby decided to try another trick we’ve used in the past.  He took the dead calf away from the mother and put Mama in a small barn near the house and gave her some extra grain.  While she was eating he took a large area of hide from the dead calf and tied it onto Annabelle’s back.

Annabelle with an extra coat & a little trick to find a new mom.
Annabelle with an extra coat & a little trick to find a new mom.

He then walked Annabelle over to the barn to meet a new mama (we hoped).  After some more grain, some more coaxing Annabelle to the new area of milk and lots of prayers, the new mama and orphan calf quickly took to each other.  Hubby urged me to stay away from Annabelle for a couple days to make sure the adoption would work and I can happily announce that Annabelle’s new mother is very protective of her and Annabelle seems to be nursing and nuzzling her new Mom constantly.

Annabelle's new mom
Annabelle’s new mom






The only downside to this story is that Gyp doesn’t have someone to chase and play!  That’s another story in the making!

Orphans at the farm

I love babies of all kinds and have raised two kids of my own but I’ve also raised several orphan animals and thought I would share some pictures of them.  It’s very gratifying finding them quick enough to get some warm food in them, warm blankets around them and a good warm bath no matter if they’re furbearing or feathered.  Here’s some of my babes:


Heather & Shawn, my beautiful children.
Heather & Shawn, my beautiful children.
My gorgeous granddaughter, Victoria. I didn't raise her but had her with me every moment I could!!!
My gorgeous granddaughter, Victoria. I didn’t raise her but had her with me every moment I could!!!


Sassy - our current baby!!
Sassy – our current baby!!


Sassy  & Dandy
Sassy & Dandy




Annie and the triplets
Annie and the triplets


Precious and Bambi
Precious and Bambi




Little Dan - now he's all grown up.
Little Dan – now he’s all grown up.


Baby chicks
Baby chicks
Half grown mallard babies
Half grown mallard babies


Baby Dude
Baby Dude


Baby Alex & Alexandra-dogs made them orphans
Baby Alex & Alexandra-dogs made them orphans



I can’t begin to tell you of all of the cats, dogs, fawns, squirrels, calves, rabbits, chicks and ducks I’ve hand raised but I can tell you everyone of them was worth the challenge!!

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