beatrice: braveheart, bold or just plain bad?

beatrice: braveheart, bold or just plain bad?

You’ve been spotted – don’t think she’s going to let you get away

Here she comes… who’s she?? It’s beatrice…

xxxxxxpet me ladyxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxor I’ll butt your knees

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Come on lady, I don’t have all day – What are you waiting for??

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This weekend, I had to break down and mow some grass.  I admit it; I have developed a Scrooge-ish double hatred of mowing grass. First because now that I have cows to feed, grass = food.  Mowing grass feels like throwing food away and I have a real issue with  that.  Second because I hate wasting gas on something that could easily be performed by hand or by animal and that bugs me too. It was some green, juicy grass; the men would have happily done that job.

But alas, that field isn’t fenced and won’t be for a while, so while it pained me to do it, I had to break down and mow. But that’s not really the story.

The story is Beatrice.  Beatrice is one wacky heifer.  I thought Honey was the one who would end up knocking me on my can one day. But next to Beatrice, Honey is darn near shy.

Talk about gawky & awkward … here’s honey in all her teen-aged glory. All the calves go through a homely phase between one and two years, but my goodness. With a leggy, all elbows and knees look like this, surely she’ll be a supermodel one day…

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Honey went through a quad-chasing phase which was both funny and alarming, but she seems to have outgrown it. But even at her sassiest, Honey has a healthy respect for tractors, weed-whackers and other scary machinery. And the other “normal” calves? They stay far, far away from all that stuff.

Beatrice’s first week, she left the herd and her mom and chased the tractor all the way up the hill and to the gate after I delivered hay one morning. I had to get down and chase her away by flapping my arms, jumping around and yelling just so I could drive the tractor through the gate. And don’t think she took that without some head shaking sass.

The next unusual Beatrice encounter was when I had to take the weed-whacker and trim the grass under the electric fence. Most of the calves (and cows) are rightly fearful of me  with this scary-looking noisy gadget and keep their distance.  Not Beatrice.  She actually chased after me and wanted to get her face right into the action. Very odd.

Yesterday was the first time the calves have seen the brush hog at work. It’s noisy. And most calves think it’s scary.  Not you-know-who.

Beatrice saw that rig coming and ran right up to get a better look.  She chased me all the way along the fence line and looked really sad when I turned and drove away.  I can tell right now, pasture mowing will be a bit of a challenge with Beatrice around.

Are you talkin’ to me??

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Remember Beatrice’s kidnapping incident? I may owe Zay an apology accusing her of kidnapping and all. As unlikely as it was, Beatrice is just the sort of girl to sneak out and party all night leaving her mom crazy with worry….. sorry Zaymonster!

in which the Kerrys are coming

in which the Kerrys are coming

Still a little shy, our new Dexter & Kerry neighbors are settling in!

Still a little shy, meet our new Dexter and Kerry neighbors

Something’s happening in the neighborhood that I’m pretty excited about. I wasn’t sure how the Ladies would take the news, especially Molly since she takes her duties as a Heritage Breed model pretty seriously.  But surprisingly, they seem pretty excited about it too.

I had heard the Kerrys were coming, and now the Kerrys are here. It’s true – I’ve seen them myself. And with the Kerrys are a few of their smaller Irish cousins the Dexters.

Until now, we were one of the few farms in these parts with old-fashioned heritage breed cows.  Here and there I see a Dexter or some Scottish Highlands; there’s a farm with beef Devons a couple of hours away and a herd of ethereal British Parks I’ve been wanting to see. Devon crosses are popping up here and there, but mostly, until now, any heritage cow friends I’ve made are from Virginia,  New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Known as "the poor man's milch cow", Ireland's Kerry cattle are famous for their longevity and ability to thrive on poor forage.

I’ve had a little crush on Kerry cows for some time, but have only managed to meet one just once in my travels. That’s all changed now since recently, a small herd owned by the Grossman family has taken up residence at Pasture Maid Creamery in nearby New Castle. So, not only will these Kerry Ladies (and their man) be living nearby, their milk is being put to the test by a real, professional cheesemaker, Adam Dean.

While our Girls are an old-fashioned breed from North Devon England, Kerrys are a similar type of indigenous cattle from Ireland. In fact, the Kerrys with their lovely horns look very similar to the Ladies, but are just a little smaller and are black instead of red.  Like our American Milking Devons, Kerrys are also famous for their scrappy ability to make rich milk and excellent beef while eating nothing but grass.

The introduction of Kerry cattle into this professional dairy herd is a bold and proactive response to the ever-increasing costs of farming inputs. By breeding their herd of modern  dairy breeds to a Kerry bull, the Dean family of Pasture Maid Creamery (not  the Dean’s brand in cartons – look for glass bottles of Pasture Maid Creamery pasteurized creamline milk) is shaping their herd in a way that will reduce their dependence on expensive grains and fuel as they continue to produce excellent milk and beef.

When the milk is clean, sweet and rich you don't need exotic equipment & ingredients to make great cheese.

After visiting my new Kerry neighbors, I came home with some booty and fresh inspiration: a gallon of Pasture Maid creamline milk and a dozen farm fresh eggs. I re-started my cheesemaking engines by making this pillowy soft, fresh buttermilk cheese.  Its pure, rich deliciousness is a true reflection of the beautiful milk.

I’m struggling with brain jam because I have so many things to say about this milk and cheese. But, rather than torture you with one long runaway spew, I’ll restrain myself. More to come,  you can count on it. Don’t believe me?

Get your own Pasture Maid Creamline milk and try for yourself. Your brain will cheese up with excitement too.

Molly doesn't see why I think this is a big deal. "Bring it on with a side of fresh grass", she says.

Moo-re to come….

in which Suki does it her way

in which Suki does it her way

Suki's newest little one

Nag, nag nag. That’s what I heard Suki saying to her good friend Zay the other day. I’m sure they were talking about me, but that’s OK.

I was only suggesting that the weather was balmy and dry which is a rare stroke of luck in February, don’t you think?  If you’re going to have a baby anyway, wouldn’t it be a good idea to pick a warm, sunny day?

What-ever. With lots of eye-rolling.  OK, Suki, do it your way.

So she did. Last night I was pretty sure we’d be meeting our new friend today. So, I gave Suki her own room. Before dawn when I checked this morning, everyone was inside except guess who? Suki.  Somehow, Suki managed to escape and off she went by herself to take care of her very important business.

Fortunately, I have been placing big bales of hay in wind-sheltered places just in case. One mostly eaten bale in the most sheltered spot offered the perfect, fluffiest bed.  Since Suki may well be my smartest cow, I was pretty confident that’s where she’d be.

Hello, hello.

It was still dark but quiet and still. I grabbed my lantern and set off over the hill. And sure enough, that’s where she was with her new little calf. Dried, fed and taking a nap. Very, very far from the barn.

While Suki enjoyed a special breakfast, I carried our new friend up to the barn. A long snow-covered uphill hike carrying about 40 pounds of awkward, squirming calf. And, let me just say – this morning I have no doubt I’m not twenty-six anymore.

We were just in time because as soon as Suki & Co. were safely tucked inside and buried in hay, the wind whipped up and things took a turn for the nasty.  So our little friend is getting a challenging start to his/her new life, but so far, so good.

The pinkest ears I've seen yet.... probably trying to figure out how to get back inside that warm cozy cocoon - this place is COLD!

One down, six more hellos to go…

Like babies? Check out some other hellos:

In which we say hello
in which we say hello again and again and again
in which whine enough already
in which Sprite gets game
in which we begin a new round of hellos
in which we say hello Sammy
in which we say a surprised hello

in which we interrupt our usual Thursday programming…

in which we interrupt our usual Thursday programming…

I sure was hoping that this morning I could wade the frozen creek in a pair of floppy, over-sized men's wellies..

This is an interruption of my planned Thursday everything. This morning, I went extra early to check on the Ladies because I am officially on baby watch. Udders are swelling and tails are switching, so something is bound to happen soon.

A mysterious full moon still out as I hit my chores this clear chilly dawn - never loses its magic for me

The full moon & perfectly clear, starry sky were so exceptional last night. This morning it was dawn when I started out so I got to enjoy the crisp, sparkling early morning lunar show again. So luminous and big, so heavily round, still and magically ripe – is it a sign?? Well, apparently not. No babies this morning. The Ladies were all still in bed looking at me with sleepy, blinking eyes.

I think I’m starting to get on their nerves – they keep looking at each other and then back at me with that “What does she want now?” look. They say the least I could do is bring snacks next time….

I admit I’m a super-vigilant fence tester. At least twice a day I check all my fences. Even I think it may be excessive, but then I find something amiss and my obsessive behavior is reinforced. I figure it’s always less work to find out before the Ladies do, or even more importantly, before the bull.

Things seem strangely still; I check the box and sure enough, battery’s dead.  Since I know it was just freshly charged, something must be shorting the fence wires. So, off  I go inspecting every piece and corner of the fence. Is a branch touching the wire? Did a deer crash through? Did the stream wash over the bottom wire?  Nope, nope and no.  I’m really hoping all is good with the part that crosses the creek because that’s a bear to mess with and I really don’t feel like wading in the frozen creek before breakfast.

Of course, as soon as I had that thought, it was guaranteed.

That’s exactly where the fence was down. Why not last week when everything was warm and sunny? Who knows, but welcome to my world.  It’s cold; I’m glad I wore the long underwear, since now I have to get the tallest pair of boots I have – a pair of over-sized  men’s wellies – and go wading. The water is just a tiny bit lower than the tops of my boots, so if I screw up at all, I’ll have a boot full of frigid water. Not a nice way to start my day. I really wish I had eaten something warm  before I came – I’m hungry and this could take a while…

Gingerly I make my way into the creek with my axe, wire cutter & insulators.  The wire is underwater and frozen into the creek, so I have to use my axe to first chop a hole for me to stand in, and then chop a path to free the wire.

Carefully I chop my way across the ice to the downed wires

I’m doing my best CSI work and I cannot decide whether the wire was pushed OUT by the cows, or IN by the deer. The area is full of frozen footprints from both cow and deer and with the wire coiled up underwater, I can’t tell which way it went.

But I have my theory.

It’s her. I’m sure of it. H.O.N.E.Y. I told you how bold she was. With her new posse, Bess and Sass. Fanny stays out of it – she’s not an adventurous sort of girl.  Their first sunny day in this new pasture, I caught them exploring the creek. As far as I can tell, these three were the first to cross over and start to explore the tiny triangle on the other side.  Who was front and center? You guessed it – Honey.

I hustle the girls back over - Bess & Sass trot right back; Honey takes her sweet time

Honey giving the new fence job some serious contemplation. She's got a plan, I'm sure

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, that small part of fencing was not my best work and I immediately got my tools and re-worked it so they aren’t able to cross the creek.

Honey was not pleased and I’ve seen her giving the new fence job some very serious consideration. A few days ago, during evening bed check, I could hear the tell-tale popping sound of electric wire touching metal. Sure enough, it was my new wire crossing the creek. Someone twisted the wire so it was touching the metal fencepost. I must not have missed the event by long since the battery hadn’t been drained. Honey, Bess & Sass were innocently grazing nearby, pretending to take no notice of me.

Honey hiding behind her Mom? Puh-lease. Honey doesn't have a shy bone in her body.

Of course I’ll never know for sure. The fence is fixed, I’m cold but dry and I hope the culprit got a good hefty shock so she’ll think twice the next time.

And now, back to our regular programming….