January 2015 Yeehaw Farm newsletter

IMG_0592January 2015? It’s just not possible. What happened to 2014? Well, I guess I’ll go with it because the calendar says it’s so.

Here at Yeehaw, we have been plugging along trying to make it through yet another cold winter. We are faring okay and the animals are too, I suppose. We have had some ups and downs this winter but this is to be expected with life, much less everything associated with a farm. Due to the cold weather, some of our sheep, goats and two calves came down with pneumonia and we lost a few to that sickness. We have also had just a string of bad luck with incidents that we like to mentally file under “just stupid shit that happens”. One of my favorite dairy goats lost her life when a large round hay bale toppled on top of her because of the heavy winds that we have been getting in central Pennsylvania this year. Stuff that I have never had to deal with has happened this year. But that’s farming. And that’s life. We are dealing with it.

In the good news department, as of today, we have six brand spankin’ new lambs on the farm. It seems that our ram conveniently hopped fences to breed some of our ewes in August, instead of November like I had hoped would happen. For once, I was planning ahead so not to have lambs born on these cold, snowy January days. I bet it happened when we were at the Perry County Fair in August as we are not around the farm to keep up on the daily happenings. I have to give it to our ram…he’s a sly dog, that one. When we returned home, he managed to jump back into his original pasture without us so much as knowing he had paid a visit to our ewes. About half the flock is due to lamb this month and early February and the other half looks like they will lamb in April. I guess we interrupted his plans to complete the job by returning home from the fair a bit early. Ha.

We also had a calf born the day after Christmas who we named “Cody”. His mother refused to care for him so we have this cute little fellow that we are bottle feeding. Cody has been enjoying the company of the lambs as they have become his new roommates. His mother Doll Lee, who was an orphan calf herself, doesn’t know much about mothering instincts. As it turns out, that’s okay as I am milking Doll Lee and we need her milk. Half of our dairy herd is in “dry cow” mode. Dry cow mode is the 60 day period that we allow our cows to rest up before they calve and we start the milking process all over again. That also means that we are a bit low on milk this winter so every bit of extra milk goes a long way. Milk production naturally goes down with the waning sunlight and add to that my unsuccessful attempt to have all the cows producing over the winter, we have been on a bit of a milk embargo. But the days are getting longer which will aid us in milk production. And soon, the cows will be eating fresh green grass and then? And then, we will have so much milk that we won’t know what to do with it all. It’s the cycle of farming. Whatch ya gonna do?

Our new farm store building remains much the same as it did in November. It’s still just a slab of concrete. But that all should change in the February as we ordered the lumber and are just waiting for it to be delivered. We have the doors, windows and inside fixtures ready and waiting to be installed. Well, almost everything is ready. Tommy and I still need to hash out a few arguments over some of our lights and siding. The saying goes if your marriage can survive a major building project, it will survive anything. The verdict is still out for us! Ha. Just kidding. No, really. I’m not. Ha.

In personal home news, I inadvertently left our bathroom faucet on after brushing my teeth one morning two weeks ago. I, then, left the house and didn’t return for three hours later. When I did return, I came home to three inches of water over our entire basement floor, not to mention the two inches in our bathroom, bedroom and upstairs closet. A mess doesn’t accurately describe this catastrophe. I have been working on our basement for almost two weeks now, trying to clean up the wet boxes and trash, diligently throwing out at least one or two bags of garbage a day. It’s been a very time consuming process but in the midst of all this, I am finding comfort in knowing that our basement will be clean and organized.  That’s truly a new concept for me. I have never been much of a house cleaner!

I think that’s all for now with the monthly Yeehaw Farm news. Here’s hoping for spring to be just right around the corner. In a couple more days, the groundhog will be sure to let us know his prediction. I know that I am eager to hear the birds chirping and the first glimpses of new birth on our farm. Wait. The lambs are already here. That means that spring is right around the corner. It’s coming! Yay!

(A post script since I wrote this newsletter on Thursday.) On Thursday evening, another freak accident happened on the farm. Another one of our large hay bales rolled onto one of our heifer cows, crushing her underneath it. We were able to get her out from underneath it and put in a long night tending to her. Since that time, she is still unable to get up so we are unsure of her future. That’s a bummer. But because I always try to see the silver lining in everything that happens on our farm, we were surprised with a litter of eight piglets born in the crisp, cold of last evening. All eight and momma sow are doing fine. It sure is cold out for the little darlings but they are snuggled into mounds of straw and seem to be just fine. See? Always a silver lining?

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