Monday, November 21, 2011

Of milk and manure

Yesterday the cows came home!  We bought two 2 month old steers from a farm in northern Wisconsin.  My husband, Hank, rigged up the slickest hillbilly cattle hauler you ever did see.  It was a truck topper fastened down to our trailer, lined with tarps and hay bales to cut the wind, all ratcheted together with multi-colored straps.  Those of you who Mend and Make Do will appreciate the money saved in building your own one-time use piece of machinery.  Although it did work so well, we may use it to take sheep into the butcher (instead of the extra large dog carrier in the back of the Toyota Matrix). 

Please say hello to Bumper, a purebred Jersey.

And Rusty, a Jersey Shorthorn cross.

Both boys handled the trip well.  We put them in the sheep pen and will eventually pasture them with the ewes once they get a bit more familiar.  

Although both are still taking milk, they do drink from a bucket.  So twice a day I mix up some formula and take out two buckets of warm milk.  And let me tell you, they lick out every last drop!  

We also feed them grain and have hay available, but they're a little too young to be interested in the hay just yet. 

But all those ewes baaing outside their pen door is very intriguing!  The girls hear me banging around inside and automatically think that someone is eating their grain.  What a surprise they'll get when these two babies come walking out!  

And so begins another chapter in the Willow Homestead Livestock Report.  Our barnyard animals have gotten consistently larger as the years progress.  Chickens (both layers and broilers) inevitably led to ducks, turkeys and geese (what's more fowl, after all?).  Then the sheep arrived (providing both  meat and wool).  When we realized that we still had extra pasture, why not add a couple of beefers (gotta eat something other than lamb).  We've toyed with the idea of pigs (bacon is sooo expensive!).  And I wouldn't mind a milk cow, but perhaps Bumper and Rusty will fulfill that need for a while.

And I realized this morning, as I was whisking up the boys breakfasts, that the reoccurring theme with virtually every new arrival is milk and manure.  Be it for my own children or the lambs or the calves (or the stray cats or the new puppy), once a mother, always a mother.  Am I fated to always have a light scent of milk about me?  Formula powder under my fingernails and milk stains on my shirt?  I fear I shall always be cleaning off someone's rump (or tail) or shoveling it out or scrapping it off my shoes. 

But truly I enjoy this nitty gritty of life.  What's a little spilled milk on my pants and cow slobber on my sleeve?  Proof that there is lots of life to be lived even if my curls are flat and the internet connection is too slow to load up that youtube tutorial I've been looking for.


  1. Good looking youngsters there! Your hard work will be so worth it. I'd love to add a Dexter or two to our bunch, but we just never have the grass down here in Texas!

    What do the younger members of the family think?

  2. Good for you. Now you can not only say I know what I am eating...but who. A good life lesson for kids by the way. Good luck! I love "bottle" (in your case bucket) babies. Blessings from Ringle, WI.

  3. They are beautiful and very healthy looking calves! I'm a bit jealous of your barnyard full of animals. Right now I just have a little flock of hens, but with a full time job I think that is all I can manage right now. Someday when I retire....

    kateri @ Dandelion Haven


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