This blog is about our homestead. We have specifically aimed to keep it about the farm and only the farm. We don’t share things about other areas of our life. We don’t go into details about our homeschool, our faith, our health, our family, etc because this blog is about homesteading. We don’t feel that this is a lack of transparency or that we don’t share our “real life” here. As I said in this post here, it is important to us to share REAL farm life on this blog with all the ups and downs we go through with it. And we do just that, with the farm/homestead part of our life, while keeping other aspects of our life private. However, we are realizing that there will be times when other aspects of our life so greatly impede into the homestead part of our life that we will have to share it as it affects the farm. This is one of those times.
In May, I injured my back. The last 4 months have been a flurry of doctor’s appointments, physical therapists, and many painful days for me. We have managed to press on through it and both my husband and the children have been able to fill in some of the gaps for me. The rest of the gaps have been filled in by me just doing the grin-and-bear-it routine. We have made it work and have found a way to still live our happy homestead life through it all. And actually, blogging has helped me stayed focused on the joyful things and the blessings as I live through the pain. So I am grateful for that. And through it we have been hopeful that healing and getting back to normal life were just around the corner for me. We still hope that.
I did mention back in April that my husband hurt his shoulder. It got much better over about a two-month period and we thought all was well, but then it started to slowly get progressively worse. He tried to take it easy with his shoulder and “baby” it (as much as a man in construction who owns a farm can), but last week the pain became unbearable for him and he went to the doctor. It is not good news. He has some major rotator cuff damage. We wont know the extent of the damage until after the MRI is done but it is not looking good. The doctor said best case scenario he needs to do 6 weeks of physical therapy and not use it to do anything that causes it pain, worst case scenario he will need surgery.
This has caused a major tail spin on the farm. Many things around the farm cause him pain, but the two that can’t be done by the kids or I are milking the cow and shoveling the cow stall. I haven’t milked in a long time because of my back, so my husband is the milker. But it looks like with his shoulder he can’t milk for at least 6 weeks. He and my older son are in charge of the cow stall, the younger kids and I (because of my back) aren’t strong enough. You would be surprised how heavy cow manure is. I have cleaned horse stalls all my life and when we first got the cow I was shocked at the weight difference. It is the moisture. So my oldest son can take over the cow stall cleaning.
The cow, being newly fresh, has got to be milked twice a day for at least the next few weeks. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It has to be done. She is still not settled enough for the kids to milk her, and even if they could they aren’t able to do it on their own yet. Our friend/renter has offered to help my husband milk for a few days while we figure out what to do, but that isn’t a solution that can last 6+ weeks.
So we came up with 3 possible solutions to this problem. We could sell her, we could find someone willing to take her and milk her and keep the milk as payment for a few months, or we could put a calf on her.
We really don’t want to sell her. So we are avoiding that possibility like crazy.
We have heard of a couple different farms a few hours away that might be willing to take her and milk her for us. But that seems like it could get complicated, especially if she got sick or something happened to her while in their care. And we don’t know the people, they are acquaintances of an acquaintance. As I have said before, we don’t live in an ag community. The closest milk cow is likely a 45 minute drive away from here. We literally have the only milk cow in our area.
So we feel like the best option would be to put a calf on her. It could milk her for us for the next few months, and whenever my husband is ready and able to milk again we can start separating them and milking her for our own use. And meanwhile, her milk will be going to good use raising our next beef calf.
The complicated part of this plan is the question of whether or not the cow will accept the calf. Last year she was used as a nurse cow, but not full-time living with the calf like we would like her to. She was put in the stanchion twice a day and the calves were brought in to nurse off her and then they were all separated again. We couldn’t do that situation for long with our set-up, we need her to accept the calf as her own and live with it and nurse it full-time.
We found an available calf. It is a JLow (just like her) bull calf and he was born early June. The owner is willing to let us try it out and see if she will accept him. If so, we will buy him, if not we will take him back. We will be picking him up Thursday evening to start the trial period.
We have set-up the calf stall inside Violet’s stall. This is the same set-up we used when we first started separating Charlie from Charlotte at night. Our plan is that with him in there she will be able to see and touch him and get used to him for a bit without being able to be aggressive with him. We will put her in the stanchion and let him nurse from her twice a day at first while they get to know each other and then hopefully we can work quickly towards them living together if it looks like she will accept him.
Like many bumps along the road of our little homestead we can keep trying and press on or we can quit. So we are going to keep trying and press on and see where that road takes us. We really hope it doesn’t come down to selling her, but we will cross that bridge if we come to it.