Tag Archives: homesteading

Icy MOO Beginnings

Contented Cow with New CalfAbout 7:00 last night, I checked in at the farm to let the cows into the shed. Seraphina was bellowing at her cold newborn calf to, “Get up!” Although she had licked him well, he was still wet and stretched out stiff on the frozen snow like a slab of fish on ice. cold calf on the kitchen floorI carried him into a pen in the barn, rubbed him vigorously with dry towels, covered him with straw, and went back out to lead in his mother. While she eagerly chowed down the 2nd cutting hay I had set out for her, I washed her udder with a warm damp cloth and started milking her into a pre-heated nipple bottle. When I had milked out about a pint and a half of colostrum, I attached the nipple, lifted the calf’s head, pried open his clenched jaws, and tried to get him to swallow. Nothing… After more rubbings and repeated futile attempts, I wrapped him in a blanket on the backseat of the car and drove him home……where Margaret and I continued to rub him dry and to try to feed him. Bit by bit, his limbs and body warmed up, but the inside of his mouth was still very cold and he continued to refuse the bottle.

By now, it was around 8:30 and we were both tired and discouraged. We decided to treat him like a fellow camper with hypothermia, carried him downstairs, sat side-by-side on the couch near the wood stove with him on our laps wrapped in towels and blankets, and watched a movie while we continued to snuggle and rub his limbs and body.DSCF5938As he began to warm up, we tried to ply him with the bottle.lap calf taking nipple bottleBy the end of the movie, he even seemed interested in watching with us!Movie watching with newborn calfI went back to the barn for more colostrum and by the time I got back, he could stand up and was eager to stand up, take the nipple, and SUCK!!!!!bottle feeding calfHe was SO lively and SO hungry we took him back to the barn…calf on lap in car backseat…he even tried to suck on Margaret’s nose on the ride back!new mother and calfLuckily, his mother, a first-calf heifer, greeted him with the soft mother-moos of an interested and competent mother, and proceeded to lick his face and to slowly dance around to encourage him to nurse. By the time we got home to our very welcome beds, it was near midnight.day-old calf and cowThis morning, we are pleased to announce that both Seraphina and her son, Simeon, seem to be happy, healthy, and enjoying their suite in the Local farm barn!

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Dutch Treat: Autobiography of an Ox-in-Training 3

calf and cow11-year-old Timothy Lacy puts himself in the hooves of a young ox-in-training named Sherlock and writes  about his life on Local Farm, Cornwall, CT. Now, in Chapter 3 we meet Sherlock’s baby brother, Dutch. See Chapter 1 and follow the links for the full story.



Big news! My mom just calved and now I have a baby brother named Dutch. He is small, friendly, smart, and pale.  I think he will be a good brother.  I heard they’re going to turn him into an ox like me.  Today I went on a walk with Dutch, and he seems like he’ll grow up like me.  I can’t believe how undemanding Tim is being with him. NOT FAIR.



calf bottle feeding
But Dutch has been hilarious when Tim visits him.  When he sees a warm human or cow body, he thinks it is “breakfast time” so he is always trying to get milk. He sucks on the fence, he sucks on shirts, chains, shoes, fingers, even Tim’s ears.  He does that to pretty much everyone who bottle feeds him.  By the way I heard that they have started weaning him, which means he is not getting milk from his mom anymore. He gets milk from a bottle and eats hay.

Now I will turn a small part of the entry over to Dutch.

ox brother and understudyHello my name is Dutch, also known as Dutchy.  I was born at Local Farm in a barn with my mom Silmeral.  Now that I am a month old, some days after I get my breakfast (a bottle filled with my mom’s milk) I get a visit from my older brother Sherlock. He comes into the barn with Tim and gets tied to the gate at my stall, and we have a little time to talk before Sherlock goes to work with Tim.

He tells me everything there is to know about being an ox.  If I am lucky I take a walk with my brother.  One time we saw a red-tailed hawk on our walk. I also get to meet all of Sherlock’s friends who live in the fields, like Samantha, who is Sherlock’s best friend, and Serafina, and Raquel.  Sherlock wears a lot of gear which Tim tells me that someday I’m going to get to wear.  I hope that day comes soon. Unfortunately this is all Sherlock will let me write in his autobiography.
Back to Sherlock
Sherlock at Local Farm July 2014

The other big news involves me (Sherlock).  They put britchen on me, and they got me a cart, and they also figured out how to hitch me up to the sled.  I have a feeling that they will use that cart while training Dutch.   I don’t know how to explain how I am hitched to the cart with the britchen, but I will try.  Basically, on the side of my yoke there are some rings where the britchen, which is like a harness, connects with my yoke. And in the back the britchen  connects me with the cart.

ox hauls manure in sled
Today was the first day of work.  My job was to bring hay to the herd and to Dutch. They put my yoke on and they clipped a sled full of hay to it. I took it out to the pastures and then Tim took me back to the barn to load me up with another bale.  Then when we went to the pastures Tim would drop my halter and tell me to wait and unload the bale. It sometimes was hard to resist snatching the bale away from Tim and eating it myself but I managed to resist it anyways. It was ok but I hope being an ox will get more fun.  I think I did pretty well.
ox-in-training pulls sled


But it isn’t easy to work in this hot August weather.  Worst of all there are lots of flies.  I try to brush them off but it is not easy, especially when you have a yoke on your back.
Life goes on at the farm. Betsy, the former head cow, has come home to have her calf.  The calving is pretty much finished:  three calves were born this past spring. But, the cow named Pumpkin is having my calf in February.  That’s right, I’m going to be a dad.  Samantha has been living in the pastures with the other cows. Froggy the horse has left for a horse camp for the summer.  In general, I am glad to say that life is still good.Tim and Sherlock

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Autobiography of an Ox-in-Training Chapt 2

young ox in single yoke11-year-old Timothy Lacy puts himself in the hooves of a young ox-in-training named Sherlock and writes chapter 2 about his life on Local Farm, Cornwall, CT. See Chapter 1.

Spring! At last I can roam free in the fields with the adult cows! I can talk to Froggy the horse, I can eat all the fresh grass I want. Oh it’s like heaven out here! There is a whole kingdom of grass. I can walk out anywhere I want in the fields and I sleep outside too. I can even see what’s outside of the farm, like the small creek across the street where at night I can see extraordinary things – eagles, herons, bobcats, coyotes, and cardinals. So this is the great outdoors! So I guess my life out here is better than it was in the barn.

Roxie and SherlockThe swallows have returned and Tivoli the cat gave birth to another litter of kittens! There are also a few new cows at Local Farm. One new cow here is named Roxie. I have fallen in love with her! I like to follow her around and stay by her side. She is the beautiful color of butter.

And there are newborn cows. A new calf named Sindarin was brought here. She kind of reminds me of the way Samantha and I were when we were a month old. She drinks from a jumbo bottle just like Tim used to give me and Samantha and sleeps a lot.


training a bull to use a single yokeTim still takes me out for walks. By the way remember that weird thing they put on my back called the yoke, well, that was not the end of having that odd weight on my back. Two weeks ago this man that I had never seen before named Garrick came over and worked with Tim on trying a bunch of yokes on me. He was really nice and seemed to know a lot about oxen. The yokes were different sizes and finally one was comfortable. Don’t ask me what these are for. I still have no idea, but I have a feeling that some sort of cart is involved. And now I think I really should just go along with it because it does not look like this is going to end anytime soon.

The other big deal that’s going on in my life is I think that my mom, Silmeral, is going to have another calf. I really wonder what Debra and Margaret are going to name it. I heard Tim talking about ideas for the calf’s name. There is a special way to decide a cow’s name. At Local Farm the first name of all the cows born here is Local and the middle name is the father’s name and the last name starts with the same letter as the mother’s. My full name is Bluestone (where I was born) Fat Louis (my dad) Sherlock. Everyone calls cows by their “last name”. Here are some ideas for the name of Simeral’s calf: St. Louis, Stan, Suzuki, Sooner, San Jose, Sophie, and Samuel.

I also heard that many of the other cows here are pregnant. I am more than excited for this. So this is my new life and I hope I stay here forever. This is only the beginning!
8 Teamster Tim(See Chapter 3)

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The Yoke is on Me

1 Garrick's Ownmade YokeGarrick Dinneen stopped by Local Farm to help us in training our young bull, Sherlock. Here he is showing us different yokes. Debra made the small single yoke propped behind and to the right of Garrick’s feet, 20 years ago while attending Tillers International. It’s just the right size for Sherlock. Garrick’s holding a double yoke that he made while in 4-H.
single ox britchenThis is the britchen he had made for his single ox, Buck. Although it is way too big for Sherlock…
britchen on a single oxhe put it on so we could see how it works.
back strap of ox britchenA britchen helps hold the yoke and shafts in place on a single ox and acts as a brake so the cart doesn’t roll into the ox.
walking a yoked oxGarrick helped encourage Sherlock as Tim took him for a test drive in the “new” yoke. The clanging hooks on each end of the yoke made Sherlock pretty nervous, but bit by bit he’s getting used to it.
training a yoked ox to pullToday, I took him for a walk in the yoke and used baling twine to tie a 2X4 to his yoke so we could get used to the sound of something dragging behind. Scarey! but I showed confidence and soon Sherlock pulled it like a pro.

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Organic Bee Keeping – The Latest Buzz

Bee Book by Ross ConradOrganic Beekeeper, Ross Conrad gave a three hour workshop/talk on ways to be sure one’s hives thrive. The time flew by as he emphasized the need to be sure…

1.) the bees have plenty of honey all year around but especially going into and throughout the winter AND how to rearrange frames to insure it.

2.) the bees are healthy AND how to use natural ways to  support and encourage their well-being.

3.) the bees stay dry with a firmly secured top cover and plenty of ventilation AND ways that have worked best for him.

I’m thoroughly BUZZED to try again with another hive next summer AND looking forward to the Motherhouse.us BeeKeepers Bee on March 22, 2014

installing a package of honey beesI highly recommend Bernie Re’s Global Home blog account of his first years keeping bees (under the wing of Eric Zinke). From describing how they installed a package of bees to catching a swarm to their experiences with a bear, Bernie’s photos and explanations bring a refreshing beginner’s view of keeping honey bees.

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