Of Cows and Calves

I just got back from spending a delightful vacation in Virginia with some new friends! Having heard and read so much about Misty Morning Farm it was a dream come true to actually visit in person.

Located in Fulks Run, VA, the Schlabachs farm is nestled between beautiful rolling pastures and mountains. Adam and Faith’s goal is to raise and breed smaller Jerseys for the family-cow-hobby-farmer. And while contemporary farms are more focused on quantity, Misty Morning Farm is a particularly special farm because they are breeding for quality: cows who are vigorously healthy and can produce well into their teens.

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Jersey calves are just the cutest thing ever!

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All of their girls were exceptionally well cared for and friendly. They have a number of cows all ranging in size, from small, registered standards, to Minis as well as purebreds and Jersey crosses. But their passion is to breed and raise family-sized Jersey milk cows with grazing and A2 genetics.

Faith milking Little Ginger. The rhythmic splash of creamy, golden milk singing into a bucket is music to mine ears!

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While I was there one of their little heifers became dangerously ill. From birth to about a 3 months old, calves are susceptible to any number of ailments and disease because their immune system hasn’t fully, properly developed yet. And this little girl was only 3 weeks old.

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Hiawatha was one of the Schlabachs favorite calves and they didn’t want to lose her. They said it was a combination of pneumonia and Coccidiosis. In fact, she was so sick that they had to drench her.

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Drenching takes the most skill and care because one wrong move can be fatal – all it takes is for the cow or calf to breathe at the wrong moment and she could go down with fluid in her lungs. But for Adam and Faith, who have drenched calves before, this was not as scary or daunting of a task as it would appear to an amateur.

While Faith held Hiawatha’s head only slightly above a line parallel to the ground and gradually fed the tube along the left side of her gum and down her throat, her husband Adam held the drencher bottle so that only a trickle of fluid flowed down the back of her throat.

The lump on Hiawatha’s throat is the tube:

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But the following morning she was doing much better! Up and about whereas the night before she was flat on her side struggling to breathe. Hiawatha and Chapel:

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Besides operating from two farms (Adam and Faith currently raise 30-40 Jerseys), Misty Morning Farm also offers a Milking School for those interested in raising a Family Milk Cow, where you go to their lovely farm and learn from their years of experience how to care for and own a cow. And you also get to milk! To learn more about Misty Morning Farm and if they have any calves available visit their website: http://www.mistymorningfarmva.com/

 

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Me bottle-feeding Buckwheat:

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There’s alot of nostalgia around hobby farming and raising a family cow. And as ideal  as raising a cow may sound, the rose-tinted hues of summer-time farming is quite a different picture when dealing with sub-zero temps and plowing through snow drifts 3 feet deep to milk a cow in an unheated barn, so there are some important questions one has to ask.

Should you keep a cow?

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But maybe that’s not the right question either. Perhaps it should be: do you LIKE cows? Is there just something about the way they look or act that makes you feel like you want to have one around? Or do you just not care for the way they look, act, – or smell 🙂 – that says :”No way!”?

These are instincts, deeply rooted in each of us and unique to each individual, and they really shouldn’t be ignored. To be successful with cows you have to like them – and not mind the smells because the fragrance of the barn will become part of your every day life!

So back to the first question: should you own a cow?

Yes!

A cow will provide you with a sustainable source of wholesome, grass-fed meat, milk, cheese, butter and yogurt as well as providing free fertilzer to enrich the field and garden.

You won’t get rich becoming a hobby farmer – if you don’t own haying equipment you’ll have to buy hay and of course there’s the (hopefully) occasional vet bill. But wealth is not just found in monetary gain.

Wealth is my barn full of sweet smelling hay piled high to the rafters and my cow relaxing in the field, chewing her cud and making more milk.

 

 

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