Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family... from all of us here at the farm.
Here's to good health, good food, family, and friends.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Beef for sale

We now have 1/2 of a beef available for purchase... sold as either a 1/4 or 1/2. Butcher date has been set.  This steer is 1/4 Angus and 3/4 Highland.

**UPDATE: WE ARE CURRENTLY SOLD OUT FOR 2016.  If you are interested in beef, please contact us and we can put your name on the list for next Fall.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hay day!

Last week our hay was finally cut after all of the wet weather we had this spring, but once it was down the forecast was starting to look wet again later in the week.  The hay guy raked it a few times and got it baled.  Luckily it stayed nice until it was all in the barn, and the next morning we woke up to rain.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Halter training... day 1

Halter training has started for the oldest heifer born this Spring.  Not sure she liked it much, but her mama and papa are both very calm and like to be scratched so it will just take time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Temporary fencing vs. bull

What happens when our bull tries to eat the grass on the other side of a temporary hot wire fence?  He somehow manages to get the fiberglass pole with a small wire clip stuck in his hair... runs through the pasture like a crazy bull... cowards by his girls until hubby takes it off!
We were out moving irrigation and watched the whole thing... it was pretty funny.  More importantly, maybe he learned his lesson and won't be sticking his head through the fence anymore!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Milking Highland Cattle

A few days ago I was worried that our new calf was only nursing on one side of her mama's udder.  So we put Mama cow in the squeeze shoot and milked her out on the other side to make sure her teats were small enough for her calf to suckle.  She didn't mind at all and I got a half gallon of fresh milk.

I made some fresh yogurt, thanks to a recipe from The Prairie Homestead.  Super simple to do, I made it in the evening, used my oven's proofing setting overnight, and woke up to homemade yogurt.  Yum!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Scheduling beef

If you haven't yet, it's time (or possibly past time) to schedule Fall butchering with your local butcher.  I called our butcher this week, and mobile farm visits are scheduled out all the way until the end of December so we will have to haul this Fall's steer into the butcher.  The soonest they had any openings was the end of October.  Glad I didn't wait any longer! 

Maybe this isn't a problem with farms that have a large number of animals going to beef every year and are on a normal schedule with their butcher, but I will definitely be marking the calendar to call earlier next Spring.  We like to butcher in the Fall before we have to start haying the cattle.  We've had years that we've made it until Thanksgiving on pasture so late October should work out good.

If you are interested in locally raised Highland beef, check out our 'For Sale' page for more information.

Heifer number three...

We welcomed the last calf of the season earlier this week, another heifer.  She was up on her feet and quite active when I went out to do morning chores.  By evening it was hard to catch her to give her BoSe  and vitamin A shots.  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Irrigation season

Irrigation season has now officially started in Western Oregon.  We replanted half of our pasture several weeks ago, and it seems to be growing well with all of the unseasonably warm weather we have been having.  We are fortunate to have water rights to pump out of the local canal system, so we don't have to rely on our well for watering the pasture.  Hopefully by late summer this pasture will be established enough for some light grazing.  In the mean time, all the cows are getting their fill on fresh grass in the other pasture.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Pasture rotation

When we got our first cattle, we really didn't do any rotational grazing.  It was just a few cows, and we had installed a nice 10 wire New Zealand style perimeter fence with an electric wire inside.  As our herd grew and we experienced growing pains we realized how important it was to rotate and utilize smaller pastures.  The cows always have their favorite areas they would overgraze and others they wouldn't touch.  

We have two main pastures separated by a fenced run (and our house/driveway).  We utilize this separation when the boys need to be kept away from the girls.  Within each pasture we have created many small paddocks, just enough for a few days grazing for the whole herd.  The paddocks are created using hot wire and fiberglass posts.  Yes... there's the occasional fence jumper, but for the most part it works good (as long as the charger is working and wires aren't grounding out).  

This cow made it through the hot wire used to separate paddocks, and was patiently waiting to be let 'back-out' when I got home from work one day this winter.  I guess the grass isn't always greener on the other side in January... when the rest of the cows have nice hay to eat in the barn!

We had contemplated installing t-post fencing before we invested too much in the fiberglass posts, but I like our 'temporary' fencing system when it's time for pasture maintenance.  I can drop the ends of the hot wires from the fiberglass posts and drive over the wire to fertilize everything at the same time.  Last year part of our pasture grew faster then the cows could graze, so we easily removed all of the inside paddock fencing so that we could hay the pasture.

Friday, April 29, 2016

AHCA beef info

While perusing the American Highland Cattle Association website I came across this poster on their gifts & materials for sale page that I thought was pretty neat. I've never seen the beef poster featuring a Highland before.  There is a lot of great information on their website that's worth checking out including research done on Highland beef and recipes.


Cleaning the barn...

What do your cows do when you clean their barn?

Our cows gather around with interest,  

Photo bomb pictures,

Climb the compost pile,

Hope for treats or scratchings,

And look adorable!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Birthday surprise!

We've talked about getting a small tractor ever since we bought our property, but the timing was never quite right (a very expensive septic system, kid, barn, more cows, irrigation system...).  We are fortunate to live close to family who let have let us borrow tractors, fertilizer spreaders, etc.  Though we've also put a lot of sweat equity into our little farm.  Saturday my husband and mother-in-law surprised me by putting a down payment on a new tractor for my birthday present.  They went and picked it up tonight!  

I'm so excited to try it out!!!. We just cleaned the cow barn and tilled the garden, but I'm sure I can find something to use it for, it is time for new barkdust around the place.  I'm sure a post digger will be the next attachment... no more digging fence posts in by hand! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Another heifer!

This heifer was born yesterday morning to our super friendly first-calf heifer, Bridgette.  We are still trying to decide on a name for her.  I'm hoping that she will have beautiful brindling as she gets older... time will tell. 

When do you call them cows versus heifers?  We use the term first-calf heifers when they have their first calf.  Then they are a cow when they have their second calf.   

Saturday, April 2, 2016

More baby pictures....


Emma, 2 days old 

It's a girl!

The first calf of the season was born late Thursday night.  We were suspicious of Mama cow being in labor that evening and when we went to check on her about 10pm there was a new calf being licked clean.  Everyone was doing good, so we kept our distance.  Yesterday she was up and running around between naps, so last night she got her vitamin A&D and Bo-se shots once they had settled down.  Mama Agnes is one of the calmest cows we have, but she's being a very good protective mother, so we haven't got much for pictures yet.  She wasn't too thrilled that we were giving the baby shots and when hubby picked her up to get a weight estimate.  I think we've decided on a name for her, Emma.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Squeeze chutes for horned cattle

One challenge with raising Highlands, with their beautiful horns, is to get them in a traditional cattle chute.  We've heard that they can learn to turn their heads to go through them, but we've only tried it once with a hoof trimmer (and it was a big NO GO for her).  Problem number two is I just can't justify spending the money on a traditional squeeze chute with our small fold.

When we first started out, we used 'redneck' ways to squeeze them when we had to, with some rope and a couple of panels (or a good ol' lasso tied to something sturdy once or twice).  I kept eyeing the swinging style squeeze made for large horned cattle, but still couldn't bring myself to spend the money, even though they were much cheaper.  Luckily my husband is pretty handy with tools, which has saved us a lot over the years in building fences, barns, etc.  My list of projects just keeps growing... I know he wishes it wouldn't. 

Here's the swinging chute that he built for our cows.  It's bolted to a post at the edge of the barn and it works for our needs.  We use panels and a small gate to corral them through the end of the barn and right into it.  The cost for materials was probably $500-600, much more manageable price to swallow.  Of course we can't include a price for the time he spent on it or I might have been better off buying one... thanks Hubby!

Here's the squeeze shoot in action as one of last year's bull calves gets banded.  We use a board behind the smaller animals so they can't move around, but the squeeze is large enough for our bull too.

Waiting... it's so hard

Last Saturday was the estimated due date for our first calf of the season.  I try to keep a good record of when the bull is introduced back in with the ladies, and when he's paying lots of extra attention to each one.  Well, the weekend has come and gone, the cow has a nice large firm udder, but still we wait (impatiently).  Meanwhile all I can do is Google calf pictures, walk the pasture, pet the ladies and do daily udder inspections, and worry.
Here's a good website for what to expect while calving, LEA-White Farms.  They also have lots of other useful articles on other aspects of raising cattle.  Enjoy, and hopefully we will have new calf pictures to share soon.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Highland fabric

I'm a sucker for cute Highland things, and I'm a fabric-aholic.  Combine the two and I have no self control.  I found this quilting fabric today and had to buy a yard of it.  I'm not sure what I'll make with it yet, but that's never stopped me before while at the quilt store!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Farm store sale Tuesday

Yay, Wilco is having a big one day sale tomorrow.  I have a list for the hubby since I have to work.  I hope he can find the calf halters I want... at 25% off!

Picked up the vitamin shots from the vet tonight.  Now it's just a waiting game for our first calf of the season.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sunshine again... but for how long?

The sun is finally here this afternoon... hopefully to stay for awhile.  It's been a very soggy March for us in Western Oregon.  Standing water and a muddy mess!  We moved the girls back to the wintering pasture this last week to preserve the summer pasture ground momentarily, but we should start calving by the end of the month and I want to get them shuffled back soon to better pastures.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring chicks and other farm store temptations...

I made it out of the local farm store without buying any new chicks tonight.  It helps that my daughter wasn't with me (she really wants some fluffy feet chickens), and the fact that we already get more eggs from our chickens then we can possibly eat.  They are so cute though!

I stopped in to price the vitamins for the calves.  We give our newborns Bo-se and vitamin A & D shots soon after birth.  We usually get them from our vet, but I wanted to see if I could buy a whole bottle cheaper... they didn't carry any.  

I also need new calf halters, I found them, but I wasn't ready to drop a  twenty on one today so I'll do a little price checking online.  I like this brand for a calf halter.  We sent the last one we had home with the heifer we just sold.

My big splurge for the day was new chapstick.. I really like this brand, and it guarantees that no one in my family will steal it from me.  No it's not real chicken poop... just really good chapstick!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Naming cattle... live and learn

We bought our first Highlands back in 2010, two cow-calf pairs, and we had them rebred before bringing them home.  We were pretty new to owning cattle having, only had one other Longhorn cow-calf pair before getting our Highlands, so it's been a learning journey to say the least (and still is).

When we first started out we named our calves starting with the same letters for each year, but there was no rhyme or reason as to what letter we would use.  It soon became obvious why the naming convention followed by the American Highland Cattle Association  was a very good idea.  It makes it so much easier to keep track of how old everyone is, especially now as cattle have come and gone from our farm.  We were fortunate that the farm we acquired our first cows from started our membership to AHCA.  It's a good place to start when looking for reliable information.

This will be our 5th year of using the AHCA naming system.  This year's letter code is 'E' and we are starting to think of names for the new calves, soon to arrive.  Trying to avoid naming them after friends or family, especially if they are bound for beef... that would make for a very awkward conversation!  How about you?  How do you name your fold?  Do you name those destined for the dinner table?  Shhh, we do, but don't tell some of those eating those delicious burgers and steak.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Friendly cows and coat colors

This is Bridgette, our friendliest cow.  Most of our cattle are friendly, but she takes the cake (or cow patty).  I was trying to take a picture of the calf in the background when she photo bombed the picture.  If you walk into the pasture she thinks she needs your full attention.  She loves to be scratched.  She joined our fold when she was about 8 months old.  She will be 3 later this spring and is expecting her first calf.  

Bridgette is beautifully brindled and our bull also has some brindling, so I'm very excited to see what coloring the calf will have.  If it is brindled it won't show up until it's older.  The website Bairnsley Highlands has several articles on coat colors of highlands.  Here is their article on the basic coat colors, but they have lots of other interesting articles on their site worth checking out including in-depth coat color genetics and calf colors.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gestation calendar

A great gestation calculator and calendar from the American Highland Cattle Association's website.  I always double check those due dates as calving season draws near.

AHCA gestation calendar

A newborn Highland calf being licked clean by Mama

Dahlia's grooming

Dahlia, a 7 month old heifer, got a good brushing today. 
Making her nice and pretty for her new owners, who should come pick her up this next week. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Liquid sunshine and green pastures

Another drizzly day in Western Oregon... liquid sunshine as I like to say.  Our ladies got a treat tonight as we moved them from the wintering pasture to some fresh growth of a nice green pasture.  It might be a bit early to keep them on the green grass, but we'll give it a try.  The boys weren't too happy that they couldn't join the ladies in the pasture move today, maybe in a few more weeks.  We have to keep the ladies happy as calving season draws near for us.
Summer 2015