We have just acquired a lovely beef steer to join our tiny little herd, taking our head of cattle count up to three! Although we also realised today that, realistically, we will have to sell our beautiful pedigree Jersey calf at some point. Ideally we would find some lovely smallholders who would like to have a very tame and friendly house-cow…. Here is a photo moments after the two youngsters met for the first time:
Our lovely sow, Barbara, had another litter of piglets a few weeks ago. She did fabulously as usual and produced 12 very beautiful piglets. Unfortunately, after that it went downhill as, each time we checked on her, there seemed to be another piglet squashed. This is her fourth litter and she has never squashed them before so we couldn’t work out why this was happening. Then Babs went off her food and we had confirmation something was up. From the symptoms it seemed like it could be Metritis (an infection of the uterus, possibly because some placenta had not come out with the afterbirth). We called the vet out (in the pouring rain and the dark of course) and he took her temperature, which was very high. He gave her shots of oxytocin, antibiotics and pain killers (I think). Then, all we could do was wait – the vet said our chances were better because we hadn’t delayed in calling him out. We were very lucky and about 24 hours later she started to improve. 6 of the piglets survived (although one is slightly injured, but looks like she will survive). It just goes to show, just when you think you are used to delivering piglets, you learn something new!
When our first calf was born here, we had a tough first few days as she didn’t suckle and we realised how important it was that she got the colostrum in her. We gave her 4 hours with her mother but then we milked her mother, Dimple, and tried to bottle feed her. This was not easy as even though we tried to imitate the angle and height of an udder, rubbed colostrum on her nose, put the teat in her mouth and cooed and cajoled, it took well over an hour to get even half a litre into her. This carried on for about four days but then finally, little Freckle began to get the gist of suckling! So we turned her out with her mother, which was nerve wracking as it was really hot and sunny and I was petrified she would dehydrate. When I saw no suckling by lunch time, I tried bottle feeding, to no avail. She kept her suckling hidden for the first couple of days until I finally caught her in the act. Freckle is now pretty big and strong and we’re having the dilemma of when to separate them, which is a much better problem!
On Saturday, Jules helped deliver a beautiful heifer calf. The birth was textbook and we were so happy after last year’s sadness with Dimple having a still born bull calf. Unfortunately Dimple did not let her calf suckle, so we have separated them and are bottle feeding the calf. This was never the intention and we were very surprised that Dimple did not even seem to call or look for the calf. The silver lining is that we love bottle feeding our latest new addition, even if it is yet another job! It took quite a lot of patience and encouragement to get her to take the bottle, but we got there in the end. Luckily milking has been much easier this time round and as soon as all the colostrum has finished, we will be making butter, cheese and yoghurt again! We are still trying to come up with a name for the little calf- so let us know if you have any suggestions.
We have been trying to breed Brecon Buff geese. Unfortunately it has turned out a little harder than we had hoped and we only hatched one lonely little gosling. He imprinted on us and was very sad anytime he wasn’t physically in contact with us. Luckily we managed to find another smallholder who had had the exact same experience and let us take her lonely gosling home. Now we have two little goslings that follow us everywhere. Here are the latest photos…