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Posted 3/31/2012 8:28am by Renae Schlatter.

Thursday morning was quite exciting around here. The dairy herd was let out to green pastures for the first time this year. Kyle let me know before he left them out so I could go out with my camera and capture the moment. It is always quite fun to watch them run down the lane and as soon as they turn the corner into the pasture they kick up their hind legs and run and jump! We plan to leave them out now unless we get some really heavy rains. Then we will have to watch so they don't track up the pastures too much.

So, the cows went from here...

tramp shed3

...to here!

Here they are coming down the lane. Part way down they discovered the grass along the side and had to stop and try it out.

I was also able to catch some short video shots of them, so I'm going to try and load them here as well.

Things are definitely moving toward Spring here. We have chicks coming in about two weeks and just got 18 small feeder pigs. It seems that change is the norm here!

-Renae

Posted 2/21/2012 2:47pm by Renae Schlatter.

Here we are closing in on the end of February and we haven't had much of a winter, by definition. I think we had enough snow for the snowplows to be out a total of three times this whole season. It has been a different winter than most. One positive is all the sunny days that we have had. This time of year in Northwest Ohio can often be so raw and dark, but we have had a good amount of sunshine.

Every year and every season has its challenges. This winter has been challenging mostly because we have had so very little frozen weather and the ground has been muddy! Our soil around here is heavy clay which gets very sticky when wet and trying to drive through it with any kind of machinery leaves big ruts behind. We also have to be careful where we let the cattle this time of year as they can track up the ground and basically tear up any grass root systems that were established. Our milk cows are directly behind the barn and eat on a concrete lot and have access to a loafing shed where they get fresh straw bedding every day.

I haven't gotten any good pictures this winter because things don't look very nice when it is so muddy. So, I'm using a couple of shots from last year when we did have some snow and frozen ground. In the winter the dairy and beef cattle get fed dry hay. We try to make a good share of the hay from our own pastures in the summer, but we simply don't have enough acres to supply all our needs. So, we do have to buy in some hay. We are very particular about they quality of hay we buy and the suppliers are questioned about their growing practices. The hay usually comes in on a semi and then either Kyle or Ralph will unload it with our Bobcat loader.

load of hay

unloading hay

Another job that needs done when the ground is frozen is hauling manure. The lot that the cows eat on and the loafing shed get hauled out whenever the ground is frozen enough to do so. This winter has been a little trickier and Ralph was hauling manure one night until about midnight because we had a cold snap and they were calling for it to warm up the next day. Some of these mornings have had enough frost in the ground that Kyle can get a few loads hauled out before the sun warms the ground up. We won't haul the loafing shed out any more this winter but will wait until late spring when things have dried up a bit. It is an excellent fertilizer for the pastures and they try to spread it on pastures that are struggling or that we are trying to get established. This is the only fertilizer that we use, no chemicals. The nice thing about grazing is that when the animals are out they aren't concentrated in one area and do their own manure hauling! But, since we aren't able to graze year round we have to do some of that work during the winter months.

Here is the tractor and the manure spreader.

tractor and manure spreader

And here is Kyle loading up the manure spreader from the loafing shed.

loading spreader

Like I said, these pictures are all from last year, but it gives the idea of what gets done. It's hard to believe that growing season is almost on us again. In the past we have usually let the cows back out to pasture sometime around the end of March, and that is sneaking up on us quickly!

We have been enjoying the different songs of the birds that are around and look forward to seeing what this coming growing season will bring us.

-Renae

Posted 11/3/2011 2:33pm by Renae Schlatter.

What an amazing fall we have had. From the colors of the leaves to the temperatures it has been on for the memory books. We have been blessed with nice rains this fall and the pastures have benefited greatly. Last year by the end of September we were feeding hay to the cattle already. This year we hope to make it into December before feeding hay in full force. The lush grass this fall has caused the milk to turn a nice golden color again and we have thankfully had a good amount of milk to make cheese with. Since we don't sell any of our cheeses before 60 days we have to have a good inventory to keep things in circulation.

One afternoon this week I was put on chore duty as our part time employee couldn't come. It takes me about twice as long to do chores because I like to take my camera with me and document as I go. I feel like I can do two jobs at once that way; feed the animals and take pictures. First off I went out to the pasture to feed the turkeys. I didn't get the best pictures of them, but you'll get the idea.

turkeys 2011

We usually have all white ones, but this year we have a small group of the brown ones. We started them up closer to the barn and realized after it was too late that one of our barn cats had feasted quite well on little turkey poults. So, we had to try and order more and all the hatchery had left were the brown ones. The only difference I see between them and the white ones are just that, different colored feathers.

Next, I came up to feed the laying hens in the greenhouse. We have moved all of the hens up for the winter now. When we start loosing daylight the egg production starts to drop. In the greenhouse we have the lights on a timer that allows the chickens about 14 hours of light a day. Another benefit of having the chickens up is that we can feed them whey more readily. With having plenty of milk for cheesemaking we have been having a good amount of whey for our pigs and chickens. This is a great protein source for them and they really seem to enjoy it.

chicken's whey tub

This is the whey tub for the chickens. The top is open and we can add more whey easily. When we want a bucket of it to feed the chickens we just open the red valve and hold the bucket up there. It works out pretty well.

chicken greenhouse

This shot is looking in the greenhouse. The far end is the West end and that always stays closed up. When it gets cold we will roll the right side panel down as it is on the left. I'm standing at the East end and that always stays open. There is good air movement in there at all times which is so important with chickens, or any animals really. It seems as long as they can stay out of the brutal cold and wind they winter over really quite well. The nest boxes are on the right side about half way down the picture. These are roll out nest boxes which are really nice. The chickens hop up there and lay their eggs and the nests are at a slight decline to the front so the eggs can gently roll down. This prevents, for the most part, the chickens breaking their eggs either by sitting on them not so gently or eating them. This is also really nice when it comes time for gathering eggs. We don't have to dig through nests to find the eggs and they are kept pretty clean since the chickens can't sit on them.

Last to feed were the pigs. These guys are quite the crowd!

pig feed

This is what they get to eat. In the blue tub holds the whey and the buckets have ear corn. We are able to get this corn from a farmer just into Indiana who farms pretty much organically, but is not paper certified. I went out and hollered to them and they came romping up ready for something to eat.

feeding whey

This is the high tech way we get whey out of this tub! It can be pretty messy if you can't handle the bucket lifting it out, but I try and not fill it all the way full.

pigs eating

This is looking down at the pigs while they are eating. They can get pretty excited when they are hungry. To the point of almost knocking me down if I don't empty my bucket and get out of the way fast enough.

pig at my boot

After they had their fill of whey they started coming up and investigating me. This one was trying to eat my boot. You'll notice that they are a dirty looking and it looks muddy in the background. Pretty much because it was, right here. It seems no matter where you feed pigs they always make a mud hole around the troughs. They are able to go out and root around in the grassy area, and you will often find them out there during the day. Plus we had gotten some rain last week, so that makes things a little sloppier as well.

My last task for the evening was to let the cows out. They were headed across the road for the night so someone needed to watch them go out. If they're not going across the road we usually just let them find their way to the pasture in their own time.

cows in lane

Here they are coming towards the road.

crossing the road

And here they are crossing the road. We try and always have someone here watching them cross the road in case they decide to turn up towards the neighbors. For the good majority of the time they do a really good job at just going straight across. This is one large benefit of living on some very rural roads!

As I followed them out to shut the pasture gate I took a picture of the five lambs we have left.

lambs

They don't like to get too close to any sort of action. Here they were playing on some dirt mounds. These are Katahdin, or hair sheep. They don't grow wool as most people think of sheep. This is really nice so that you don't have to spend the energy shearing them in the spring. We have been very well pleased with the meat as well.

fall cows

And I finally made it out to shut the cows' gate and they were all contentedly eating away. It was still enough that I was able to hear them pulling the grass up as they were eating. Pretty neat!

We are gearing ourselves up for Thanksgiving and all of the preparations of getting the turkeys processed and to our customers. It will be a crazy busy time, but after that we can wind down just a little, or rather, readjust our daily schedules.

Stay tuned for another post before too long. I've got one in the works that will detail our milking process.

-Renae

Posted 10/8/2011 11:16am by Renae Schlatter.

Well it seems a shame to be spending my day indoors on such a beautiful fall day, but I need to post these pictures before they get too outdated! This September we held our farm field day again for our Farm Club Members. It turned out to be a beautiful day even though the weather reports threatened rain. We had a nice group here and really enjoyed the day. Thanks, Garth, for taking time to come and take pictures for us. Usually I am stuck in the kitchen or busy with something else and never go with the group to get pictures. And it is great to see the day through the perspective of someone else!

field day 2011

Checking out the dairy cows.

field day 2011

Listening to Ralph talk about the pigs

field day 2011

Taking a wagon load of people out to the pastures. Thanks, Elliott, for driving!

field day 2011

The wagon from the back.

field day 2011

Ralph describing how the broiler operation works and how we move the floorless pens to fresh pasture every day.

f

Here is our new dog, Samson. Our old guard dog, Samson, died this summer. It was on one of the really hot days and we think it was a combination of the extreme heat and something not right interally with him. Anyhow, we were without a dog and the predators soon found out that nothing was guarding the chickens. We were able to locate another dog from a farmer friend from Holmes Co, Ohio. He was about 4 months old when we got him. The next questions was what his name should be. We couldn't agree on any names so we just called him Samson. Real original, I know. Anyhow, as pups the Great Pyrenees are really playful and like to jump and play. That didn't go over so great with a lot of the children here. So, here our emplyoee, Nolan, is keeping him away from the crowd. Samson is still in the training stage; learning the difference between guarding the chickens and playing with them. He likes to run among the chickens and romp with them and when he catches one he thinks it's his duty to eat it. We are trying every trick in the book to train him not to eat chickens! I think he slowly may be learning. The other day I was out feeding chickens and was watching him out of one eye and saw he had a chicken in his grips. I called to him and he looked up. So, I walked towards him and he started sulking the other way. I grabbed hold of him and he looked at me with these sad eyes, like, "I was JUST playing!" He knows exactly what he is doing and that he shouldn't be doing it! So frustrating!

field day 2011

Here Sheila is getting the food all set out for our meal.

field day 2011

Going through the food line.Thanks to Liz for all the cooking you did that day! The food was great!

field day 2011

Relaxing on the store porch. This is seriously one of the best places to sit, if you have some time.

field day 2011

Some of the group eating on the straw bales.

All in all it was a great day. We appreciate those who took time out of their busy schedules to come to the farm for the day.

Fall has arrived and I am so thankful for the changes the seasons bring. I love to watch the sky this time of year. The sunrises and sunsets are just stunning! And the clouds in mid September are just so white and fluffy against the brilliant blue sky. We processed our last batch of broiler chickens this week. Now all we have left out in the pasture are the turkeys and laying hens. We are going to have to move our hens up to the greenhouse very soon though. We are loosing daylight and their egg production really drops if they don't have about 12-14 hours of light a day. In the greenhouse we have lights on a timer that allow them that much light. I have been noticing the great sunrises in the mornings when I go out to do chores. So, one morning this week I took my camera with me. It took me a bit longer to get my work done, but the pictures were worth it!

fall sunrise

The mornings have had this incredible fog and it makes everything look so mystical.

fall sunrise

fall sunrise

Just SO amazing!

chickens

Here are some of our turkey pens and the laying hens. And Samson!

c

The laying hens are very curious and like to come by you when you are feeding the other birds. They like to scratch the ground right after we move the pens to find some spilled feed.

fall sunrise

Just a shot looking east. You can see some our round hay bales on the right side. That is some of our winter feed.

That's all I have for now. Get out and enjoy this great fall weather while you can! The trees are turning and are just beautiful! A great place to get out and walk is along the old canals for those of you who live close by. The Grand Rapids/Waterville has some excellent state parks and trails along the river.

We are so blessed!

-Renae

 

Posted 7/12/2011 5:29pm by Renae Schlatter.

What extreme weather this year has brought. This spring we were getting so much rain that our pastures had absorbed all that they could and it was just wet. Our worst fear was that it would dry up and get hot and dry like it did last summer. Sure enough, as soon as the rains stopped it got really hot. The pastures really took a beating after being so saturated and then being subject to such high temperatures. The grasses basically had quit growing. And this drought was not only affecting us, but all the farmers in the area. With a wet spring they got a late start at planting, and then the crops came up and basically stopped growing because of the dryness. But yesterday we were so very thankful when some thunderstorms rolled through and we were blessed with 1.3 inches of rain. Could we use more? Sure, but we are thankful for what we did get. Hopefully it will be enough to give the pastures a boost and the grasses will start growing again.

Here are a few pictures I took yesterday during the storm:

A welcome July rain

Rain drops in the driveway

Yes, those are actually rain drops forming puddles in the driveway!

the rain guage has water in it!

Proof that we actually did get some rain; a welcome sight in our rain gauge!

And then last night as I was getting ready to call it a day, I looked outside and saw this amazing evening sky.

A beautiful July evening sky

The colors were so sharp and brilliant and the reflection off of the pond was spectacular! This was after sunset and it just took my breath away. Yes, we have much to be thankful for.

-Renae

 

Posted 6/17/2011 6:44pm by Renae Schlatter.

Here it is the middle of June and I'm just now doing a post on Spring activities! The days just go by so quickly. Early Spring brought some beautiful flowers; such bright and cheery colors.

spring flowers

lilacs

We had a very wet spring here this year. We did let the cows out to pasture towards the end of March. They were so excited to get out into the pastures and the fresh green grass. I have some video footage of them coming down the lane for the first time this year but my limited technology skills haven't figured out how to load it here. It will come, eventually.

A common sight this spring was rain in the barnyard.

rain in the valley

high water

The rain was good to get the grasses growing, and grow it did! But we were quite saturated for a while. It was a challenge because we had already put the cows out and didn't have any hay left to feed, so they had to stay out on the pastures. We didn't want them to trample the pastures too much because then it would damage the roots and we would have had to replant some pastures. So, we didn't let them stay in any pasture for too long. They moved across the farm pretty quickly. We have very flat land and heavy clay soil, so most of the fields are tiled and we have a lot of ditches that take the runoff water to the creeks and rivers. One time when the fields and pastures were pretty well saturated and we had a lot of rain that day the ditch on the West side of the farm showed this view.

water difference in ditch

This was taken where the tile from one of our pastures comes into a ditch with runoff from a neighbor's field. At the top of the picture the water is clear and you can see to the bottom of the ditch, and the bottom part is muddy. The clear water is only possible because of the deep root systems of the grasses that go deep and hold the topsoil in place.

One day I drove up the road and saw that some of the cattle were put out to utilize the grass in the ditchbanks!

grazing the ditches

Another exciting aspect of spring is the arrival of the first chicks and then putting them out to pasture when they are between 2-3 weeks old. With the wet weather we had to wait a little longer than we like to put them out. It was better to keep them up where we knew they were dry than to have to take straw out to the pasture to keep them above the standing water.

This is the first batch loaded and ready to go out to their pens in the pasture.

loaded and ready

Chickens are pretty dusty and dirty animals so it is nice when they are outside and can keep the mess there!

unloading chicks

exploring their new pen

We did get in a batch of 300 new pullet hens, which are about 21 weeks old and just starting to lay. Our 'eggmobile' that we originally built had been flipped by the wind one to many times and was no longer available to use. We had a makeshift one built for last year, but it was not easy to move. So this spring Ralph built a new eggmobile. It rides low to the ground, so hopefully it will not tip as easy in the wind. We put the new hens out in the pasture when they came. The egg layers are really good at foraging and it is always neat to watch them go after bugs. Just know that chickens really aren't vegetarians, no matter what it says on any egg carton! They may only be fed grains but any kind of bugs that they can find they will eat.

new eggmobile

It has been an eventful spring and now we are in the middle of making first cutting hay. It is always a big task to the get first cutting done as it usually yields the most.

We are thankful for the support our customers give to our small family farm.

~Renae

 

Posted 1/6/2011 10:35am by Renae Schlatter.

A couple weeks ago I was working here in the store and looked out the window and saw this:

 

My first thoughts went to a book that I read so many times as a kid, Charlotte's Web. Wilbur the pig is discouraged because he is confined to his pen and the goose so kindly tells him of a loose board in his pen. Wibur escapes and enjoys the freedom at first until Mrs. Zuckerman saw him and hollered, "Homer, pig's out! Lurvy! Pig's out!" That's what I felt like doing, but Ralph was at a meeting, Kyle was at a hay auction, and Brian was in the middle of making cheese. So, I decided that the pigs wouldn't wander too far and they would have to stay out until Kyle got home. When he went to put them in the pen they just walked right in. Now, if that would have been me, it would have been a disaster and they would not have cooperated quite so well I'm sure!

There certainly never is a dull moment on a farm!

 

-Renae

Posted 10/20/2010 3:30pm by Renae Schlatter.

The summer has gone by so swiftly and fall is upon us. It is such a beautiful time of year. I get the feeling of wanting to prepare for hibernation, but of coarse that is not practical! We are preparing for the winter months ahead though. Our last batch of broiler chickens has been dressed and put in the freezer.

Last chickens, 2010

It's always fun for me to see the first chicks arrive in the Spring and to put the last chickens in the freezer in the fall. There is a season for everything! Our turkeys are well on the way to being ready for Thanksgiving.

turkeys

turkeys

They are such curious birds that it's hard to get a picture of them without them flocking in one big group to come and check out what's going on. If you notice the bottom turkey picture here you will see our dog, Sampson in the background. He is behind the fence for a reason! I wrote earlier about what a good guard dog he was, but he is a little too friendly with the turkeys. We're not sure if he just plays with them or if he tries to, but either way he has a problem of wounding the birds. So, he has to be separate from the turkeys. Another thing to notice in the pictures is the grass. As you can tell there is not much there and what is there is rather brown looking. Take a look at the picture in the photo gallery from last fall and you will see an amazing difference in the grass color. We haven't have any significant rain here since about the middle of July. This has really put a hamper on our grazing practices. According to the government our county did not have a drought this summer, but we would like to differ!

The hardest thing for us to adjust with the dry weather is the premature feeding hay to the cattle. We can usually go until the first part of December grazing, but we have been feeding hay now for about 3 weeks or so. This means several things. One is that the hay that we made this summer to last "the winter" will be about 3 months not enough. So, we will have to, actually already have started to, buy hay in. This is one expense that we didn't budget for at the beginning of the year, but we feel committed to keeping the beef and dairy 100% grassfed. Another is that dry hay does not have the same nutritional value as fresh grass does. So, in order to keep the dairy cows producing well we have started supplementing them with blackstrap molasses. This is to provide extra energy for them. We don't want to, but we are keeping our options open and may also have to supplement with either oats or spelt. At this point we feel that if we can get a high protein hay we will be able to avoid the grain. Third, it adds extra labor to take the feed to the animals. Grazing is ideal because the animals find their own feed and spread their own manure. As long as the ground is dry we will feed the cattle out in the pastures. Right now with the dairy cows we are rolling the bales out on the field. That way they are still taking care of their own waste and are still able to be out on the grass and in the sunshine. We have actually improved the soil by doing this because the hay that isn't eaten and the manure fertilize the ground. So, I guess there is something good that will come from this!

dairy cows eating hay

dairy cows eating hay

If you look in both pictures you will see lines of hay in the front. They cows are eating hay in the background. I guess we learn to adapt! In the dairy herd we calve semi-seasonally. Our biggest number of calves come in the spring, but we do have some cows that calve in the fall. I wrote this spring about the nurse cow herd that we established. That worked out well this spring and just last week we took the mammas away and weaned the calves. They are really healthy looking big calves. I wouldn't want to wrestle with one of them! This fall we didn't have enough grass to do the nurse cow herd. We also needed all the milk we could get and if we would have taken cows out to the be nursers that would have put a big dent in our milk supply. The calves do get the milk from the cows, but when they are not with the cows they don't get an all you can eat buffet. Right after birth they are fed the high nutrient colosturm from their mamma and them just the milk. After they get used to sucking on the nipple they are moved into a group feeding pen.

fall calves

The blue tub you see is where the milk is dumped in at feeding time. Next spring when the pastures are green again these calves will be weaned and put out to pasture.

It has been an abnormal fall, but what is normal? One thing I love about fall (or any time of the year) are the sunsets. I took this picture last evening over our pond.

fall sunset

We appreciate the support our family farm receives. We encourage you to stay active and informed about food rights issues.

-Renae

Posted 7/28/2010 10:35am by Renae Schlatter.

It's about time an update was posted! Our summer has been going pretty well. It has been really hot, which is sometimes hard on the animals. The cattle are 60 degree animals and do not especially like the 90 plus weather. We got about 2 inches of rain last weekend which we were very thankful for. Last week our turkey poults arrived. We start them out a little different than the chickens. It seems as if they are more suscpetible to illness early on. So, last year Ralph decided to start them outside right away. It seemed to work really well. We bring one of the portable chicken pens up to the area around the house so we have access to electricity. We plug a big heat lamp in and put it in the pen for the first 2 or 3 weeks. They have access to grass right from the get go. Turkeys will forage more than the meat chickens do. Just this morning I was out there and one of the turkeys had found a worm and a bunch of the other turkeys were chasing it around trying to steal the worm! The following is a picture of the poults. 

turkey poults

For those of you who have been getting our pullet eggs, they come from hens that have just started to lay. (About 21 weeks old) The eggs start out kind of small. The pullets also seem to be more prone to lay double yolk eggs! These new hens are out in the same pasture as our meat chickens.

pullet hens

Speaking of chickens, the other day I noticed an egg sitting in the seat of one of the strollers we have here for my nieces and nephews. I didn't think much of it because I figured one of my nephews found it and put it there. Well, this morning I was walking out of the store and happened to look in the stroller and this is what I found!

chicken in stroller

Then I walked by later and saw this.

eggs in stroller

I guess we need to train that hen where the nest boxes are! The hens aren't the only animals pushing their boundaries. We have one goat here that we purchased as a "petting zoo" animal. Goats are generally very friendly animals, so we thought it would serve the purpose well. Well one day it decided to jump out of its fence. I think I put that goat back at least 5 times until I could gather the materials to tie it up. I wouldn't have been too concerned, but I thought it would find the garden quite tasty. Here he is in front of the barn!

goat

A couple of weekends ago we took the goat, two lambs, and a calf to the Erie Street Farmer's Market in Toledo for a petting zoo for Kids day. The goat formed a great friendship with the lambs that day so the goat is no longer in the barnyard, but out in the pasture with the lambs. Those three make great friends and are always together. 

We have been working on getting our hay harvest complete for the summer. Since we don't feed any grain to our cattle it is important to make as much hay as possible during the summer. What hay we don't make we have to buy in. Ralph is working on some third cutting hay this morning. June is always a little stressful because that is when the first cutting hay is usually made. This year we were dodging rain showers in June. We make the hay into big round bales. With the round bales we don't have to have a shelter to put them under as the rain rolls off of them whereas it would just soak into and rot the square bales. 

hay bales

We have kept busy this summer and it's hard to believe that August is almost here! Thanks all for your continued support of our small family farm.

-Renae

 

Posted 6/2/2010 8:18am by Renae Schlatter.

A new adventure for our farm this spring has been the way we raise our calves. In years past we have tried several different ways to raise the calves to be healthy. When we first switched over to grass farming the big craze was to group feed the calves on a barrel. With this method we had about 10 calves in one group and had 10 nipples on around the barrel with tube going to the bottom. We would pour the milk in the barrel and the calves would gather round and get their fill. This worked well for about one year! After we were done with it for the year it was a mess to clean out properly with all the tubes, etc. One year we did leave some of the calves with their moms, but that was interesting as well. The dairy cows are rotated around the farm to utilize the grass and are brought up to the barn twice a day for milking. The majority of the fences we have around the farm are just two wire fences. We had a couple of problems with this method. One, the calves were small enough to crawl in and out of the fences without touching the wires. So, often someone driving by would stop and tell us some of our calves were on the road. Two, with the cows moving around so much the calves would sometimes be in one pasture and the cows had moved on to the next. So, we decided that wasn't the best way to manage our calves. By this time we did realize that the calves remained healthier when they were able to grow up outside as opposed to when we had tried to start them in a barn. So, we then went to individual bottle feeding. Each calf had its own hutch (three sided shelter) and gate area where it could come outside. Twice a day someone would feed them with a bottle. When they were old enough to figure out how to eat without someone standing right there they were moved into a group of about 5-8 calves and would be feed "calfeteria" style! We used a system similar to the barrel, but it one side was flat and hung on a gate and the other side had the nipples. There were no tubes involved in this system. The following is a photo of the feeder. 

Peach teats

This system seemed to work pretty well, but it was labor intensive to bottle feed the calves and then we still had to dump buckets of milk in these feeders twice a day and make sure all the calves were eating. The next step was to see if we could find a way to raise our claves without producing more work. One of our grazing friends, who also makes farmstead cheese, in Clay City, IN, has been utilizing a nurse cow herd. One day this late winter Kyle went and visited their farm and talked to them about how they did their nurse cows.

We started calving in early March this year when the cows were not yet out on pasture. At first the calves were left with their moms because they were still in the barnyard and we didn't have a place to go with a nurse cow herd just yet. When the pastures were ready, a pasture with a six wire fence was designated as the cow/calf pasture. Kyle chose the cows that he wanted to be the nurse cows and put two to three calves with her and let them bond. If the cow did not accept a calf for some reason he would put the calf with a different cow. So, one cow at a time our nurse cow herd was established. When he felt that the cow and calves were bonded he then moved them to the pasture. Eventually all the calves that we had were bonded to a cow and they were all together. We still had a handful of cows left to calve, so when they did calve he let the calf on the mom for a couple of days so that the calf could utilize the good colostrum from its mom. Then he would bond the calf with its nurse cow. We are now done calving for the spring and have our nurse cow herd completely established. It was a learning experience as all new things are. We have had people comment when they drive by what a unique sight it is too see the cows and calves together. The calves are looking so healthy and are really growing. Whereas last year at this time they were in the groups being fed primarily milk and some dry hay; this year they are able to get the milk still and are really grazing the fresh, green grass. At this point there is not everyday labor involved as there has been in the past. We are pleased with the experience and hope it will go even better next year.

The following is of a foggy morning and a couple of the calves are finding their breakfast.

nurse cows

nurse cows

And a shot of the group.

nurse cows

-Renae