The story of Junior

Once upon a time… June, 2010 to be more precise.  There was a Holstein cow on a dairy farm somewhere in Manitoba Canada, that gave birth to a set of twins.  A boy and a girl.  Normally that would be good news… if you weren’t trying to run a dairy farm.  Their misfortune became our fortune and for a minor sum, we brought 2 cute, little 6-day old calves home.

I bottle fed them, nurtured and trained them.  One winter morning the heifer calf wouldn’t get up and despite all our efforts died later that day.  All we can say is, these things happen.  As much as we like to think we are in control of life and death, we really aren’t. We’re only stewards.

6 days old. Cute Wallace-and-Gromit face

1 1/2 yrs old. Scary don't-wave-anything-red face

Fast forward to today.  “Junior” is now a 1 1/2 year old steer.  His back is at the height of my shoulder, his legs are long and his head is big!  Pardon me for saying so, but how does he see anything through those googly eyes? We’re not in the habit of naming animals that we intend to raise for food, but for the sake of reference, we call him Junior.  More as a term of endearment, really.  But somehow that name doesn’t suit him anymore or maybe it keeps him in his place?  He knows he has horns and likes to use them.  I can still lead him by the halter but not very far.  I’d rather not let him know he could have his own way if he wanted it.

This is not The End, not for him just yet, anyway.

Halter set as small as it would go

New, bigger halter

She’s here!

I’m so excited!  I feel like a new mother. 😀

I told you about the calf we were getting back in the spring.  She was sure cute then, and she’s still very cute! (in my opinion)  A little bigger, but still cute! She’s a purebred Dexter which is a dual purpose, miniature breed.  The bottom half of the door is 4 ft. so that gives you an idea of her size. She’s 5 months old and weaned from her mamma.  We worked hard getting this stall ready for her… all the comforts so I hope she’ll be happy, though we weren’t quite sure how big she would be, but it worked out fine.  We opened up a ‘window’ between her stall and Happy’s so they could see each other and get to know one another.   We haven’t introduced them yet, so waiting to see how that goes.  She’s been very quiet, contrary to Happy’s behaviour when we brought her home.  She moo’d for 4 days straight!  The Dexter breed is known for their gentleness so here’s hoping we get her tamed before long.

Hubby named her Buttercup.  😆

Homemade bag balm

Within the first week of having our cow, Happy, I realized the importance of a good udder butter.  She was dry and bugs were biting.  Commercial bag balms are petroleum based and come in big litre-sized, or bigger containers.  That’s a few year’s worth if you have only one cow.  So I decided to try making my own.  It turned out so easy to do and cheap!  The result is a nice thick cream that nourishes and lasts the day out in the sun and wind.  The use of essential oils is optional but why not take advantage of the properties?  Cedarwood, Sandalwood and Lavendar are both a natural antiseptic and an insect repellent.  I am using lavendar right now and it really does protect her from fly bites.  And smells good. 🙂  This cream is good for us too so spread it around!

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. beeswax
9 tsp.  hot water
20-30 drops of essential oil

Combine the olive oil and beeswax and warm until the wax melts.  Heat some water so it is the same temperature as the oil/beeswax mixture. Using a hand blender, mix and slowly add the water, 1 tsp at a time until it emulsifies and becomes thick.  Add essential oil and stir well.  Store in a clean glass container, in the fridge.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop hosted by GNOWFGLINS, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Sustainable Eats, Culinary Bliss, and Just Making Noise.

Meet Happy!


She is our new milk cow! The name is kinda corny, I know. She’s a pure bred Jersey, 6 yrs old, and just the sweetest thing! Transportation went well. She drew attention from a few passersby as we drove with her head out the back of the trailer. 😆 Unloading was as easy as the loading! She’s a big puppy dog. Not at all what hubby expected but all that I had hoped and prayed for!

So far we’re getting 3 gallons of milk a day. It’s only been a day so I’m still figuring out how much we consume fresh, and what else I can do with it. It’s a wonderful problem to have!!

She needs some time to settle in. All these things are so strange to her, including me and my lack of milking skills. But I’m getting there. We had some wonderful friends come and show us how to milk last night and again this morning. Hubby had a try and our youngest son is interested in learning as well. 🙂 Such a blessing to me since this whole thing was my idea. I’ve been talking about getting a milk cow for YEARS so they should have been used to it. 😉

She’s in the barn for now but once she’s relaxed and content that this is ‘home’ then she’ll get go out on pasture and meet the calf.

Hay shed/cow shelter

Here’s some pictures of the hay shed/cow shelter we built.  We made it with posts in the ground, there is no floor.  On the hay side we put down pallets to keep the bales off the ground.  The hay hasn’t come yet and the cows haven’t moved in.  First we have to finish stringing barbed wire around the pasture this shed is in, then we can move them in.  The blue drum is for their grain ration.

The big doors on the hay side allow for easy access of unloading bales into the shed.  The smaller doors on the cow side are split so I can have just the top open for air and light if I want.  The idea is to only close them up in severe weather and at night to protect them from preditors until they get big enough that it is less of a concern.

Hubby and son did most of the work.  I think they did an awesome job!  I helped with the shingling, safely on a ladder.  I wasn’t climbing on the roof! 😯  I did the painting too. 🙂  As you can see, I like traditional colours and style. 😉

Calves and fences

It seems like the more I have to blog about, the less time I have to blog about it. Last time I posted without a picture because my camera was acting up, well I had to replace my camera 😦 Hopefully this one will be as good as that one.

I have pictures of the fencing and the calves to share with you. I went out to the corral to find the calves but couldn’t find them! I called but nothing, so I walked around. Finally I found them. Can you see them? I barely could.

Here’s a closer look ~

They sure are good at hiding.  Usually I call them and at the least I can hear their bells.  This morning I called, “Where are you?” and they both mooed. 🙂  BTW, calves don’t say ‘moo’.  They say ‘maaa’, in my opinion.  I wonder why that is…. hmmm…

Here’s a pic of the fence finished.  In the foreground is the fence-gate we made so we can move machinery, if needed.

And the halter, and bell on the calves I told you about… here’s the pic of that.

Here’s Junior, showing of this summer’s latest fashion.  Blue is IN with the bell accessories.  You can’t go out without. 😀  Red is IN too, for girls. 😉