Making Friends with Deadlines


We were very fortunate to find a property to lease within a five minute walk of our home. This is one of Patty's adopted twins from Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm. This is the bull calf at breeding age. His twin sister, a freemartin, has gone into our freezer.

When starting any new project there is usually a natural deadline. This is a time where research and development must be stopped and some action taken one way or another. With farming, natural deadlines are the changing seasons. If action isn’t taken during a given window of opportunity, the window closes until the next season. Sometimes the best action is just to wait and do more research until the next seasonal opportunity. But sometimes forging ahead without complete knowledge is the better choice. Sometimes there isn’t a choice.

Since Patty gave birth, we have been doing one to three trips each day out to Elizabeth’s farm. Each trip requires about one hour of work and forty minutes of driving time. We help with milking, general cow chores, and care of the calves. In the last week, we have started cutting fresh grass from the railroad area to feed to Patty because she is not on pasture. She is being kept in the paddock to control the calves feeding. This schedule has been very tiring on top of our regular paid work, household tasks, spring gardening, and home schooling. For more information about our urban homesteading activities please read Terracing a Slope and Planning a Pasture.

We have been given a deadline from Elizabeth to move the cows. She wants to downsize her farm work because she doesn’t have enough help. Family and friends help but it just isn’t enough. This makes me sad, because like many farmers she is aging and doesn’t have some young, energetic person to help out and leverage her wealth of food producing experience. We are trying to get the leased property ready by June 1, 2010 so we can move Patty and the calves onto the new property. I feel a great amount of gratitude for how Elizabeth has helped my family. Without her help, I would have never considered buying a cow, nor would I have a supply of raw milk for my family. Elizabeth has educated Shaen and me about the care of cattle which has prepared us for this next big step.

The perimeter fencing on the leased land is almost completed. Shaen is using black poly hose to run water from the well on the upper property down to the leased area. With the drop on the property, Shaen has estimated that there will be about 80psi of pressure at the bottom of the hose. This will be enough pressure to power a spray emitter to irrigate the pasture. We call it a pasture but it is mostly bunch grass and sage right now. Shaen will have to do some Bobcat work to finish off a small roadway and turnaround area into a central location on the four acres. We will build a hay shed in this area before winter. We think we have enough electric fencing to cross fence part of the four acres so we can move Patty and her adopted calves to the area. The cows will have to learn about electric fences which can take some time. We will be purchasing some Electrified Poultry Netting when we run our boilers later in the summer. The gully screams for hogs, but we may not have the time or the energy to get that off the ground this year. Nevertheless, the thought of homemade smoked bacon is a wonderful incentive.

Here are a few wonderful essays from the Modern Homestead:
Achieving Food Independence on the Modern Homestead
Pasture, the Heart of the Homestead
Managing Poultry on Pasture with Electronet