Friday, May 28, 2010

Gideon's Good bye

He was found in a leg hold trap many years ago, out in the woods in the winter, by two kind hearted souls who rushed him to the local animal hospital and paid to have his mangled rear leg amputated.
After an extended recovery period my landlady adopted him and he came home to this huge 1848 farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.   He became a house cat, was named Gideon after the Bible and became the absolute constant companion of my landlady.    Not only could he hop around on three legs, he could climb on the furniture, beds, up the stairs and could catch the shrews and mice that frequently race around this huge house.   Gideon was also a very vocal cat.  Especailly at 5 am and 5 pm - his chosen feeding times.  If my landlady was away for the weeekend, he would hop up the stairs and yowl and howl until I got out of bed and came down the 22 stairs and out to the freezing kitchen to make him breckfast.   It was usually 4:55 am.    He would repeat the screaming 12 hours later.  I could hear him from the driveway when I would pull my truck in, hoping to feed him before he started writting letters to all the State Senators about how he was never fed on time!    Daylight savings time ALWAYS created total chaos with "his" routine.     Easy to say, this cat ran this house.
Gideon was a real charactor.  If you were eating dinner on the couch and watching TV he would tap your arm with his paw, balancing on 2 legs, to remind you that you had to share some morsels of chicken or fish with him.  His gentle tap on my arm or leg always made me smile.  And of course I always obliged him my best tidbits of food.     Giddy was always talking and would answer any conversation with his opinions. I could hear my landlady constantly chatting with someone downstairs morning and night. I often wondered who was visiting her at these strange hours until I realized that it was Giddy she was conversing to and it was he who was answering back to her.          Also amazing, he could recognize his moms vehicle coming down the rural road a mile away and would hop to the door and start his special yowling for her benefit.    He really loved my dog and gave her a complete face and ear bath when she returned from having a tumor removed from her mouth and would often give her "special greetings" when she returned from a long trip with me.  She reciprocated and frequently washed his ears when no one was watching.    Eight months ago Gideon's remaining hip joint failed and he could barely move.  He struggled to reach his litter box in time, so we rearranged the entire downstairs of the house by moving furniture and covering the floors in plastic and newspaper.   It was a labor of love cleaning up after this boy. He picked one spot and was consistent and clean.   Antibiotics and pain meds helped his slow recovery and 6 weeks ago he again was able to come up a few stairs to howl at me, before the sun came up, to come feed him.     Without warning or reason he started to lose weight about 2 weeks ago and stopped being his usually demanding self.   When I returned from a job this past Tuesday my landlord told me that Giddy was dying.  He could no longer follow his beloved mistress from room to room and keep up an ongoing conversation with her.    He was an estimated 15 years old and had run out of energy and life force.       Yesterday my grieving landlord made the final act of love for this courageous cat and made the final drive to the local vet.

Today the house is quiet.             I came down the stairs this morning and the entire first floor is rearranged back the way it was 8 months ago. No plastic or newspaper on the floor, the couches are put back into place, curtains rehung on the windows, table returned.   However, there are still several special "tuffits" where Gideon loved to take naps. They are still in place.  A gentle reminder of the great cat who graced our lives and lives on in my heart.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Babes in the Woods

95 degrees and the herd is hanging out in the woods where there is a cool breeze blowing through and keeping the bugs away as well.   Smart cows.    They will be out grazing again when the heat of the day starts to cool off around 4 pm.         Chance of thunderstorms tonight.    

Monday, May 17, 2010

Planting the Cow Seeds

There are many new farmers with a smile on their face today.

Some got deliveries of their new foundation cows this weekend.  

These cows will be the start of a new herd for them and help to grow their new businesses. 

Alot of time, effort, worry and planning have gone into finding the right kind of farms for my cattle to go to and all the screening of inquiries and meeting dozens of interested farmers has really helped me to gently disperse my herd into the right hands.  

Most importantly, my responsibility for these cows does not end when I leave their farms with an empty trailer.

My mentoring stays with the cows for their entire lifetime. When ever these new farmers have a question about anything regarding my cattle, or just cattle in general, they can ask me and I will do everything in my power to get them the answer or physically show them how something is done.     It's just how I am.   
I want them to succeed with my cows.  And I want my cows to succeed with them.       I also want to sleep peacefully at night knowing I have done everything possible to keep these farmers farming!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Keeping The Faith

Almost all of the calves have been born and the fields are alive with calves running, sleeping and drinking. The grass is lush and the calves really stand out in the lushness of the fields.

One of my favorite cows is Red Sox Faith.  I absolutely Love this cow.  She is friendly with kids, cats, dogs, woodchucks, everything. She is very gentle and calm. I brush her, rub her and tickle her ears.  She was born 4/4/04.  She is 3/4 Angus and 1/4 Hereford and is a light honey colored kind of gal with no white markings other than a little birthmark on her shoulder. Her mom was cool and calm and I loved her as well.
The minute Faith was born and entered this world I named her and claimed that "THIS was the year the Red Sox would WIN the World Series."       And they did.
Two years later in 2006 she had her first calf, whom I named Red Sox Fenway and the Red Sox won again.
In the following years she had Red Sox FlyBall, Red Sox Frank ( Terry Frankonia ) and last year her first heifer, Red Sox Fan ( Fanny ).  All weaned over 600 lbs, all were reserved by repeat buyers, all graded high choice and prime on the rail at 18-20 months of age.

Two weeks ago she had another boy and I named him Red Sox Fielder.  It is getting harder and harder to come up with "F" names with baseball topics.

For you who have been reading this blog faithfully, you know that the farm where my cows are is in a"transitional" phase. My old farmer friend's health is failing. He has been in the hospital off and on all winter and last month had a toe amputated and now has been back in the hospital for 2 weeks with mercer.
His wife is in a nursing home. They just celebrated their 60th anniversary and their birthdays in seperate facilities in different towns.  He has passed the farm to the next generation and they really are not equiped with the time or patience to deal with a large herd and all the fencing and details that keep a good farm running smoothly.

Having experienced a rather frustrating winter watching more and more issues arise, I knew I had to make the agonizing decision of drastically downsizing my cow herd as well as my replacement heifers.
Fortunately, I have been able to sell most of my beloved herd of cows to people that are on the "same page" as I am and who will sell me back some of my own grassfed genetics when I find another farm to bring my cattle to.   Meanwhile, several new New England farmers have benefited from my present situation. With every truck load of cows I deliver to their new homes, I see happy faces waiting for us to arrive. I always leave a bit sad knowing my farming future is in limbo until I am able to locate farmland that is affordable, fenceable and appropriate for my cattle.   

Yesterday a relocated Texan, his wife and 6 young children came to see my cattle.  He raised traditional ( red and white ) Simmentals in Texas and dearly missed them.   He brought a thick photo album with hundreds of photos of his former herd.  He had been searching for good Simmental in the Northeast for months and couldn't believe his luck when he found me, just 2 hours from his Vermont home. 
His reason for buying cattle now?  He had applied for a USDA loan on a farm house and 50 acres that he wants to buy this summer. He should be approved by August 20th, if everything goes well, and picking up his first cows by September 1st.

This man was like a big kid in a candy store....He walked out into the field, full of frolicing calves, and immediately picked out a 4 week old heifer from one of my cows and said he wanted her when she is weaned in Novemeber. Then he turned around and pointed to Red Sox Faith and said he wanted that cow as well because she was child friendly and his kids could handle her.  I was stunned.  Faith has never been for sale.    Then I pondered about this opportunity and what it meant for his family, especially his kids.

So it is with some sadness that I will be saying good bye to Red Sox Faith, one of my BEST cows and send her to her new life being the first cow on this young farmers new farm.  He will continue the Red Sox line of good, calm, gentle, grass fed cattle.   He even agreed to hang a Red Sox banner on the barn wall.  His wife is waiting for one of my Simmentals to calve and is hoping for a red heifer.  I am too. So there could be some fighting over who gets that heifer..... Should be fun, but I know in the end I will be sending her their way. There is no greater honor than having your cattle chosen to start a new venture for a new farmer.

UPDATE: Sadly, this family did not recieve the USDA loan that they needed to buy their Vermont farm, so Faith, Fielder & Jillian will be moving with the herd to a temporary pasture on September 1st in our move to Northern Vermont.  Hopefully next year, this family will again walk the fields and pick out their future herd from the TailGait Farm cows.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Tribute to the Hardest Working Moms

Its easy to see why cows are often called the "Mother of Mankind."  Not only do cows fill our needs for food, drink, clothing and other necessities they also care for their young, protect the herd, keep our fields open, well fertilized and usable for different crops.

Here are a few of the girls enjoying Mothers Day, just before the snow flurries came.

                                          Gwen and Galvin

               Red Sox "Faith" and Red Sox "Fielder"

                                         Gracie and Gibbs

                                         Wanda and Jillian

                                         Cheeks and Chuck

             Big Red ( Oldest cow in the herd ) and Reggie

I would be remiss if I did not mention the other hard working moms on this farm as well:

Thank You ladies!!  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cows, Barns & Emus

Lots of things falling down around me this week.....

As I drove down the road, the wind blew this tree down right in front of me.

I was lucky, but the speeding motorcyclist coming in the other direction was not.

A few miles later I discovered that one of my favorite old barns had come down in last weeks blizzard.
The heavy wet snow broke its last timber. 
Built in 1824

The wind is causing some complications around here. But the best thing about this wind is that it is drying out the fields and we were able to put most of the herd out to green grass!!

Look at those happy faces!

One of the more unusual experiences was seeing my first, newly hatched Emu chicks.  They are some really weird looking birds.  Here are 4 of them fresh out of the incubator and under the brooder lamp.

I really wanted two of them, but could not afford the price... so I came home with two of them in a different kind of "package."

I am unable to get the photo to display correctly, but you get the idea...

I had Emu burgers for dinner and they were incredible.

A beef producer friend of mine named a calf after me. There is no greater honor, in my book.

Here is a photo of the Janis calf.

That is one heck of a cute calf, if I do say so myself!

Can you guess the breed ?