Well, I’m sorry to say that we officially went from Mother’s Day weekend straight through to Father’s Day weekend without posting a single post. I am, however, relieved to say that we somehow managed to survive that hectic period of time, if only by the skin of our teeth. I am very excited to share what has happened on the Acre over the past several weeks, so hold on tight….
To pick up where we left off, I will start with Alan the bull-calf. I’m relieved to have made it through the first calving here on the Acre without too much trouble. If anything, I feel much stronger in my instincts regarding what to do and what not to do. I am proud to say that Alan is doing wonderfully, amazingly well, growing, playing, and keeping us all very entertained in the process. We have finally moved him into the paddock with the rest of the gang where he regularly stirs up a commotion and occasionally stops along the fence-line of the adjoining paddock to say hello to Mama Goldie. In typical boy-fashion, he tries to eat anything he can get his mouth on and we have experienced some confusion as to what may or may not constitute an “actual” cow-teat….luckily, we have a very patient and gentle male horse…..As for Miss Goldie, she has recovered well from the events of last month. I have a high degree of respect for the Scottish Highland breed, though I can honestly say that I would not look forward to getting in between a Highland cow and her calf any time soon. Since we had to separate the pair, we have decided to move forward with our original plans for Goldie. Tomorrow evening she is headed down to a local processing facility to provide our family with high quality beef. Lately, everyone that has come to visit the Acre seems to have the same question on their minds – Is raising your own meat an emotionally difficult thing to do? Yes. But given the option, I wouldn’t do it any other way. I cannot justify buying conventionally grown meat from the Supermarket. Just because we cannot afford to buy organic, humanely raised meat products for our growing family of five, doesn’t mean that supporting CAFO’s is our only choice. We have discovered the alternative. Is it difficult, time-consuming, and emotionally draining? Yes. However, it is also educational, uplifting, and wildly fulfilling. And when it comes time to go through with the processing of an animal, we do not take it lightly. When it comes to preparing the meat for our dinners, we will do so respectfully. When we sit together at the table, we will never eat mindlessly. Instead we will sit and tell stories of the amazing animals we have had the pleasure of knowing and offer up our gratitude for their sacrifice.
We have enjoyed having cows on the Acre so much, that we decided to make another addition to the gang: Deluxe the Jersey cow. We have been contemplating getting a Jersey on the Acre for a while now. Then we found Deluxe, a lovely three-year old girl, sweet as they come and cute to boot. As an early celebration of my pending 30th birthday, we decided to bring her home. She is milking under 1 gallon/day right now as we dry her up in preparation for her late August due date. Once she calves, we could see upwards of 4-5 gallons/day which we will use to feed our pigs, turkeys, chickens, calf, and us, of course. Having a dairy cow seems to be one of the final pieces of the puzzle for us here on the Acre as we aim to provide a good portion of our own food. And even though we were very reluctant to take this step, we are certainly glad that we finally did it. Deluxe seems to be the link that turns a chain of sacrifices into a circle of life, hinging each animal’s success on that of its companions. Everyone gives. Everyone receives.
Our other dairy animal, Tardy the goat, has also recently contributed to the Acre’s success. She gave birth to a beautiful doeling a few days ago, and has been very quick to take to the stanchion and twice daily milking. This was Tardy’s first kidding and it went off without a hitch. Baby goats are some of my favorite little creatures to have on a farm because they are so stinkin’ cute and forever playful. Tutu is no exception to this. She is almost the spitting image of her Alpine mother despite being out of a Oberhasli buck. We are contemplating whether to keep her on as part of the gang, or trade her for a Nubian once she is weaned. Only time will tell.We have had a very strong start to our summer this year and we have high hopes for a strong finish in the fall. It’s a bit exhilarating to think back to the humble beginnings of the Crowded Acre and to trace our steps to where we are now. Not too long ago, we had just moved in together. We were in a small house in the middle of town, expecting our first child, not knowing what the future would hold. I brought with me a cat and a dog. These would be the first animals to come into Brian’s care since the time when he was a young child living in Texas. Some friends of ours had recently bought a few backyard hens and I remember suggesting that we get a goat because I thought they were cute. “I will never agree to getting a goat,” was Brian’s response…..