Saturday, February 27, 2010

Family Cow Forum

In one large room put 8 tables, add some chairs, 6 loaves of bread, a dollop of cream cheese, tea and coffee and lots of like-minded cow people, mix and you get? A Family Cow Forum!!
The agenda?

Affordable Do-it Yourself Barn Building
Panel of Family Cow Keepers
A Quiver Full of Fencing Tips
Oxen Tails and Demo
Great Lunch and Chat Time
Back Yard Vet Care

Brigitte Ruthman has built her own barn and had lots of things to share with us.

and her Barn
Brigitte's barn is built on an Alaskan slab foundation, which is a concrete slab poured on packed gravel. She said you can't build very tall on a Alaskan Slab Foundation maybe 1 or 1 1/2 stories. She told us that one of the key things you need to do is to know your land because water is a very destructive element. If you can watch your land for about a year it's a good idea. The siding is southern yellow pine 2" thick tongue and groove laid horizontally. Because the boards are horizontal they also act an insulation. For all the interior fittings

Panel of Cow Keepers
Micki, Emily, John, Vicki

Tracy, Maria, Perry

The panel was then asked a series of questions:
How many cows do you have? What are there names and breed?
Micki: 3, Jerseys, Luna, Marcie, Halle
John & Emily: 2, Jerseys, Rosie & Roxie
Vicki: 1, Miniature Jersey, Brieanna
Tracy: 2, Jerseys, Patches & her companion cow Kokah Rose
Maria & Perry: 1, Randall Lineback, Noreen

How do you tie your cow while milking?
What do you sit on?
How do you deal with breeding?
And much more was discussed.

A Fencing Routine
Debra Tyler gave us her take on easily movable, user-friendly fencing and thoughts on best posts, insulators, wire and routine ideas. The backpack/quiver was designed and built by a fellow cow keeper because it can be very useful to have both hands free. He has nothing against others taking and improving the idea.

Oxen Tails

Chuck Duncan a work week salesman and a weekend ox trainer.

Jolly and Jigger
Chuck has been training two steers from Local Farm for a year and a half.
Chuck showed us how to put the yoke on them. There are 4 basic commands: Hep (forward), Wh (stop), Gee (right) and Haw (left). Then he let us take them for a walk if we wanted to.

Lunch and a time to ruminate

Angela Greco talked to us about how to take care of your cow on your own and what the vet needs to know when you call.Angela showed us different cow care stuff.
Bolus Gun for giving pills.
Drench Gun for giving liquid orally.
She then took us outside and showed us how to check a cow's breathing and pulse, how to tell if they're dehydrated or not, take their temperatures, check mucus membranes... and much much moooooore!!

We are planning next year's and hope to see you there!

For more Motherhouse events go to

Family Cow Resources

Some resources shared at the February 27 Family Cow Forum are:

The fair trade, organically grown Chai Tea and Coffee we enjoyed come from: in Goshen, CT. Naren Sonpal started the business in response to the economic and environmental devastation caused by conventional coffee production that he observed while serving in the Peace Corps. He roasts the coffee at his home in small batches. Any electricity used in the process is indirectly supplied by a bank of solar collectors mounted on his barn roof. Call (860) 491-9920 or visit the website to order.

The whole-grain, sourdough bread is hearthbaked at Bantam Bread in Bantam, CT by Niles Golovin. We had his Holiday Bread and his Cinnamon Swirl Bread at the forum. Stop in at 853 Bantam Road or call (860) 567-2737 to be sure he's baking your choice before pick-up.

Brigitte Ruthman at offered to trailer heritage breed milking shorthorn livestock (see photo) from her favorite source in New Hampshire for the cost of gas and a cup of coffee on the way.

Her farm website is, phone: 860 671 0327.

Visit in Wisconsin for interior barn fittings.

Chuck can be reached at His favorite DVD is Training Oxen: Rural Heritage Video 2007 from The book Oxen: A Teamster's Guide by Drew Conroy and published by Storey Publishing can be found at Blue Seal Feeds in Torrington, CT. Helpful websites are: the site of Chuck's favorite charity, and

The display on Management Intensive Grazing was supplied by Gund Sonpal of Sonpal Power Fence in Goshen, CT. She has a variety of fencing equipment for sale from her home. Her phone number is (860) 491-2290.

The farmer Micki Pratt works with to impregnate her cows via embryo transplants is Tom Breakell of Goshen, CT 860-491-3085.

Hot tulsi tea (homegrown "sacred basil" from Alicia's garden) and cooling foraged sumac berry, fresh ginger tea were donated for lunch by Cornwall's resident herbalist Alicia North of Call her at 860-672-6854 for all herbal needs. is a good mail order source of organically-approved veterinary supplies.

A few other choice farm supplies including stainless steel milk pails for the price I paid 25 years ago, can be found at and don't forget to visit my favorite:!
Click the highlighted link to read the Lakeville Journal story about the forum.
Visit for more events.