Saturday, February 23, 2013

Family Cow Forum

 Lynn Kramer, a wannabe Family Cow Keeper, writes of our forum:
I really appreciate having the opportunity to ask, and have answered, so many of my questions. And meeting folks who are new to the process was particularly helpful. It really highlighted for me that you have to figure out what works for both you and the cow, and there are many choices and options in the process of finding your own path. I can't wait to get started.
Here are a few highlights:

 A COWgregation of Cow-Keepers gathered on Feb 23 to share tails and ruminations about their cows... and were treated to grazing from a breakfast banquet of local foods:
Inspiration Blend coffee and Chai tea made with
milk from Thorncrest Dairy
were generously provided by Coffee, Tea, Etc. of Goshen.
Sourdough whole-grain breads from Bantam Bakery,
A variety of Artisan Cheese from Rustling Winds Creamery,
Nodines' Sausage and Willie's honey.

Alton Earnhart  of Lightening Tree Farm, shared the ins and outs of producing organic feed for livestock, Debra Tyler gave a quick electric fence demonstration with her favorite tricks and tools.
A cow panel described their methods of milking, housing, and caring for their cows.
 Wyatt Whiteman baked an udderly delicious cake for our potluck
Dr Angela Grecco, DMV gave a talk on cow care; pre-, post-, and during calving. She demonstrated using chains to help pull a calf. Chains, versus rope, allow blood to continue circulating through the calf's hooves even when under great pressure. The calf is presenting properly when the front hooves appear first (top up), one over the other followed by the calf's nose. To better distribute the stress and decrease chances of breaking the calf's legs, she takes two half-hitches around the calf's leg below the fetlock and above the hoof. Pull down and to one side so the calf's spine flexes helpfully. By pulling on one leg at a time, the shoulders angle and are less likely to get jammed in the mother's pelvis.

To prevent infection, she showed us how to swirl the calf's navel stub in iodine using a small paper cup.
She emphasized the ideal dry period for a cow is 60 days before she calves, feeding considerations to reduce the chances of milk fever,and preparing an easily accessible birthing site for your cow. 90% of calvings go without a hitch. Only 5% are improperly positioned and 5% are other health problems. Be prepared with the following supplies: a bucket, soap and water, gloves, lube, calving chains or nylon rope,  7% tincture of iodine, thermometer, calcium gel, an easy secure way to restrain your cow, and your vet's phone number!

 Angela recommends this as a comprehensive resource for back yard cow keepers
The TAIL-END of our forum!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

B Sharp w/ The Cutting Edge

No DULLARDS we! who gathered at the Taghhannuck Grange hall on February 16th for Motherhouse's first tool sharpening gathering. Observing the old New England farming tradition of spending cold winter evenings sharpening tools in preparation for spring;
we brought our kitchen knives, scythes, loppers, wood chisels, scissors and more to receive the expert care and sharpening wizzardry of  the West Cornwall Farmers Market's Knic the Knife
and Battle Hill Forge's Willy Blass
Willy showed us how to use a straight file for scythe blades, axes, and loppers.

 Knic taught the difference between sharpening tools: a diamond "steel" is made of ceramic imbedded with  diamond powder and is handy for touching up one's sharpened knives and blades while using them. Arkansas stones are natural stones. Japanese stones require water to create a grinding paste while you sharpen. Composite stones require oil to carry away the grit so it doesn't fill the stone's pores. However SANDPAPER makes a very good sharpening tool! We fastened 220 and 400 wet-or-dry grit sandpaper to a foot long 2X4, added a few drops mineral oil and after finishing up with pieces of 600 and finally 1500 grit paper...
 Voila! Soon had very sharp knives!
As Knic demonstrated one of his favorite sharpening tools; a narrow belt sander, 
Willy pointed out the "crowsfoot" sparks indicating that Sharon's farm knife is made of carbon steel versus straight sparks produced when grinding stainless or hardened steel. When using electric grinding tools one must be careful not to overheat the metal and ruin it's temper.  None of us lost our tempers that night and we all feel a little sharper than before. Thanks to Willy and Knic for a really GRIT show!