Life on a family dairy farm
in the wilds of
Upstate New York
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Days here are often fraught with crisis and worry. It is simply the nature of a family, a business, (a family-run business at that), dozens of animals, lots of machinery that breaks on a regular basis, and a life that depends largely on weather.
However, there is always something to make you smile, even if sometimes it is only watching the sun go down, knowing you are done for the day...unless the cows get out...
I smiled the other night when Northstar backed out of her stall into the bright sunlight. She is such a little dear heart and so brilliantly red orange, like a bovine ball of fire.
Her mama was one of the meanest cows I ever bred or owned. She would kick out head-high at the slightest provocation. Came way too close to killing several of us before we finally sold her.
Norrie is friendly, quiet and gentle, stands calmly to be milked, learned where her stanchion is within three or four days of having her first calf, and to top it off she is just so darned pretty.
I don't know how to describe her color. She is half milking shorthorn and half Holstein and her color is like melted copper that shades to almost purple-mahogany when she's out of the sun. Her coat is so slick and smooth I often my hand over her hip when I milk her, just to feel its silkiness. (A lot of cows don't like that and will react quite unfavorably. She doesn't seem to mind a bit.) She actually seems to like people.It gives great pleasure just to work around her and looking at her beautiful self is an added bonus.
Then there are the young downy woodpeckers. I keep suet out all year in a big feeder made from the folded hardware cloth top off an old gerbil cage. They have found a little hole and go INSIDE the feeder to choose the tastiest bites of suet for themselves, while the parents wait outside. Always worth a smile, and after several generations at our feeders they are absurdly tame and don't mind me watching.
And the hummingbird wars. There are at least five young ones and sibling rivalry is rampant. They buzz and smack into each other like pinballs in a machine. They narrowly miss my ears!
The indigo bunting singing his heart out from the top of my favorite blue spruce. Walking the pup on the long lawn and up in back, watching him explore new ground. Hearing the ponies nicker from the stable and the peacocks scream from their barn. Watching tiny Strawberry, who seems to be a mini-calf, tugging and banging away at her bottle, guzzling her milk like a champion.
Yep, lots of things to smile at around here and I'm thankful for them all. Hope you all have a good one.