Portable Cow Dairy Shelter Thing

Ah yes, it still needs a few finishing touches, but it’s been working well since early January. The cows take shelter from sun, rain & wind (when it’s bad as they’re not that soft), and it’s been used regularly as a dairy for our two Jersey cows. We move the whole contraption a few times per week, following the cows in their pulse-rest grazing pattern – this way everything is much fresher, just like moving camp really, and allowing the land to recover.

Below is a short vid showing the shelter in use, and a few other silly things that happen occasionally on the farm too. I think the cameraman must have been drunk, sea-sick, or just preferred videoing the lower half of my face. Good help is after all, hard to find.

A Calf A Day

Our boss cow Bobbi has come through with the goods – a new years’ day calf, and our second in two days!

I had been watching Bobs’ closely and expecting her to pop one out any minute, but I got into some work for an hour or two, and then heard the moo’s of a new mama.. Sure enough,  a lovely female calf had been born. At the request of my niece, we have named it Kyra :)

Three out of three ain’t bad.. Well actually our fourth heifer didn’t conceive so we’ll try AI or another bull on her next cycle, as we don’t want her feeling left out.

A good finish to the year and a good start to the next. Mama cow pictured below (mooing proudly and) having a rest with her newborn :

IMG_0144 IMG_0145 IMG_0146

Calf On Out

Folks our prime Jersey cow, Daisy (of course), has just given birth to her first ever calf, and second ever at Forty-k Farm!

Daisy must have plans to go partying tonight on new years eve, so she got into it around 130am this morning to free herself up for later. After a vocal but smooth two hour labour, just as I was weighing up whether my assistance was needed, she popped out a beautiful boy calf. My uncle Rodger is a dairy farmer, so perhaps that will be a suitable name for the little tacker. Rodger.

A couple of short vids and a slideshow below for you.

Thanks very much for all your interest and support throughout the year (and the years prior). We hope you have a lovely new years’ celebration whether that’s going to bed early and early to rise, or shaking your booty all nighter style before rocking up at the farm for a hit of raw milk :)

To you & yours for 2014 & beyond

Vid one within minutes of the birth

Vid two a few hours later, with Rodger up and drinking

And a few happy snaps for you in the slideshow below

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Cows, Wind, Sun, Rain: Shelter

We’re getting very close to completing the cows’ portable shelter & dairy shed, and thought you might like this short clip demonstrating the efficacy of hard infrastructure in the short term, bringing protection from the elements. Long term trees are needed (so start planting now) in sensible places that not only provide shelter for animals people and the land (and water eg a dam), but create habitat for wildlife, yields of food, fibre, energy and in some cases medicines, soil protection and improvement, water infiltration, beauty, and oh of course, oxygen! All whilst sequestering carbon and powered for free by the sun. That’s pretty hard to top, and when our trees come online, I hope the cows appreciate all these benefits. In the meantime, it’ll be good to get out of the hot sun or cold wind and rain whatever the case may be.

Stay tuned for shed completion test spin and fitting out into micro-dairy.

Happy new year if we don’t see you before then!

Portable Cow Shelter Dairy Thing

Well after a few days of salvaging bits of the now defunct Mobile Chicken Palace, the frame is up for the new portable cow shelter & dairy. Why bother, you may ask? The weather extremes out here are, well, extreme. And no trees to speak of for shelter. The cows can hack it but better if they don’t have to. Also a portable dairy to fit into our time-controlled grazing pattern, which essentially distributes manure evenly around the farm, avoids soil compaction and over-grazing whilst allowing sufficient pasture recovery before next grazing. This system is working well so far. Pop back early in the new year to see it in action, as we’re keen to have it up asap for what we expect will be a hot spell January through to April. Aside from the shelter itself, one of the main features is being able to lower the frame onto the ground when it is stationary. This will keep the cold winter wind and rain out, and reduce the likelihood of the whole lot blowing over as it had when in chickens’ mode.

Merry Christmas (2013!), and a happy new year to you & yours. And remember: the only thing you can safely drink to excess, is raw milk.

A Calf is Born

Strike me down with a wad of wet cardboard – 40k Farm’s first calf was born yesterday 11/12/13 !!

On a day when mega coal export terminals on the Great Barrier Reef where approved, and same-sex marriages legally performed for the first time in Australian history were over-turned in the High Court – we had a little dose of sanity on the farm.

Being new to the whole thing, I thought being a young heifer of small frame, the birth would be difficult. Well, we got lucky and Millie popped out her calf in 45min flat – perfect calf position, cool calm & collected labour, all long before I could call the vet. 20min later ‘calfie’ (interim name..) was on her feet and looking for a teat (and so was I).

Some pics below and some video clips soon after, once I can edit out my hysterical audio, nearly doing a brain-gasket with excitement :)

Due any day

Due any day

Two front feet followed by head is what you want

Labour in progress: two front feet followed by head is what you want

Very proud mum and Calfie on wobbly legs!

Very proud mum and Calfie on wobbly legs – attempting to stand for the first time

On feet & bee-line for teats

On feet & bee-line for teats

Day 2 and bouncing around

Day 2 and bouncing around

Good stuff that!

Good stuff that!

Super-cutie!

Super-cutie!

And of course with a calf, comes not only MILK! ahem.. but also Colostrum – the only way in which the new calf receives immune-activating antibodies to protect it from harsh conditions, pathogens etc during the first critical days of life. With the calf having gorged and now asleep on the ground, and with this golden nectar not only dripping but squirting from the teats onto the ground, who was I to refuse?

Colostrum: short term super food resembling syrupy custard yellow goo. Get amongst it!

Colostrum: short term super food resembling syrupy custard yellow goo. Get amongst it!

Now we slowly get into the rhythm of daily milking; sharing with the calf so it can stay with mum to grow big, strong and happy. Generally cows can support more than one, sometimes several, calves. The industry practice is to remove calves immediately, and thus milk two to three times per day. Not so cool for the small farmer with an emphasis on animal happiness, well-being and moderate workload. With a cultural emphasis over the years on breeding cows (and everything else) for production, unless the udder is frequently (ie, daily) emptied, pain and inflammation can ensure. Not wanting our prize cow to suffer Mastitis, we’re happy to milk once a day, sharing with the calf, and generally lavishing lots of good tucker and TLC as our end of the bargain. It’s so exciting I can almost bottle my own joy. You really should try it. I hope we get to share some together soon :)

Clean, healthy beautiful delicious out-of-this-world raw milk. RAW MILK people!!

Clean, healthy, beautiful, delicious out-of-this-world raw milk from a happy cow in a mini herd moving in grassland supporting grazing patterns. RAW MILK people!!

Birds & The Bees

Without wanting to give too much away.. no matter what you eat, you’ve got squillions of these special creatures working hard, day in and day out on your behalf. By humble virtue of collecting their own food, they make possible much of the food that humans depend on. Let’s look after these friends, let’s not be afraid of them, and I hope this short video is a nice introduction for you.

Annual Tussock Fest

You know you’ve got good friends when they voluntarily work to the bone keeping the farm weed count down.

This friend, who can’t show his face on the internet, left behind him a small mountain of serrated tussock – bane of the western plains. Blood blisters to prove it!

TussockHarvest

Farmers Against Fracking Rally!

Farmers Against Fracking Rallythis Sunday August 18 city square at 1pm, be there !!

Prime Gippsland is the first major Victorian target for turning food into gas, fortunately farmers and their communities are rising up!

Fracking“, does it need an explanation? Coal Seam Fracturing = bad for land, water and the people and animals that live there.

What to do? Lock The Gate, read more below, but for now – get along and make some noise THIS SUNDAY August 18 at 1pm!

farmers-against-fracking  Across the globe especially in the USA as documented in the films Gasland One &               Gasland Two, a mad resources rush has boomed in the last ten years, as mining                   companies seek to extract the very last drops of fossil fuel energy from increasingly           crazy places – such as under the most prime and productive farmland in Australia !! Now   that the low-hanging fruit of easy fossil fuel has been harvested (peak oil), it’s game on     with energy and chemically intensive resource mining. The exponentially booming             system in Australia is to boast ‘world’s best practice’ and toughest regulations, whilst         regulating and actually enforcing very little; it is after all the new era of “buy now, pay         later” where testing is a token gesture prior to rolling out massive news projects such as   genetic engineering, nano-technology, and now Coal Seam Fracturing.

As water tables drop, disappear and or become contaminated, land subsidence                   swallows (more due to Long-wall coal mining) farms and waterways, and invasive                 mining fractures and divides productive rural communities, the mining companies are       writing the laws that ought to protect all this. Big donations to political parties lead to       politicians favouring (as elegantly demonstrated by Eddie Obeid) the companies at the     cost of the communities that have built and carried Australia. Farmers; our unsung             heroes!

More info on the rampant coal and gas industry’s in the excellent books Mine-field by  Paul Cleary, and Richland – Wasteland by Sharyn Munro.

Hens All Spoken For

Hi Folk,

We’re off to do a head count tonight, to make sure we can make good on our chicken promises. So far we’ve pledges for 102 hens, so it looks as though the Great Hen Sale has ended!

Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in owning some of our hens, and we can keep you on the back up list, in case any prior arrangements fall through.

See below for the sale info, and some pics of our midsummer flock.

Thank you very much!