About a month ago we had been off farm for a few days and when we returned we discovered that one of our steer calves had set himself free by getting through the electric fence – or perhaps around the electric fence – into the hay paddock! He was quite happily munching and consuming his summer feed well ahead of time. I walked up the paddock to see if I could convince him to go back with his herd and as I was walking up the hill I did a quick head count – we have 10 cattle in total so I wanted to make sure no-one else had gone walkabout too. I counted – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. 10. 11 – hang on … 11? 11 – where did you come from number 11? You are too little to be one of ours … 11?
As I got closer, number 11 moved closer towards its mother – to our delight, Arrabella had given birth to a young heifer while we had been away. She was still wobbly on her legs, so we think she may have been born within the last 24 hours or so … We didn’t even realise Arrabella was pregnant! She is quite a tall and large framed cow and had been feeding her older calf, Knuckles, so we did not think anything of it when we saw her swollen udder or were knocked off our feet in her rush to get to the feed! Then we did the sums. We had Benson, the bull in only 5 months previously … so this calf was not his. We purchased Arrabella and two others in January. She must have been pregnant when we bought her! But no-one, except Arrabella, knew that.
What a lovely surprise our bonus calf was, so we called her Bonnie.
And then I started to wonder … could the other cow and heifer that we purchased at the same time also be pregnant? It was difficult to tell with Astrid, as she too, had been feeding a calf that we bought with her. Four days later, another calf appeared in our paddock! Another heifer calf … Astrid had indeed been pregnant! Here’s Bella:
I studied Apple very closely from that point on, her udder was getting larger than it should have been if she was only 5 months pregnant. While she wasn’t looking overlay rotund, that udder was getting bigger everyday.
Three days later, Kokoda, a bull calf was born.
While we were a little surprised by these three early additions to our farm, we were also excited – there is something amazing about new life, no matter what form it comes in and these three curious calves have won our hearts! Welcome little ones.
This weekend just gone we celebrated owning our farm for one year. We invited our friends down who had helped us in our first year, to help us celebrate. People have been so generous with their time and energy helping us to establish our dream. Some of the things they have helped us with have included:
- Preparing growing and planting over 300 Trees for Life trees
- Moving mulch and mulching native and orchard trees
- Helping us move fences
- Sharing equipment when we needed it
- Providing advice and guidance
- Providing meals and drinking water
- Giving us fruit trees
- Helping us to put up our sheds
- Helping us move, manage and care for our livestock
- Helping us pack the container
- Providing encouragement, moral support and, most importantly, friendship
Without the energy and enthusiasm of so many friends and family, we would not have come as far as we have in this year. For this I am very grateful. I may never be able to repay our friends and family for what they have helped us achieve this year, but I hope I can repay them with grass fed meat and fresh fruit in years to come. To share the produce of our labours with those who have shown faith in us in our early years will be reward enough.
We feel like we have achieved quite a lot in our first year. We have upgraded and extended the property’s road, built a farm shed and a garden shed, purchased our initial breeding stock, produced 8 lambs and 3 calves, learnt how to use portable electric fencing, harvested around 12 kgs of honey from our hives, started planting our orchard and are planning our house with plans on the drafting board.
Sometimes it’s been frustrating and difficult and the learning curve has felt like a vertical ride! But I wouldn’t change it for the world. When I step outside and see the beauty we have around us and I walk among the cows who nuzzle and lick at my hands I can’t think of wanting to be anywhere else.
Happy birthday Jagged Crow Farm!