Essays, Pg 6

     I suppose the hardest part of writing an essay on “Why I love to Farm” would be keeping it shorter than a novel. There are so many reasons, that I could not begin to know where to start. Since this will be for posting on a dairy farm site I suppose to keep it simple that is where to focus my attentions.  Most of the activities that I remember about growing up on the farm would be considered by today’s standards to be illegal, unhealthy, gross or organic.

     I grew up at time when many farmers still were able to make a living without having to work a second job away from the farm. I didn’t realize at the time however how privileged I was to not only have a “stay at home Mom, but also a “stay at home Dad” as well. With both around there were many opportunities to learn increasing responsibilities the older I got. During summers, since I wasn’t in school, those responsibilities increased when Dad had to be working long hours in the fields.

     Watering and weeding the garden, saddling the horse (this was before ATV’s) to check on and count the cattle which were out in the pasture, and feeding those which weren’t. As I grew older I cultivated the corn fields when Dad needed to work hay.

     Even with all of that work there was still time to take a quick “swim” in the old stock tank.  Green, slimy, and full of dead bugs as it was. It’s hard for me to imagine that my kids, who won’t even go near the swimming pool if the water is a little cloudy, doing something like that today. Gross!

     One of the best duties that I ever had was milking (by hand) our one dairy cow. During the school year Dad would take care of the morning milking and I would take the afternoon shift. Most of the summer we would let her go dry to rest.

     Our first milker was on the farm when we moved there. She was a Jersey we simply called “Jersey” We weren’t exactly sure of her age but thought that she about 8-10 years old.  We raised Herefords, so we bred her to one of our bulls. Each year she would give birth to a little bull calf. When “Jersey was about 14 or 15 she finally delivered a heifer. She must have known that she was almost too old to use as a milker because the next year she had another bull calf.

The heifer we named Gertrude. We still used “Jersey” until “Gert” was old enough to begin her career as a milk cow. “Gert” was the cow that I learned how to milk on. My job was to bring her in from the pasture each afternoon, put her in the stall, give her grain, and of course, milk her. Not to hard of a job when as soon as I opened the gate she would walk to the barn, put her head in the stanchion and begin to eat. All before I could even get the gate closed. The only time I ever had to go out and get her was when I was late and she decided to go back out to the pasture.

     We only milked enough for our families needs, letting her calf finish her off twice a day. Of course the barn cats received their fill as well. I enjoyed their antics of trying to catch a squirt of milk from a few feet away.

     Today it would be marketed as free-range, hand processed, raw organic milk. To us however it was just “good old milk” In my opinion some of the best milk I’ve ever tasted (unless the cow got into some wild onions). Each day when the milk was brought in from the barn, Mom would strain it through the milk strainer and cheesecloth, them it went into a large mouthed gallon glass jar to be put into the refrigerator to cool. The next morning she would ladle off the sweet rich cream for Dad’s coffee and my cereal.  We always had milk at every meal, usually several glasses.

     Even with plenty, when your parents grew up during the Depression nothing ever went to waste. If I didn’t finish a glass in the morning it was it the refrigerator waiting for me when I came home from school. Floating on top was a thin layer of sweet cream. To this day I will always shake a container of milk before pouring myself a glass. Even though I know with all of the homogenization the cream isn’t there. Old habits and farm habits are hard to break. I have even been know to stir a glass of milk at a restaurant, much to the dismay of my children.

     Dad retired from farming when I was in my teens and we moved into town. I vowed to myself that one day I would return to the country. I took me nearly 25 years, but now that I am back maybe someday when I have grandkids they might be able to get a taste of what life on the far is like and all of the joys that come with it.

BY: Roger B.

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Why we love farming

The short answer: Because we love cowsJ

(That was from our 10 year old son!  LOL)

We enjoy farming because it is a good way to learn responsibility, to grow your own food, and to eat healthy.  To be able to provide for ourselves and teach our children the same thing is truly priceless, and we also feel it’s necessary in the current economic and political climate.  We enjoy taking care of, working with and training animals.  Most of all, we enjoy farming because it brings our family closer, as we work and play together.  We learn so much about each other and about God’s creation that would’ve been missed otherwise. 

Our six children, ages 14 down to 2, are intimately involved with every aspect of our homestead.  They milk the cow by hand, move the animals, feed them, groom them, clean up pasture and so much more.  Actually, strangely enough, one of their favorite jobs is picking up manure out of the paddock and putting it in the manure pile.  The girls in our family enjoy making cheese and butter, and we all enjoy experimenting with cheeses. 

If we would win this gorgeous heifer, we would halter break her, and probably show her in our local 4H shows.  We would raise her to milk her so that our old girl could retire.  We would love her and take good care of her and she would provide good company for our old gal and our children. 🙂

Thank you for this generous contest, and the opportunity to enter.  :~)  

May the Lord richly bless your benevolence,

Chuck, Jonna, Valerie, Charley, Daniel, Isabealla, Esther, Elijah and ?? (new baby due any day!!) 

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Why I Love Farming

 by Elizabeth W.

I don’t know that I would call myself a farmer, but I sure do love growing our own food, raising our own chickens for eggs and meat, boiling down maple sap into syrup and sugar, learning more about lactofermentation, preparing our own food, and doing it as a family.

We have a small property of about three acres with the Green River (where it is still small) running through the east side of it. We have dwelled here in Austerlitz, NY, for about 10 years, turning what was once a backyard lawn desert into a landscape full of raised beds for vegetables, blueberry, current, elderberry and raspberry bushes, fruit trees, a green house for extending our growing season, and structures to house chickens, both layers and meat birds (we raised 100 meat birds for the first time after having read Joel Salatin’s Pastured Poultry Profits). My husband makes his living as a carpenter, which is real handy when we need something built or repaired around here. Since our house is over 200 years old, that happens often. In addition to selling vintage items and handmade goods online, and I homeschool our 4 kids, ages 7-17, and am the primary overseer of the gardens and chickens.

It was last year about this time when we first got the bug about getting a cow. We were buying milk from a local dairy who delivered their product to us in glass bottles. It was wonderful, until they closed down. Then we had to go to the store, and agonize over what we were getting. We have finally settled on getting raw milk from a farm fairly close by, but still, the dream of having our own cow is ever before us. We were thinking about getting a Dexter last spring because of the small size, but the timing was just not right for our family. Friends of ours got a Jersey heifer, and then I bought The Family Cow, and with the encouragement of the author, joined The Family Cow Forum. This series of events settled in my soul that we would be getting a Jersey , although I really should have known it all along. As a child, I grew up with Elsie the Cow paraphernalia in my home and loved those brown eyes and tawny coat. My dad who grew up on a dairy farm in East Chatham , NY , was one of the two actual caretakers of Elsie the Borden Cow on her cross country tour in the 1950’s when he was in his late teens, so we had Elsie things in the house decades later. This, of course, gives my dad celebrity status in my eyes, even though he has not farmed at a dairy since he was in his early 20’s. So as you can see, it is destined for us to have a Jersey when we do indeed get a cow.

It was The Family Cow Forum that brought me to your essay contest. I was not going to enter because I thought that we should start out with a cow that is already milking if possible, and I did not feel we were really ready for a cow yet of any kind. Then I visited your site another day and actually spent time looking around. Wow!! I was completely encouraged by the information you have put together in one place. What a wonderful resource! Then I looked at your heifer again. She is just so pretty. And I saw the mom. I read more about the bloodlines of your stock, and realized what an opportunity it is for someone to start off with wonderfully bred heifer. Four years ago, we had a similar opportunity to start with great stock when we got our Rottweiler, Champion Regal Seas Salsa, as a puppy. She is a beauty with incredible breeding from both parents. http://regalsearottweilers.com/directory/girls/salsa.html (just in case you want to take a peek). She’s had no health issues and we are blessed with her. We’ve even gotten her to behave around the chickens. I’ve heard that cows and dogs don’t get along so well, but have an idea that a citronella collar would work to train her to stay away from the cow. She’s smart, learns quick, and is already trained to an invisible fence, so I think that would work.

In recognizing this for the incredible opportunity it is, I decided to write an essay, and in doing so, I need to say that as much as I would love having this calf, we are not ready for her today. We still have snow on the ground and a barn to build. We are figuring out the pasture rotation. I got my new Premier Fencing catalog today. It is so exciting! We are planning and designing the barn, and will be incorporating that hay rack I saw on your site. We have a hay supplier lined up, and a local farm that grow grain the way we like it. The kids are excited, even the one who is not overly fond of animals. He’s excited about learning to make cheese, butter and ice cream. Our oldest son already makes yogurt.

So if I am not ready for this calf today, why am I entering this contest? Because “Hope springs eternal.”  If by some chance my essay wins the contest, my husband would have the thrilling challenge of putting up a barn in less than 30 days while working a 40+ hour week. That would be fun to watch (I have been accused of having a strange sense of humor.) I wonder who, if any, from our community of friends would help us? Would any? Would the possibilities of future homemade dairy goods be enticing enough? Even if nobody helped, I bet that our family could pull something together because my husband and kids are amazing, and that in itself would be a great testimony. We would be on a fast course learning more about handling and working with cows and getting prepared. But I believe we could do it because we have with other things in the past.

Even if I don’t win, this contest is a great way to make a connection with cow people, especially cow people who know good Jerseys , and dream more about owning a cow, advancing that vision just a bit further. Maybe when I am ready to get a cow, you will have one, or know of one, that would be great for our family.  I know when the time is right that we will be a great home for a cow.

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I don’t know where to start. It’s been a long time since we last had a heifer here. I miss those days. Back when I was 14, and used to milk the cow every morning and evening. Now my fourteen year old sister milks.

Back, early 2010, shortly after we bought the cow we currently have (Frizzle), she had her calf. It was a warm April day. I went out to bring the cow in, and just had this certain feeling…I knew the calf was born.

Yup. I found them together. I slowly approached Frizzle, talking to her, and she talked to me in low sounds that just made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It made me feel special to be there with her and her new calf. She sniffed and licked the calf. I started to pet her, then I gently lifted the calf and laid it over my shoulders. There’s just this feeling when you bring in the new calf. You feel just on top of the world.

 Anyhow, most cows would follow you back in with the calf, but Frizzle?…this was only her second calf, and the first one she was ‘in charge’ of.  She didn’t know what to think or where to go. She followed a short way, then ran back to where the calf was born, sniffing all over and mooing loudly.

This wasn’t going to work…I took the calf back and laid it down. Then walked back home to get a halter and lead. Got back out there and managed to get the halter on Frizzle. Now I had to figure out how to lead the cow, and carry the calf…all the way back home.

 I got Frizzle calmed down enough, bit the lead in my teeth, and once again, hoisted the calf over my shoulders.

After I got it in place, I took the lead in one of my hands, and took them both home. Long walk, yet very enjoyable; watching the sun set, and listening to the birds and children’s laughter on the evening air.

 I tied Frizzle, and excitedly headed to the house (still holding the heifer, now in my arms) to show my mother.

I got to the back door, opened it and hollered “Hey Momma!! Momma!!!”. Shortly, she was there. All my siblings clamoring around the calf and talking excitedly. (Then I felt something warm running down my arm, and draining on the ground. But I just ignored it)

  Momma was happy. “It looks healthy!” She was smiling and petting it’s cute little ears. “Well, is it a heifer, or a bull?” She asked. I’m sure my face turned red right then. I frustratedly  gave her a “well duh!” look, and stammered “Can’t you tell?”

That’s when she saw…and just doubled over laughing. Of course I couldn’t keep a straight face, but I just stared at the ground, my face burning from embarrassment. “It’s…it’s not really funny.” I said.

It was a heifer.

That was just a story from a segment of my life with cows. I love those creatures. So quiet and calm. Let me say something; I’m a horse person. I train horses…they’re gorgeous, majestic creatures. But when you seen them out in the pasture, you get a feeling of excitement, your heart speeds, and you feel something amazing.

 But cows? I think they’re God’s peace symbol. When you look at a herd of cows out in the pasture, they just give a feeing of peacefulness. They make you think about life, and slow down a little. They give you a “forever” feeling about things.

I want to start my own herd of cattle. Good, tested, gentle ones. I wanted to do Black Angus, but now, I would just like the opportunity to do about any breed. It would be an amazing learning experience…

Speaking of learning experiences, taking care of cows, I think, teaches discipline.

You must teach your self to do things at a set time, every morning, every evening. Steady routine. No matter what weather conditions. It could be 12 degrees outside, snowing, with windchill…it could be pouring rain so hard you couldn’t see 7 ft. ahead of you. It might be 90 degrees, and all you feel like doing is relaxing in a rocking chair on your front porch with some sweet ice tea. No matter. You have to get out there and take care of your cow. It might make you late for a horseshow, or a friend’s party…no matter. Your cow comes first. I respect people who can do that.

 Though, I just made it sound as though taking care of your cow is a negative experience. Which it most definitely should not be.

For me it was a time to be alone, a time I could just sit there and think, listening to the barn swallows, and a tractor working in a far off field in the summer…smelling sweet hay, and fresh cut grass, and hearing the rythem of the milk squirting into the pan. It was pleasant. So pleasant.

And in winter? The milking stall was my cozy spot. I would get up at 5 am, get ready, and go out to get the cow. On those nights when the moon was full, the frost looked like millions of little stars on the ground. It was dazzling, and with the moon casting strange shadows across there, it could make you lose your way, even in a field you’d known for years. I’d walk, the frost crunching under my boots was the only sound I heard, besides the coyotes yapping in the distance. After I found the cow and brought her in, I’d feed her, then milk. While I milked, cats gathered around, and I’d squirt milk at them, which they’d lick up. The sun would slowly rise over the hill, and the stars disappear from the dawn sky. The cow munching on hay was (and always will be) a sound I love.

And now…it’s seemed so long since I’ve milked, since I’ve even handled a cow. Even though it’s been just about a year. I might never get back into it as much as back then. Whether I do or not…the experiences and memories I have will last a life time.

  Cows are just that way…they give you that “forever” feeling.~

BY: Jacqueline D.

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Recently while chatting with a teaching colleague, she shared with me that her husband was discussing buying a group of jersey heifer calves.  Her father’s response was “A farm starts with one cow.”  That sounds like a very simple statement; nothing more than a numerical observation.  But within in that statement there are so many more underlying STATEMENTS.  It is the unspoken words that best describe why I love farming.

The first thing to consider is why did he say that to begin with?  Was it simply a quip meant to amuse anyone in earshot?  No, it was more than that, it was advice.  Advice is something that farmers are often more than willing to share.  A real farmer, a steward of the land, is part of a membership much larger than him or his own farm.  Our membership reaches into communities and beyond.  Farming in not a group of individual, clandestine entities with top secret R&D departments.  Farmers are willing contributors to a knowledge base that is open to anyone willing (synonym for foolish enough) to delve into it.  There is a willingness to share that creates a bond in farming communities.  It’s the bond that doesn’t let you drive by your neighbors when he is putting in a load of hay and it’s starting to rain.

Of course there is an advantage in starting small.  It makes things easier to manage and “the learning curve” isn’t quite so steep.  Starting with one calf allows you to really get to know that animal, making the experience more enjoyable for both you and bovine.  I have never hand milked a cow but I feel it would be easier with a cow I have raised from a calf.  When I wanted to raise chickens I didn’t mail order 25 chicks.  I built an incubator, bought 2 fertile dozen eggs and hatched 18 chicks.  I hand turned eggs religiously 3 times a day.  It was a very fulfilling experience.  The next year I hatched Khaki Campbell ducks and Bourbon Red turkeys.  In the fall I traded some of the turkeys for 2 Hereford piglets.  When I was a youth my father, a grocer, always bought a 4H lamb at the fair sale.  They would be shipped directly to processor until one year he decided to bring one home!  Over the next few years we had increased our flock to five, which we sold to a local farmer.  I enjoyed raising the lambs and will probably be getting more soon. 

 I love farming because I am always learning!  My 25 acres is a wondrous classroom with experiments going on daily and I love it.  I am always reading, learning about topics such as raising grass fed animals, natural gardening, permaculture, composting, orcharding and the list goes on.  Keeping things on a small scale allows me the time and energy to diversify. 

What I love about farming is the camaraderie among farmers, seeing the fruits of my own labor and pride that comes with building my own farm, my own life and the daily opportunity to learn.  “A farm starts with one cow” and with any luck this contest will afford me a beautiful young calf to start mine. 

BY: B. H.

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I’m Christian and I’m 9 years old. I like to live on my mom and dad’s farm because I can collect chicken eggs in all sorts of colors and we hatch chicks in the incubator at this time of year.

We get the milk goats, and I bought Stella with $500 of my own money I’d saved up almost two years ago, and my mom pitched in some, too. She is my Jersey. I bought her from Nuns in Pennsylvania. We have horses, and I like living her with enough room to ride them. I help feed and water them when I can.

Our farm’s name is Lucas Farm, and we named it after my uncles, aunt and Papaw that passed away a few years ago, and it helps us remember them everytime we tell people its name.  

Papaw Tiny was 85 when he passed away. He was the nicest grandpa in the world, and he loved Chickens. He knew how to hatch them in a gas stove, my mom says, and we have to use one that costs almost $200 dollars because he was not as good at it as he is.

We let people come visit the farm, and it is nice because we let kids with problems come and see the animals, and pet them.

I really want to win this heifer. I think Stella would really like another cow here on our farm. Right now, she just has goats.

I know my mom entered this contest, but I would like to win because she helped me by Stella, and this one would be all my own.

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I’m Christian and I’m 9 years old. I like to live on my mom and dad’s farm because I can collect chicken eggs in all sorts of colors and we hatch chicks in the incubator at this time of year.

We get the milk goats, and I bought Stella with $500 of my own money I’d saved up almost two years ago, and my mom pitched in some, too. She is my Jersey. I bought her from Nuns in Pennsylvania. We have horses, and I like living her with enough room to ride them. I help feed and water them when I can.

Our farm’s name is Lucas Farm, and we named it after my uncles, aunt and Papaw that passed away a few years ago, and it helps us remember them everytime we tell people its name.  

Papaw Tiny was 85 when he passed away. He was the nicest grandpa in the world, and he loved Chickens. He knew how to hatch them in a gas stove, my mom says, and we have to use one that costs almost $200 dollars because he was not as good at it as he is.

We let people come visit the farm, and it is nice because we let kids with problems come and see the animals, and pet them.

I really want to win this heifer. I think Stella would really like another cow here on our farm. Right now, she just has goats.

I know my mom entered this contest, but I would like to win because she helped me by Stella, and this one would be all my own.

2 thoughts on “Essays, Pg 6

  1. Stephanie

    Very worthwhile reading. Evidence of an incredible amount of work the editors had to do on TOP of giving away a calf. By now Amethyst’s worth has gone up by several thousand dollars of the donors’ time 😉 . And then have to choose just one. I’d be at a total loss.

    Like

  2. WOW! Just skimming through these was a treat! So many neat stories and perspectives. I’m sure it’s been a lot of reading, and no easy task to make a decision. Where do you even start? But it’s inspiring.

    Like

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