February 17, 2010

another red bull

Just after my Red Bull post, we had another red bull calf. I'm not sure why but the red calves are really sweet and docile. We're still on maternity watch. We thought one was in labor last night and Nate even got up to check on her at 4am but no baby yet.

Meet Stinky, the cat that showed up one day smelling like death and missing half of her face. She demanded our attention and after some grass-fed beef, love and a few natural remedies, she just might make it. We'll find a more appropriate name for her if she pulls through.

Meet Sammy Jo, Farmer R's trusty farming companion for the last 14 years. They just adore each other.

 We're putting together a mini CSA with delivery points for our Pittsburgh area customers. This time of year, the products available are organic grass-fed beef, eggs, black turtle beans, adzuki beans and potatoes. If you're interested in more information, send us an email: We'll be phasing out the Wolf Lake Farm name eventually so stay tuned for more on that. If you're a local customer, the best way to stay abreast of all of that is to send an email and we'll add you to our e-mailing list.

Much love to our friends, family and customers for your unending love and support through this farm transition, and all of the stress that's gone along with it.

February 9, 2010

red bull!

The maternity ward is getting full and there are babies running around everywhere. I'm starting to lose track of who belongs to who. It's hilarious to watch them running and jumping around as they get used to their legs. I hope to get some video to post soon.

Yesterday morning there was a new face when we showed up to do chores. A black bull calf. We dried off his ears so they wouldn't freeze. He was shivering since he hadn't nursed yet. Once that mama's milk is in their belly, they're warm and ready to tackle the world. Farmer R said that you'd be shivering too if you came out of a 100 degree womb right into a 0 degree world.

Nate and Farmer R headed off to a meeting that a seed company was holding. Nate tagged along in hopes of learning more about the different forages for cattle while I stayed back to hold down the farm.

An hour or so later, I went to collect eggs and had a strange feeling that I should go check the cattle. I unlatched the gate and right away noticed a cow cleaning off a new baby...and I mean new. A red bull calf was born just moments before I walked in.

Now, this was the first time this has happened a) when I was alone and b) when Farmer R was away from the farm. So, knowing that they were in a meeting, I texted Nate and said "We just got a new calf! What should I do?" He texted back "Dry ears".

Okay, I can handle that.

Luckily I had a towel in the car and I grabbed the hair dryer from the barn. I was a little hesitant as I approached them since some mamas can be pretty protective of their new babies. This one seemed to trust me. Somehow she knew that I was trying to help. I grabbed the slimy little guy and started rubbing him down with the towel and drying his head and ears. Mom was overseeing the process and checking my work. If we weren't around, mom would lick the baby to clean him off anyway but we're trying to get those ears dried off as soon as possible because if they freeze, the capillaries will die and that calf will have shortened ears.

So I got the little guy as dry as I could and quickly left to give them time to nurse. The little guy was shivering and I knew that's what he needed. When I came back later, all was well in his world. His belly was full and he was snoozing away.

The calves are often skittish around people since the world is still so new to them. This morning when we went in to check on everyone, I walked over to see mom and calf and that little guy came right up to me and gave me a nuzzle.

I think he was thanking me for saving his ears.

February 7, 2010

it's another girl!...and another boy!...and we're back from PASA!

What a weekend!
A new heifer calf (female) was born on Thursday. That calf will share a birthday with Nate and my mother! A bull calf (male) was born late Friday/early Saturday while we were away at the conference.
The PASA conference.... Well, the conference was amazing, as always. As soon as we arrived we were asked to give a speech at the awards banquet the following night. That gave us a day to try to figure out what we wanted to say. We were awarded a scholarship to attend the conference this year and we spoke about the Brownback Memorial Scholarship Fund. It was a good chance for us to tell over two thousand people our story as well as how much PASA, the conference and the scholarship fund means to us. It was also the perfect time to thank the couple who gave us the opportunity to get started by letting us farm on their land for the last two years. It was so hard to keep from crying but we spoke through the tears and it was an amazing, extremely emotional experience.
It's hard to find the words to describe the conference. It's not often that you have the opportunity to be in a room with a few thousand people who all share the same passion for sustainable agriculture as well as the desire to help repair this country's severely broken food system. The energy there is amazing, it's a great chance to catch up with our farmer friends and we always learn a ton of good stuff.
We learned about raising rabbits (I know, I know...maybe another post on that), raising pigs on pasture, keeping honey bees, milking goats, marketing, how to build a wood fired oven using cob construction and Nate's favorite..... Humanure. He learned about how you can avoid contaminating the water supply by composting human waste for use in your garden. It might seem out there but it makes perfect sense and it isn't nearly as gross as it sounds. You can learn about it here.
Nothing like a good PASA conference to get us recharged and ready to change the world! Now, if we could just secure a place to live...

February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Farmer Nate!!

Thank you for being the best farm partner a girl could ask for. And thank you for making me laugh... especially during times like these.

Happy Birthday, baby. I love you.

 And.... HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the best mom I could ever ask for. My mother and Nate share the same birthday. Crazy, isn't it? I hope you have a wonderful day, Mom. I love you.

it's a girl. . . and the rest of the week.

Life is truly a whirlwind for us right now and we're just trying to keep up without losing our minds. The last few days, in photos...

A new baby girl was born Sunday night. Farmer R is getting to know the newest addition and checking her belly to make sure it's full of mama's milk.... while mom sniffs on.

 This is last week's calf, Mikey nursing.

 We spotted this guy just down the road from the farm. This is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. He's so amazing and we're happy to see him but we sure hope he doesn't find our chickens. Isn't he beautiful?
We've spent the last few days on firewood detail. Dragging logs, splitting logs, hauling logs, stacking logs. We also separated the bull as well as a young bull calf (the one who escaped recently) from the rest of the herd. The cows (mamas) will come into heat every 20 days and we don't want them breeding right now. Remember when I explained why he times things so the calves are born this time of year??
When we checked on everyone tonight, that little bull calf had found his way back to his mom by escaping through the fence. Little shit.
We're also continuing our calf labor education as we learn more about what labor signs to look for. We've been studying body language, udders and even taking photos of the different vaginal phases.
We are off to the annual PASA (PA Association for Sustainable Farming) conference! This very conference is what inspired us to search out our first farming opportunity. We didn't think both of us would be able to go this year as we weren't sure we'd have someone to take care of the hens. We just finally figured all of that out and, amazingly, we're both able to go. Yay! We're never able to leave the farm at the same time for any length of time.
I'll be away from this space for a few days and hope to return an inspired, more enlightened farmer.
Be well.