After a nose dive

Even where it’s not wet, we manage to get nice and dirty

Today was one of those days.

Zoe fell over in the yard and got her left side covered in muck. Then she fell into a drain and got her belly muddy. Then this!

Save me

Save me, Mama!

Apparently, a good daily diet of dirt is good for you, innoculating you with beneficial bacteria. If so, Zoe is already set up for life!

It’s been another busy day. Aside from the normal milkings and feeding, this typical winter’s day on our dairy farm brought:

  • Four new calves and one assisted birth
  • The job of sorting heavily pregnant cows from those who are on “holidays”
  • Repairs to a quad bike after its electrics were savaged by hayshed rats
  • Feeding our 47 new calves
  • Moving young stock around to eat new pastures
  • Mucking out calf sheds
  • A little drama

A little drama? Yes, while we were sorting out the “springers” (cows about to calve) from the mob of dry cows, somebody decided to try out for the Bovine Olympics and crash over/through a six-strand barbed wire fence. The culprit was a cow who’d clearly had enough of Romeo the Bull. Unfortunately, she – and Romeo in turn – blundered into a paddock of yearlings, who found the whole affair incredibly exciting.

The whole scene must have looked rather comical: cow desperately zig-zagging through the paddock hotly pursued by Romeo, visibly equipped and amorous, followed by a roaring Bobcat staffed by a giggling 6 year old and white-knuckled mud-spattered farmer, plus a teen on another quad, Patch the yip-yapping pup and 60 bucking yearlings.

Thankfully, the besotted Romeo didn’t latch onto any of the yearlings and the cow seemed relieved to be out of there, so the carnival was over almost as quickly as it began.

You have to laugh!

I knew our heifers would be okay but I had to check

Yearling heifers

Our yearlings look lovely in their holiday home

Back in June, we were in big trouble. We’d had waaaay too much rain and there literally wasn’t enough dry pasture on the farm to feed all our animals.

I decided we had to send our precious heifers away on agistment. We were lucky enough to find a caring farmer just an hour away with just the right amount of land. While we know they are in good hands, it’s our responsibility to check in on them every few weeks and see how they’re going. Well, here they were today – looking great!

You can tell when yearlings are feeling good. They literally jump out of their skins. I walked into their paddock and caused massive excitement as they leapt and frolicked all over the place.

It’s been 12 weeks since their last drench and vaccinations, so we’ll organise another dose in the next fortnight to keep them looking terrific. They’ll meet their Jersey beaux later in the spring.

When there are just too many mouths to feed

We’ve hit the wall. We’re officially overstocked. The wet season has left too many paddocks out of rotation and we just don’t have enough grass.

Our options are:

1. Keep feeding out large quantities of hay, grain and silage

This is expensive and time consuming. Days are being consumed behind the tractor wheel and the guys are quickly becoming exhausted, even with extra labour. It’s also less than desirable to drive heavy machinery over soft pastures.

2. Sell stock

Not an option either. We need more milkers rather than fewer and a short term sell-off to buy back later is a poor choice – we like to keep a closed herd to reduce the risk of importing disease and so we can be sure of our bloodlines.

3. Find some more land

Our preferred option is to find top quality agistment reasonably locally for our yearlings. That means nice, well fertilised pastures, proper animal welfare practices, shelter, good fences and reliable water. Not easy to find just now, it turns out! For this reason, we’re touring far-flung pockets of Gippsland looking for the ideal home away from home for our little ones.

Any suggestions?