Spring has definitely sprung here in Harcourt and what a season it is! La Nina is certainly showing herself at the farm this year. The ground is well and truly saturated, gullies all flowing and more falling from the sky as I write. Definitely still manageable though, far from the severity of the flooding which many around the world have been experiencing.
Nine months ago Iggy, Olive, Quartz and I took a trip to the bull and now all three calves are on the ground.
Calving was very straight forward as always for Iggy. The first planned calving for her (the last two girls were from her breaking in with the neighbour’s bull) and this one is a bull calf, typical. Bowie is, however, shaping up to be a beautiful inquisitive boy.
Olive was next. What a long story this has been. Many will remember when she first calved three and a half years ago and had a still born boy. She then produced beautiful milk for 16 months but after I dried her off for her second calving we waited and waited to discover that her calf had died late in pregnancy so she never came back into milk. She then spent a year on beautiful volcanic soil in Glenlyon at Fi and Ben’s (thanks Fi and Ben!) while we waited to get her pregnant again. After a failed attempt I actually tried to move her on as a lawn mower. When that fell through I gave her one last shot with the bull and to our surprise we had success. So it was a huge celebration for many when Olive finally had a live heifer last week! Cherry is her name and she is truly adorable. Olive has had mild milk fever so we are keeping a very close eye on her and hope her chemistry balances out now. It’s been very special to watch her finally have a calf of her own to feed, groom and bond with. You may notice a difference in the milk with the addition of Olive’s true Jersey milk, it’s like drinking straight cream.
Everyone on the farm was watching Quartz in anticipation for her last week of pregnancy. Quartz has foot deformities which lead to her really struggling in the wet so she had been lying down a lot looking ready to pop and growing an outrageously huge udder. Then another bull calf, Jasper, with the same forehead curls as his mother. As Quartz came into this high stress time with an already compromised immune system due to her feet, she has had a pretty rough first week. We seem to have her stabilised now. For her sake I am hoping for more warm sunny days.
So following calving will come a rush in milk supply. I’m anticipating a big jump up from now until Feb so don’t hold back in your consumption. Finally I will be able to open up more CSA subscriptions to lots of people who’ve patiently been on the waiting list for years. However, unfortunately two of the cows I had hoped would be pregnant for next autumn calving are not, which means I will have another drop in milk production. New subscribers will come with an understanding that they may have to be paused during June/July/Aug next year. If you’re on the waiting list keep an eye out for my email.
For those in Central Victoria we are pleased to announce that the market finally has a permanent home at the Camp Reserve in Castlemaine. No more time and location changes; we can now have shade in summer, hard surface in winter, ample parking and the potential to make the space feel like home. The market is really cranking at the moment with an awesome variety of produce to buy; hours are 2:30-5:30 so please do come on down.
Lastly our other big news on the farm is that the clutch on Bert, the dairy ute, has finally died. Our plan has always been to electrify Bert when needed for several reasons; most of his problems were related to the petrol engine, we already need a power system onboard for milking and he’s the perfect candidate for Oil to experiment on – short distances, low speeds, not road going. Oli’s long term project is to build a woodgas hybrid electric truck so this is the first stage of experience for that research project. He has been wide eyed with excitement working on this conversion with the pressure of a serious time limit to get it running and back to the dairy.
It all happens in spring! Right now, it really depends on the moment you catch me as to whether I’m feeling – ‘it’s ok, we’ll get them through this, it’s not too bad’ or ‘bugger this, who’d farm livestock!’ But I know, these times are balanced out by the joy and reward it all gives me most of the time.