Tuesday, December 28, 2010

so excited!

You know the best, very best part of having miniature Herefords, is the babies.

I did have all my animals pregnancy checked this past summer and fall, and apparently all 4 are "safe with calf". I have to say, also, that my vet is very good at approximating how long they have been pregnant! One cow he checked; said approximately 70 days pregnant....dont you know he was right almost to the day I saw her frolicking with the bull?! (actually, I was away on vacation...my dear husband sent me a grainy picture of the two of them together off his iPhone!)

Anyway I was doing some calender checking, due dates etc. and looking at how big Miss Piggy was looking....come to realize I have 2 cows due in early March!! Thats just 2 months away give or take!! Wow!!

That should be interesting, as March around here is usually mud season with a mix of rain, snow, wind and cold. But I know these guys are tough creatures, and you can bet they will be getting extra TLC and straw when the time comes for the little ones to be born.

Makes it all worth while :)

*Picture of Miss Piggy a week before she calved with Darby, summer 2010*

Monday, December 27, 2010

Apple Crisp Recipe

Ok, so its the dead of winter, not much new in the barnyard....(you know, bundle up, trudge out, feed hay, look at cows, check water, feed more hay, look at cows some more, climb over 2 gates multiple times to clean out barn and bed barn with straw, look at cows again, pet cows, push hay to cows, check light cord so cows don't pull lamp down into barn (no, not a heat lamp....!), look at cows again once more, clean up barn floor chaff, cover hay with tarp, park wheelbarrow (barrel?) on top, look at cows one more time...hey, gotta make getting all bundled up worth it...), go inside...) so I thought I would share some of my all time long time favorite EASY recipes (gosh its nice to be on break!) that my family loves!!

***Now these are easy recipes, not fussy (which I think makes them so good) and most are taken from my mothers old (1950's) Betty Crocker Cookbook (the one thats held together with duck tape and some of the pages are no longer in numeric order......). I cant remember her actually giving it to me when I left home at 21, but it did, and I will not part with it....it has the BEST SIMPLE recipes....I'm sorry, I don't have time to shop for strange funky use-one-time ingredients.... you all know; so many ingredients, one loses focus just reading the recipe (especially those of use with late-in-life ADHD ...!!) (Gee, isnt that what we used to call multi-tasking? Lol!)

**** Ok, here it is....this is the most requested dessert in my house, and what everyone (here) wants for Thanksgiving dessert. Pair it with vanilla ice cream warm from the oven...

**Any multi use or cooking apple will work, any size pan, I make mine in a rectangular Pyrex dish, great for those slightly beat up or dented apples rolling around in the bottom of the crisper drawer that are fine but nobody wants to eat (since they will be peeled and sliced anyway...)

**Make the topping, don't have to be super exact with the ingredients (the beauty of this recipe....)
AND make an extra batch for a baggie/freezer for another time....

**Place in greased pan approx. (Pyrex dish, pie pan, metal square pan, whatever you may have) 4-6 or more, peeled cored apples (about 1/2 the pan depth more or less)

(remember, were baking here, not designing rockets....!)


2/3 to 3/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup soft butter (yes, use the real stuff!!!!)

**cut the butter through the topping ingredients until combined but not pulverized....leave crumbly chunks...I use a pastry cutter but a fork and knife, whatever, will work to cut and combine.

Feel free to add raisins, cranberries, some nuts, etc into combined topping if you want (although my family loves it just plain...)

**put topping on top of sliced apples in pan

**place in oven (GREAT when your cooking dinner in the oven at the same time)
cook till apples are tender (test with fork should be soft but not applesauce!)

**Recipe says 375 degree oven for approx. 30-35 minutes until apples tender and top golden brown.

I just throw it in the oven alone or with dinner and take out when done....keep your family away from it long enough for it to cool a bit before serving ..... ice cream is the bomb!!!!(fabulous)

This tastes great cold as well (although I doubt it will be around long enough.....) and is fabulous for breakfast as well....(hey.....)

I love this because it is simple, easy and absolutely what an apple crisp should be and nothing else. You can mix varieties of apples too! And kids can make the topping (WARNING: topping may be too delicious for young children to actually make and not eat....proper adult supervision may be needed if "crisp" is to make it to "apple"!)

And sometimes simple is "simply the best"!


Time to go out to the barn* and.....
*see above....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all...

We at Middleground Farm would like to wish all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and healthy New Year!

We would like to take this time to say how truly blessed we feel being able to care for our family and home and little herd of cattle; we also would like to remind folks that it is our duty to look after those who may not be as fortunate as ourselves, and help them out any way that we can...

We know that when our "barns are full", we need to give to those who are in need...

"Honor the Lord from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine." Prov. 3: 9-10

May you find peace, happiness and prosperity this Christmas season and in the coming new year!

The Alu family
Diane, Tony, Alyssa and Jolene

Monday, December 20, 2010

....Launched Apparently

Well, to continue the last post, looks as tho Sprite was "helped" over the fence to the other side, probably while eating next to the fence, didnt see someone coming who thought she needed to be "relocated" and then.....that woven wire fence was not the tightest, having taken the full brunt of the barn roof when it sheered off the barn and sailed through the air during a freak winter storm....
Anyway, being the laid back creatures that they are, it was a matter of a handful of hay, an open gate, and life was back to normal that day.. . A cattle panel made the repair for now, but oh how I need to re-do that barnyard fence!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well now.....

I guess little Sprite was not too happy about the barnyard setup now that Darby had left; this morning I went out to feed the animals, and looked to see little Sprite on the other side of the barnyard, standing next to her momma. (they had been seperated by a fence / cattle panel, etc). Just as if to say, "this works better for me, thanks!" Now it was dark out still, and from what I could see from the single light in the barn, everything appeared to be normal; no busted fences, pushed in panels or popped open gates.
I took a quick look around the other side of the barnyard, and all looked normal there as well.
So the mystery continues: how did she, exactly, end up on the other side of the barnyard?
I will have to look into things a bit when I get home this afternoon. Perhaps she jumped over the woven wire, or was "launched" by Miss Emerald? I have no idea, but she sure looked pretty smug about things when I saw her.....
Unfortunately, she had just been weaned not a month yet, and I am sure momma would have no problem taking back baby, so, she may be getting a return trip back today!
For now, though, I hope she enjoys her stay!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Last One Gone and Winter Sets In

Ah, the onset of real winter.

We haven't had snow to speak of until last night, really, which for is here in central New York state is a bit unusual...(we are out of reach from Buffalo's well known "lake effect" blizzards that can dump several feet of snow in one evening!). But winter blew in yesterday, just a few hours after our last animal left the farm for the year.

I have to admit, I kinda hated to see him go! Darby was a sweet gentle natured and so handsome a young bull, I definitely would have kept him myself if not for the fact that most of my females are related (closely). That and the fact that little Sprite and him paired up pretty much all the time, being the closest in age...
He went to his new home in eastern New York state, and I know he will have a very good life with his new owners as they start their own herd of registered miniature Herefords; I have to say they are off to a good start and cannot wait to see some of Darby's offspring in the coming years.

Its always nice, too, to see folks come to the farm with a nice clean safe trailer, obviously having the animals best interests in mind as far as safety and comfort is concerned...it was a cold day, and I was relieved to know he would be making his 6 hour journey in a rubber matted straw bedded closed trailer with hay and treats to munch on the way. I always get a bit nervous when it gets this late in the year....loading and trailering an animal to a new home is stressful enough, adding freezing temperatures doesn't help matters. But he arrived safe and sound, and I was relieved to hear he had settled in just fine after he arrived at his new home.

His momma Miss Piggy and Sprite both seemed a little lost the rest of the day, and the barnyard a bit emptier, but that is what we breed our animals for, to raise, to keep, or to sell.
Come spring there will be new babies cavorting through the pastures again, but Darby I will say, was one of my most favorite calves born here yet!

Pictured: Miss Piggy (with Cowbird on her face) and Darby as young calf; Darby's first winter.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This is what we like.......

I was looking around online at miniature Hereford pictures...
I got a call from a man today asking me questions about the miniatures; how, what, why, etc.
I am constantly impressed by the interest in these animals, and, the reasons folks are interested in eventually obtaining them.
I hear so many reasons; used to have cattle, have an empty barn and miss having something in it, looking to stock a small farm or piece of land, retired, investment, grass-fed beef market, grandchildren, pet,looking for an easy to handle livestock....the reasons go on and on.
When I talk with folks who are actively seeking miniatures to buy, I always offer to help with finding reputable breeders who may have animals for sale. I am big on type; I don't believe someone should be breeding miniatures just for the sake of obtaining a tiny animal...ultimately, the miniature Hereford has to be a fine example of the beef animal is it intended to be. Many people come to our farm and after seeing the animals ask where the mini's are....our miniatures are so much like regular sized Herefords that folks do not realize they are minis until they stand next to them and see for themselves how small they really are. Which is just fine by me.
Check out the pictures of how the Herefords used to look, before they were bred to be huge....this is the animal I strive to breed here at our farm; thick, correct, BEEF in a smaller sized package.
Portion - controlled breeding I suppose!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Girl and Her Cow

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Happy Thanksgiving to all

Wanting to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving "season", as I think Thanksgiving is basically everyday, at least for those of us living in America.
I know I am thankful for everything God has provided for my family and myself: I will not even begin to list all that I am thankful for, but will say that a grateful spirit is a content spirit.

Farm news: had the vet here last Thursday...did the fall pregnancy checks that I have not been diligent in the past with; that and the fact that it is still difficult to confine my animals enough to have them pregnancy checked....which I will be working on this winter, as I have decided that I (and my ever-patient vet)and my beasties deserve a safe, stress-free way of being held in comfort and safety when the need arises.

I found a great manufacturer of comfort headlocks right in Pennsylvania called Zimmerman. If you Google "Zimmerman head-gates" you will find their site; they have all kinds of neat cattle handling stuff, including some of the newer style hay feeders that virtually eliminate waste with the hay suspended above a feeder floor that is accessed through headstalls....really cuts down on the waste. I would imagine this would pay for itself in hay savings alone!

Anyway, the vet confirmed 2 more animals pregnant (yeah!) due spring / early summer, but my lovely cow who gave me Sprite this last April was found to be open (still!!!) after 7 months, which is unacceptable to me (obviously not to her!) but on a good note she was checked, is perfectly fine and was in heat about 10 days earlier, so, if all goes well she is bred , or will repeat to be bred in December, which, may be the case after the time she had being haltered, tied and checked! Just a little stress there,(for both of us...) which I will expound upon next blog!

My thoughts on this late cycling / breeding back is this: (unscientific conclusion>>>) I let the calf stay with her all those 7 months; normally I will wean 5-6 months tops, no earlier than 4 months. The vet mentioned that sometimes the cow is too busy being a good mother and interested in her calf to breed back and cycle at the typical 60-90 days....I had one other cow do that, and it was the same thing...I was lazy, and let the calf stay with momma apparently way too long. So, next year , I will wean at 5 months, and that's it. And, with the new head-gates :), it should be no problem at all having everyone checked in a more "timely" manner!

Happy Thanksgiving to all.
May God bless you!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Herefords and Pastures

Ok, first an apology to any and all who were looking for my how to build fence blogging I promised way back when snow was still covering the ground ! Life does have a way of moving way too quickly, and I confess, my spring and summer have moved pretty fast.
First the farm news. Lets see; we had a beautiful little heifer calf, Sprite, born in April. With much anticipation I looked forward to my second calf to be born in July. Unfortunately, the calf was found dead in the pasture, even though I had checked momma that very morning to see if she was close to calving. Within a 12 hour time span, she had calved, but apparently not quickly enough....thankfully the mother was OK, although I had the task of digging a hole back behind the fence and burying the little guy as momma wandered around, nose to the ground, calling for her baby that never took a breath...sad; I was pretty devastated as I pride myself in keeping close watch on my animals (at least twice a day) for goodness sake they are literally surrounding our house; out front, along side and out back. She happened to be on the side, with the firewood stacks hiding her; I never checked till evening and I'm not sure if I could have done anything to save the little guy, but beat myself up for it anyway for a couple days as it were.
That being said, my other two were pregnancy checked last month; one I expected to be just bred, but the other I was expecting a calf from this fall...turns out both are pregnant, but for NEXT spring instead!! Arrrrgh! Good and bad news. So no over crowding issues in the barn this winter! But I have to wonder what was so different to affect my breeding program when nothing had changed as far as pasture, hay, minerals, water, etc. Just cant figure, unless it was my new bull; but he did breed all the cattle eventually. Who knows, but looking forward to babies next spring for sure; and, I will have everyone pregnancy checked this fall as well.
So that's the farm news, and I still haven't gotten the back pasture wire up, but it has been mowed and tended to, so that's next, along with hanging two new gates. I must say we've had alot of rain this summer, and the pastures are in fine shape, so that's a good thing. One pasture I had worried about; I had grazed it hard late last fall, and was worried it was too short to winter over. Well I completely covered that pasture early spring with the barn and barnyard clean out manure and bedding, so much so one could not see the grass...it looked awful and I though "what did I do? they'll never graze through all that poop!" But spring came and rain; it was mowed hard as the grass began to grow, the manure got chopped up with the bedding, the rains came, the grass grew and grew and by June it was so lush I was amazed at the recovery!! So if you take care of your land and give it some rest and nutrients, it can come back; but I was a bit worried!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First miniature Hereford calf of 2010 - Little Sprite

Well I just had to share this!
Its spring break for my two daughters this week, and they of course wanted to go somewhere for vacation...(anywhere but home, heaven forbid!!). Anyway, since the grandparents live at the Jersey shore (no, it really is not like the show, trust me...) that was where they wanted to go.

Well, here was the problem; I had a very pregnant heifer on my hands who was due the same time we would be gone. Not going to happen. Stay home on vacation to babysit a pregnant cow? My girls? Not going to happen! So, Sunday we drove 300 miles to NJ to meet the grandparents who then took them the additional 75 more miles to their house for the week, I had lunch, a nice visit, got back in the car and drove all the way BACK home, another 300 miles SO I COULD WAIT FOR THIS HEIFER TO HAVE HER CALF! Yes, 10 hours on the road to keep my girls happy (and my sanity...) and, being the crazy herdsman (woman...whatever..!.) that I (apparently) am, watch over my soon to be new mom.

She must have heard me, or knew I was gone but coming back, because don't you know the very next morning, Monday, I got up early to find my very pregnant heifer getting ready to calve. So at 6:30 am I settled into the pasture with my steaming mug of coffee to watch over the process, and, at 8:08 am Monday morning my very pregnant heifer gave birth to a lovely tiny little heifer calf!
Kinda made it all worth while.

And yes, my family still thinks I am just a little nuts I suppose, but they cannot deny the fact that when there is something that needs to be tended to with the livestock, I will do everything in my power to make sure it gets done, driving to Jersey and back if that's what it takes.

This is our bull Hawkeyes first calf. Weight at birth approx 25-30 lbs. She is also polled. Her momma is horned. Hawkeye is polled on both sides of his pedigree. He is available.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Small Farms and miniature cattle.

Here is a picture of our polled (naturally hornless) young registered miniature Hereford herd sire. He will be 3 this coming fall. He is a frame 000 if not smaller and quite pleasant. We are pleased to be offering him for sale just in time for the 2010 breeding season.
Details (and offspring pictures) forthcoming on our sale page, or, please give us a shout if you are interested.
He will fit beautifully on any small farm!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wheelbarrow Ready

Well I know I should be preparing for my blogs on fencing, but its awful hard to do when the snow is still knee deep out in these parts, although shrinking daily. I promise I will get going on this, because soon it will be time to build fence once again , or, if you started last fall, finish the fence!
I could not help myself but to put up these recent pictures of one of (I think)the nicest calves we've ever had here at the farm, our little registered bull Darby. Hes about 7 months old here, and still sporting his thick ungroomed winter duds (coat). He is one of the thickest little guys I have seen anywhere, and will be smaller than his dam, but just as wide.
His momma is our herd matriarch Miss Piggy, who has a pretty interesting story behind her as far as her place in the original Largent Point of Rocks Ranch herd line-up. Needless to say, she is a pretty amazing cow who delivers some pretty amazing calves for us.
I have been considering keeping Darby here and buying some additional bloodlines just to breed him to, but he is still offered for sale at this time. Theres plenty of pictures of his Sire (Mr Bull) and his dam (Miss Piggy) on our web-site, and I can only imagine what he will grow into as far as a herd sire is concerned. Heck, I cant wait to see what he looks like under all that hair!! We had him dehorned last fall, and he has just a lovely face, just like his momma and dad. I think he is a perfect combination of Bull and Piggy, and if you are looking for something really nice for your miniature Hereford herd, he would fit that bill perfectly. I do expect to halter train him as well if someone would like to show him. As you can tell from the pictures, he is already "wheelbarrow trained"
Contact me if you are interested in Darby.
PS Our animals receive only grass and clover hay; no grain ever is given to "fatten em up".

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Simple fencing 101

Probably one of the most talked about subjects is fencing. What where how, what kind, how to, hire it or do it myself, smooth wire, high tensile, woven, barbed, tape, wood, you name it, its out there. And, if you are anything like me, the more choices there are, the more confused and uncertain about which one to pick you become. Talk about stress!
So I think I will start a small series on fencing, from start to finish.
Please stay tuned.......

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spring Rub-off

Well, ok, so its really not spring, heck tomorrow is just Ground Hog Day! Let me just say, I have my own thoughts about Ground Hog Day, and, having lived in the mountains of north central Pennsylvania for some years (!), I honestly think that Ground Hog day was the idea of a bunch of laid-off workers hanging around a bar one cold and boring afternoon looking for something to do, which, oddly enough, involved a most unsuspecting groundhog, or, woodchuck, depending on where you are from. Anyway, most of us know that Groundhogs are smart enough to know not to venture out of their cozy dens in February (unlike us), and most of us realize that some guy in a tux and top hat yanking a pet woodchuck out of his cage once a year is no meteorologist by a long shot! But hey, half the time the animal is right, half the time wrong, so at least his reliability is about the same as most weather forecasters these days....(no offense to meteorologists intended!)

That being said, some of you here in the Northeast may have begun to see your animals hair falling off, out, and being rubbed off, in various places, such as the tops of the shoulders, necks and bellies. Now this is no cause for alarm, merely cause for conversation (for some I suppose).
Really, its an early sign of spring, just as the animals growing their winter coats, so it is when the sun begins to swing up a little higher each day in the sky, these guys have had it with that heavy scratchy itchy dull can't do a thing with it hair coat of theirs. So they rub, and they scratch. This is where having horns really helps on my cattle, because those horns can reach all those hard to scratch places. Posts, trees, feeders, equipment, you name it, they will start rubbing. And, they will look rangy, mangy and rough. The hair falls off in patches and creases, leaving bare skin with just a prickle of new hair beneath. Sometimes there is irritation, little red dots and such from the rubbing, and sometimes it may be bugs, too!
But, if its not red and irritated, terribly scaly or just gross, its probably just the annual spring rub-off.
If it drives you crazy, think how they feel. If the skin (hide) below is rough or awful looking, you can put some medicine on the skin to help sooth it if you like.
Lots of folks ask me what do I use for treating my animals, or what do I have on hand, just in case. So I took a picture you see here of what I keep handy at the house and quite frankly, don't seem to need much else when it comes to treating anything of a superficial nature on my livestock.
Here is what I like to have around: (from left to right)

Neem Seed Oil
Tree Tea Oil
Petrolium Jelly
Bag Balm
Dr. Naylors Blu-Kote

The oils you can get at any health food store, and are powerful antiseptic/antifungels. I will mix a few drops with the petroleum jelly and make a salve for wounds, but especially like to use it when we have an animal de-horned and the area needs protection and healing; it does a wonderful job of keeping flies off as well. Aloe Vera is a natural healing ointment as well and can be mixed in, too.
The Bag Balm is good for rough skin and, the Blu-Kote is an old favorite since my dairy days for just about everything. A small bottle seems to last forever (a little goes a long way) and its so handy to grab it and spray; it forms a moist protective covering that stays for a couple days so it doesn't wash or wear off quickly, just be careful not to get the spray on your hands, clothes, etc: as it will stain; trust me on this! It is also inexpensive, and can be found at any Agway or farm supply store. Its been around forever, so its got to be good!
Another thing I tell folks is that you can use some of the same stuff on your animals as you use for yourself; Neosporine type ointments, spray antiseptics, etc. If its safe for humans, its probably safe (topical, of course) for use on your cattle.
Iodine I keep for dipping navels,and is a good antiseptic too.
Now if the animals are just going crazy scratching and itching and not loosing a lot of hair, they may have lice. Before you freak out, let me tell you it is fairly common in livestock, and we got it in our small herd of dairy cows from time to time too. How or where, who knows? Our animals were and are a closed herd, kept clean and brushed, so who knows, but if you suspect that is the case, you may have to dust them along their backs with a lice powder you can get at the local farm supply as well. Just pick a nice day outside, get some rubber gloves and put a light coating all along their backs , necks,and tail head, being mindful to work it in through the hair coat to the skin. Try to be upwind (wearing a dust mask is a good idea) so any dust blows away from you, any feed, and water, as this is serious insecticide, but takes care of the problem after one or two applications. As much as I hate using any chemicals around my animals, I will if absolutely necessary for their comfort and well being. I've only had to dust my cows once in 5 years, when they first arrived, so it should be a rare if ever occurrence. But, good to know, just in case.
If in doubt, you can always ask your vet. Over the years of owning dairy, beef and a horse,(yes, and dogs, a cat, and chickens) I've come to realize that a lot of minor issues regarding animal health can be resolved using a few proven, selected products, a dose of common sense, and an observant eye. Spending time around your stock on a daily basis will help you know what is normal for your animals, and help you to identify when something isn't quite right. Of course there will be days you check the water, throw the hay and "is everyone one standing and eating?, good, I'm outta here", but watching and handling your animals when you can makes it easy to treat them when as well. Most cows love to be brushed, especially along the back where they can't reach, and will stand still for as long as you care to comb them. This is also a great way to give them a shot if you need to; just brush hard, slap with your fist (where you want to administer the shot)at the same time, and when they get used to that brushing and slapping (distraction) just have the needle in that same hand that's slapping and pop it in on one of the slaps....they usually don't have a clue. Works like a charm.
Enjoy these nice days....spring is still a ways off for us I'm afraid!