The lovely weather didn't last long and it's gotten rather cold again. The grass isn't growing a great deal so it might be a few more weeks before the cows go out and kick up their heels. In the past, turnout has usually been determined by the point at which the winter feed runs out, but with the dairy herd having access to as much silage as they need this winter there's no great rush to get them out to eat the pasture. We'd like to see the grass nice and tall before they first graze it, which should help the pasture thrive for the rest of the summer, improve soil fertility, and help keep carbon sequestered in the plant material and soil organic matter for longer. There's more preparation to do before they're outside as well, with some new fencing and gates going up behind the parlour which should make life easier when bringing the cows in to be milked and letting them out afterward.
Darla calved without any incident a few weeks ago. She's doing well, as is her calf, which is a relief after the difficulties she had towards the end of her pregnancy. There are a few bed sores on her legs from the amount of time she spent down on the straw, and it looks like she's lost some weight, but apart from that she's recovering well and is producing a decent amount of milk too. Sadly, there were some more mishaps going on in the herd last week when four of our milking cows came on heat at the same time as each other. A lot of mounting, chasing, and butting ensued in the barn whilst the excitement of high fertility occurred. Two of the smaller girls – Sprout and Iona – fared worse. Both required treatment, and in Sprout’s case several stitches too, as she had a nasty cut on her leg from all the bulling that went on. Whilst she's recovering, we're keeping her away from the other cows and she's in the barn with the calves where there's less chance of her wound reopening. She seems to have taken a particular liking to one of the calves too, who is very grateful for all the extra milk he's managed to drink from her udder!
Whilst Sprout and Iona are receiving their medication, we can't put their milk in the tank for our consumption. Being down two cows isn't ideal, but we should just about manage to meet all our milk orders for the week. Unfortunately, it does mean any plans for ice cream making are going to be put on the back burner, and we're currently sold out of vanilla which is a tragedy! But we do have plenty of fior-di-latte and olive oil gelato available, both of which make an excellent substitution for vanilla ice cream.
It's been a bit quiet on the beef front lately but that's all set to change as we have two cows - Belinda and Candice - who sadly can no longer get in-calf and are ready for their retirement. We've got a slot booked in with the butcher this week and we were all set to say our goodbyes to Belinda (the biggest of the two) but we've just noticed she appears to have fostered one of our Ayrshire replacements with whom she shares a barn. So, we may not want to break them up, as Belinda's still producing a small amount of milk that will be beneficial to the Ayrshire calf. Sorry Candice! it looks like it might be your time then. We did try to get you to foster a calf too, you just weren't into it!