Calving has begun!
This is our second calf, and was born to #806 a few days ago. #806 is one of our orginal cows, and is an Angus, as one would suspect. She was bred to a pure Red Devon bull, so the calf is half Red Devon. This is a bull calf, so he receives the same number as his dam, only with an s before the number. This bull calf will be castrated at six months of age, so the s stands for steer. Thus at a glance we know the sex and lineage of the animal. Year of birth is written at the top of the eartag, and is currently hidden by the ear. We write the same information on the back and put one tag in each ear. Periodically animals loose eartags, and we have to replace them.Since females are to be around longer than the males, we have a slightly different numbering system for them. Their first number is the year of birth and second is the sequence of birth in that year. The number of the cow is written at the top. So, the first heifer calf this year has an eartag of #1801. Its mother is #1505, who was born in 2015.
You will notice in the first picture a broadleaf plant close to the ground. This is Cocklebur. It was six feet tall in this pasture, before we mowed it in advance of the herd, so we could see calves. #806 has some burs on her head, but fortunately cattle aren't phased much by cockleburs. However, sheep, dogs, and people are. This is an annual forb, which finds purchase after the ground has been opened up from animal impact during the wet season. We are going to mow closer to the ground to try arresting its proliferation. We had a wet winter, so Cockelbur is prolific this year.
What is notable about this picture is how clover is already regrowing, after being grazed five or six days ago. Trampling by the cow herd creates a mulch, through which clover quickly finds light and life.Sometimes steaks from older beeves are a bit tough. So, we have begun experimenting with cooking these steaks by the sous-vide method. This is a process which cooks meat in a plastic bag submerged in water at a very low temperature (120 - 130 degrees) for 1 - 5 hours. The meat is essentially steamed in its own juices at a heat lower than an oven can reach, thus breaking down tougher sinews without over-cooking the meat. We cooked these steaks for an hour and a half at 130 degrees, and definitely observed the benefit. Next round we will cook them for three hours to see if that makes further difference.
Mashed potatoes, baked apples, and sauteed peppers accompanied our sous-vided steaks beautifully. What a meal!
If you intend to join us for our Farm Tour on Saturday October 13, now is the time to sign up. Light lunch, animals on pasture, bucolic scenery, border collie at work, and stimulating conversation will be the features of the day. Pay in advance; children under ten at no charge.
In another birthing season,
Drausin & Susan