Our second misconception is that cows produce milk all the time.
(Disclaimer: we are not a dairy farm and we do not sell milk; however, we do have a milk cow that provides milk for the family, so we do have a little bit of experience in the field. Also our cows are Angus/Holstein/Jersey crosses. The Holstein/Jersey provides the milkfat, and the Angus helps keep it in a smaller quantity.)
Anybody with any sort of experience with (mammal) pregnancy and childbirth knows that this is not the case – it is after a baby is born that milk is produced to feed the baby.
Basically, the cow gets pregnant, gives birth nine months later, and (here on Southwick Family Farm), once the calf is big enough to eat grass and hay, we milk the mother to provide some milk for the family. Her milk production will gradually decrease, and she will stop lactating until she gives birth again.
But wait! Aren’t you missing an important step?
That’s right! How are the baby calves made here at Southwick Family Farm? For those of you unaware, there have been many human babies and children running around on the farm, and it’s not really safe for us kids to be around a bull.
Welcome to the world that we refer to as the AI guys. Whenever we notice a cow in heat, we’ll ring up our friends at Genex, and they send a worker out with a large pot of liquid nitrogen in the back of their vehicle that contains tubes of semen. The worker will pull out a tube of cheap angus, put on a glove, and go breed our cow in a process called artificial insemination.
It was practically a family tradition for all the kids to go out and sit on hay bales to watch. Terribly exciting stuff we got to do. Hopefully the semen would take, the cow would be pregnant, and we’d have a new calf after nine months. Then we would have milk again.
Behold, friends! A new blog series, all about common misconceptions about farmers, farming, and other related things. written by the Farmer’s three youngest children under pseudonyms. Brownie points to anybody who can guess the real identity behind the writers!
The first (very common) misconception is that hens need roosters to lay eggs.
Not true, y’all. If we think about life (as we know it) in the larger scheme of things, it becomes blatantly obvious that every female organism ovulates without being sexually active, and chickens aren’t the exception. Hens (female chickens) will lay eggs even if there isn’t a rooster hanging around the coop.
So what happens if a rooster is with the egg-laying hens and there’s some baby-making action going on? That means there might be fertilized eggs, which have the potential to become baby chicks if the hen sits on the eggs long enough for chick development. We currently have four roosters with our layers, so the vast majority of the eggs we sell are probably fertilized. But our hens don’t sit on the eggs and so the chicks don’t develop.
So there you have it – animal sex ed part 1. ~ Parmenides
Pick up from the farm – all of our items are available from the farm. We prefer preorders, so that we can have it ready for you or let you know if it isn’t available. Call/text – 315.200.2341 or email us at email@example.com
Meet up at Barry Park – on the second Wednesday of each month between 3:00 and 3:30 we will bring preordered items to the south end of Barry Park. For 22-23 season the dates are Nov. 9, Dec. 14, Jan. 11., Feb. 8, Mar. 8, Apr. 12, May 10.
Delivery to your home or location choice – For $5-15 depending on your location we will deliver to your home. Delivery in locations in areas that we normally travel are $5, in locations within 10 mi are $10, and over 10 mi are $15. On occasion we will waive our fee. Delivery is at our convenience, preferably on the second Wednesday of the month.
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We are raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. These birds are moved regularly, getting fresh grass which they love. They also receive locally grown organic grains. And we let them out of the pen to free-range. They enjoy being able to roam and eat. If night comes and we haven’t put them back in their pen, they end up roosting on our cellar door.
We are taking preorders for these turkeys – $20 down which will be put toward the total when you pick the turkey up. Preorder price is $5.00/lb through Saturday, November 19. November 20 and following they will be $5.25/lb. They will probably be 12-16 lb. We can try to accommodate your size preference, but please be willing to take something a little smaller or larger as needed.
Turkeys will be ready on Saturday, November 19 after 3 p.m. They will be fresh and can be refrigerated for up to one week. Let us know what you would like – how many, what weight range, if you want the giblets (heart & liver) – and how you would like to pay $20 down (in person or by invoice). Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 315.200.2341.
Ron and Beth recently had to cover some animal chores for about 10 days because the young crew was away. Ron took on milking the cow, checking her water, and extending her pasture as needed; feeding, watering and letting out the chickens; and watering the sheep and goats. He regularly milks his goat and moves her kids twice a day to new grass. The time his daily chores took each morning doubled.
Beth took on the daytime and evening chores. She found out where lots of things were and stretched muscles that aren’t used in household chores. (Cows, pigs and turkeys are managed by an older son who was around all week. We are glad we didn’t have to do those chores, too!)
Garden chores were basically (harvest) tomatoes, beans, squash, repeat. These chores need to be done every 2-3 days or the vegetables split, stop producing, or get too large, respectively. So every day involved harvesting.
On the hot afternoons she would check water for chickens, pigs, sheep and goats. She would also check goats that were staked to make sure they weren’t tangled.
Late in the day she would collect the eggs from the Taj Mahal. The nest boxes are built into the right side. While we can collect eggs from the outside, many times we go inside and collect them that way. Currently we are getting about 3 1/2 dozen a day.
Sometimes she would hear and see the Rhode Island Red hen with her yellow chicks hiding in the weeds. The hen always makes a humming sound, and the chicks make peeping sounds, so if they are around, they can be heard, though not always seen.
Each evening she washed and boxed the eggs. Then after dark she went out to lock the chickens in.
Usually 2-5 hens roosted on the tractor frame. While they might flap their wings when moved, they don’t peck or try to run away. They are quite docile and are easily moved into the Taj Mahal.
The mother hen nests on the ground with her chicks under her. We let her be and hope for the best.
These chores took a lot of the day. It is also harvest season, so each day we canned something – beans, beets, pear sauce, and pears. Two older sons, who were around evenings, helped with the prep work for these things. Life was steady!
We are grateful for the regular, faithful labor of the young crew. Good to have them go, good to have them come home!