Category Archives: Homesteading

How Are Feed Prices in Your Area?

As I’ve said many times, I have a Jersey dairy cow named Cookie, a jersey calf and a gelding Quarter Horse named Dandy (he came named that way… I call him DoDa from the Yankee Doodle Dandy song) Anyway… I had two jersey cows up until a week ago when I took one, who was still in milk, into the butcher. (Another side note… I had to take her into the butcher – there was no way I could pull the trigger staring my Sally cow in the eyes)

Why did I take a pure bred Jersey cow who was still in milk to the butcher??? FEED PRICES!!! Sally had a detachment in her left rear quarter and it was a battle to milk that section. She stood statue still and was a great cow, I just had to hold up the bag and massage a lot to get the milk out. (Detachment is when the milk making part of the quarter detaches from up top and falls to the bottom of the bag) Sometimes the blood supply is cut off when this happens and the quarter dries up naturally. Unfortunately, that was not the case with Sally.

Now, back to our regular program…. So, I took Sally to the butcher, not because Cookie wouldn’t love to have her as a dry cow buddy, but because I couldn’t AFFORD to feed a dry cow buddy. You see a few years ago (2008 / 2009) when gas shot up to almost $5.00 a gallon, feed shot up. A three string bale of alfalfa (90 lbs or so) went from $8.99 to $14.99 per bale in a matter of weeks. (Remember, I live in Arizona where everything has to be trucked in) Corn, Oats and Barley also shot up as did Estrella alfalfa pellets and chicken crumble. Prices didn’t really drop too much until very late 2009 and the prices didn’t drop anywhere near where they started before gas skyrocketed… Then late 2010 gas prices started to skyrocket again… but went no where near as high as it had last time… peaked around $3.90 instead of $4.80 a gallon… FEED however went significantly higher than it had before. I am currently paying $16.99 for a light three string bale of Alfalfa, I’m paying $14.99 for a 50 # bag of corn, oats and barley with molasses and $11.99 for a 50# bag of Estralla alfalfa pellets… Before I took Sally to butcher – my feed bill was pushing $800.00 per month! I pay less than that for my house payment!

So, I’m curious, with the commodities market raking havoc on grain prices and gas prices jumping up, little down and then up more… how are you fairing with feed prices? Now you all see why I’m trying so hard to save up for land with pasture… mid west here I come!

Back Yard Homesteading

City dwellers and country folks alike are realizing the benefits of back yard homesteading. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go out and buy a horse, cows, goats and fill acres with fences and animals. Back yard homesteading could be as simple as a few chickens and a nice garden for summer time vegetables. Homesteading is simply making the best use out of the land you have to use. If you have a small city plot, plant a garden in addition to flowers for an edible landscape design. If city ordinances allow, add a few chickens for a fresh supply of eggs. Despite a common misconception, you do not need a rooster to have fresh eggs. You only need a rooster if you want fertile eggs!

Chickens are an easy addition to the back yard homestead because they require very little maintenance. A clean source of water is a must and a constant supply of a healthy chicken crumble from your local feed store will have you enjoying fresh eggs in no time. A great benefit to chickens is the built in composting option. They LOVE table scraps, vegetable peels and cuttings and pretty much any food stuffs you’d normally throw away. In return they will give you fertilizer for your grass or garden. We coop our chickens at night and let them run free in the yard during the day. This does require fencing around any gardens, as I said, they do love fresh vegetables and you’ll find a patch full of half eaten cucumbers and the lettuce will be gone if you don’t lock them out. I clean out the chicken coop every month or so. I compost the straw bedding for the garden soil. We use five gallon buckets in a wooden rack that we built for nesting boxes. This keeps the skunks and racoons from stealing the eggs. The buckets are at a twenty degree tilt to keep the eggs from rolling out onto the ground.

Please comment with any questions and as always… Happy Homesteading!!!

Update on the contracted tendon calf

Last August we has a young heifer born with contracted tendons. She walked on her ankle joints of both front legs. I shared with you a trick my livestock vet talked to me about and wanted to give you an update.

Here is a picture of that same calf just 8 months old. As you can see the trick worked (it actually worked within two weeks, but I’ve been spread a bit thin)… She’s up and walking with no issues and has very strong hooves. So, if you find yourself with a calf who is born with contracted tendons, read the blog post before this one and rest assured that it works GREAT!

Correcting contracted tendons in new born calves

Our mix breed beef heifer was bred by our mini Jersey bull before he found a new home on a ranch breeding heifers for first calf size desires. Anyway, after 24 hours she still could not stand on her front two hooves. Come to find out the tendons were contracted and restricting the ability for her to extend her hooves and put weight on them.

I called our livestock vet (he’s another hero in my life) and talked to him about the issues. He explained that he’d seen this before and had an easy fix if dealt with right away. He advised us to take a magazine and tube it up as a splint, then use vet wrap to secure it to the front legs. Then, on his way home from another call, he stopped by and gave our new little girl an injection of Oxtetracycline, explaining that too much calcium in momma’s system created a build up of calcium on the tendon. The Oxtetracycline binds to the calcium attached onto the tendon and allows it to stretch out and become flexible again. Typically, it should only take the one injection to pull the excess calcium away from the tendons. If in three days her legs aren’t completely straight and she’s not standing on her hooves properly, then a second injection may be needed. The splints force her to put the weight on her hooves instead of her first joint. She got her injection last night and we used a Cabella’s magazine cut in half as splints, then vet wrapped them around her legs from just above the first joint down to the bottom of her hooves. So far, she’s putting weight on her hooves and with any luck will have the splints off tomorrow or the next day.

I did some reading and found out that this can also happen to foals, kids, and many other live stock varities. All seem to respond to the same treatment. The dosage of antibiotic varies on the breed and size of livestock so please consult your vet before guessing and injecting too much. A too large of injection can cause the heart to stop which is a sad outcome for all involved!

Best of luck to all of you homesteaders and wish us luck on our new baby girl!

Thelma and Louise – the characters!

I had two beef heifers named Thelma and Louise… Bet you’re wondering why I would name my beef cattle after movie characters and not food names… Well, living in Arizona… and knowing that they too will die in the end… the names just seemed appropriate! I just have to be sure to keep them away from the ol’ Thunderbird and the Grand Canyon so that I can enjoy their gift of meat!

Anyway… enough humor… on to more humor… Yesterday (Labor Day 2008) I was down doing morning chores when a friend stopped by to introduce us to her brother. We were side tracked, talking up a storm when I notice Louise, a Hereford cross, standing with her side to a section of the fence that I’d cut open in the past to let the cattle out into the back 2 acres to graze. I turned just in time to catch Thelma, a Black Angus cross, standing perpendicular to her and you could see the gears turning in her head… You see, just outside of that fence is a coyote fence… which consists of tee posts at 10′ on center running the length of the back pasture fence with six strands of electric fence giving it a height of about five feet. The hot fence runs parallel to the pasture fence but about 3′ outside the fence. This allows the coyote to run the wash out there and if they do become inspired to run and jump the electric fence they will come down between the electric fence and the 4′ field fence with barbed wire running 6″ above that. Coyote can’t jump 4 feet while standing still… they have to run at it to clear it… so once they clear the hot fence, they usually come down hitting their head into the field fence and then have to get back through the hot fence to get away… After a few zaps… they usually don’t return! Anyway… I digress…and apologize for doing so…

So, there stands Thelma with her eyes on the green grass out in the wash… Mind you we’re standing there yaking up a storm and haven’t yet fed the hay…. The next thing I know… Thelma is barreling towards Louise, head down like an experienced spanish bull… and PLOWS into Louise, lifting her off the ground and THROUGH the field fence as well as the six strands of Hot fence. Poor Louise landed out in the field bewildered as to what had just happened… Luckily, we had shut the hot fence off before starting chores or I fear we’d have had a whole lot more to fix then the six connections and the 10′ section of field fence…

Well, rather than chase Louise all around trying to get her back in and keep the others from getting out… we just let them all go out and graze until we tossed hay… then, of coarse, they all came running in… except Louise… who was too scared to go near the fence. After a little calling and a bit of herding we were able to get her in for breakfast… but it was a good lesson to feed the cows first and visit with the company after…

Hope you enjoyed the chuckle as much as we did… once the fencing was all fixed…

Have a great day…