Thursday, 27 March 2014

A Smallholding Vet For Under A Tenner. (Time for the Cows disco.)

The bullocks and heifers must be ready to go out to the Spring pasture. It's my favourite time of the farming year when they run out of the cowshed, down the boreen and down the hill into the field. Then its time for that football song ("let'go effin mental, na, na, na, We are all having a disco...") that you you often hear sung at football grounds up and down the land in Blighty. The cows and bullocks run one way and then the other and generally chase each other and jump and dance. I often think:

"I wouldn't mind having a pint of what they have had.
The bigger cattle get their first taste of Spring grass.  Bantry Bay in the background.

'Archie' the bullock is at the back of the picture.  He soon forgot about it when put them him out to pasture.

Iodine spray sat on top of silage bale.
 Any road. Archie the Jersey cross/Friesian bullock managed to take the skin off one of his horn stumps yesterday. No doubt he had been fighting or scratching his head a bit too well. Rather like the rather un pc (ancient joke)story about a consultant visitng a lunatic asylum and he notices an inmate banging his head against the wall. The consultant asked the man why he banged his head against the wall? The man replied:

"Because it feels so good when I stop."

Well it made me laugh any way.

 Anyroad (again). We noticed that Archie was bleeding and so we got the Iodine spray and sprayed his horn whilst he was eating his silage. The Iodine soon stopped the bleeding and Archie looks like the wounded soldier but he's happy and the skin around his horn stump is healing. The Iodine spray only cost a fiver and we have used it lots of times on the livestock and ourselves.

You can't be calling the vet out every time an animal hurts itself.  Vets are far too busy and they aren't always cheap.  Saying that.  My vets have often only charged me for the drugs.  Especially if we collect them from the vets.

 Barbed wire and brambles, briars and Blackthorn  often leave us with cuts and scratches.  The people long ago here in Ireland use to plant Gorse ("Furze") and Blackthorn for stockproof hedging. Especially in landscapes where there was no stone or boulders for dry stone walling. There's even a 'Barbed Wire' museum in Texas. Wouldn't mind going there. I have visited the Imperial War Museum in London and seen First World War battlefield barbed wire. Awful stuff.


  1. Yes, nice to see them first day out, wouldn't believe how high they can jump.
    Grass is looking lush, no wonder they're pleased to be out.
    And is that the sun I notice there?

    Vets bills I believe are very expensive now, as well as treatments. I've heard of shepherds topping a sheep if it's having a bad time at lambing, the vets bill outweighs the value of the ewe and lamb.

    Never heard of a barbed wire museum, sounds interesting. I've noticed a big increase in the use of razor wire on top of fences, it's evil-looking stuff.

    Better day here, sun been shining but clouding over now, keeps cols as well, East wind still there.

    Raggy cat running true to form, fast asleep on bed with Mrs, it's getting a bit too domesticated.

  2. Hi Cumbrian, The grass does look lush. That's the field we grew the barley and silage last year. You can't beat new grass. It's not had any bagged nitrogen yet. Except for the free nitrogen God sends when it rains.

    A lot of the vets are rushed off their feet. They are busy enough testing cattle without treating them. You simply can't afford to call them out every time an animal cuts itself. I don't know how anybody makes any money farming. People call it an hobby. I say:

    "It's a dear hobby."

    There's even barbed wire collectors. Some of the First World barbed wire is like some kind of medieval torture treatment. A lot of farmers use mains electric fences to strip graze and sheep wire with barbed wire on top on the boundary fences. I use an electric fencer to strip graze when possible. But it's difficult with having no water supply in the fields next to the bay, where the cattle graze in summer. The fields they are grazing at the moment will be used for slurry spreading and to grow silage, because it's nearer to the farm yard.

    Showery here. Still very little growth.

    Got up at 6 this morning to see if the cattle in the field were behaving. They were all lay on the ground chewing their cud and looking at me with an bemused expressions. Perhaps I'll make farmer when I worry about them. The smaller cattle are still inside the cowshed.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  3. Hi Dave,
    Think that it's easy to forget that such beasts also seem to find enjoyment in the simple things... like returning to the field after absence.
    Oh and the joke cracked a grin here.

  4. Hi John. I think it was the cattle who invented Glastonbury Festival and Woodstock. I jest. It's great to see them back on the pasture and looking like happy cattle. They have been in the cowshed 6 months. Normally (about 4 years a go) we let them in the fields on 'nice' days during the winter. The last few years awful wet and windy winters have made sure that this in no longer the case.

    Glad you enjoyed the joke. I can be far too serious at times. Must add more light hearted thoughts (jokes) to my blog posts. Thanks John!

  5. Oh right! so your home place is on Sheeps Head Peninsula eh. I was wondering where you were situated, it's a bit too cosmopolitan for me in that area. What surprises me is that you haven't gone for the old Irish breed of Moiled Cattle, because you can leave them out over winter ?

  6. Hi Heron. You obviously know Hungry Hill and Sugarloaf mountains on the Beara Peninsula. I would like to keep rare breeds like the Molled cattle, Dexter and Kerry cattle. The marts seem to want the leaner meats like the continental cattle. I am told that even organic cattle often end up in the conventional cattle marts because there isn't the demand down here. Do you keep livestock yourself? Thanks for your comment Heron.

    1. I used to keep a goat, in fact have had several over the years, but now nothing. For we have only a bare half acre which the cottage stands on.

  7. Half an acre is great to have. We have had a couple of nanny goats and they were browze grazers - especially plants and growing vegetables. Give them good grass and they didn't want it. Great characters though. Thanks Heron.

    1. What I found out about goats is that no two were alike in their eating habits. Some would consistently eat nettles and other weeds and others would only eat the nettles when they were dying back and had a preference for grass. With my last goat the taste of her milk would change according to the season. In the summer her milk tasted the same as a cows and then afterwards would come the more traditional flavour of goats milk.
      One big difference between a cow and a goat is that goats will continue to produce milk for as long as you continue to milk them. All of them appreciate a few slices of white bread now and again. If they get away from you they can be enticed back home by offering a few slices!
      My life style has now changed and so to has the back yard with fruit trees & flowers etc and all has made it impossible to keep a goat.

  8. We use to have two nanny goats, Heron. One was a black and white British Alpine and a white Saanen goat. The white goat had a blocked teat and we took her to the vet who gave her some penicillin for it. Myself and my thenm 4 year old son drank her milk and we didn't have a cold that winter. Buck goats stink and I wasn't keen on a kid goat when we ate him because nobody wanted him. They are good for brambles if you tether them to a rope and a crowbar hammered into the ground.

    Yes you can't have a productive or nice garden if you keep goats.



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