Friday, 29 March 2013

4 Black Polly Calf's For Our Smallholding.

The dairy farmer down the road rang us last week and asked us if we wanted to purchase any of his new born Aberdeen Angus calf's.  So we jumped in the car and  went to have a look at them.  The missus thought I would buy a couple and we ended up coming home with 4 of them.  They are absolutely adorable and resemble 4 black Labrador puppies.  Except they are really heavy and about three foot high.  There are 2 heifers and two bull calf's.

The Aberdeen is a very small calf and it's great for a first calf for a maiden heifer.  The Aberdeen is also naturally polled (they don't have horns) but we may get a few stumps from their Holstein/Frisians mothers.  The Aberdeen Angus is very popular and MacDonald's make their big macs from them.  We often purchase Aberdeen /Angus beef ourselves.

We  probably keep them until next summer, when they are ready to go to be cows or meat animals.  It doesn't take long for them to become adults.  We give them artificial milk re placer mixed with hot water, calf pencils and straw to pick at.   It gives the smallholder a wonderful feeling of satisfaction when they have seen their 'dropped calf's mature to adult cattle.


  1. They look adorable, will be nice to watch them grow up

  2. Bonny looking calves, they always look so docile, and appear to be all legs, difficult to imagine the beef animals they'll grow into.

    Hate to see all the ear adornments though, why do we have to mutilate the poor things? All about control by the powers that be I suppose, under the cloak of concern for the livestock.
    We have the BCMS centre here, so if they're on the UK passport system, they'll be registered there.
    They always looked strange without horns, but that was in the days before universal de-horning. I still like to see cattle with horns, think they look more natural somehow. There's a few of the brown Highland cattle with the huge horns about locally, they look fearsome but I think are fairly docile beasts.

    Clouding in a bit, but seems warmer.
    Raggy cat enjoying salmon that the Mrs couldn't eat, some life that cat has.

  3. Yes they do look adorable, Ronnie. They give you something to get up in the morning, like all farm livestock do. Thanks.

  4. Hi Cumbrian, They seem to take ages to grow. Then one day you look at them and they are fully grown. It once took nearly 2 years for an Aberdeen Angus heifer (Lucy Black) of ours to grow. She made decent money, even though it costs us a lot to raise her. A lot of farmers go for the continental breeds, because they are heavy boned (weigh more) and quick to grow. Have you the Dexter cow? They call it 'The poor farmer's cow' because it's so small. The meat is supposed to be gorgeous like the Aberdeen.

    I once sent some cattle to mart and one of the bullocks lost one of his ear tags in transit. The powers that be wouldn't let me sell him because he hadn't got 2 ear tags. So I had to pay a dealer to take him home, pay and send off for a new plastic tag and pay to take him to mart again - crazy.

    Each calf comes with it's own blue movement card. We have to apply for permits before we can move them. If they are over 18 months. They have to have a private blood test. They also have annual blood tests.

    I once read that cattle have horns to divine for water (I can do that with wire or a forked twig) and to protect themselves. We have to remove any horns with a gas calf de-horner, which burns the stumps or with injections and wire if they are strong or fully grown. It's not a nice sight. The marts won't allow them in the marts with horns. The butchers don't mind them.

    I like the Highland Cattle. The Kerry cow is allowed to keep it's horns because it's a native rare breed to Ireland. I think most cows are docile unless they have a calf with them. Bulls are a different story altogether. I don't suppose there is any need for them now with artificial insemination. It's difficult for the suckler farmer to catch them coming in to heat, unlike the dairy farmer who brings them in to milk every day. Some farmer's have 'teaser' bulls. These are bulls that have been vasectomised and jump on the cows to show the farmer the cow is 'going to dairy'. Another West Cork expression for you.

    Supposed to rain tonight here.


  5. They all look like bet lynch from coronation street circa 1975

  6. Heard a lot about the Dexter but never actually seen one. Suppose they'd be a good small beef animal for small-holders and self-reliant people, but the cost of the official slaughtering would probably out-weigh the value of the meat? OK when you could kill at home, a smallish carcase to handle. Does anybody keep them for milk?
    Heard about the Kerry as well, but don't think I've seen one one of them.

    Yes, the beaurocracy is getting out of hand, all to be paid for by the farmer, to satisfy the demands of some remote officials who have probably never been on a farm. And to keep control, they don't think we're capable of doing anything for ourselves any more.

    Don't know about the divining bit, but I surprised myself when I tried it with a couple of welding rods bent over to make handles, between 2 of us (neither had any previous diving expertise) we located a 21" water main 8' deep. Strange world.

    Suppose the marts have to be H & S conscious, wouldn't do for a worker to lose an eye to a pointed horn, but small skilled butchers have more expertise and the sense to avoid the horns.

    A lot of the dairy farms used to keep a bull, I once asked one why they didn't use the AI man (mechanical lover) and the short reply was "Bull's better". But we don't see many bulls now, never heard "going to dairy", it was just said to be "bulling".

    Lovely morning, blue sky, sunny, no breeze and a touch warmer, blackbirds are active this morning, I think there's one nesting in the shrub (don't know what it is) at the end of the patio decking, haven't looked too close, don't want to disturb it.
    Raggy cat back into its milk-biccies-sleep routine.

  7. Hi Cumbrian. I have read a few books and articles on the Internet about water divining. I found a water vein for our new well the other year. It's 220 feet deep and it comes up the pipe on its own and overflows into a back. Apparently water's got a magnetic pulse. Tn places like Australia you send a diviner a map of your land and they divine the map and tell you where to sink your well. I believe diviners can find anything they want be it water, electricity, precious metals, archaeology and Red Indian and pioneer graves.

    My grandfather could tell the time by looking at the tides and the sun's position in the sky. There's a mountain near us that shows when it's going to rain or not. If it's got a cap of clouds on it, there will be rain. Shining rocks and dogs eating grass is another old country tale for predicting rain. A chimney with a high plume of smoke means it's fine and dry weather.

    I prefer the Aberdeen and Hereford for beef meat. But the powers that be are trying to make us go for the lean continental meats. They are supposed to keep the cholesterol at bay. What ever happened to taste?

    Dry here but no growth. Don't know when the cattle will get to summer pasture. Hopefully this next week. Will walk farm and see if I can chance let them out overnight. I don't buy fertilizer so it's worrying.


  8. That should say - Over flows into a bath. Sorry.

  9. Never heard of diviners using a map before, sounds more like witchcraft.
    Must be good to have your own water, it's an expensive commodity getting to be.

    A friend of mine could look up and tell the time to within 15 minutes, never wore a watch, dunno how he did it.

    We recon if you can see the Scottish fells it's going to rain, if you can't see them it's already raining. Best weather forecaster I know are the periwinkles on the shore, if they're all clustered together it's going to blow, if they're spread out it's going to be calm.

    Taste's gone out of the window in the pursuit of profit, kill as early as possible, don't hang for very long and sell as fast as possible. Cholesterol never used to be such a problem, even when our Cumberland pigs were grown to enormous weights for fat bacon.

    Kept dry but seems to be getting colder.

  10. Hi Cumbrian, A lot of archeologists use dowsers to find ancient buildings. There's also quite a lot of research into radon and geothermic stress. I have read that the Romans used to graze sheep on proposed building sites and a watchman would study the sheep to see if they would lay down. If they didn't, they concluded the site was on top of underground streams. I suffer from arthritis and my back is always terrible when it's going to rain. Perhaps there is some truth in it all?

    We spent 4 thousand on the new well the other year. Thanks to the credit Union for loaning us it. I think credit unions are a brilliant idea. Local people on a committee make decisions on who to loan money to it's members. Much fairer than banks.

    I have heard a similar weather prediction to the Scottish fells about mount Snowdon. Mountain areas get lots of rain.

    We sampled the Mead last night. It really is good and it's got a professional sparkling appearance. Thanks again for the Jeddah gin and Mead recipes.

    One thing about growing your own and making your own food and wine. You have a very good diet. We may not ever be self sufficient, but we can live like a king and learn a lot in the process.

    Threw it down here last night.


  11. I've heard this theory about the Romans and sheep, they could have been right, animals do seem more attuned to the natural world than us. Wifes condition is spondylitis, a form of arthritis of the spine, and like yourself very sensitive to the cold and damp.

    I like the idea of credit unions, a good way for local people to help other local people, instead of remote fat cat bankers deciding who to lend our money to, I sometimes think they forget it's our money they use to fund their extravagant salaries, perks and bonuses.

    The mead usually turns out very good, I don't think I've had a failure with it, the oldest known form of manufactured alcohol I believe, but not so p[opular now. Drinking the last of the Norfolk Werry and sampling the first of the Old English Ale, which turns out to be a mild type, not bad but needs another week or two in the keg. I really enjoy my home alcohol production, how's your brewing coming along?
    Don't produce much but I do try to make meals from scratch so usually know what goes into them; today it's topside in the slow cooker, new potatoes, cabbage, carrot & parsnip with the lovely gravy from the joint. Might even indulge some cheese & biscuits with a glass of port if there's room left.

    Bonny day here, gave the back garden grass its first cut, or at least No 2 son did, my back's a bit like yours, and not getting any better as I get older. He did it in about an hour, I was normally taking between 2 and 3. Grandson (6 next week) came with him and explored the garden trying to catch Raggy cat, we filled a bucket with 3 mole-hills and going to plant something, I think maybe try some dried peas from the and see what the do, he'll enjoy eating them if they grow.

  12. Hi Cumbrian, I have read that the old private estate (big house) gardeners used to use mole hill soil for compost because it was so friable. We have sown dried peas in the past and it works.

    Places like Aldi sell some really cheap vegetable seeds and grow-bags. I find once a fortnight with the strimmer keeps the grass in check. Sometimes I do half of it one day and the other half the next. All depending on my back. I believe Spondylitis is chronic pain, most of the time. It sounds awful.

    A solicitor told me the other day banks are not lending money. So people aren't buying houses. So until they do, we will never get out of the e recession. "You have got to speculate to accumulate."

    We haven't made and real ale for a while. But we have plenty maturing. Will try some later and let you know what it's like.

    Stormy here last night. Google went off for a while. Had to lock the cattle in for the night. Dry today but very cold. Watched Irish farming weather yesterday. The weather girl said March was colder than January and Germany recorded it's coldest winter ever. Still no real grass growth.

  13. Yes, I've heard that mole-hill soil is very good for growing things in, and there was 3 of them in the back garden just enough to fill a medium bucket, I'll try the dried peas in it, and a couple of sprouting potatoes, see what happens.

    Spodylitis is a terrible affliction, it's constant pain, inoperable, incurable, and progressive, Mrs takes heavy duty pain-killers but they don't always work very well, and the side effects are sleepiness, so if she doesn't take them she's in too much pain to do anything, and to take them means she wants to sleep, classic situation between a rock and a hard place.
    My back's just the usual growing older aches and pains, good days and bad ones.

    The ale should be better for keeping a while, you need to get another batch on to take over when it's finished. I'm drinking a mix of the last Werry and the first of the Ale, a bit like a mild, very nice it is, with a nice head.

    Nice day here again, blue sky and sunny but a cold East breeze. Saw our resident robin today, first time this year, I was beginning to think we'd lost him.
    Raggy cat spending a lot of time outside, gone out already, must be either good hunting or pressing business. Been sitting on the patio decking, just seems to keep watch on its domain.

  14. I have grown potatoes in a large plant pots in the window of the bedroom of a flat we used to live in. They grow a lot quicker inside. Also once grew some in a old boiling tub from a upright (twin-tub)washing machine. Some people grow them in tyres and just keep earthing them up and adding another tyre. I believe old tyres contain Cadmium, so it's probably not wise to use them.

    Bad backs seem to be very common, especially with gardeners (farmers/ allotment holders)and middle age people. I think our cold and wet climate is the main culprit.

    Dry here today. Still little signs of growth. Going to walk farm again today to see if there is any chance of moving cattle to summer pasture.



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