Welcome to Painted Hand Farm

Painted Hand Farm is a 20 acre Civil War era farm located in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. We raise meat goats, veal calves, turkeys and organic vegetables using humane and sustainable agricultural practices.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Let the Milking Begin!

The radar indicated that the downpour this morning would pass so I settled into my upstairs office with a cup of coffee and caught up on the latest news about the fires in California from my friend, Anne, who lives in San Diego. Despite the rain, the rising sun shed enough light that when I looked out at the pasture I could see there were five cows instead of four and knew immediately that Emma had calved.

She wasn't due until Halloween and I figured I would put her in the barn three to five days prior to the 31st depending on the swelling of her udder and vulva. When I checked her last night at feeding, both were still fairly normal. I figured that this weekend I'd give the milking equipment a good cleaning and get everything set up. At least I had the foresight to buy the E. coli vaccine for calves yesterday on an impulse when I was at the local farm store.

But the calf was here now and I was all alone...Jess at school and Ralph in Texas...so I called Melanie, over at Keswick Creamery (where Emma came from). She's birthed out enough calves in her lifetime, that she can do it in her sleep. She was here within minutes and between the two of us, we got mother & baby into a nice dry and deeply bedded stall in the barn.

Our next task was to milk out about a pint into a calf bottle to feed along with the vaccine. Without the confines of a parlor, it was a chore that required both of us to complete. For the uninformed, cows (and goats & sheep for that matter) need to get used to being milked. Until they get the routine down, they put up a pretty good fight and fighting with a thousand-pound cow is a lot harder than with a goat or sheep.

Thanks to Select Sire's sexed semen, the calf is a heifer (female) out of 7JE590 Action.

Of course, after all this was done it quit raining.

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