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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Friday, May 18, 2012

A Double Blessing

"If an Amish bull can't get her bred, then nothing will," my neighbor quipped as I dropped off my Jersey cow at his farm to be serviced by his purebred Red Devon bull. She had been open for two years now as I chose not to breed the year after my knee injury and adjusting to running the farm on my own. But the second year I failed to catch her in 'standing heat' in time to call the AI (artificial insemination) guy to get her bred. Two tries, no calf...I seriously considered turning her into burgers & sausages. 

But it was the night of the winter solstice and lunar eclipse when I torched off a massive brush pile as the temperatures dipped into the teens that I decided not to load her on to the trailer for a visit to Mr. Horst. Despite the roaring fire in front of me, the chill of the bitter cold night licked at my back until Emma wandered down into the pasture to investigate the flames. There she stood wrapping her massive dark fuzzy body around me in as best of a bovine hug she could muster. 

"I'll give you another year," I promised her.  And how she came through!

When I went out around six in the afternoon to do chores, gather eggs and check on everyone, it was evident from the large sac protruding from Emma's hind end that calving was imminent. I called the girls next door who had been diligently waiting and  hoping that they would get to see the baby being born. They were about to get their wish. 

A big red bull calf hit the ground about ten minutes after their arrival. Excited, they watched as Emma licked the newborn dry. But there had been a minor issue with them running out of the house just prior to dinner and not really asking their parents if they could come over to watch. This led to their father showing up to collect them, but it wasn't long before he, too, was caught up in the excitement when we all realized that a second baby was on the way.
 Twins! I knew the old gal was as big as a house, but I didn't expect a whopping set of calves. As someone who routinely purchases newborn calves from neighboring dairies, I see quite a few sets of twins and this pair were definitely a strapping pair, each weighing at least sixty to seventy pounds each, if not more.  
 "Those certainly aren't puny cross-eyed, buck-toothed Jersey calves," commented one of my workers who had spent time working for a Jersey cow dairy. Indeed, he was correct. From day one, it was evident that the sire ruled the genetics of these two.
 Although I've been looking forward to the rich Jersey cream for making my raw milk cultured butter, I'm more than happy to give it all to these two in order to give them a good start in life so they can grow up to be some of the most awesome steaks and burgers ever to come from Painted Hand Farm.
 Darn cute, aren't they!
 I think I'll send her back for a visit to that bull come July again.