BASTION MOUNTAIN RANCH - TALES OF A FARM FAMILY


My family lived on a Ranch full time from 1993 until 2015. We were a 5th generation family farm.
I am writing this blog to share my experiences living there. It is best to read the blog chronologically by going through the archives, starting with the introduction in January of 2010.
The blog starts with the arrival of my great-grandparents to the farm in 1947 and will follow the families to the present.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

love what you eat

Love what you Eat

The habits of farming die hard and are bound by the seasons. So early spring brings the green grass that the livestock so anxiously wait, and what has never ceased to be a miracle, the next generation of the herd. It is with birth that the love affair begins. The calves bring an excitement and energy to Spring on the ranch. They also bring extra work in the form of vigilance over the herd, and expertise when called upon to assist with a difficult birth. It was my husband Brent that took on this role on the ranch in the last few years of our time here. The tools of this trade are simple.
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Brent learned the value of Sunlight soap as a birth aid from my father. He is very committed to this product for birthing, so much so that anytime a human friend or his wife would go into labour he would volunteer the extra assistance of sunlight soap. He has never been taken up on his offer.
The method is to soap the arm well to above the elbow, and then take the chains into the vaginal cavity, looping them around the calves hooves. The best case scenario is that the calf is then pulled out, following the contractions of the mother. At the worst of times the tension of the human strength is not enough, and then the power of a tractor is used. The results of this intervention is not always favorable. Farming is not for the faint of heart.
The amount of effort put into an ailing calf on our ranch almost always far exceeded the actual financial worth of the animal. Small scale Ranchers typically do not have an eye on the bottom line, their actions often not making good financial sense. The calf that I remember best for amount of effort was named Hey Boy. He was first bottle fed and then moved to  a especially fitted bucket. Even today I can conjure up the sickly sweet odour of the powered formula that we used. If a calf was lucky he would receive authentic colostrum  that we would have put aside frozen, but then this would be followed by the artificial replacement to cow’s milk.
The calf was fed far beyond what was sensible. We would follow him for months after the herd was released from the barnyard, moving onto open rage of the mountain range behind the ranch. Every day some one in the family would track down the calf with his feed in the bucket, calling for him, hence his name “Hey Boy”.
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Hey Boy drinking from his custom fitted bucket.
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“Hey Boy” peering through our living room window hoping for an extra feed.
Despite our mutual attachment Hey Boy proceeded to the calf sales in the Fall. I remember feeling sad about his departure to his uncertain future. What is more unsettling is imagining how the calf might of felt, wrestled away from his home and caregivers. The belief that cattle may experience emotion is not a popular one. My father did believe this to be true and maintained he once saw a cow cry when her calf was taken away.
This summer I have spent a lot of time with the small herd on our ranch. There are a few members of the herd that come to me and allow me to scratch their heads. I don’t want anyone to eat them.
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