☆ July 1, 2015
Spoiler: Maia and Luna are a happy pair! After two days of using the squeeze chute to allow Luna to nurse safely and easily, it was time to transition to a more natural method – we didn’t want Luna to associate the squeeze chute with food and have that override her instinctual connection with Maia. Though Maia never really kicked at Luna – she favored headbutting – we decided to put the hobbles on Maia as we did last year, in hopes of keeping Maia standing still so Luna could nurse. Straight out of the gate, Maia figured out how to bunny-hop with the hobbles on, taking a step with her front legs and jumping forward with her back legs together. When Luna approached to suckle, Maia pivoted, violently headbutted Luna, and then ran away with her bunny-hops. Maia could cover some serious ground with her bunny-hopping, crossing the entire length of the corral in two seconds flat.
So we took off the hobbles and came up with another contraption to protect Luna from the headbutting. We clipped two horse cinches together with a carabiner, and tied them on Maia behind her shoulders. I then put a halter on Maia, and tied the lead rope to the cinch. Maia could still eat and drink, and get up easily and safely, but she didn’t have the full range of motion to headbutt with any force. Since Maia had never worn tack before, Mike was nervous about an epic protest in the form of bucking and snorting, but that never happened. Instead, she stood calmly beside me like a seasoned saddle horse as I fiddled with the halter and cinch and all the knots. Such a gentle, patient cow! Now we just needed to transfer that patience and trust to her baby.
With this contraption in place, we brought Luna over to Maia, and though Maia no longer whacked Luna with headbutts, she still wouldn’t stand still for Luna to nurse. So Mike took off his shirt and tossed it over Maia’s face. Maia, unable to see anything, stopped moving around, and Luna had her meal. We gave Maia plenty of hay to relax and distract her.
We couldn’t just leave Maia blindfolded, and didn’t trust her with Luna yet. Though Maia could no longer forcefully headbutt, there was still a chance that, if left together, Luna could accidentally get cornered and Maia could really hurt her. So, between meals, we kept them in adjacent sections of the corral, where Luna and Maia could see and hear and smell one another. I cuddled and brushed Luna and gave her some of the physical attention she wasn’t getting from her mother, and we brought them together for meals three times a day. We often found them lying side by side, with just the rail fence between them.
At meal time, either Mike or I (whoever was on duty) would toss a flannel shirt over Maia’s face and tie the arms under her chin, and open gates for Luna, who would run to Maia and plug onto a teat. As the days went by, we began taking the flannel off Maia midway through Luna’s nursing sessions and observe Maia’s behavior – sometimes she’d get antsy and angry and we’d put the flannel back on; sometimes, she’d stand calmly and nuzzle Luna. We began leaving them together after meal time and watching their behavior, and, once we felt we could trust Maia not to hurt Luna, we left them together overnight. The next morning, I walked down to the corral at first light and caught them in the act – Maia was standing calmly, of her own volition, as Luna nursed. Hooray! It just took a little darkness and time, patience and creativity, and trust in love.
In other news ~
I will be taking my Shop offline tonight (July 1) for all of July and much of August. If you would like to stock up on presents, prints, elk antler chew toys, books, or special stones, today is your last chance!
The baby chicks have turned into mini chickens….
☆ June 23, 2015
Howdy, All ~
This is the last week to place orders for Star Brand Beef!
All orders must be in by June 30.
I’ve heard from many who would like to order but don’t have room to store a quarter beef. There is a solution! Have you heard of mini chest freezers? These babies are just a bit bigger than a mini dorm fridge and are perfect for storing a quarter beef. And they can be had for less than $200. Mike’s daughter has one in her apartment, and friends of mine have one in their cottage kitchen. They are so great, small enough to fit into tight spaces, large enough to store a quarter beef (and summer berries or other miscellanea).
Freezers that are 5 cubic feet will store a quarter beef.
Freezers that are 3.5 cubic feet will store half a quarter beef (if you split a quarter with a partner in dine) with some room to spare.
These mini chest freezers are an excellent option if you’ve been wanting to buy healthy, humanely-raised beef in bulk. The pricing of my beef is consistent with supermarket feedlot beef, but it is so much better for you, for the animals, and for the environment. My pricing of $6.50/lb hanging weight calculates to right around $9/lb packaged weight. This means all prime steaks are $15/lb and burger, roasts, ribs, and stew meat are all $6/lb. This is an enormous savings over retail for grass-finished, GMO-free, nutrient-rich pastured beef – the last time I was in Whole Foods, rib steaks were $27/lb and burger was $8.50/lb. And the convenience of having a year’s worth of meat at your fingertips is delectable.
☆ June 16, 2015
Yesterday afternoon, I was taking a bit of a siesta when I heard Baby bellowing. When it goes on for more than ten seconds, it usually means there’s another bull around, and each is telling the other how superior he is. We’ve had a neighbor’s bull show up at our fence a couple of times (who we do not want to get in with our cows), so I slipped on my Vans and went outside to see if that bull was back. The other bull was nowhere in sight, but once I was outside, I heard another cow noise, like yelling at the top of one’s lungs, if a cow could yell at the top of her lungs. It was apparent that Sir Baby was responding to this noise, so I turned the corner to see what was happening, and there was Maia, headbutting her newborn baby calf into the dirt. Just pummeling it, over and over, and making this horrible sound.
I raced up the hill to get between Maia and her calf. For comic relief, I will mention that I was completely nude but for my Vans, as I was expecting to just peek out my door for the roving bull and get dressed only after I determined if he was present – otherwise, I was going to hop back in bed to finish my nap. And how could I turn around and go back to the house for clothes when this baby was in mortal danger?! The calf was completely slick and floppy – she had to have been born less than a minute before I got there, all thanks to Sir Baby and his foghorn voice alerting me to the baby mama drama. Maia was going nuts. She bit one of the baby’s legs and kept trying to dodge me in order to headbutt the calf. I had to get it away from her, so I grabbed the calf and ran as fast as I could, half-dragging this 80-pound baby across the pasture and the driveway to the fenced yard where she would be safe from Maia’s violence. Maia chased after me, continuing to ram the baby when she could. When we got to the yard, I set the calf on the ground, jumped the rail fence, and pulled her underneath the railings to the safe side, just as Maia stormed up. And then I flopped on the grass beside the calf, gasping for breath, covered in birth slime and dirt.
Maia continued to pace the fence and moo angrily at us, but she found no way into the yard. I zipped into the house and grabbed a shirt for me and a towel for the calf. We sat in the sun as I dried her off (usually mother cow does this), and made sure she had no wounds from her first traumatic minutes of life. Little Luna (so named when I saw her black hair shimmers with silver) was perfectly fine. Calves are incredibly resilient. Luna spent the next ten minutes wobbling up to standing, and then the next ten nuzzling me, looking for an udder. Mike got home soon after, and he took Maia down to the corrals to the squeeze chute, while I located jeans and drove Luna down to the corrals in the pickup. With Maia in the squeeze chute, Luna could nurse safely and get that essential colostrum. Maia didn’t kick or get impatient while her baby suckled, but afterward, she still seemed full of confusing feelings. When Luna wandered in front of Maia’s head, while Maia was still in the squeeze chute, Maia began licking her (good!), then headbutted her right in the ribs (BAD!!). Oh Maia. Maia had mothering issues last year, though she did end up loving Jupiter after a couple of trying weeks. I hope she connects with Luna much more quickly – with her heart, not her head.
☆ June 9, 2015
. . . there’s also a little video clip on my Instagram . . .
☆ June 2, 2015
So much has changed in just the past two weeks. My energy has popped to a happy level, and my voice came back, enough for my doctors to cancel the appointment they had made for me to get scoped (to see if thyroid surgery had damaged my vocal chords or nerves). My voice isn’t 100% back, but it has improved enough to indicate that it will continue to improve.
I’m thrilled to avoid the scoping appointment and spare my bod from the additional stress – I’ve been far more concerned about the state of my adrenals than the state of my voice. I took a 24-hour saliva cortisol test a few weeks after surgery, and while my cortisol arc is the proper shape, my levels are way too low. I’m sure this issue has been building for years, but I was able to ignore it before my thyroidectomy – honestly, it never dawned on me to check out my adrenals until after surgery, when I was at zero energy and not happy about it.
There’s really only one pharmaceutical treatment for adrenal insufficiency (and to be clear, I’m not at that dire stage) which is hydrocortisone, which I consider a very last resort as it can become a life-long dependency. So, I am working with an incredible herbalist who I met through the Daily Coyote blog and who got me through a severe depression some years ago. She has given me an extensive regimen of plant medicine (herbs, roots, mushroom tinctures, and more) and I have felt such a transformation in mood and energy since working with her.
For a solid two months, it seemed there was a three-legged race going on in my body, with my adrenals on one side and my thryroid replacement on the other, with a lot of stumbling from one side or the other bringing everything tumbling down. And now, finally, thrillingly, they seem to be in sync, zipping around the imaginary meadow of this metaphor with their arms around each other’s waist.
Regarding my thyroidectomy and recovery thereof – in many ways it was more challenging than I expected, and in many ways it was much simpler. Surgery is traumatic, and I think because it’s so common, I was very blase about the event (even though it was a first for me and I was terrified of anaesthesia). I was far more gentle with myself prepping for and decompressing after my big speech! So, my recovery expectations post-surgery were skewed and a little mean. And allowing time for my replacement meds to get regulated and even out was extremely frustrating, in that it required patience, and patience does not come naturally to me. Yet it’s something I’m now grateful for being forced to learn and practice; I actually feel stronger for it. The common thyroid horror stories have not come into play – I’ve not gained weight or entered depression or had my hair fall out. I think having a proper dose based on my symptoms versus TSH range and choosing dessicated thyroid over synthetic have helped me on those fronts.
And tackling my adrenal issues has been (and will continue to be) the keystone in all this. I highly recommend Becki of La Yerberia – she is a biologist-turned-herbalist, and I appreciate the science she shares during consultations (which she does via phone and email – we have never met face to face).
Thanks, again, for all your well-wishes, good vibes, and support!KEEP LOOKING »