The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm


April 28th, 2016 by Ed Bruske


Recently we noticed something rope-like hanging off our Jersey cow Emily’s back side and feared something might have happened to her gestating baby. Sure enough, when the vet arrived and reached in he withdrew a dead fetus about three months old–meaning it had been in there dead for about a month.

Fortunately, the aborted fetus had already been expelled from the uterus and, according to the vet, cows are equipped to deal with these things better than humans. Emily seems to have suffered no ill effects and continues to wander the pastures with our other critters, feeding off the emerging spring grasses as if everything is perfectly normal. The vet says the fault lies with the fetus–malformation, genetic defect, or who knows what–not the mother.

We’re glad Emily is in good health but this is just the latest setback in our milking program. We jumped through all kinds of hoops last year to get her pregnant–all those hormone shots and whatnot–and we may be looking at more of the same in the next couple of months.

The good news: this means we can get her back on a more reasonable schedule of calving in early spring 2017 rather than in the middle of this summer. But we won’t be enjoying Emily’s fine Jersey milk again any time soon. And that we will certainly miss.

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Things Sure Change Fast Around Here

April 6th, 2016 by Ed Bruske


It’s official: We’ve had more snow since spring started than in any of the so-called winter months this season.

It couldn’t happen at a worse time. All our ewes had just given birth or were about to when this latest “polar vortex” struck. And we were feeling so smug, watching the grass go green.

This morning, with the mercury registering barely 12 degrees Fahrenheit, the last of our Dorpers (hair sheep) successfully delivered a lamb. That’s quite a turn from last year, when she gave birth prematurely to a stillborn.

Sadly, I must report that the previous morning I found one of Charlotte’s triplets–a strapping ram-ling–frozen to death outside the walk-in shelter. At some point he made a bad decision to stray from the herd. Charlotte obviously wasn’t paying close enough attention–or had her hands full with the other two.

In all, our ewe crew of nine have given birth to 16 lambs since January. Three perished. Meanwhile, on the goat side of things, our five dames so far have delivered seven kids. Tragically, as dawn broke this morning, I discovered that one of our more experienced moms, the Nubian dairy goat Sal, had dropped two kids in a terrible spot in the snow yards from their shelter.

We’ll never know what possessed her to leave the cozy confines of the herd to give birth so awkwardly. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived one of her twins–a big spotted buckling–was already dead in the cold. Sal, meanwhile, was standing off in a corner, paying no attention at all.

I quickly rushed his twin sister into the house, where we rubbed her down good with towels and placed her in front of the wood stove.

After a few hours recuperating, this little girl we’re calling Millie–short for the Spanish milagra, or “miracle”–was on her feet, sucking colostrum substitute from a bottle and peeing on the floor.

We’ll shortly get the kidding shed ready and try to reunite Millie with her mom. Hopefully maternal instincts will take over from there.


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