Welcome! You've found my first official blog post on the updated website! This has been a work in progress for the past several months, and.... not being exactly technically savvy (give me science or farming any other day!), I've had to call in some excellent tech help to assist in the upgrade. You can finally find ALL you need right here in one place!
The move to the new website put blogging on a little hiatus until we could get everything matched up properly. I think you'll find this venue MUCH easier to navigate. Growing means learning, expanding, and exploring new options, right?
Speaking of growing.... She's now 10 months old, and it's well past time for an Elsa update! Sweet girl shows up on Facebook with some regularity, but I need to update here.... this is kind of her 'baby book' after all. For all my love of animals, I never thought I'd love a cow as much as I love this heifer. I guess that's what might happen when one lives in your bathtub for a few weeks, and syringe feeding around the clock takes control of your life! The cards were certainly stacked against her. Birth during 20 degree weather (which cost her parts of both ears), failure to thrive (because she couldn't suck properly), trips to the vet (because we didn't know any better.. couldn't see the internal cleft palate... and subsequently also missed by the vet).... it did not look good for Elsa. If you scroll back thru my early 2018 posts, you'll find her history scattered throughout.
Nonetheless, she prevailed.
Her story hasn't been without a little work and some modifications in her/our life. Elsa is a permanent mascot on our farm. She is a greeter, social maven, photo bomber, and so much more. As she's grown, we've adapted and risen to the challenge.
Her cleft palate is not easily repairable. According to a couple of vets I've consulted at Texas A&M Veterinary College, the surgery would not be easy on her. Cow mouths do not open very wide, and any repair of this nature would only be manageable by entering thru the side of her face...effectively eliminating the possibility of surgery unless absolutely necessary.
Elsa eats well (albeit messily!), and does not seem to be hindered much by her birth defect. Fairly early on, we discovered that she is also moderately tongue tied, and is only able to stick her tongue out of the right side of her mouth. This really doesn't seem to affect her much, so I'm torn between getting it fixed surgically (rather, putting her thru that surgery), and just letting her carry on as she has been. She doesn't know any differently, and so it seems more like the surgery would be for us moreso than for her.
Cleft palates in calves are not as rare as you'd think. Unfortunately, most calves are birthed fairly unattended, and if they go without nursing for long, they die. As in the case of Elsa, if the cleft palate is undetectable externally, the rancher usually assumes the calf simply died of natural causes. Cleft palate in calves is not a genetic anomaly...it's caused by eating the wrong plant during the first trimester of pregnancy (a similar thing can happen in people if certain medications or products are consumed during the first trimester too). In Honey's case (Elsa's mama)..... she apparently got ahold of a select few plants in the lupine family..... the most common culprit for bovine cleft palates. Honestly, we're blessed. Her deformity could have been much much worse, and her personality more than makes up for the bit of added work that is required for her health and safety.
Just like all babies, Elsa has had her milestones.
Lessons from raising a Cleft Palate Calf
Stay tuned.... Elsa will always be making an appearance here. She's one of us..... part of the 'farmily'.
Thanks for visiting and celebrating our imperfectly perfect life on the farm.
Hugs and Love - Liz
Years ago, we discovered guineas as a pest control option. Initially, we got them because grasshoppers can be such an issue around here that gardening can be a challenge. We later discovered that they are also an incredible resource for controlling fleas and ticks. Both of these parasites can be the nemesis to anyone with furry pets, and if you live in the country, they can be especially problematic.
It has been years since I’ve even considered ticks as an issue because we’ve managed our property so well with these birds. Enter Daisy….. our dog we acquired thru adoption last year. No fence will hold Daisy in; she flies over a 5 foot fence with relative ease. Because of her genetic predisposition (she is a border collie / great Pyr cross) she has a strong drive to guard. The perimeter she has chosen includes high grass areas not patrolled by our tick eating fowl. Consequently, ticks have become an issue as we work to protect her (and us) from this disease-laden parasite.
I’ve heard from other sources that this is a particularly bad year in our area for ticks…….the vector to blame for transmitting several diseases, including Lyme disease, and (the new kid on the block)… a tick bite that can make you allergic to red meat. Treatment with antibiotics (for Lyme) is generally effective if caught quickly, but frequently, people get diagnosed much later after the initial tick bite…. and this can lead to lifelong health problems. You can read more about Lyme Disease here, or the tick bite induced meat allergy here.
Everyone’s situation is different, but I thought I’d give some practical tips on protecting yourself and your pets from these little vampires.
*If you live in the country, consider getting some guineas (If you are nearby, I’ve got plenty of adult birds right now, and will donate to your cause).
*Keep your property mowed. If you are like us, it’s not always possible to have your entire property mowed because of the size or terrain involved.
*Keep your pets clean, and consider adding some Cedarwood essential oil to their shampoo as a natural deterrent.
*In tick prone areas, make sure you are wearing long sleeves, long pants, and tucked in clothing. Wear a ball cap/hat to prevent ticks from dropping onto your head (they do fall from trees too).
*If you are an avid outdoor guy/gal, grab some safe bug repellent (one without toxins). Young Living makes a fantastic insect repellent that is incredibly effective. I have found that a quarter sized amount placed strategically on the neck, wrists, and ankles does a stellar job of warding off biting pests. Benefits include:
*Watch for ticks throughout the day, but especially before bathing… being sure to check all nooks and crannies! If you’ve been in a tick infested area, put clothing directly into the washing machine. After washing, dry on high heat for at least 60 minutes to ensure death of any wee little hitchhiking varmints.
If you find that you have been bitten by a tick…. do not panic! Simply remove the tick. Use a pair of tweezers and pull gently, making sure you also remove the biting part of the tick. I’ve read many discussions on using a drop of essential oil directly on the tick to force tick to back out. It is a firestorm discussion with opinions on both sides. I would feel comfortable using this removal technique, but please do your own research!
Once you’ve removed the tick, you’ve got a few options….. but DO NOT DESTROY THE EVIDENCE! Tick testing is ‘a thing’ now…. so you can always send it off, but testing sites do not claim 100% accuracy and it’s about 50$ per tick. If you choose to hang on to the little offender instead of sending its carcass off, put it in a baggie or small jar and throw it in the freezer for safekeeping….. just in case you have some weird symptoms that show up weeks/months later. That tick might come in handy for a proper diagnosis…. after all, these critters can give you a loading dose of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa… the likes of which we do NOT want. This brings me to the last point….. immune support.
Whenever I know that I am entering an environment loaded with ick, I always back up my immune system. Examples: flu season at work, every time I hop on a plane (1 out of every 5 people get off a plane with a new ‘souvenir’ they’ve acquired from recycled airplane air), or times when I am under abnormal stress/lack of sleep. I would list a tick bite as a time when immune support should occur….. after all, there is a lot of potential ‘ick’ in tick.
My two ‘go to’ products for immune support are Inner Defense, and Immupro. I use Immupro for daily immune support (taken at night before bed), and then reserve the big guns…. Inner Defense….when I feel I need to kick it up a notch. (Helpful hint: be sure to have some fatty food in your stomach when you take an Inner Defense… it does not do well on an empty stomach).
Truly tho, the best defense is a good offense….. which brings me back to my guineas, and the fact that I need to rehome some of my prolific pest patrollers…. Any of my local peeps want some? I’m your (farm)girl!
Hugs and love, Liz
Good morning friends! This is the time of year where things are fast and furious around here…. garden planting time, berry vineyard maintenance, etc…… all on top of our general busy lives.
Contrary to what you might think, my oasis of busy-ness is milking. The slow repitition is very ‘zen’. I use that time to pray, think, ponder, and enjoy the peace of it all. Honey (Elsa’s mama) has turned out to be an incredible mother and milk cow. I need to write about her story at some point. She and I really got thrown a curve ball when Elsa was born, and she truly rose to the challenge and has become a very special cow to me.
Hand milking is relaxing (it’s also a skill and requires a certain set of muscles most people don’t use). The sound of a cow quietly chewing her cud, and kittens playing. When the weather is right, it’s a perfect ‘bottle the moment’ time for me.
Our diverse animal family are cross species friends, and that makes for some amazing moments. I was able to catch some particular cuteness last week between our retired granny cow Clementine and Velcro (one of our two kittens). Velcro had started chasing Clementine’s tail, and Clementine let her do it….. in fact, even seemed to be encouraging her. The next thing I knew, Velcro had climbed up on top of Clementine….
(I had to stop milking to watch how this was going to play out). Once he got up there, I think Velcro suddenly realized he had a very comfortable perch. I was more concerned about Clementine getting up and accidentally stepping on Velcro in the process. Not to worry tho!…. her response was the sweetest thing to watch.
Velcro decided he was going to take some time to give himself a little spit bath.
Then he decided he was just going to hang out and enjoy the view for a bit. After a bit, he got down and continued to play all around Clementine. Clementine seemed to enjoy the attention, and when he ventured off, she actually stretched her neck out as far as it would go, low to the ground, in his direction, trying to get him to come back (he did).
They sat like this for quite awhile, and then I watched them do what I could only call an inter-species hug. Clementine very gently lowered her head and kind of hugged Velcro with her neck. Velcro, in response, put his little paw up and hugged her back. It was a completely adorable moment (and these pics do not even begin to do it justice). I wouldn’t trade moments like these for anything.
So if you need some cuteness to get you thru your Friday…. here ya go :)! Enjoy your day, and look for the beauty in life wherever you go. It’s everywhere!
Hugs and Love, liz
It’s Tuesday January 30th. Tomorrow is Elsa’s one month birthday, and I feel the concern about her living (or not) washing off of me. She is a normal calf in all ways barring her cleft palate. Scratch that… well, maybe not exactly normal. She plays with the dogs, loves human attention, and follows me around like a toddler when I’m outside. Her feeding schedule is now on official every 8 hours (whew!). In my book, that makes her better than normal, right?
As in all other aspects of my life, when the major stress is over, that’s usually when my body lets down its guard and my immune system fails me. No better time for that than smack dab in the middle of flu season. I have been praying that my body does not succumb. It’s particularly nasty this year if you haven’t heard. In our area of Texas alone, entire school districts have been shut down for days at a time, and the lingering effects include a hacking barky cough that lasts for weeks on end. I’ve got no time for that nonsense.
Last Friday evening, Charlie wanted to go see the movie 12 Strong (a fantastic patriot inspired true story) after work and chores. As we were headed home, he said “I think I need an Inner Defense“. UGH!!!! We had just shared a bottle of water throughout the movie. By Saturday morning, it was clear that my sweet husband had fallen to the flu, and I knew I was (and still am) in the direct line of fire.
This is the moment that I take no prisoners when it comes time to caring for myself, and I immediately went in to full throttle defense mode. We don’t do Tamiflu or any other pharmaceutical ‘remedies’ around here unless an emergency warrants it (although I would personally never touch Tamiflu), and my farm guy is already on the mend. I imagine that he will be 100% again before the week is out.
I am still standing strong, but my body has given me clues that if I let my guard down, the situation will likely escalate. I know many of you are worried about this season of illness, but I’m here to tell you that the best offense is a great defense…… Here is what I am doing (in addition to prayer):
Y'all, I went for about 2 weeks with only taking catnaps in early January…. stressing about Elsa, and still working at the pharmacy in a flu ridden environment. Knock on wood….. I am still standing strong.
My goal is and always will be to empower people to take charge of their own health. You alone are the only one who can read your body’s signs and know what it feels like when you are about to be knocked down a notch or two in the wellness department. It is in that moment that you act quickly. The first line of defense is to not fall below that wellness line!
Hugs and love, liz
If you’d like to learn more about these products as well as other holistic wellness options, please message me.
……. stands a man who supports me in all that I do. My farm guy and I have been married for 25+ years, and he truly never ceases to amaze me with his support, care, and love.
I’m not gonna lie, these past three weeks have pushed me to the limit and have brought out the cranky side of me. I feel like lack of sleep has called out my evil twin. Charlie has been awesome despite all this, and has picked up where I’ve had to leave off to keep Elsa fed and cared for. (She is doing INCREDIBLE by the way… and feedings are now spread to every 5 hours!)
Charlie learned early on that my love language is service. We make a great team…. I say something like, “I wish I had a ______________” (this blank usually requires power tools to complete), and the next thing you know, he’s out there building it! No joke. My dad was a handy guy, and I married an equally handy one. My guy is gifted beyond measure and can visualize something and then the next thing you know, it’s built. He is a man’s man, and he is also a tenderhearted sweet soul that God gifted me.
Last year, he encouraged me to step out and pursue a passion that I’ve been carrying in my heart. He did this verbally, and then backed that encouragement by physically stepping in and being present when I was absent. That is no small feat when it entails caring for 60+ animals, managing farm chores, being an elder at our church, AND holding down a 50+hr per week job that is a 2+hr round trip commute each day. He sees value in what I am passionate about, and he supports me 100%. This is a gift beyond measure, and he does it without complaint.
Last week, I pretty much hit my stress limit. I’ve got alot going on here…. at times, I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew (especially when you throw Elsa’s care into the mix). In some ways, I feel like I’ve gone back to college…. but these things I’m doing are part of a much bigger vision that God has on my heart, and I have a sense of urgency in completing them. People are hurting (physically and emotionally) and feel it. It is driving me to learn how to help them find healthier ways to heal (instead of being ‘band-aided’ by meds).
This is a season, and it won’t be forever, but it’s a busy time right now, especially with Elsa’s needs. (I only have words of admiration for you moms of special needs human babies….YOU are amazing if someone did not tell you that today!)
My ‘to do’ list of farm chores is steadily falling further behind. For having a working farm, I’d say we run a pretty tight ship around here. We both like ‘neat and tidy’, and my efforts with Elsa mean that other duties have fallen to the wayside. We’ve recently hired a young man to help us for a few hours a week…. I think you might have heard us both audibly sigh in relief.
We are in the process of converting our barn apartment into a home office to house ‘my vision’ that has become ‘our vision’. Charlie has been working tirelessly to get the physical upgrades done, and it is looking awesome! I am the caulker and painter in the family, and both of those duties have fallen to the side. He knew that was stressing me out (falling behind on my end of the work project), so he quietly arranged for a dear friend who owns a commercial painting company to come out and do what I have not had time to complete, and then surprised me with it. If you want to see a grown woman cry, that was it…. a blessing beyond measure.
He even surprised me with my dream of a purple door on ‘The Dairy Palace’. The whole palace (another ‘wish’ that became a reality) isn’t quite done yet (there is a little more to complete), but I love the whimsical pop of color!
I’m a tired farmgirl. It’s a passing season, and I’ve got a farm guy who is my favorite person in the world, my best friend, and greatest cheerleader. It is a blessed woman indeed who has a man such as mine. (And by the way, our animals are blessed too, because his heart is big enough for all of us).
Hey there....thanks for stopping by! This is me (Liz James)... an eclectic mixture of holistic (and organic) farmgirl meets pharmacist. It's a synergy that works well as I speak truths and dissect fact from fiction. If you're looking for healthier living options, you've come to the right place!