Making Hay
Week of May 30th, 2004 | The weather was very rainy.

Isabel the calf

Isabel the calf

Happy Memorial Day! This week I have a letter to share from Rachel, my friend on an organic dairy farm in Minnesota.

Dear James,

Spring is finally here and it has been a lot warmer on the farm. Since the weather has been great my dad has started planting crops and we have started planting in our garden. But we have also had 3 1/2 inches of rain in the past week. Also since the weather has been good we have been out kayaking a lot on our wet land and on May 19th we got our first Swan ever on our wet land.

My softball season ended on Thursday, May 13th. We had a good season and our record was, we won 9 games, tied 1 game, and lost 1 game. The positions I played were 2nd base and right center. I feel I have improved this season on batting and fielding.

On May 7th girl scouts from Minneapolis came out to our house to look at the farm. They got to see my dad milk the cows and they also got to feed the calves bottles of milk. They also walked out in the pasture and watched the cows. Then we gave them a snack of Organic Valley single serve chocolate milk and Stringles.

The past 6 weeks we have had 8 calves born and 6 out of 8 of them are boys. I will talk about the same special calf in each of my letters for a few months. The calf I am going to talk about was born on April 21st and is a Normandy (James, do you know where Normandy cattle come from?). Its mom's name is Beth and this is her 7th calf. The calf is a girl and I named her Isabel. When Isabel gets older she may go to the state fair for show. Isabel weighs about 100 pounds. She is mostly brownish-reddish with white. She also has a brown ring around her eyes and almost all Normandy cattle have rings around their eyes to protect their eyes from the sun, flies, and bugs. When the calves are born we put ear tags in their ears to keep track of them, then we name them when they are 2 years old when they start getting milked.

Until next time, enjoy the weather,

Rachel

James replies:

The Normande breed has its origin in cattle that were brought to Normandy by the Viking conquerors in the 9th and 10th centuries. For over a thousand years these cattle evolved into a dual purpose breed to meet the milk and meat needs of the residents of northwestern France. The present herd book in France was started in 1883. Though the breed was decimated by the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II, there are currently 3 million Normandes in France. Their present role in France is to provide rich milk for the cheese industry while maintaining their excellent carcass quality.

Farm Fact: It is important to keep track of calves and cows with identification. Most beef and dairy farmers use ear tags. When a calf is sick or not nursing its mother, the farmer or farm employee needs to know which calf it is. Ear tags can have different information written on it including the birth date and mother?s identification number.

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