The Weekly Digs #231

by Becky

New Calf!

Sunday afternoon as we were coming down the driveway after church I saw our cow Nellie as I drove by. She looked like she was having a contraction! 

A few days earlier Cam told me Nellie looks very pregnant now. This was news because we never test them for pregnancy but we can usually tell in the last few weeks if they are about to have a calf.

We go through one or two bales of hay each year for the cows and were all out so we were able to get some from a neighbor.

Taylor or Travis?

So I told Cam, “Nellie is going to have a baby today!” and the kids immediately were like, “If it’s a boy we’ll name it Travis and if it’s a girl, she’ll be named Taylor.” 

If you aren’t into sports, the reason for the names was because it was Superbowl Sunday and all the talk among the kids was about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. 

It was very cold and wet on Sunday and we were also predicted to get several inches of snow. So I was very worried about this little calf about to come because of the weather.

This is one of Nellie’s older calves, now a large steer.

We watched her closely all day but despite what I thought, there was no birth on Sunday. It was actually a huge blessing because of the weather.

Two inches of snow came down that night and by noon the next day it was mostly melted. Whew! We kept watching her all week but still no calf.

Yesterday, Cam, some of the kids, and I were all outside repairing and cleaning chicken coops. Cam turns to me and says, “she’s pushing a calf out right now.” 

Sure enough, there was Nellie pushing out her baby standing up. Then she laid down and about 5 minutes later the calf was born! This is her first all black calf. We think it’s a boy but we haven’t been able to get close yet.

Nellie is our very best mom among the cows. She is so good and protective of the baby. They are so cute when they are tiny!

The calf will get a name once we figure out the gender. But it’s looking more like a Travis as of right now.

Also interestingly enough, it was also frigid cold on the day the calf was born. It hovered around freezing but there was a fierce windchill. We were bundled up as we worked on chores outside but I came in with numb fingers.

I wondered about the calf but I guess they are quite resilient because there were no issues. 

Today, Cam made the fence wider so the cattle could make it to the eave under the barn if need be to stay warm. So far, all looks well with mom and baby.


Once we got all the meat back from the butcher we had to move around and remove some things from the freezer. 

Usually one of the main things we remove that uses a lot of space is chicken and turkey carcasses. We had quite a few so we put them all in a pot and simmered on low for a day.

The next day we strained the broth from the solids and chilled it. The day after that we scraped off the fat and Cam said he would can it for me.

I was working on finishing up all the irrigation videos from this week and was like, “Sure! Go for it!” He has pressure canned one or two times before but I’m usually right there to help and wasn’t available this time.

Beef stock

I kind of peeked out in the kitchen a few times and double checked that he had the right processing time, pounds of pressure, and that he knew how long to let it vent before putting the weight on.

Everything was going great. The timer finished and Cam turned it off. He said he heard a loud pop as it was cooling off.

I asked him, “Did you take the weight off before the pressure came down?” He said no. So we waited until the pressure was down all the way. I took off the weight, then opened the lid, fully expecting a cracked jar.

What I found was not a cracked jar! That was a relief. The lid had flown off one of the jars into the water. 

After chatting with Cam about it for a little bit, we determined that he didn’t tighten the jars lids enough. It’s tricky because you don’t want to tighten them too tight either. 

When I pressure can I still do “fingertip” tight but I tighten it very tight with my finger tips. Pressure canning definitely moves the cans around and loosens up the lids and rings.


Cam said it was “scary” when we opened the lid and things were hissing and then later when we found the missing lid. 

I’ve canned enough times now that I know everything was perfectly fine aside from the jar with a missing lid. We put that one in the fridge to eat right away. All the others seem to seal ok.

Cam tried again today and made some beef stock and this time he had me tighten the rings on the jars, haha. 

The end result was good! No problems this time 🙂 

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1 comment

Katie C. February 18, 2024 - 2:45 pm

You must have a really big pot to make your stock if you can use several chicken carcasses at one time! I do not so I use one carcass at a time in my slow cooker. I do have one trick: I use my gravy separator to defat my stock. I just let each “load” sit about 15 minutes before pouring.


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