An abundance of white and red this spring

Red lady bugs are repopulating our ecosystem and white is repopulating in our Jersey cows. How do we get more lady bugs and Island-type cows?

Good morning, world! Heidi caught this great lady bug’s eye view of October grazing. In the process of showing you the farm’s breath-taking beauty of spring, I realized how red lady bugs and white on our Jersey cows are part of one beautiful story.

October 922 is the daughter of September (looking from behind). Front right is November 015, September’s daughter from this year, along with Mary 025, Maisie’s daughter.

We’ve been seeing a lot more red lady bugs recently — as opposed to the pinkish ones, which are non-native. Red lady bugs are a sign of ecosystem restoration.

Look at these beauties! This second one under the clover leaf evaded me before I could get my camera to focus that close, but every time I see a true red lady bug, it’s a beautiful sight.

The miracle is sometimes messy along the way…

In order to restore ecosystems, we first have to make a really big mess, and that’s why I am showing you this “ugly” shot of our cow feeding area after a rain. We roll out fresh straw every day when it’s muddy. I’m showing you this picture to show that sometimes beauty first means we have to get down and dirty. After six months of rest, this muddy lot (where we feed the cows hay overnight after they graze during the day) will be a verdant Eden. But first we need lots of animal impact, manure, straw and uneaten hay to feed the microbial life. Microbial life means that the mineral cycles, water cycles and carbon cycles can begin to work again. Life in the soil means life in the plants and life in the animals, and that life makes more life in us!

Mary, Maisie’s daughter, nurses on her while Polka finds a clean place to lay down (along with the heifer in the hay ring!). This is about the muddiest our feeding area gets.

Farming is not always beautiful and it would be unfair of those of you learning along side of us if we showed you only the glorious shots and picture-perfect clean cows on green grass. We get more of that every year, but like most of you just starting out, we started out with worn-out soils (in our case from tobacco, cotton and continuous grazing), and in order to feed the soils and restore life back to the ground, we use whatever hay and straw we can get to feed both the cows and the worms.

Little Nathan the bull carries his clover prize from the grazing area onto the cows’ feeding area. Notice the fresh straw and clean place to lay down. Vital for health and milk quality.

How do we get these islands of white on our Jersey cows?

I also included the picture of Maisie so those of you who are fascinated with color pattern inheritance in Jerseys can see how super-white Maisie (a pedigreed, full-blood Jersey) only passed along flecks of white to her daughter. Yet September, who only has small patches of white, had a super-white daughter. October has small patches of white like mom, and her sire, Hawthorn Grove Zeus, also has some small white islands.

November’s sire (Holt Creek Bozeman) had a lot of white but Mary’s sire had virtually none. In our experience, white has to be somewhere on each side of the cross to come out in the offspring. We do not breed for white specifically because otherwise we could end up with undesirable recessives in other traits.

In my experience observing color-pattern inheritance in Jerseys, the strawberry blonde coloring (like Lorin-P) also can lead to white patches or lighter-colored offspring. Most of our Lorin daughters are lightly colored, almost peach in color.

Lorin-P’s strawberry blonde color leads to light coloring in his daughters.

See our bull catalog here. More bulls added soon, including Lester-PP (shown below)!

Lester-PP. Neither his dam nor his sire had much white, but as a recessive trait, it sometimes comes through like a blond baby can come out of two dark-haired parents.

So how are red lady bugs and white on Jersey cows related, anyway…?

Today I’m grateful for red lady bugs and beautiful islands of white on our Jersey cows. Why? Because both make my world more beautiful, and both are the byproduct of seeking beauty and excellence in all things. We focused on land restoration, and the lady bugs have shown up. We have focused on bringing back traits of Jersey cows from the Isle of Jersey (sturdiness, grazing ability, medium frame size and high butterfat), and the white showed back up, just as it had on Island cows.

When I started writing this post, I didn’t intend to relate those two things. They were just both a beautiful part of spring to me, and they happened to tie together in my photo captions of the farm right now. But as I reflect, I remember again that everything is related to everything else, and we are all tied together in one amazing story.

What are you going to do today to make the world, and particularly your world, more beautiful?

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