Mike has a tone that he uses to call the cows. If he is not making that tone, the cows do not respond to those other noises he makes like whistling, hollering at elk, calling the dogs or swearing a blue streak when the wrench slips and he smashes his finger. The cows can be near or clear across the river, the field and far into the woods, when they hear Mike’s “come Boss” sounding tone they begin answering him with their own bellows eventually bringing the whole herd to where Mike is.
The Gator makes a sound that they also respond to. When we are into the time of year when we feed twice a day, usually October through March, the Gator signals time for a meal and the cows come as soon as they hear the motor rev. But this time of year the herd ignores the Gator and only responds to Mike’s tone.
The herd was thrilled with all the green grass that has grown in this harvested hayfield over the last two weeks as they were busy attending to the far, far field.
The herd scattered out slightly once they got into the field but they would not be moved from all the good eating even though we were planning on moving them to the 6 acre field for the day. The cows won the battle of us trying to walk behind, cajole, swing arms and holler to get them to move into the smaller field that was just as green as this one. Even Mike moving ahead of them and singing out his particular tone didn’t persuade a single cow to call back with a response. Oh well, perhaps tomorrow they will be in the mood to move…
We had a little fence fixing to do before we are planning to move the cows from the far, far field back to this side of the river. A little over an hour, a few t-posts, a dozen wire clips and several scratches from barb wire was all it took to reinforce a couple of spots where the cows have been reaching over, around and through the established fence line.
Once that task was completed, we had just enough time to take the Gator up the hill to check our seedlings before the sun set for the day. The evening was pleasant, the dogs were having a great time and the baby trees seemed to be undisturbed. That is when we started seeing elk tracks in the road. They had been scrimmaging and scuffling around in the dirt, it looked like they were having a regular, home style, hoe-down. From what we could tell the tracks were not very old because we had a heavy dew that morning and these had to have been left after that moisture. Continue reading
A tree was cut down last year along the skid road Mike was building. The stump had criss-cross notches sawed into it. The deep scars are made to weaken the stump allowing the bulldozer to bust off pieces until the remaining stump is small enough to remove from the ground. This stump was in a spot where we had planned the roadway, when the time came to widen the skid road into one wide enough to accommodate a loaded log truck and the wide tracks of the feller-buncher.
The road was widened but on the other side of the road from this one particular stump. So here it sits, the funny looking, hacked up and forgotten stump is left on its own to witness the comings and goings on this woodland street corner. It seemed a bit forlorn, until I noticed a spot of green.
Inside one of the criss-cross grooves grows a one inch Douglas Fir. A single seed had managed to lodge itself in one of the grooves and find purchase there. Without soil, the tender seedling landed in a gap that holds enough needles and spent detritus from the neighboring trees to have found a spot to germinate. The man made trough holds a pin head sized drop of water safely in reach of the tender roots. The tall firs around the stump keep the new growth in pleasant filtered sunlight throughout the day keeping the area a moderate temperature.
It will be interesting to watch this little seedling to see if it can make it through another season. I named him Will.
We come across things in the woods, we are lucky because the land only had two owners before us(and one of them was a timber company) so objects that are human made are less likely to abandoned or buried in the forest. Once in a great while we find heavy steel logging cable that had broken during use and rolled up around an old snag to keep it out of the way. This would be a remnant of the clear cut that was done 100 years ago with the help of a temporary railroad system, high-lead logging cables, and steam powered equipment referred to as ‘donkeys’. Continue reading
I am pretty sure I know where this story is going, its that old case of beauty in the hand of the beholder. But what is it when the beholder looks at something from a different perspective?
Spending a lot of time in the woods gives me time to look at things from many angles. Driving the skid road up hill, I am awed by the magnitude of the beauty of the tall trees, steep terrain, deep ravines and what sometimes seems like a tenuous path along the contour ridges of the forest landscape. To me this is pretty, but it wasn’t always that way. Continue reading
Typically, by now the hot summer days would be baking the ground and causing lots of dust on every road and trail. We were fortunate to get our hay crop in when we did because the last two weeks has had many muggy days with light rain showers or thunderheads looming. We are still lower than average for the total amount of rainfall for the year so this dampness a welcomed opportunity for the newly planted seedlings, and for the fields.
It is a different story for those who have not yet been able to get their harvests completed. In the valley, the grass seed farmers have had their fields swathed (cut down) during this stretch where the crop is supposed to be drying, but the ongoing moist days are keeping the ground beneath the wind-rows damp and threatening to rot the crop before the drying can occur. The farmers are starting to doubt their ability to get the crops harvested.
Our far field that was the first one cut for hay, has greened up considerably with the moisture so we moved the main herd back over there to eat the new grass rather than letting it go to the resident elk herds.
There is enough new growth out in the field and around the brush at the tree line to keep the main herd busy for a week to ten days. These are valuable days that we will not have to feed the limited supply of the harvest from the barn, and easing the worries about the harvest being enough to supply the cows through the winter months.
Beets are big enough to start harvesting. They are one of our favorite vegetables. We cook them and top them with a bit of butter or sour cream or sometimes both. We eat lots of grated raw beets made into a salad. I even like to eat them cooked and cooled for breakfast. Most of the beets are already good sized but we have been finding that several of the tops are trying to grow seed heads instead of putting their energy into growing the root bases. Daily pulling of the ones trying to go to seed will be needed to keep the whole row from trying to do the same thing. Continue reading