I distinctly remember the end of hay season last July. We were cleaning the hay equipment and moving it into the barn for storage until the 2017 hay season that will be here in about a month.
It is a work of art to get all the equipment into storage and out of the weather. The Henry Loader has to be scooted inside in the flat position then raised tenderly so the top snuggles into the rafters without damage to the structure. The rake has to slip in at an angle to fit between the tire of the Henry and the middle posts of the barn. Next is the baler with its long snout where the bales eject, the snout has to nose in between the other end of the rake and the cement wall. The mower goes in last and has to be inside far enough so we can still close the gates.
With the main equipment stowed, the bale wagon, which is as large as the old farm truck was backed into the middle space in the barn. We had been having minor issues with the old bale wagon at the end of the season and had limped by with minor repairs. By putting the beast in the middle of the barn it would be easily accessible for maintenance during the wet, cold winter. Or at least that is what we said.
That was before the bulldozer needed a major overhaul, and the winter was very dark and cold, and procrastination got the better of us.
We are currently in the midst of pieces, lots of pieces. Replacement parts have been ordered. Hopefully we will have everything back to working order before hay season starts.
The barn is neutral territory for the dogs and cats on the farm. It has become the understanding that no dog shall chase a cat while on the premises and no cat shall tear any dog a new one when miffed.
The barn is cat home base. They live here and are fed here (these are the cats that also go along the brushy fencelines for vermin), but there is an air on dominance in the barn and the dogs respect the feline area, usually.
Today the truce is holding while the dance and sniff preliminaries are started. Jackson the dog is particularly checking out the new smells of nursing and kittens on both cats, and the cats are allowing indiscriminate nosing while purring and rubbing on the dog.
No combat activities today, all is calm in the barn.
I had noticed that something had been nosing around the cedar seedlings that we had planted and placed protective cages around.
Out of the 25 seedlings in this area, only 1 plant with cage had been left alone. The rest had cages torn off the bamboo poles, had the poles broken off at ground level, or the cages were completely missing from the area just so the seedlings could be exposed for grazing.
The tender cedar trees were just too much of a temptation for cows, calves, elk or deer that could smell the delicacy beneath the protection of the cage.
I spent several hours re-caging what was left of the seedlings in hope that the cages will stay in place through the summer for the plant to get settled into the ground. As I worked my way around the hillside, I did see a few of the cedars that we had to replant that had been pulled out of the ground completely. Some survived, but most did not.
I had to do some looking but I did finally find the two missing cages scattered away from this planting area.
One of the cages had been carried nearly 50 yards away from this hillside. We are now back to being cagey.
The view from the bridge shows one worker hard at the task of trimming back the blackberry bushes.
While other cows and calves were resting comfortably in the field this cow was doing her best to trip back the new tips of the row of blackberries that grow alongside the bridge on one side of the river.
We harvest these blackberries in the summer and early fall. Since there are so many growing in this area, there is more than enough for the cows to trim them and for us(along with neighbors and friends) to get our share of the delicious fruit.
I had been attempting to get the hoe in and around some of the strawberry plants. The buttercups are really a nuisance and the strawberry plants are getting too big to get around them well but I wanted to chop enough of the interloping ground cover so I would still get a good crop of fruit.
And to make matters just a little more difficult, the barn cat Boaz decided that he needed to keep a close eye on me and the long stick I was using around HIS strawberry plants.
Boaz would snuggle in and around the bushes as close as he could. Most of the time he was right where I wanted to hoe. This task was short-lived. It wasn’t long before I set the hoe by the garden bench and spent some quality time snuggling the mangy barn cat.
He acted surprised that I chose him over messing around the berries, the purring proved that he was appreciative.
With the strawberries in the garden in full bloom I once again took up my crafty skills and painted some rocks to look like strawberries.
Many of you may recall the last two years where I have been putting out these ‘decoy’ rocks around the plants in the strawberry patch when the blooms come on.
In theory, the rocks are supposed to attract birds early on before there are any real strawberries to be pecked on. The decoys make the birds disgusted with what they perceive as a delicious morsel to be a ruse. Then, when the real berries start to redden and ripen they remember how crappy the painted rocks were and head off to pillage someone-else’s garden.
In reality, the strawberries are a good conversation piece as visitors walk through the garden and lift a leaf only to find a decoy grinning at them. As for the birds, I think that the decoys do work to an extent but not in the way it was described to me. I believe those birds are so busy laughing at my silly decoys they forget to go eat my berries.
All in all, I count this as a success.
5/11/17 was busy for Rosalie. She was delivering her baby but it was also time to eat. She was quite sure that she could do both at the same time.
Petals the heifer weighed 74 lbs. at birth. The moment that Rosalie had her baby cleaned off and standing up, she went back to eating in the tall grass.
The baby stayed close to mom as Rosalie was busy even though there was a lot of wobbly-legged flopping about.
It wasn’t too long before Petals figured out what to do with her long legs that she realized she was hungry and looked to Rosalie for something to eat. She started bumping along her mothers side until she found the source for the milk supply.
Petals starting nursing even before Rosalie was able to expel the afterbirth.
Rosalie took it all in stride and was very calm with her new calf even though she was hungry and busy with the post-partum business as well.