Speaking Of Bees

I was just mentioning the threat of bees during this extended dry, warm season. Today I found, in the gate that I go through a minimum of eight times every single day, a nest of wasps that had begun to form in the bottom tube of the gate.

My foot was inches away as I swung the gate wide to head out to the show barn when I noticed bees coming out of the worn tubing at the bottom of the gate. Mother Nature had rusted out the area and the bees had begun to take it over.

Mike came to my rescue and bombed the dickens out of the nest and the couple of nests that had started nearby under the eaves of the outdoor boiler and on the corner of the woodshed. It is getting dangerous out there, but still nowhere near the amount of bees we had a couple of years ago.

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Starts Off Well Mannered

Meals in the show barn begin with everyone minding their own grain pans. Each animal gets their fair ration and begin eating right away. It is when I start chopping up apples that things begin to lose their sophistication.

The two cows along with heifer #47 are locked into the stanchions at the far end of the barn during meal time. If they were to roam free, none of the three calves would get any food at all. Don’t worry the two cows and #47 get their own feed and quite a lot of it.

The three calves, two of which belong to the two cows and the orphaned Primrose #70, eat at the closer end of the barn. None of them are big enough for their heads to lock into the stanchions so they get to scuffle amongst themselves on who gets the good amount of feed.

When they start off with grain, I separate the the three youngsters placing their pans at intervals of every other stanchion so keep them from stealing each other food. While they are eating, I start cutting the fruit.

The three calves are closest to where I am working, and watch intently as I get the apples ready. When I head toward them with the bucket they all stop and wait for the sweet fruit. While I head over to the far end of the barn to give apples to the two cows and yearling heifer, small fights break out over who gets to eat out of which pan in an effort to get the most fruit before it is all gone.

Before I can finish doling out the fruit to the larger animals, the calves have scooted their pans this way and that, and continue to pick at each other. Even though Primrose is the smallest in size, she does not let anyone keep her from getting more than her fair share.

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Browning Fields

It is hard to imagine just a month ago when we had finally finished up with hay season, the regrowth of the field grass was astounding. So lush and green.

The main herd enjoyed the fields as the grass regrew in the the mowed sections. We moved the herd around to the different fields for them to graze. Now, just a month later and much less moisture, the fields have turned to a crisp brown without any regrowth until the next big batch of rain comes along.

We are still only feeding once a day for the main herd, but before long that will change and we will have morning and night feedings to keep everyone happy and properly caloried.

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A Week Without A Delivery

It has been a busy summer and the loads of firewood have been going out nearly every week with sometimes having two loads in a week. It has been keeping up busy trying to keep up.

But this week was a break from the norm and we did not have a delivery scheduled. We have spent the time that we would have been wrapping, loading and delivering in a productive way by starting to get the dry firewood stacked into the barn to be used during the winter months.

We had to separate the stack of hay bales from the wood so we used a tarp as a curtain to keep the two segregated. Then Mike moved cribs filled with dry wood along the wall and I started stacking more wood along the cribs to be safely contained in their area. We also began moving seasoned hardwood into another area so we will have premium bundles available.

So far we have about four cord of wood all stacked up with the plan on at least four more cord in this area plus five cord will be put into the Big Red Beast after she is done with her rock hauling fall job. After being filled with wood the Big Red Beast will be covered and stored in another barn until needed for the firewood project. We are hoping our stacks in the bull barn will last until December before we have to break into the truck.

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Getting Comfortable

Last week, we rounded up all the main herd and filtered them through the barn in an effort to ear tag all the younger calves that we had not gotten to yet. We also put green weaner clips in two bull calves that are big enough to be weaned.

With everyone tagged and the two calves sporting their green weaner clips, we let the whole herd back out to graze in the big field and around the lower portion of the hillside. The weaner clips have proved to be a great way to wean calves. The calves can graze right alongside their mothers without being able to nurse. The cows dry up their milk production while giving comfort to their offspring. No bellowing, no pacing, no frantic fence destroying, no issues.

After five days with the weaner clips in place, we moved the herd back to the barn and sorted out the two calves. Mike had loaded up heifer #23 from the show barn and brought her across the river to where we had the main herd. She is now old enough to be bred so we put her into the main herd where the herd sire is residing. After unloading her we loaded the two bulls, #49 and #51 and brought them over to the show barn.

Once inside the show both #49 and #51 found out they have a pen to themselves and that they have free choice of feed 24 hours a day. Both calves are 7 months old at this weaning stage and weigh between 700-800 lbs each. The cows did a great job raising these two.

They are now getting used to being pen mates and really enjoy the sliced apples that I add to their meals.

When the boys are comfortable with their surroundings and the new idea of surviving without their mothers, anywhere from four days to a week, we will transfer them out of the show barn and into the bull pen with the other two nearly-yearling bulls that were weaned earlier. In the bull pen they will have large grazing areas, a loafing barn and tall trees to hang around.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm

Still Playing Catch Up

The week has flown by, after the two months of endless hay season we are trying to get back to the stuff we normally do this time of year.

Even though we finished hay season more than a week ago, we just finally got around to unloading The Big Red Beast of the last load of hay. We had been stalling because she was parked inside the barn and the bales were not a pressing task that had to be done immediately. Instead we worked on firewood, the garden and moving the big herd to the far, far field where the grass is regrowing nicely after cutting the hay.

Getting the logging started for the year is now a month behind and we are into fire season so that means getting fire equipment charged up and operational before we can begin work in the woods.

At this rate we will still be working on summer jobs well into winter.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm

Equipment Jigsaw

We do not run irrigation lines in our hay fields, we prefer to let nature do it’s thing with our grass and pastures. Because we are not forcing the land to produce the next crop of hay we use the areas of hay fields as grazing fields for the cows once the hay harvest is complete. That means we do not have a second cutting or third cutting as some farmers are able to do, it also means that the one crop we do get is precious and is all that sustains our cattle throughout the winter beyond what they are grazing.

Now that we are done with the hay equipment for the year, it is time to get it cleaned up and stored away for next year. The process of getting all the chaff, hay seeds, dust, dirt and clingy wads off each begins with the high-powered air blower.

As each piece of equipment is cleaned, it needs to be stored away. The equipment takes up a lot of valuable real estate in the barns and it takes a jigsaw approach to get it all put back where it needs to go so they all will fit.

The first piece to go in is the Henry loader, the handy elevator that scoops bales off the ground and drops it over the top of the truck bed for stacking. The Henry has to be rolled in by hand in order for the tall top to fit into the space between the rafters in the barn. It takes two people to inch the Henry around the pole, past the stack of lumber that is scheduled to be used on a new fence in the bull pen during the winter months, and back into the designated resting place.

Next is the rake that has to tuck in right in front of the Henry without hitting the cement wall and leaving a walking path to the back of the barn that holds spare parts for year round repairs.

After the rake, the baler is inched in and with the help of hydraulic power of the tractor is swung to one side so the back of the mower envelopes the handles of the rake that protrude out. If the baler is in the correct position, the mower gets moved in next and fits snugly right up to the hitch of the baler.

If all goes correctly up to this point the fluffer gets folded up into a compact shape and wheeled into the last remaining square footage of the barn equipment area. Luckily, this year everything seemed to fit in correctly the first time, this is not always the case.

Hay season 2020 now can begin to become a memory, except we still haven’t unloaded The Big Red Beast, it may take a day or two before I want to mess with it.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm

 

It’s A Wrap

Call me done, the hay season that seemed to last forever is finally finished!

Every single field that we mowed got some rain on it during the drying cycle. Even the fields that we broke into three smaller fields got at least damp during the curing process. The hay is not the prettiest we have ever made but at least it is now in bales and in the barn for the upcoming wintertime.

The fields have been running heavier than usual this year lots of sweet clover mixed in with the grass. The cattle will be happy with the hay even with the extra moisture we had to fight during hay season.

The counter on the baler showed a half bale short of and even 3000. That is quite a bit more than last year and the hay barns are stuffed.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm

Pretty And Not Pretty

The farm truck we call The Big Red Beast is cumbersome, unsightly and quite threadbare in every sense of the word. She is held together by tuck tape, baling twine, wire, lots of angle iron and extra bolts. She sputters and bucks, pitches and lurches, sounds like a cross between a twin engine aircraft and a bulldozer low on fuel and tends to belch a fire ball when cranked over with anyone but Mike behind the wheel. How she continues to haul hay bales from the fields to the barns is a wonder in itself, yet every year she soldiers on and gets the work done.

When standing in the back of the truck, loading the bales as they drop down after being scooped and elevator-ed up the chute up by the Henry loader (a device that hooks onto the side of the truck when in the field), I do not look pretty at all. Trying to stay upright is a big deal while the truck sways and bounces below me. Add layer upon layer of rows of hay bales and the comedy begins.

But once the truck is stacked high with bales and the load is being taken into the barn for unloading, it is a beautiful sight to behold. But the stacking job is not pretty. It is uneven and leaning to one side. Bales are tossed all which ways on the very top.

Getting the truck into the barn and snugged up to the hay stack to begin unloading, it turns back to being not pretty as the looming job of unloading and pitching the bales high up until they reach the rafters is a stifling, hot task. Things begin to look pretty again when the bales are all in their resting spot until winter when we use the animal feed a few bales at a time.

For those of you who are waiting patiently for the totals of the field we are currently working on to see if your guess is the winner of total bales or the winner of Mike’s guess, you still have one more day to submit!

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm

Said And Done

It seems like a lot of my stories recently begin by saying this is not a typical year. Everything seems strange, weird or just a bit off. Critters are acting funky. The weather is not normal,  hay season is lasting a very long month rather than the ten days to two weeks it typically does. Even the firewood project is completely off the charts with the weekly orders more like middle of winter, high volume rather than a summertime slowdown. I’m not going to get into how it is all affecting the farm’s human critters but it is suffice to say we are all cranky to one degree or another and it is not unusual to see an odd outburst or downright fit on occasion. (Anybody else seeing this ?)

Plans are changing faster than the weather around here. For the last three weeks, someone has been saying or rather preaching that we are only going to do one portion of a field at a time and won’t start another field by mowing until we have every last bale in the field that we are working on safely stored in the barn. It seems that the tide has turned, or the moon changed to a different phase, perhaps Jupiter is no longer in retrograde or that marine air that has been plaguing us with dampness every other day has started to blow toward the sea instead of inland. I say this with fingers crossed, it looks like we may have a stretch of four days in a row of nice weather.

The field we are working on does not have all the bales picked up. It does not have all the rows baled. It does not even have all the rows raked. But last evening Mike mowed down the last field we have to do battle with for this year, the six acre field. This is always the heaviest, highest volume per acre field and the mowing proved that it is indeed thicker in stand than any of the other fields or pieces of fields.

For those of you who are waiting patiently for the totals of the field we are currently working on to see if your guess is the winner of total bales or the winner of Mike’s guess, you still have one more day to submit!

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm