A New Late Addition

The three heifers and the more senior cow, Topanga, have been effectively keeping the neighbors grass trimmed during the summer. On a typical year, the grass would have all dried up by now and we would have moved the traveling herd home. But with these series of small storms, we have had enough moisture to keep the grass growing so the four critters are quite content to continue with their work. Continue reading

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Shipping It Out As Fast As I Can

A box full of fresh and dried produceVisitors to the farm are asked to the garden. We love to show off the variety that is being produced from a small plot of land. But the ultimate goal of enticing folks into the area is to get rid of as much produce as possible so the plants will continue to produce. I box, bag, dry and cook and send off loads each day.

The transparent apples have already turned soft and so any stragglers that finally fall from the tree become munchies for the cows in the show barn or the bulls in the bullpen.

The strawberry patch has been tilled under since the season for them is done. The ground will sit for a couple weeks, then tilled again with several more repeats. I’m trying to kill off all the buttercup roots that turn up with each tilling. The roots are so dense that they like to wind up around the tiller tines and I spend more time unraveling the bound-up mess than actual tilling, but each time should get easier.

The earliest of the plums are just starting to ripen. They have a wonderfully sweet taste even at this stage with a bit of crunch to them.

The cabbages are out of control and I have a hard time giving them away fast enough before they split wide open. I have lost three heads so far to this process but the cows are not complaining about the addition to their meals.

Quiet On The Set

Man inserting nose clip into calf in barnIt’s that time of year when the farm takes on the look of a movie production. It makes me think of Hannibal Lecter in his face-mask during the movie Silence of the Lambs.

Four of the oldest calves are ready to begin the weaning process. It takes only moments for the temporary clip to be inserted without pain or undue hardship. The new face guard is a simple green plastic clip that fits into their nostrils. The guard swings easily to allow for the calf to drink water and eat grass while getting in the way enough so the calf cannot attach to a mother cow for milk. The calves go back to grazing moments after the clip is inserted. Continue reading

Black Bean

Something was amiss in the old shop. We were working around the house, mowing grass and weeding spots in the garden when we noticed mewing sounds, rather frantic mewing sounds coming from the area where we store tack and supplies for the cattle.

The day before we happened to find the carcass of one of the barn cats. Having the road bi-sect the farm leads for dangers for our hunting felines. This carcass was found on the opposite side of the road from the barn and although we do not know what caused the death we do know that it may have been one of the momma cats but scavengers had already begun the work of cleanup so even that was unknown at the time. Continue reading

Windfall Apples

With the earliest varieties of apples starting to ripen, the trees are naturally dropping fruit in an effort to thin out the  total number of fruit on the tree.

green apples in a bucketThe first variety to ripen each year are yellow transparent apples. These are not ones that you can find in the grocery store. They are a very thin skinned, bruise easily, and are not good keepers. In fact they are so fragile that once they fall off the tree they begin to rot.

The apples at this stage are still pretty green and sour so we have been picking them up each day to feed the cows in my barn.  They just love the apples and fight each other for the pieces we put in front of them. We lock the metal stanchion head gates keep the cows from stealing the apples from the calves.

The cows get downright noisy  with indignation without their fresh fruit. If I miss chopping apples to go with their meal, they promptly let me know by bellowing until I find some or cut down a row of lettuce from the garden or start up the lawn mower to add fresh cut grass to their hay. They aren’t mean about it, they just know what is good and expect to get as such.

In the next few weeks the yellow transparents will be sweet enough to slice and run through the dehydrator, they are one of my favorites for dried apples. The different varieties of apples and pears will continue on for several months until the last of the winter apples freeze solid. Last year we had fruit for the cows well into November.

Time To Clean And Store

With the last of the hay fields completed and every last bale has been put into the barns and stacked for feeding during the late fall and winter months,

Hay equipment stored in barn.A visitor to the farm (a city person who had never seen working property before) took one look at the barn full of equipment and stated that farmers have the coolest toys. I try to keep that thought in mind while we use high pressure air to dislodge all the dry accumulation. Continue reading

My Favorite Holiday

Yup you guessed it, my favorite holiday is HAY SEASON! What?  It is true, my favorite time of the year is hay season, I like it so much that I personally call  it number one on my holiday list. Now, you may be thinking, what is there to like about hay season since there have been numerous posts about issues, worries, problems, long days and stress that doesn’t end until the final bale is in the barn. So I will try to list them (in no particular order).

  • I get plenty of fresh air
  • The hay fields smell glorious as the green grass is drying in the sunshine
  • Long days in the hay field make for very sound sleep at night
  • The cows are happy because they are in charge of cleaning up each field as we finish and there is lots of good munching out there
  • My abdominal muscles get a daily workout
  • Long hours on the tractor give me time to think about our Universe and to ponder and solve difficult equations (trouble with this is that notes cannot be written since two hands are needed to keep tractor where it is supposed to be and the second I get off the tractor all revelations disappear into the ether)
  • The residents of the whole household are too tired to bicker with each other
  • My farmer-tan (elbows to wrists and neck to ear tips) makes me look like I just got off a Caribbean cruise if I wear the right clothing
  • I have gotten really good at hand signals to other family members across the field (examples are: do I leave the tractor in the middle of the field or bring it to the barn? do you need a coat? how about a break since I need to piddle, want to dance or may be delirious?-these three are the same gesture and sometimes are all happening at the same time).  Anyway, I am going to rock the next game of charades
  • I don’t have to cook since everyone is too tired to eat. Just heat up something from the freezer with a salad before trundling off to bed
  • I wear out some of the most awful clothes I have (its my way of cleaning out my closet since hay season is rough on clothing). This year I ruined two pair of jeans, three shirts, a sweatshirt, several pairs of socks, two pair of heavy duty gloves and one pair of shoes. Good riddance to every last one of them
  • I tend to lose a few pounds without even trying
  • I get to celebrate this holiday for days, and days and days and…
  • And the most important reason that I love hay season holiday: I am sooooo happy when it is over!

Even though we do not have all the equipment unloaded I am hereby calling it official, for 2019 my favorite holiday has ended. The very last bale is in the barn safely tucked away from thunderstorms, hail and the reported tornado that touched down in Portland the other day. All of our hay sneaked out of the fields unscathed by the tempestuous weather (and wouldn’t ya know it, the forecast now calls for no rain for the next ten days).

Now its time for you to enjoy your favorite holiday, no matter which one it is. Happy July 4th everyone!