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

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Available Or Maybe Not

Farmers plan ahead when looking for a bull to purchase so it coincides with the time of year they want to have their calves delivered, or if they already had a bull they had been using, time to get the old bull away from the cows before a new one is introduced. Once pregnant, the cows gestation is roughly about the same as a human, nine months, making for easy calculations on when to purchase a new sire.

Our bull pen was full earlier in the year when we had ten youngsters ranging from weaning age (about 8-9 months) to one left over bull from last year’s yearlings that all were available for sale in the spring. We like to hold our bulls until they are at least a year old before we sell them as breeding animals, we watch their growth to assure good solid stock for our clients. Continue reading

Moving Wood Production

While we are gearing up firewood production for our own winter use, we are also ramping up production for the bundle project. Moving outdoors while the weather is holding clear and dry for a couple of days will speed up the process.

Splitter with stacks and crib of firewoodWe have moved the portable Super Splitter out of the production area of the barn so it is closer to the log landing.

While one person is cutting the wood into 16 inch pieces, another one can be chopping the larger pieces into halves or quarters with the wedges and sledgehammer in order to make the heavy pieces light enough to lift up onto the platform table of the splitter. Quarters can still weigh too much to lift and will be split smaller if needed. Continue reading

Seeing Evidence Of Dry Conditions

Even though we have seen storms roll in throughout the summer, we are noticing that we are below average for our overall precipitation for the rain year that began in October. We can see it in the water level in the river, we can see it in the stress showing up in the fir trees, in the hard-packed dirt in swampy areas that should be moist, and we are starting to see it in the vine maples that are growing at the edge of the forest land.

A vine maple getting red leaves at the edge of the forestWhile driving the clearing between the planted patches of forest, I noticed this vine maple at the edge of the woods. The leaves are already starting to turn red as a result of the dry conditions. Vine maples show brilliant red color as the seasons change.

The leaf color stands out from an area that should be lush with multi-hues of green at least for another couple of weeks. The color change is signaling that the deciduous tree is beginning to go into fall mode, taking the nutrients usually used to keep the leaves plumped with moisture and using the reserves inside the core of the tree and down in the roots.

It is also a good reminder for us that the summer season of bounty is fleeting and to begin the preparations for the fall season. It will be upon us soon.

Three In One Day

Finding a bees nest this time of year is not unusual. Finding three in one day is unlikely and finding three different kinds in one day is practically unheard of but it happened today.

Mike was moving some logs with the teeth of the front loader tractor from the back landing to the closer landing, when all of a sudden he had bees swarming around him. He stayed on the tractor and hauled the log all the way forward before setting it down near the other logs in the landing. He saw bees hanging around but not as many as he saw when he first picked up the log. With closer inspection he noticed the log had a hollow end and the bees had moved into the hollow and had a good sized nest in there. Continue reading

Before The Sun Comes Up

I am writing this while sitting in the dark at my kitchen table. You may ask why, most normal people would, and I do have a good reason for having only the light from my computer screen illuminating my corner of the world.

Topmost bloom on a red rose bush.From the table I have a view out the largeĀ  window that faces east and is a favorite spot for the herd sire, two show cows with their calves to lounge through the night. It is a small end of their pasture just past the hedge of flowering sage, lavender, daphne and roses in their prime. Last night before going to bed I noticed the herd of elk coming out of the woods at the far end of the open field. From the picture you can see how close the pasture and fences are (during daylight hours of course). The elk I saw were right near that back corner and scattered through the far field. Continue reading

If Only We Looked East First

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