It’s hard to get a picture of Topanga and her new baby Zion together. Zion is a very busy youngster and with the two of them in the large hay field turned nursery, she has a lot acres to investigate. Zion only stops playing long enough to nurse for a bit before heading out to new adventures. Topanga is a wonderful mother and even though she is really busy grazing the day away, she doesn’t let Zion get out of her sight.
The temperature had dropped during the night to 20 degrees and the morning started with clear blue skies. The frosty grass still shivered in the shady spots and stayed that way in many places, never quite getting above freezing before the sun went down beyond the wooded hillside.
Zion hasn’t a care in the world as she scampers around the field.
About an hour after this picture was taken, the main herd had lined up on this side of the electric fence to watch the duo hang out in the coveted field. I couldn’t even get a picture of momma and baby while the gaggle of onlookers lined the fence and blocked the view because all it would of showed would have been beef backsides and I already posted one behind scene this month.
As I was walking the rolling slopes of the big hay field soon to be filled with the new mothers and calves, I noticed that I was not alone.
Over the horizon of the next hillock, sets of eyes were watching.
A herd of elk stretched from one side of the field to the other across the back of the big hay field, dotting the area just beyond the inside fence and before the tree line.
They were watching me intently as I tried to get a good count on the critters.
Before the herd took off in a mass evacuation, I counted at least 30 elk. I saw 3 with horns, 2 of them being spikes and one branch bull. Several of this years calves were spotted mixed in with the big cows even though it is hard to distinguish them while the herd is moving because they must weigh 400 lbs. or more already.
In a flash, the herd jumped the fence and headed off into the trees. The sound of the herd crashing through the river sounded a few minutes later as they ran to safer ground.
The bald eagles and smaller eagles also along with other scavengers like the buzzards and coyotes are busy with river patrol while salmon spawning season is in full swing. Slower running water in shallow pools become nests and breeding grounds for groups of the fish. Watching the water a person may only see the backs tipping out of the water as it looks like it is boiling with the 50 or more salmon in a nesting area laying eggs and dropping sperm.
At about 24 inches long, this salmon had been plucked from a group of fish in the shallows by one of the bald eagles and was laying along the water line near the bridge.
Judging from the color, this was a new arrival showing some of the bright red tinge that they get when moving from the salt water ocean to the fresh water rivers. This salmon was still pretty beat up by the trek to the spawning ground and losing half of his face while being plucked out of the river by the eagle sealed the deal.
As the multitudes of fish spawn out, the colors will darken as will their ability to stay alive. Within a couple of days the fish will be black except for the areas where their flesh sloughs off in chunks. The mighty salmon fight to the end.
The river keepers pick up patrols and scour the rivers edge as the fish perish, the bounty will only last a few days.
While we managed to get the first load of seedlings into the ground and all settled in, the east wind and freezing weather forecasted may mean an end for the late fall planting. I’ll have to see what happens after this week to judge if another load would be able to be planted next week after temps moderate.
Ideally we would have started a week to ten days earlier, that would have been when the seedlings were in early dormant stage. It is good, however to get the amount of trees in when we did before the colder weather moved in. There still will be opportunities to continue the riparian planting in January and February and can go as late as March depending on weather patterns during that time.
I have been giving away carrots and beets as fast as I can. I’m trying to get them all out of the garden before they freeze in the ground and turn mushy. I pass them out to every visitor, I haul loads in to the Community Center, I made the postal carrier take a bag full and yet I still have more to harvest. It’s the cleaning that is the problem, mud clings to the vegetables and it takes more time to de-dirt than to haul the things away.
It’s a good thing that I like root vegetables so much but this three meals a day tends to get a little weary. What’s that? You ask why I planted so many? I think I just told you, I love ’em. A lot. And I’m probably going to plant the same amount next year also.
By the way, can you use any beets and carrots?
We picked up our first load of seedlings to plant along the riparian zone of the Nehalem River.
The dark colored box contains cedars but we also loaded up spruce, alder, hemlock, white (grand) fir and dogwood.
The seedlings are potted in 12 inch plastic pots. It takes quite a hole to make sure each tree is planted deep enough to keep the tender roots growing in the correct direction. ‘J’ rooting causes the trees to fail when the tops get larger than the stunted roots can hold, from plantings 10 years to 30 years old. Whole sections of forest can fail at the same time if the roots were not planted carefully.
The weather forecast calls for a drying and cold east wind so the planting needs to be completed in a hurry to get the trees safely in the ground before they freeze or dry out from exposure to the Columbia River Gorge wind that tunnels the cold winter air our direction.
The final eight calves for our 2017 calf crop have had their green weaning clips installed and are well on their way through the process.
Soon the eight will be moved to the show barn away from their mothers and the clips will be removed. While in the show barn they will be pampered with as much grain and hay that they want. The veterinarian will be by in the next week to give an official vet check to all the critters we have weaned throughout the fall and to give the required BANGS ( Brucellosis) shot for each of the heifers.
Vaccination requirements. Brucellosis vaccination is required for all sexually intact female cattle 4 months of age and over. Calfhood vaccinations must occur between 4-12 months of age. Oregon does accept mature vaccinated cattle. A legible vaccination tattoo is required.
Brucellosis in a herd could render females to abort their calves instead of being able to deliver at full term. If we were to fore go the requirement, we would not be able to sell the animals as breeding stock and they would be slaughter only, hence the reason for getting the animals vaccinated before 12 months of age when they could start to reproduce.