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 have a tendency to lean. Sometimes while doing the morning chores out in the show barn, the stack of hay becomes a tempting respite from the care and feeding of the cows.
This is also the barn where I feed the cats breakfast and dinner so I am never alone. The felines are always quick to remind me if their bowl is empty.
This day, the cats had already been fed. The cows are busy munching hay and I had a few minutes to lean and enjoy the soft sounds of the barn.
Leaning into the hay, I took a moment to contemplate the day. The cats noticed my stillness and came to investigate.
That is Momma cat sniffing the pom-pom on my wool hat. Tobias is busy sniffing Momma, and Boaz is posing for the picture.
A new set of hooves were found in the barn this morning. Our show cow, Sitka had a cute little girl.
To say the least, we were a little surprised. Sitka had delivered Mapleine on March 10, 2016. She must have been bred back only a month later in order to have her next one in January. Just like humans, cows usually don’t become fertile after delivery quite so soon especially when they are nursing heavily.
Welcome to the farm Peach, who weighed in at 62 lbs on January 3, 2017.
She looks a little scruffy in her first picture, but once her mom got her all cleaned up her hair is long, jet black and fluffy.
By her size, we think she may be a week or two premature, but she is very happy and healthy. Cutting circles around her mom and sneaking out the door to cavort in the snow before coming back into the shelter of the barn.
A couple of weeks ago we spent quite a bit of time getting the show barn cleaned out. Working with a loader tractor, Mike had scooped out all the muck and put down a layer of fresh sawdust on the floor. The barn smelled fresh and woodsy. The herd sire, show cows and replacement heifers all seemed so happy in their areas.
That was just before winter showed up with rounds of freezing and thawing, rain and sleet, silver thaw and wind.
It found out quickly that the clean-out job had a flaw. Mike had to put some river rock in along the outside of the barn when we did the cleaning because the path that the animals entered and exited the barn had broken down and it was difficult for the cows to walk in deep mire.
When the barn cleaning was done, the repair of the path looked good, but looks were deceiving. The slope of the path didn’t quite lean correctly. During dry weather the slope would have been just fine, but with the muck changing viscosity many times each day, the whole top of the barn-yard became an oozing pool. Instead of channeling the wet dirt and muck away from the barn, it flowed right in when the animals stepped inside.
The clean barn now has a layer 6 inches deep of muck, and now the ground outside is either too wet to get the tractor in to scoop or too frozen to break apart any of the mess.
Over night, one busy entrepreneur was spinning his little heart out.
This spider web deluxe was spotted as I opened the metal gate into the show barn.
The web was coated with frost or I probably wouldn’t of even seen all the wild comings and goings of the arachnid. It had no rhyme or reason to the pattern. It was like he just had a wild hair and created a masterpiece for all too see.
I looked, but could not find my 8-legged Picasso, he was most likely sleeping after his very busy night.
Now that the last batch of calves has been weaned and moved on from being in the show barn, cleaning time kicked into high gear.
Mike drove the scoop tractor load after load to clean the walking area, dumping the manure into the honey wagon.
Four loads full of manure needed to be spread out on the hay fields this day of cleaning.
Once the barn was cleaned, a thin layer of fresh wood chips was spread down on the concrete with a scattering of organic lime to control odor and balance the ph level. The lime also assists the manure to break down quicker once it is spread out onto the hay fields.
Once we moved back home from the fairs and got settled back into barn building, I realized that I was being haunted by gremlins. Continue reading