It is the simple things that make me happy. A beautiful sunrise, a newborn calf standing for the first time, Butler the dog digging and catching a gopher, Jackson the other dog stopping his frantic ways long enough to lift his paw for a handshake, and even Mike mucking out the barn.
The mucking barn is a necessity as well as making me in a better mood. Walking into the mid-section of the barn where the hay and equipment is stored while on either side of me has been cleaned out, refilled with a scattering of lime and a layer of fresh wood chips gives me a much better outlook on the whole day. The tidy barn makes the cows look better to me and it makes me happy. Continue reading
This is the week that I am at the second session of REALOregon, so some of the posts may look a little different while I head to Roseburg for the classes. The story today has to do with me being gone and Mike needing to do the chores by himself.
There won’t be time while I am away for either Mike or Marilyn to work on firewood, so I covered the equipment and powered down any electrical cords (always a precaution when we are not using equipment for a day or a whole season). We find that if we are diligent with preparing for a non-productive time, the equipment continues to work effectively when we do need it. It’s possible that it is all a matter of what our minds are expecting but as long as it works, we will continue to do it.
Mike backed the Gator into the barn after the evening chores and loaded bales for the morning feeding. Butler the dog watched closely to make sure Mike was driving safely.
Once the three bales were loaded, Jackson assumed his rightful position on top of the bales and sat there watching me while I closed the gates to the barn and the electric fence around the field.
With the bales loaded for the morning feeding, Mike will hopefully be able to sneak out to the outdoor feeders before the cows surround them making it a real chore to get the hay into them before they try to pull bites out of the bales. It takes twice as long to feed when they are in the way with a lot more mess. Which is why we normally use two people to feed during the morning and evening chores.
Too bad I will be away to miss the feeding times for a couple of days. But I’m sure I will be too busy with the session to worry about it too much while I’m getting ideas for new stories to share with you!
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There is just something about the nature of things that change when Mike is away. The universe seems to sense that there is an imbalance and works to counter with unusual force.
Mike had only been gone on a short get-away and less than 24 hours after he left, I ran into an issue. I skewered a slab of hay to toss into the manger for the three young bulls and the tines flew off the top of the handle still stuck in the slab.
A broken tool now and again isn’t unusual on the farm, but this fork had survived a good long time without a warning that the handle was rotting away from the metal tines. There had been no looseness about the tool, it seemed sturdy without any wobble. Continue reading
Digital photos are very cool. I take a lot of pictures, you only get to see a very small number of them on the website, there are 100’s of them on my camera at any given time. Many of them speak to me as to what kind of story will be attached to them. Boatloads of other pictures are random things that, quite frankly, I’m not sure what they are a picture of, or why I snapped that shot, much less have a story to go with them. I happened to find the inspiration to this story while flipping through those ‘unattached story’ shots in the file.
The two young bulls that have recently been weaned along with two young heifers, are now by themselves out in large bull pen with their very own barn. Since they have grown up with each other and are near to the same age, they are as close as twins but are only half-brothers. Wherever one goes, the other one is usually nearby.
This picture is actually the second one that I snapped while in the barn. I wanted to take a backup second picture in case I wiggled too much during the first one so this one was taken a fraction of a second after the first. At the time, I mentioned how fast a critter could stand from a resting position and then when I looked at the shots on the camera realized that I see this same motion every day, but not all my readers have the chance to see the complex beauty of the most natural movements. Continue reading
There is upheaval in the barns these days. Hay season is a busy time in the field and in the barns. Lots of noise when directing cattle out of the way, movement with equipment the truck, wagon or tractor, bales coming in or being shuffled around, noise from human helpers, and the list goes on. The barn cats are not used to all this excitement but are trying to make do by sneaking in for a meal at odd times instead of the whole pack eating at once.
There are days when I only see a cat or two and at other times I can count all seven of the adults as they gather around the feeding dish.
Today it was only three of the barn cats. The dark calico mama PegLeg, the black mama cat, and the big white tom, Rufus.
For some reason the trio make me think of Oreo cookies as I watch them chow down. With Rufus being nearly twice as big as the diminutive mamas, I think Double Stuff is appropriate. And now that you see it, you are probably craving a cookie yourself.
All the cleaning and prep work to get the barn ready for the loads of hay to be stacked in neat rows went to heck as the very first stack of hay shifted as it was plopped into place.
The placement of the stacks that are next to the manger need to be far enough away so the bigger cows cannot reach their long necks in to tug bits of hay out of the stack. There have been many occasions where beautiful stacks were toppled during the fall and winter when a cow could work enough spears of hay out of the stacked bales to weaken the stack and topple the pile. Who needs wooden blocks when there is a game of Cow Jenga going on in the barn? Continue reading
Mealtime in the barn with Quiet and her Valentine baby HeartThrob, and Stormy with her elfin calf Cloud, has definitely become a family thing.
The youngsters have figured out that I will lift hay high enough for them to reach when they push their heads through the stanchions while their mothers are eating.
Since I lock the mothers in while eating, the babies can eat undisturbed between them. HeartThrob has decided that he likes a nibble of molasses-laced grain with his hay. The younger Cloud has been sniffing at the grain but has yet to try a pellet.