A Quick Trim

A row of lettuce trimmed off filled a black wheelbarrow.The row of lettuce growing in the garden was out of control. I had given away as much as I could but it was still producing like gang busters. I had to trim it before it tried to bolt and then I would lose the whole row.

A quick trim to get the lettuce back under control filled the black wheelbarrow. But what is a trim in the garden becomes a snack for the animals in the show barn. They just love fresh greens from the garden and they don’t let any of it go to waste.

On Guard

Butler has given himself the job of protecting the barn as we get ready to feed the main herd in the mornings.

He sits steadfast at the edge of the barn while we are loading the hay and stares out into the fields.

He alerts us if coyotes, eagles, or elk are bothering the cows in the field by his high pitched yelps. Most of the time he just sits quietly and assumes his guard position.

The Barn Had Been Clean

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.

img_5676It 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.

 

Grain Delivery

In addition to the clean up and stowing away of summer equipment, we are gearing up for the winter weather with a delivery of grain for the weaning calves, show cows and bulls.

We are pretty particular about the grain we feed and do not use corn, soy, or extra fillers. The grain we use is a natural product that is made from the screenings of grass seed, this is leftover hulls and culled seeds from the harvesting of grass seed. The screenings are mixed with molasses and formed into pellets. The cattle enjoy the treat of the screenings, the newly weaned calves do well with the mixture and take to the taste quickly. The bulls continue to maintain and even gain weight through the winter so that they are more desirable for sale.

Mike hauls 2- 1 ton bags of grain in our farm pickup, but he has to go all the way to Monmouth Oregon for the special feed. It is a four hour round trip just to haul the grain, before we move it into the barns for feeding. Continue reading

Fair Antics

Rules For The Fair

(These rules are for humans AND critters alike. These rules are to be taken literally AND figuratively.)

  1. NO COMPLAINING
  2. Do Your Best
  3. Try not to poop on your neighbor

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Once moved into the fair, the long days of caring begins for the critters that are on display. This is a large County Fair,  and big crowds meander through the barns to come see the animals. Some of these people had never seen a farm animal before. This year, several of the cattle exhibitors had stated that their cows had been mistaken for horses by visitors.

As one couple was walking past our heifers, I heard a loud exclamation, “I didn’t know bulls peed out their butt!” The other person quietly filled her in that it wasn’t a bull, it was a heifer and that it wasn’t the poop hole that the pee was coming from. I’m glad that the second half of the couple was able to take care of the situation because I was so busy biting my tongue and holding my breath from fear of busting out laughing, I would not have been able to hold a reasonable conversation with anyone for several minutes after that exchange.

Throughout the week, shenanigans and horseplay in the barns is not only allowed but expected as the owners of one set of animals pays visits to other owners. Farmers and ranchers are a sneaky bunch and try to get a good laugh in during their work once in a while.

One farmer was sitting on a straw bale visiting with the owners on the other side of the barn from his own animals. H weas telling a story about his bull calf and was leaning forward on the bale to get his point across. One of the guys listening to the story, saw the ‘plumber crack’ of the leaning storyteller. He had a perfect shot and couldn’t help but pour a cup of water in to fill the crack. The story ended abruptly, but all in a good-natured way after a lot of hopping around from the storyteller.

Another funny happened when one rancher (male) walked by another rancher (female) and he gave her a ‘wet willy’ as he walked by. The female startled and as she jumped, bumped the male ranchers education table and sent pamphlets, pictures, weed identification samples and various papers flying across the tack area. It took the male quite a while to get everything back into order from his little spoof. He said it was worth every minute of work to clean his area back up to standards.

In one seating area, a farmer was tuckered out from caring for his show cattle and fell asleep in his chair. A sign was attached over his head that read ‘DON”T POKE THE BEAR!” He didn’t find the sign until he woke from hearing giggles as the fair visitors passed his sleeping bulk.

All these antics were from the adults in the barn! The kids had their own fun going on but it was hard to keep track of all adventures along with caring for the critters.

The animals got into the act of having a good time also. Unexpected leaps or jumps as the critter was walked for exercise was to be expected from animals that are used to being free in the pasture. Each critter found their own way of surviving the fair.

Calf getting comfortable in the barn.When Topper was tired, he would use the front boards to prop his head almost like a pillow.

He looked very uncomfortable and got lots of stares. But he would do this a lot of the time and would snore when he fell asleep adding to the unusual posture.

The bull #71, keptBull puts his tail out in the way of walkers. sticking his tail far out into the walking lane.  We tied his ropes shorter, but he would spend hours working the ties so that he had more room  just so he could re-stick that tail out as far into traffic as he could.

We ended up just keeping the sawdust sprinkled out farther into the alleyway so that his tail was more visible and was never stepped on or run over by stroller.

Stormy, the heifer calf watched as we moved around the animals. She observed us as we got the animals to stand by pushing a knuckle on the critters backbone. It is not painful, just annoying, and it causes the animals stand up.

Stormy would spend her afternoons, forcing her neighbors to stand up by pushing her nose on their backbone. She did this little trick over and over, she was very determined. By the end of the fair she had perfected the annoying little habit and was able to wake up and make stand critters next to her easily.

And then there was Tank. He had the unusual habit of sitting like a dog.

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Most cows, especially the larger ones, tend to rock back in order to get their front legs under them to stabilize the front end before pushing with their back legs to stand.

Tank would pause after getting his front legs out and just sit there like a puppy dog for several minutes. His posture brought comments from fair visitors and other exhibitors alike.

I swear if he had a TV remote he would spend the afternoon just sitting and watching his favorite shows.