Since we are a little higher than the Willamette Valley the possibility of frost comes early around here. September 15th is when I start watching for the chance of frost on what is left of the garden vegetables.
This year surprised me and the first tinge of frost was seen on the morning of October 3rd. The zucchini and yellow crookneck squash with their tall leaves saw their edges curl from the frost and the basil browned from the tips to the stalks. It signaled the end for the beans that had been still producing. Only a couple of the tomato plants had their edges nipped during the coolness. The vines on the cucumbers and spaghetti squash are completely dead, and I have already started on caning the spent raspberry stalks that produced in the early summer and those late bloomers that recently fruited.
Now begins the garden cleanup in earnest. This makes the cows in the show barn very happy because what gets pulled out of the garden gets dumped over the fence for them to scour through to pick delightful tidbits of fruit and vegetables.
The dogs are sure that the Gator is home base. They know that if they are on the Gator they will not be left behind when we want to do some chores, go up the hill, or just travel the fence lines.
Since the hay was already loaded in the back, Butler (with his chin on the passenger seat) and Jackson (flattened on top of the bales) wait patiently for someone to come and do the evening chores.
This is a common sight at feeding time and the dogs are on their best behavior. They know that their feeding time comes right after the cows feeding and they are not going to mess up that plan.
As the hay was being dropped from the back of the John Deere Gator in a fairly straight line through the field, I had to stop long enough to take a picture.
The fog hanging on the hillside in the background. The trees along the river just on this side of the fog. The barn along the edge of the field and the herd slowly picking their spot at eat the flakes of sweet grass hay.
This is the herd that had just had the five calves weaned from their mothers. The babies are on the other side of the river content and happy while being spoiled in the show barn. These baby-less mothers and the rest of the herd have gotten back into their regular routine.
This is a calm day before the next round of weaning that will start in the next week or two.
The first 5 calves have gotten their new jewelry in the form of a green plastic clip that snaps into their nose.
This little clip lets the calves wean themselves while they hang out in the same pasture with their mothers who are able to comfort their babies while their milk dries up.
This handy-dandy tool completely alleviates the pacing of fence lines, the bawling babies, and the mothers who get worked up and try to jump across all lines to get to their calves. The calves are able to eat normally just not nurse.
After a few days the calves can be moved away from their mothers and have the clips removed. At that time, they will be moved into the show barn where I get to spoil them by feeding all the hay they can eat along with a mixture of grass seed screenings made into pellets with molasses and sliced apples.
The babies soon learn that I will take good care of them through the rest of the weaning process.
When I go out into the garden, pairs of eyes appear at the fence line. The show cows line up and try to act like they are just waiting for a cross-town bus to show up, but what they are waiting for is someone to throw a squashed apple their direction…
…Or a handful of freshly pulled weeds, or a basketfull of grass clippings, or a torpedo zucchini.
Today I was picking up a bucket of wind-fall apples from under one of the trees. The fruit is still hard and small so it would be easy for them to choke. Instead of lobbing a few over the fence to these cows, the full bucket will be taken to the barn so the apples can be sliced in half before feeding.
Until dinner time, these two youngsters will just have to continue to wait before getting a taste of the apples that filled the bucket.
With triple digit weather this week, I have been asked about the health and welfare of our animals.
Last month as we trudged through hay season, we decided that we would not show animals at the fairs this year. The bottom line came down to Mike saying if he was going to show cows he would need to take 2 trailer-loads of critters (10 – 12) in order not make money but at least make enough to offset some of the fuel and time needed to be away from the farm, with my input saying that with the 2 of us, we are not capable of caring and handling 10 or more animals 14 hours at the fair and still coming home each day to care for the ones still here. Continue reading
I have been mowing down those dang-blasted Canadian Thistles for several days now. I tend to follow around where the main herd is grazing and mow close by so that they will help with cleanup of the vegetation.
Although they don’t care for thistles, the cows will pick through the fresh mowed weeds, grass and brush before it dries. Once new growth appears on the mowed off stalks, they will help keep the weeds from again taking over by browsing the tender tips.