The farm has slowed as we close in on the shortest days of the year. Many non-essential chores are on hold. Digging post holes in frozen ground is a good way to get exercise but not good to attempt fence building. The firewood stack is in no danger of running low. Fixing equipment with winter gloves on leads for more fumbling than fixing.
A sunset peeking through the trees that line the Nehalem River didn’t alight the sky with brilliance, but gave a pastel hue that spread far and wide across the valley.
The main herd had finished their dinner of hay served in the outside mangers and they moved along the hillside under the fir trees for the night. It seemed that the coyotes must have noticed the special moment for they were quiet as well.
This evening was dead calm and still cold with the temperature dropping below freezing before the sun tipped the edge of the horizon.
Breathe deep and relax your mind.
Become one with the universe.
We had not noticed it right away, but the main herd split into two groups during the night. Some of the more adventuresome critters made their way across the Nehalem that was running high from the week of rain we had just gone through. Luckily, none of the younger animals tried to cross and stayed safely on the far side.
At this crossing where the river bends, the cows seem to have little to no problem crossing from the far side to the road side of the river. Going back across the swift water seems to be tougher for them and they are more hesitant. They find it harder to gain purchase on the slick rocky bottom as their backsides get pushed downstream as they cross. Cows can swim, but rushing water can carry them away if they miss-step and lose contact with the river rock. One cow did drift downstream a ways before getting her footing back.
With the thought of breakfast on their minds, the wayward cattle began to advance through the quick water. The herd sire, Renaissance, was holding back at the edge of the river. Predominately the last one to join the herd, he makes sure there are no missing stragglers from the group before catching up to the rest of the herd.
Most of the cows had made it across before the herd sire got into the water. With Renaissance weighing in at about 2400 lbs the river doesn’t push him around quite as much as the cows that weigh a ton or less.
This little adventure did not bother the half herd, and they were able to join with the others quickly for hay that had been put into the round feeders on the correct side of the river.
We had been savoring the last few apples still hanging on the trees. The last Rome apple dropped yesterday. The Honey Crisp tree has barely a bucket full still hanging, and the frosts have taken away the crispness yet they are still sweet and juicy. Red delicious apples finished falling off the tree a couple of days ago, the Jonathan apples are also done. The yellow delicious are still crisp and flavorful with only a handful of small sized apples left.
The raccoons have been raiding the last of the apple crop, they are sneaking in at night under the cover of darkness. In the morning we had been finding chewed cores littering the ground beneath the trees. With the apples dwindling, I believe the pesky varmints are trying to move to the barn to steal the cat food that is left over from the evening meal. Continue reading
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.