During The Logging Lull

We had tried to make it up the hill into the forest  driving the Gator via the back road, this is the old skid road we have to get up the hill. It is much steeper and more narrow than the road we have been using. The thought was that there would be low vegetation like grass, vines of wild blackberries and dog fennel, growing on this seldom used road would help with traction.

Mike had the Gator in low gear and in 4-wheel drive as he began up the road but ran into trouble of the first switchback, he could not get enough traction to propel the vehicle both up and around the tight turn. It took a 12-point turn in order to get the Gator facing downhill to make it down the short trek to the bottom.

Our loggers have both the Barko machine and the large shovel stuck up here while the roads dry out enough to move them back downhill. Luckily the crew has projects on other properties that they can work on while this site is on mud delay.

grass pasture with black angus cowsSince we have been stuck on the lower end of the property, we have noticed that the pastures have started to green up from our series of thunderstorms over the last week. The herd is enjoying the fresh greens since this is most likely the last growing spurt of the summer.

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Up And Down

The last few warm days has certainly helped to dry the farm out a bit. The loggers have been chomping at the bit hoping to get the pole truck in for a load of long logs but it has just been too slippery on the slopes that lead in and out of the property, the landing where the logs are neatly decked and the edges of the river crossing. low Nehalem river looking upstream from our bridge

With all the rain, the river had risen as the excess moisture flowed into the stream but has once again receded to acceptable levels for crossing. Of course I forgot to snap a pic while the river was high so here is a picture of what the river looked like before our 2-1/2 inches of rain in two days, the river doubled in size, and is now back to looking serene just like this photo! (You just have to use your imagination on this one). Continue reading

The Thinning Project

Some of the trees that have been pulled from the thinning projectThe thinning project is coming along nicely, its a good thing because even Jackson the dog (who would not move out of the frame while I snapped a picture) is embarrassed by the woods on this corner of the property.

The trees are dragged full length to a small landing area at the front of the picture before the Barko machine cuts the limbs off and measures each tree. The ones in this picture are not good enough to be sold at any of the mills and will be put into my pile for the firewood project after the limbs are off. Continue reading

When The Landing Is The Highway

Cows walking through log landingSimply wanting the cows to move from one area to the next can be a challenge, especially when we place our log landing right in the middle of the path that they chose to use as the highway between one pasture and the next.

We have large fields for the cows to meander around and this time of year they have many, many acres to do just that. They tend to think of all the ground as their space and make their paths wherever they feel compelled to walk. If one cow walks a path, several others will walk the same path and before long there is a highway with designated stops and hazards. Continue reading

Quiet On The Set

Man inserting nose clip into calf in barnIt’s that time of year when the farm takes on the look of a movie production. It makes me think of Hannibal Lecter in his face-mask during the movie Silence of the Lambs.

Four of the oldest calves are ready to begin the weaning process. It takes only moments for the temporary clip to be inserted without pain or undue hardship. The new face guard is a simple green plastic clip that fits into their nostrils. The guard swings easily to allow for the calf to drink water and eat grass while getting in the way enough so the calf cannot attach to a mother cow for milk. The calves go back to grazing moments after the clip is inserted. Continue reading

Windfall Apples

With the earliest varieties of apples starting to ripen, the trees are naturally dropping fruit in an effort to thin out the  total number of fruit on the tree.

green apples in a bucketThe first variety to ripen each year are yellow transparent apples. These are not ones that you can find in the grocery store. They are a very thin skinned, bruise easily, and are not good keepers. In fact they are so fragile that once they fall off the tree they begin to rot.

The apples at this stage are still pretty green and sour so we have been picking them up each day to feed the cows in my barn.  They just love the apples and fight each other for the pieces we put in front of them. We lock the metal stanchion head gates keep the cows from stealing the apples from the calves.

The cows get downright noisy  with indignation without their fresh fruit. If I miss chopping apples to go with their meal, they promptly let me know by bellowing until I find some or cut down a row of lettuce from the garden or start up the lawn mower to add fresh cut grass to their hay. They aren’t mean about it, they just know what is good and expect to get as such.

In the next few weeks the yellow transparents will be sweet enough to slice and run through the dehydrator, they are one of my favorites for dried apples. The different varieties of apples and pears will continue on for several months until the last of the winter apples freeze solid. Last year we had fruit for the cows well into November.

Timing

A far fence is opened and the cows are filing into the field.Mike opened up the gate so the main herd could drift into the large, harvested hay field. The cows have been off this patch of pasture since early spring when we intentionally kept them out so the grass could grow tall enough to harvest.

The more senior cows know the drill and get right to eating the leftovers from the harvest. The dropped spears, the missed edges, the get-aways that didn’t go through the baler. There are many bales worth of forage for the herd. The calves enter the field like it is summer break from school. They dart, cavort, head butt other calves and run circles around the diverging herd with wild abandon. The calves are old enough now that the antics of the little ones do not upset the mother cows like it did when they were smaller, more delicate and possible prey for the coyotes that hang around. Continue reading