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
The new tractor is going on 11 months old now and Mike has been the only one to drive it so far. That seems like a long time with a new rig without at least one other person learning about it, but the year has flown by with projects, the huge logging cleanup and inevitable planting, winter downtime (not for me but for many of the pieces of equipment because of mud, muck or snow), the new firewood bundling job, and the list goes on. The tractor was Mike’s to work or play as much as he wanted but the time has come for some learning to go on so that hay season runs smoothly. Continue reading
Friday was a day of bright, sunny, warm spells between micro-bursts of intense rain from building thunderheads. I seemed to be able to get stuck in the middle of most of the two minute showers, get semi-dry when the sun popped back out only to get doused again by another downpour. The main herd of cows had been eating around the far hay field and they appeared content until I noticed #99 over the fence from the rest of the cows, standing in the 6 acre hayfield.
The rain showers did little to settle the dust but it sure made the hip-high grass wet and found out as I walked though it to the gate of the 6 acre field. Once I opened the gate, #99 walked through and headed toward the barn. Surprised only one cow had gotten out, I closed the gate and followed her to the barn where I opened the gates to let her inside. I had no longer had her enclosed when I heard a bellow from the 6 acres, it was another cow out where she did not belong. The whole process of walking through the tall grass, opening and then closing after I got #32 safely through, then the long walk back to the barn to confine her with #99. Once the two cows were in the barn, they started complaining loudly to the rest of the herd which brought them all over to stand by the gate at the run through the large hayfield. Now everyone wanted to change pastures and I was again soaked through as a shower hit me from above and wet grass from below. Continue reading
This stretch of warm weather has been good for the grass hayfields nearing harvest and for vegetation growing around the hayfields that the cattle have been grazing on. The water level in the river has also dropped which is an indicator that we need to get the fences shored up so the cows don’t go wandering away from the farm.
We reinstall barriers each year since the winter water levels wipe out the fencing. The trails of wire extend down stream where the current sucked it downstream. Each spring we wade out there and reconnect the wire to strong anchor posts on opposite banks of the river and shore up the fence enough to discourage the cows. Continue reading
Sometime during the night, the cows and calves of the main herd decided to cross the river to lounge and nibble in a small field near the county road.
This field just happens to be across the road from the bull pen where we have five yearling bulls that are simply itching to make friends with some females. We heard the snuffling and snorting well before sunrise and knew exactly what was going on before we got out of bed.
Electric fences keep everyone separated and away from the log trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and commuter traffic that travel between the two groups of critters.
The calves are all bunched into gangs that usually correlate with their ages. The youngest three calves typically hang together so the bigger ones don’t pick on them although the spunky ones break the boundaries to practice head butting and chasing. Continue reading
We had been using aluminum 2 inch aluminum pipe for our irrigation line that fills stock tanks and waters the garden and lawn. The years have taken their toll on the line, and I do mean years, these pipes came with the farm when we purchased it in 1978, and they had more than a decade wear on them at that time. There has been a lot of repairs over the years from frozen water busting open long slices to cows that have trampled, flattened or bent the pipes into irregular shapes. The pipe had finally been too ‘holey’ and worn to fix any more. Continue reading
Every year we have to reclaim the fences that inevitably get washed out along the river. The swift current drags debris onto the fence before it breaks from the weight. Once broken, the water carries it downstream and buries posts wire and all beneath soil, rocks and vegetation. Continue reading