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

Everybody Gets A Chance To Practice

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

I Needed A Snappy Retort

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