We counted 11 elk out playing in the field. They were a rowdy bunch, running one way and then another, kicking up their heels and scuffling around with each other.
They would come up to the fence to peek at the cows and calves that we had in the close pasture.
They were a curious bunch and at one point it looked like they wanted to jump the fence and head right into the yard around the house.
The black corner on the lower right hand side is the head of one of the cows. The elk would come up to the fence, less than 10 yards from the cows before scampering off again.
When a loud log truck drove by on the county road the small herd took off out of the field. We watched as they headed out of this pasture, through an old log landing and out toward our property on the other side of the river. That is when this small group joined back up with the rest of their family. It was the large herd, now well over 60 animals strong and eating all the newly sprouted leaves on the clover in our smallest hay field.
The large group of animals when joined with this rowdy group took off running across the small field, over the fence, down through the river, over another fence and into our far field. Still not done running, they crossed the big field, again crossed the river to another field before jumping fences and heading up into the tall timber on the hill.
I nearly broke into the Sound Of Music song while feeding the main herd across the river. It looked like the whole hillside was swarming with the big herd of elk.
If I could of captured a panorama of the hill the elk would be showing en-mass nearly filling a football field across two ridges that range in elevation more than 200 feet with a canyon in the middle.
The herd moved (it really did look more like a swarm rather than 60 individuals) first to the left then to the right before one of the leaders decided that it was time to move on and they took off with great speed over the rough terrain and disappeared over the horizon.
It had to have been the largest of the three herds even though counting individual animals was not possible. I am happy that they decided,for now at least, not to come down into my fields to eat all the grass that is finally starting to grow.
Before I begin this post, a warning is needed.
LOP stands for Land Owner Preference and is the tag that is purchased through the Oregon Fish and Wildlife for harvesting elk that roam on our property. For those who object to harvesting i.e., hunting and shooting wildlife for food, do not continue to the next page. Continue reading
This small hillside was cut and replanted about 10 years ago and when the elk come in to graze around the young trees they are very easy to notice.
Counting the herd it looked like only about 15 animals, so this is the mid-sized herd out of the three that like to visit and stay for a meal or two. Continue reading
This resident elk herd is one of several that make their appearance on the farm. This is the biggest bunch. With more frequency, we have been noticing the herd hanging around the treeline at the back of the hay fields.
The numbers of elk have been growing in the last few years and this herd is now well above 50 and the babies for this year should be showing up soon. Yet it is hard to get a solid count because they seem to be always on the move and near the cover of the trees.
The damage caused by the multitudes of elk show in the soggy fields where sharp hooves break through the sod during herd scuffles and with the animals that prefer to go through fences rather than jump over them.
My spring task list seems to grow each time one of the herds show up to visit.
As I was walking the rolling slopes of the big hay field soon to be filled with the new mothers and calves, I noticed that I was not alone.
Over the horizon of the next hillock, sets of eyes were watching.
A herd of elk stretched from one side of the field to the other across the back of the big hay field, dotting the area just beyond the inside fence and before the tree line.
They were watching me intently as I tried to get a good count on the critters.
Before the herd took off in a mass evacuation, I counted at least 30 elk. I saw 3 with horns, 2 of them being spikes and one branch bull. Several of this years calves were spotted mixed in with the big cows even though it is hard to distinguish them while the herd is moving because they must weigh 400 lbs. or more already.
In a flash, the herd jumped the fence and headed off into the trees. The sound of the herd crashing through the river sounded a few minutes later as they ran to safer ground.
Field number 3 is now safely stowed in the barn.
The counter on the baler says we have punched out 2253 bales so far. About 5 of those have broken. One because of a twine malfunction when baling, one when the stack in the barn fell over, another happened when it got stuck going onto the Stackliner and two happened last night when an elk herd decided to come into the hay field while we were sleeping to play with the 300 bales that still needed to be picked up.
It must have been a fun game for them running around those bales in the field. It looks like they were knocking the bales around just for the heck of it. It is good that the bales are now under the roof and away from the elk and deer.
Field number four is being mowed now and is going to be fluffed tomorrow.