Feeding the main herd across the river is a twice a day chore. While I am on the Gator that is loaded with hay bales, the dogs and I are scanning the area for anything unusual.
It is automatic to check the fence lines that run along the base of the hillside keeping the cows out of the nursery/hayfield. The dogs scout about, scenting for coyotes that may have been in the pasture overnight, or elk that may be ready to tear out one of the fences as they plow through towards the river. A good count on the cows is always a necessity, one missing critter usually means there is trouble in the form of an injury or possibly the birth of a new calf. Most of the time we don’t even think about it, but observation is an important tool to keep everything running smoothly. Continue reading
The daily rides up the hill and into the forest have us watching the trails for signs of elk and deer around our baby trees. With most of the trails turning to dust, I find that I have to be off the Gator and walking slowly to recognize forest creatures from the dogs that like to bound along ahead of us. Mike is better and quicker at spotting the signs, he is able to distinguish what it was made from, how many there are, which direction they going, and what area we should head to in order to spook them off. I’m surprised he isn’t able to tell what they had for breakfast and where they are going to bed down for the night (he is pretty good at understanding animal behavior but there are limits). Continue reading
I am writing this while sitting in the dark at my kitchen table. You may ask why, most normal people would, and I do have a good reason for having only the light from my computer screen illuminating my corner of the world.
From the table I have a view out the large window that faces east and is a favorite spot for the herd sire, two show cows with their calves to lounge through the night. It is a small end of their pasture just past the hedge of flowering sage, lavender, daphne and roses in their prime. Last night before going to bed I noticed the herd of elk coming out of the woods at the far end of the open field. From the picture you can see how close the pasture and fences are (during daylight hours of course). The elk I saw were right near that back corner and scattered through the far field. Continue reading
We had a little fence fixing to do before we are planning to move the cows from the far, far field back to this side of the river. A little over an hour, a few t-posts, a dozen wire clips and several scratches from barb wire was all it took to reinforce a couple of spots where the cows have been reaching over, around and through the established fence line.
Once that task was completed, we had just enough time to take the Gator up the hill to check our seedlings before the sun set for the day. The evening was pleasant, the dogs were having a great time and the baby trees seemed to be undisturbed. That is when we started seeing elk tracks in the road. They had been scrimmaging and scuffling around in the dirt, it looked like they were having a regular, home style, hoe-down. From what we could tell the tracks were not very old because we had a heavy dew that morning and these had to have been left after that moisture. Continue reading
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
My hot sauce and dish detergent mix had diluted during the last round of wet weather. By the time the logging roads were dried off enough to get the Gator up the steep inclines where we had planted the cedar trees, the bamboo stakes had again become chomping sticks for the elk. Many of the stakes were waddled around their mouths so the tips were shredded, lots of them were pulled out of the ground and out of the plastic mesh that was protecting the seedlings. several were broken in half. The good news is that elk have had so much fun with the bamboo they have not been messing with the trees hardly at all. That good news will most likely not last because soon the tender spring grass and clover will dry up for the summer and they will be looking at the cedar trees more closely. Continue reading
One of my devoted and extremely special followers (don’t get fooled, every one of my followers are devoted and extremely special to me), took my ranting over a simple whistle to heart and went in search of one since I was unable and a little lazy getting one on my own. That is me in a nutshell, quick to rant and slower to act, but I digress from the story.
My friend found a single whistle while visiting the nearby ACE Hardware store. I never expected that they would carry that product and I can’t fathom why a hardware store would carry a whistle. Perhaps there is a need for one to get the attention of a spouse that is re-attaching a gutter atop a ladder on the second story dormer gutter, or a handy person that has only his/her behind sticking out as they repair the leaky drain under the sink. Somehow a whistle does not seem appropriate in those instances, but I am thrilled that my follower found one in the unlikely hardware store!
In a place of honor, the shrill bobby whistle now swings happily side to side from the roll bar of the Gator as we traverse the forest in search of our nuisance seedling munchers. Yes, deer and elk, I’m talking about you. Be aware, me and my trusty whistle are on the lookout.