Mike has a tone that he uses to call the cows. If he is not making that tone, the cows do not respond to those other noises he makes like whistling, hollering at elk, calling the dogs or swearing a blue streak when the wrench slips and he smashes his finger. The cows can be near or clear across the river, the field and far into the woods, when they hear Mike’s “come Boss” sounding tone they begin answering him with their own bellows eventually bringing the whole herd to where Mike is.
The Gator makes a sound that they also respond to. When we are into the time of year when we feed twice a day, usually October through March, the Gator signals time for a meal and the cows come as soon as they hear the motor rev. But this time of year the herd ignores the Gator and only responds to Mike’s tone.
The herd was thrilled with all the green grass that has grown in this harvested hayfield over the last two weeks as they were busy attending to the far, far field.
The herd scattered out slightly once they got into the field but they would not be moved from all the good eating even though we were planning on moving them to the 6 acre field for the day. The cows won the battle of us trying to walk behind, cajole, swing arms and holler to get them to move into the smaller field that was just as green as this one. Even Mike moving ahead of them and singing out his particular tone didn’t persuade a single cow to call back with a response. Oh well, perhaps tomorrow they will be in the mood to move…
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
This is a continuation of the post from 5/29/2019 titled, Ya Just Never Know.
So I told you about moving the main herd out of our way after ear tagging some of the older calves and the fun time we had taking out the irrigation line with the mess of digging a trench to bury a new PVC line.
We had anticipated the cows would be able to graze for five to seven days without running out of grass or new growth on the under brush surrounding the far field, but things did not start out well. We were surprised when after only one day over there, one cow had figured out how to escape from one side of the fence to the other. She was making trails, leaving plops and eating as much tall grass as she could in the small 6 acre hay field while her herd mates hollered at her from across the fence. We had to coax her from the 6 acre field into the 26 acre field and across the expanse of that field and open up the ‘run’ made with temporary electric fencing so we could open the gate and let her back in with her herd. Continue reading
We have been worried about our dry spring weather. We could see the stress on the new seedlings in the forest, the dusty lane around the fields that would normally be swamp messes this time of year, and in the growing hay fields. The grass didn’t look as green as it should and had practically stopped growing. We had concerns that we would have to start mowing a month early to keep from losing the nutrients as the grass dries out. Continue reading
This week has been glorious with the warmer temps and all but a bit of snow remaining from the piles scooped from along the roadway. Spring is in the air, the mud is drying, grass is growing, things are beginning to come out of dormancy. Continue reading
Our John Deere Gator is our most used piece of equipment on the farm.
At the bare minimum it is used twice a day for feeding the main herd across the river and it is used much more than that on most days. We can be seen driving up the county road to check the far field, or up the hill during the summer months to go logging. We take it around by the river and through the old railroad grade when looking for missing/hiding critters.
The Gator hauls chain saws, wood chunks, hay, firewood, dogs, rocks and people. Sometimes it is loaded down with wire, t-posts, cedar posts, drivers and shovels for fence fixing, other times with 5 gallon buckets of diesel for the bulldozer. Many, many times it carries tools with various bits and pieces to fix other equipment that has broken.
This beast of burden is not very pretty to look at with mud and muck covering most of the outside and underbelly surfaces. But with the temperature dipping into the teens at night, it is welcomed into the warm garage so the goop doesn’t freeze and lock up the tires.
This beast is simply too valuable to miss a day of work on the farm.
The fields outside the hayfields need attention. These areas have been growing weeds at an astounding rate to where the cows are now eating around the tough/sour weeds.
My current job is to mow these down with the rotary mower on the back of the little tractor. Once the weeds and old grass is clipped down, the cows move back in and clean up all that has been cut. I know it sounds silly, but once the weeds (especially Canadian and bull thistles) have dried out a bit they become more palatable to the critters.
Within hours of mowing down this outside field the cows moved in to enjoy the fruits of my labor. By morning the field will be clean and free to grow fresh grass for the herd.