Now Wearing Today’s Fashion

The natives are a little restless in the pasture. Yesterday we ran the youngest calves through the barn and caught them one by one.

We gave them a quick health check, and eartagged the five that had not had tags put in already and we put green weaner clips in the two biggest bulls. The calves are doing great with their band new, bright yellow eartags although some are still shaking their heads in an effort to dislodge the jewelry.

The two bulls that had the weaner clips put in are frustrated because they were expecting  nice warm milk from their mother but the clips keep getting in the way. The two mothers are uncomfortable because they are full of that nice warm milk and the only things that would make it better would be to have their babies nurse, or more time for them to dry up their supple.

With the extra activity it took awhile to get the herd to settle down to their evening meal of hay that we made here on the farm.

One cow, #76, happened to have an itch on her back just as she grabbed a big mouthful of hay. She swung her head around and over her back. With her head, a slab of hay that she just bit down on, flew with the trajectory of her head and settled itself over her back like a blanket.

The blanket of hay must have done the trick keeping bugging flies off her, but once she had eaten all the hay she could find, she again swung her head over her back and started eating her cute looking blanket that made quite the fashion statement.

 

Said And Done

It seems like a lot of my stories recently begin by saying this is not a typical year. Everything seems strange, weird or just a bit off. Critters are acting funky. The weather is not normal,  hay season is lasting a very long month rather than the ten days to two weeks it typically does. Even the firewood project is completely off the charts with the weekly orders more like middle of winter, high volume rather than a summertime slowdown. I’m not going to get into how it is all affecting the farm’s human critters but it is suffice to say we are all cranky to one degree or another and it is not unusual to see an odd outburst or downright fit on occasion. (Anybody else seeing this ?)

Plans are changing faster than the weather around here. For the last three weeks, someone has been saying or rather preaching that we are only going to do one portion of a field at a time and won’t start another field by mowing until we have every last bale in the field that we are working on safely stored in the barn. It seems that the tide has turned, or the moon changed to a different phase, perhaps Jupiter is no longer in retrograde or that marine air that has been plaguing us with dampness every other day has started to blow toward the sea instead of inland. I say this with fingers crossed, it looks like we may have a stretch of four days in a row of nice weather.

The field we are working on does not have all the bales picked up. It does not have all the rows baled. It does not even have all the rows raked. But last evening Mike mowed down the last field we have to do battle with for this year, the six acre field. This is always the heaviest, highest volume per acre field and the mowing proved that it is indeed thicker in stand than any of the other fields or pieces of fields.

For those of you who are waiting patiently for the totals of the field we are currently working on to see if your guess is the winner of total bales or the winner of Mike’s guess, you still have one more day to submit!

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Three In Two Days

This hay season is trying. Each day it looks like it may be breaking out to better weather and before we get the field raked or baled, the moisture starts coming in. Seems like the clouds disappear in the early evening without giving us enough time in the day to get any further along with this season.

We had the current field fluffed twice, then raked, now we had to go back and run the fluffer back through the field to break apart the windrows so they would dry again after rain during the night and early morning.

And to top off the fun we are already having, three of our haystacks that were placed by the bale wagon fell down. That’s three in less than two days, and not all in the same barn. The one that fell yesterday was the last one we had stacked in the barn before all the rain. This morning I found one had fallen in my show barn, this was a stack that was placed almost two weeks ago. And then this afternoon while Mike was fluffing the field, a third load fell.

Our bale wagon is quite used, it is a bit eccentric, it has a tilt to the bed and groans and creaks with each bump in the field. We have had stacks fall before so we now always tie the stacks together when they are placed in the barn. Mike climbs a ladder to reach the uppermost bales to tie them securely. This trick has always worked in the past and it is a surprise times three to have a falling problem.

It worked out well that we could not get out into the hay field today to work because re-stacking the three loads took up most of the day. It looks like we may be back to making bales tomorrow.

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The Thick And Thin Of The Field

The far, far field is a stretch in many ways. It is the farthermost field from the barns. It is always the hardest to get to with the travel on the county road, the winding path in logging roads and several gates that need to be opened and closed along the way. It is a constant movement of equipment either up the road or back down the road as the harvest progresses.

We try to time the hay harvest so that we are not blocking or hampering traffic on the road on the weekends since we are one of the main country drives for vintage car caravans, bicycle groups and motorcycle clubs. Some years we are successful in our endeavor to not block traffic, others not so much. This year we are getting the field done mid-week and should have everything picked up out of the field before we get to the higher volume of weekend traffic.

Storm clouds looked as if we could have a thunderstorm Tuesday evening but as the sun set, the clouds lost much of their ominous power. Wednesday morning brought a cooling marine layer of clouds with threats of rain showers but only managed to release a few drops before breaking off to a pleasant day.

Thursday cleared off sunny and warm and we were able to finish picking up the bales in the middle of the field and bale the outside rounds. We completed picking up the last of those outside bales about 8pm. completing the harvest of this field for this season.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm stories.

First Hay Field

Mike could tell when he was mowing the first field that the crop was denser than last year. The thick mats of clover that thrived during the cool, damp spring lugged the tractor as he rounded the corners and it took longer to get the field all mowed than in the previous years.

Fluffing the wet grass is done to break apart those thick clumps and let the air flow through the cut stems. The fluffer works on the principle of whirling the cut grass much like an egg beater. Pulled behind the tractor, the fluffer has four discs with tines that spin and toss the grass helter-skelter. When finished with fluffing, the field does not look like the nice neatly trimmed ground that showed when the mowing was first finished. It was impossible to see where a row began and where one ended.

After a good time of drying, the rake is used to take the all the mixed up stems of grass and put them back into a wind row. This turns the grass any that was on the bottom gets rolled onto the top of the pile to finish drying. At this point, if the weather is cooperating, it only takes a couple of hours to dry enough to begin the baling process.

If memory serves, this field last year yielded about 800 bales. This year we already have the 800 made and still need to finish the outside round (the one that is done last) and the middle of the field. We just need to get it done while the weather stays dry for this high quality hay to stay prime.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm stories.

Puddles Everywhere

Change is coming, at least that is what the forecast is calling for. A good stretch of dry weather with days in the 80’s, that would be needed to get the ground dried out. We have had several days of very soggy conditions and the puddles are quite surprising for this time of year.

It was only last week when we noticed small dust-ups as the dogs trotted along ahead of the Gator or as the cows meandered along the road to the spring in the back of the field. Right now we can’t even drive the Gator along those same roads for fear that we would get mired in one of those puddles.

The hayfields that seemed nearly ripe a week ago look over ripe in spots with others areas laying flat from the heavy rain pelting down. While we have been content to work on some of the more indoor projects for a couple of days, we are now anxious to get some sunshine and drier weather so we can get onto putting in hay for the winter. The cows would like it if we could get those finished fields opened back up for their grazing pleasure.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm stories.

On The Back Burner

Just before beginning hay season, Mike declared that we needed to remove all the firewood project paraphernalia out of the barn for a clean area to stack bales and move hay equipment.

Hooray, I thought to myself, moving the Splitter, the cribs, waste/chunk buckets, saws and the like would work to my advantage. I would happily set up an outdoor workspace near the log deck to work more efficiently. The big problem with that would be the main herd of cows that enjoy scuffling around in the fresh wood chips and depositing great globs of manure. When Mike said he wanted to move the cows across the field to eat around the far, far pasture while we worked on the hay I thought my worries were over. Continue reading

Not Always Greener

During the beginning of our small field harvest, we tempted the cows by walking them down the Rabbit Run to put them across the pasture to the far, far field out of our way. The white tape of the electric fence was all that kept the herd from getting into the rows of drying hay.

Where the old saying belies the belief that grass is always greener on the other side, but in the hay field, in the beginning stages of drying is not greener at all. The smell that comes off the field sure gives that odor of fresh grass but is a misnomer as it gets lighter color as the drying process pulls the moisture from the stems.

The electric fence did a fine job keeping the cattle in proper order along the Rabbit Run on the way across. Five days later when we had finished the small field, we adjusted the wires so the herd could come back, but this time it filtered the herd into the completed field where they could take their time to clean up the edges and missed spears from the hay equipment.

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And The Race Is On

When Mike mowed down those few acres of grass in the hayfield the other day, it did not look like a big amount. Yet as we watched the weather forecast and the clouds gathering in the sky, we feel that maybe we bit off more than we should have.

Friday was spent in a dither. First we had to wait for the dew to get off the grass. Then Mike went through and raked the hay into wind rows. We noticed that the rows were showing a lot of really green grass, the ground below the mowed field was still damp to the touch. We had to wait for nature to dry the dirt and the grass that was rolled to the top of the wind rows. We had a good wind but the sun was not coming out like it had done the last couple of days. It stayed cloudy with a good drying breeze.

By 3pm the clouds took on the look of thunderheads. Bright white billowing tops with ominous looking dark clouds below. Mike could not wait any longer and began bailing the grass into bales.

At 430, we were picking up bales. Mike used the stacker for the first 69 and rolled it into the barn  without unloading just so it would be under cover. Then I got into the back of the old farm truck we call ‘The Big Red Beast’ while Mike hooked the Henry Loader onto the side and drove around the field picking up the rest of the bales in the field.

Tomorrow you will hear if we were able to finish the field before  the conclusion of either running out of daylight or the rain running us out of the field.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm stories.

Old Joke

Remember that old saying about if you are looking for wisdom on a particular subject you should ask a farmer because he is always out-standing in his field? That is what I am reminded of when this time of year is calling us and especially Mike to walk through the hayfields ans assess the timing to begin hay harvest. Now that we are within a month of cutting the some of the fields, the walks have become a daily ritual.

Each field ripens differently since we have no flat area anywhere on the farm. The river meanders through with odd eddies and horseshoe bends, and each hayfield is shaded in parts from riparian trees, the tall trees in the old railroad grade and the hillside. The sun doesn’t hit some of the slopes or shady spots this time of year.

Mike’s daily walks are usually with the company of a dog or two and they make their way around the thin spots and the lush ones, areas with more white clover and those with fine meadow grass. He reaffirms his mental maps as to how far the bog area of the big field encroaches out into the field from the old tile. The new sunken areas from ancient old growth roots that have begun to decay now that the live tree tops and subsequent stumps have been gone more than a hundred years. He evaluates how much damage the elk herds have been doing and how much vegetation they are leaving for us to harvest.

Our time for reflection is drawing to a close as we inch our way toward hay season. We are already starting to transition out of processing firewood which has remained stronger than usual in sales this spring. All the splitting area of the barn will be cleaned out so the hay equipment can be pulled out of hibernation. The empty cribs used to hold split wood will be stacked up out of the way of hay production as with the Super Splitter and the chainsaws. The few cribs  full of wood that we have ready to wrap into bundles are tucked into a corner of the bull barn where I’ll be able to  continue to make a small supply for weekly deliveries.

As for Mike, he is probably outstanding in his field as he ponders the next few weeks here on the farm.

You gotta see the pictures! They are posted with this story on SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. While you are there, if there is any online shopping you plan on doing, please go through my picture links. By doing so, I may make a small commission without a charge to you! The commissions help pay for my user charges for this site, Thank You for supporting the farm stories.