We had tried to make it up the hill into the forest driving the Gator via the back road, this is the old skid road we have to get up the hill. It is much steeper and more narrow than the road we have been using. The thought was that there would be low vegetation like grass, vines of wild blackberries and dog fennel, growing on this seldom used road would help with traction.
Mike had the Gator in low gear and in 4-wheel drive as he began up the road but ran into trouble of the first switchback, he could not get enough traction to propel the vehicle both up and around the tight turn. It took a 12-point turn in order to get the Gator facing downhill to make it down the short trek to the bottom.
Our loggers have both the Barko machine and the large shovel stuck up here while the roads dry out enough to move them back downhill. Luckily the crew has projects on other properties that they can work on while this site is on mud delay.
Since we have been stuck on the lower end of the property, we have noticed that the pastures have started to green up from our series of thunderstorms over the last week. The herd is enjoying the fresh greens since this is most likely the last growing spurt of the summer.
The last few warm days has certainly helped to dry the farm out a bit. The loggers have been chomping at the bit hoping to get the pole truck in for a load of long logs but it has just been too slippery on the slopes that lead in and out of the property, the landing where the logs are neatly decked and the edges of the river crossing.
With all the rain, the river had risen as the excess moisture flowed into the stream but has once again receded to acceptable levels for crossing. Of course I forgot to snap a pic while the river was high so here is a picture of what the river looked like before our 2-1/2 inches of rain in two days, the river doubled in size, and is now back to looking serene just like this photo! (You just have to use your imagination on this one). Continue reading
The morning sun warmed the ledge of exposed dirt and roots along the river. Some of the cows wasted no time to dig right in and make a mess. I had been on the far side of the river when I noticed the trail of cattle moving toward the open field had extra smears of mud on faces, necks and torsos.
Blowing up the size of the picture in order to see the detail, the image is not as clear as I would like, but I’m sure you can see just what the critters have been up to. These two mess-makers were the final ones to head to munch on grass.
During the summer time, cattle are known to rub dirt and mud into their coats as an extra coating to keep the flies and other bugs from bothering them. During this time of year, it is probably just for fun.
A complacency had descended sometime during the fall. The lack of rain had kept the ground, paths and roads around the farm rock solid. It was easy to tread, trek or tractor every each of the farm.
The moisture we have experienced in the last few days changed everything.
There are puddles on every road and there is water in the swamp again. Ditches around the barns had to be re-opened so the run off didn’t sluice through the barns, water bars on the logging roads need to be shored up again and drains under roads need to be dug out and opened up so the extra can run toward the river. And now we have mud.
This magical stuff that plagues the farm is back. Next order of business will be to rock the paths with the most holes and spaces where we thought were well rocked only to find that the rock has sunk beneath a good layer of goo. Now it feels like fall has come to the farm.
There is a brittleness in the dry lawn as it crunches underfoot. Dust seems to coat every surface. The cattle have given up on coming across green growth in the hayfields and are rummaging through the scrub brush growing in the fence lines for anything edible between hay feedings.
The weather forecasts have been teasing us with a chance of rain in the extended forecasts for the better part of the summer only to dash our hopes as the individual days get closer. Weather apps change hourly as the probability of rain changes from 4 days of rain, to 3 days of probability to 2 days of a chance of rain, to not much more than darkening clouds before the sun again overtakes the sky.
I did find 7/100 of an inch in the rain gauge Saturday morning, but it did little to do more than leave a trace in the dust. The forecast is again calling for rain to be moving into the area as of this writing. We are looking forward to the wet days with a little trepidation as all this dust is going to turn into something very messy.
With weather forecasts calling for rain for the next foreseeable future, at least seven days, it is supposed to rain.
The swamp drainage culvert under the county road is already running water to the river. We have been making sure all eaves are clean and flowing smoothly, ditched around barns susceptible to puddling and rushing water running through. It is now time to lock the main herd out of the hay field/pasture area.
The gate entry points were closed at the back of the main field. As you can see from the picture, puddles are already sitting where the animals tread back and forth out of the hay field.
The gates are located back by the spring, near the current log landing and down into the six acre field. We also drove steel posts across the expanse between the barn and the fence that goes around the field so the cows would not have access around the barn where they like to converge during poor weather. They will have plenty of space to get cover along the hillside under the large fir trees.
Barb wire was used as the bottom and New Zealand wire (white plastic tape with copper threads running through for conductivity visibility) was used for the top wire. The wires were attached to the steel posts by insulators and electrified by a solar powered pack attached to the side of the barn. This time of year, with all the darkness and cloud cover, the fence is not very hot with current although the animals do not test the fence since they are used to electric fences.
Keeping the cows out of the hay field/pasture allows for the grass to fill in where it had been dried out during the heat at the end of the summer and it keeps all those big footy prints from chewing up the tender growth. As the cows begin calving, the field will be used as the nursery field.
Weather forecasters look at things differently than many of us do, they begin their calendars on October 1st instead of January 1st. October 1st is considered the beginning of the winter season that supplies the area with the rain in the valley and snow pack in the Cascades. That in turn determines our predictability throughout the summer months to grow the verdant greens of crops, trees, and all manner of vegetation. Continue reading