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
Cows love to run down hill. It is quite comical to see an older animal weighing nearly a ton, kick up her heals and scoot down a hillside with her tail in the air and her bag wildly swinging side to side. Once they get to the bottom of the hill, the adult takes over and the cows are calm and peaceful.
Mud is more fun than running down hill. This was the mud that washed into the nursery field from the hill side road.
This mama cow just couldn’t resist getting down on her knees and fighting the layer of mud. Her calf stood by watching the sight unable to understand why she was scrambling around on her knees.
Once her face was thoroughly coated with a thick paste of mud, the game was over and the cow returned to eating hay that we had set out for her meal.
The frozen tundra was the last to thaw. The many inches of rain we have gotten since the snow and ice just could not absorb into the ground.
So areas like this one got a sloppy, muddy run off. This spot is along the nursery field. There is a rocked road just on the other side of the fence and the hillside beyond that. The thin layer of dirt and mud that was thawed slid right over the top of the layers that were still frozen.
The slurry flowed down under the wire fence and deposited itself in sweeping mounds at the edge of the field. These mounds will have to be taken care of before the grass tries to grow through the thick layer because the hay equipment will not be able to drive through and the grass will get choked out.
The spots that are the thicker layers of deposit will be scooped up, the bigger ones by tractor and the smaller ones by shovel and bucket. The deposits that are thinner yet will be dragged apart by the field harrow pulled behind the Gator. The harrow is nothing more than a blanket of steel teeth pulled behind a piece of equipment that combs through the grass to pull out moss while smoothing mole mounds, foot imprints, and other small imperfections in the topsoil.
We harrow all the hay fields every spring anyway, we will just have to spend a couple of extra days on this area to get it back into healthy, grass growing production. The harrowing will start when the ground has firmed up after the winter rains.
There is an awful lot of paraphernalia needed to be a farmer. I am not talking about tools and equipment, this story is about clothing.
My garage is strewn with tennis shoes, old tennis shoes designated for splashing in the river, garden shoes, short boots, plastic boots, knee boots, muck boots and hiking boots. I have gear for each of the 43 different rain definitions. I have a wind breaker, a short-sleeved golf shirt, a long sleeved golf shirt, white jacket, black jacket, hooded versions of each of the above and still more coats for severe weather along with rain-gear of every fabric, texture, thickness and weight.
Especially with this last month of exceptional rain totals, the garage served as a drying rack for each set of soaked garments. Any rig that made it into the garage became space for drying clothing. It was not unusual to hear conversations such as, “Have you seen the car?” with answers like, “Did you look under the raincoats and inside-out jeans?” As we have been peeling off wet clothing and replacing with drier ones, I am reminded that the weather will soon be colder and the heavy duty clothing will be needed.
I look out into the field of cows who are perfectly contented as the rain pelts them during their meals of hay or as they graze about the field. Their coverings suit them well during the cold, the hot, the wet and the dry. They don’t need a large mud room to dry sets of garments or a laundry room that is constantly piled with dirty clothes on one side and clean clothes on the other. Just a good shake now and then and they go about their day. Sometimes it would just be easier to be a critter…
Now you will have to excuse me, it’s time for me to go muck-out the garage, again.
Now that the logging is complete for this spring on the far side of the property, Mike has been able to bring the bulldozer over to smooth up some of the deeply rutted roads from the extremely wet winter/spring. After bottoming out with the gator, and with the tractor, the ruts made the road impassable. The caterpillar was used to back-blade (run the dozer backward with the blade scraping along the ground). He had to do the run several times and even had to root out an old stump that we had gotten stuck on as we mudded around the barns.
The result of his afternoon of driving backwards means that we can now feed hay to the main herd when they go to the back of the 26 acre field to graze or hang out under the big fir trees. It also opens up the road for Mike to start gopher and mole trapping (this is the favorite activity for the dogs, they just love to help trap). This is a yearly game that is slow getting started this year because of that darn rutted road.
It feels like we are finally starting to get caught up from all the torrents of rain and tons of mud. Just in time for the dust season to start!
I am officially late getting the main part of the garden ready for planting.
The early peas, onions, lettuce, spinach and radishes are growing nicely as are the strawberry plants and the fruit trees. The asparagus patch that I ‘mudded’ in during February are now breaking the surface. But, the main part of the garden had been ignored, and that changes today.
Mike had put the rototiller attachment on the little tractor and gave the garden area a once over, it was still really wet and quite ‘cloddy’. He waited a couple days and went over it again, the PTO driven tiller pulverized many of the large clods, but the ground is not quite worked enough to sow seeds, so he waited a few hours for the ground to dry out a bit more before giving it a third working.
Potatoes will be the first planted in a row of tires just like last year, then I can get in the rest of the garden with my small rototiller and work the ground so that carrots, beets and all the other small seeds can be sown and covered with fine dirt.
Danger of frost will continue for a while yet, so I am holding off planting peppers, tomatoes cucumbers and squash.