Getting ready to head across the river for the morning feeding, I looked past the tree and the bridge that crosses the river and saw a herd of elk along the hillside.
Traveling over the bridge, the view became clearer and we saw at least 20 elk heading toward the hay field for a day of grazing.
This is the mid-sized herd from out of the 3 that visit the farm.
Once we were over the bridge, the herd caught the sight and sound of us moving toward them. About half of them were already over the fence and in the hay field when the herd reversed direction and bounded back out of the field.
The herd traversed through the green trees and jumped another fence to get onto the hillside that had been clearcut and replanted several years ago. Still, it was hard to track the group on the uphill climb.
About 300 feet above the hay field, I caught a glimpse of the herd.
Because the hill had no big trees, I was able to watch the silhouettes against the sky as the animals trailed along the top of the ridge.
From this spot, the elk have 7 miles of timber ground that spreads out toward the ocean. I hope they find good grazing so that they will stay out of my pastures.
Hints of weather changes have been seen in the coloring of the green leaves, to the slightly shorter days and cooler nights. But most notable has been the increasing cloudy-ness of mornings and the lingering clouds throughout the day in the form of fog.
As we were feeding the cows breakfast, the fog began to burn off and hints of a blue sky emerged slowly. By the time we had finished throwing the hay off in slabs onto the pasture, the blue sky took over with a brilliance and only a few patches of fog hung on for a few more minutes before the day gave way to a cloudless day.
I believe the mother cows are on the verge of mutiny.
There is sound reasoning behind this statement. A friend told me that she wanted to witness a birth. Since that time, the critters have refused to cooperate. Continue reading
This mother cow is babysitting an extra calf out in the pasture.
One cow to watch over the babies while the other mothers go off to drink or eat is common. The babies are happy to hang out with the substitute mother for an hour or two while their mama is busy.
Everyone is getting along today, thanks to this thoughtful mother.
Our big momma cow, Chardonnay, has been doing double duty lately. A long time family friend had some grass acreage that needed trimming. This acreage had been used for grazing for years with six cow/calf pairs, but the farmer had sold his animals and didn’t want the responsibility of buying more to control his pastures. We trailered three of older mother cows, who were all pregnant, and sent them over to manage the pasture land for this farmer. These mommas are docile creatures and are always hungry. Since moving to this new farm, all three have been busy roaming from field to field, trimming the fast growing grass as they wandered. The cows have a barn to go into if they choose, with hay in the manger and minerals in a free-choice feeder.
The bunch seem very happy and have been growing their babies during this time. It’s almost like a vacation for them, away from the hustle and bustle of the main herd here on our farm. These momma cows each weigh about a ton, and when they are close to calving, look as wide as they are tall. The extra room to roam seems to work well for them as well as helping another farmer.
Chardonnay was close to calving, she had all the signs. Her udder filled with milk and she slowed her walk to a waddle as she grazed. She held off for several days as our friend, and his neighbor and we checked her daily for a new calf, we were all watching for the first signs of labor. Finally, without any assistance, she delivered a stout bull. The neighbor had noticed the little calf in the field and called the farmer who called us.
I was going to name him some wine-related moniker, until I got a look at him. This little guy weighed in at 87 lbs., and was hungry from the moment he hit the ground. I could not saddle him with any name that didn’t fit his strong personality or his brutish physical stature. His name is Tank.
Chardonnay is a good milker as is the nature of Black Angus. Her rich milk will sustain Tank until he is ready to start nibbling on grass and hay in a few weeks. He is already used to the other momma cows in the pastures and he travels as part of the little herd throughout the grazing areas. Chardonnay stays close by and if she needs to get a drink or some hay from the barn she walks Tank right along with her.
This group will continue to stay at this farm until the summer sun burns up the pastures. At that time the cows with their new babies will be returned home where they will be reintroduced to the main herd.
After a winter in the Pacific Northwest, cleanup begins in earnest. Some of the alder trees located along the riparian zone of the Nehalem River are beyond their prime years. We have been noticing the increasing decline as we clean up rotting limbs and upturned root balls. These trees are important to the waterway by keeping the water cool enough for the native salmon, trout, and other amphibians that live in the river. We are in the process of replanting areas along the river with diverse trees and shrubs natural to the area to replace the dead and dying alders.
In an effort to keep the pasture areas free of debris, the larger pieces of wood are cut and hauled up to the house. The wood is not good enough to sell. But it is nice to burn in the wood boiler to take the chill off on the cool spring mornings. Any limbs and smaller pieces are picked up from the pasture and put around the vegetation in the riparian zone where it will naturally decompose and compost to feed the vegetation.