The main herd has been watching the far field. They have noticed that the grass has been growing over there and we have noticed them spending quite a bit of time along the fence line watching the field from afar with what looks like longing in their eyes. The herd sire, Prowler has been the most noticeable as he stays rooted into one place while the rest of the herd meanders around or heads up into the forest to look for the spring grasses in the open areas.
To appease the herd and to take away free grazing rights from the several herds of elk, we moved the herd through the nursery field and over to the far, far field for a week or two of fresh pasture. By moving the herd we opened up twenty six acres of field along with nearly ten more acres of forage area around the field. We went ahead and combined the nursery field inhabitants with the main herd for this spring jaunt in a new area. The six new calves mingled in and had no issues fording the river to get the new pasture with their mothers.
This grass on the other side of the fence is definitely greener since it has not had the herds grazing on it over the winter other than those pesky roving herds of elk.
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I have been threatening for the last month to get rid of pesky #33 bull calf since his nightly (and now daily too) raids into the fenced off pasture by the barn. His time is now up.
The last of calf crop for this year has now had their green weaner clips installed and this included bull #33. The simple snap-on clip prevents the calves from nursing. This great invention keeps the herd calm while the calves are weaned right next to their mothers. The moms console the calves and the calves snuggle the moms, they just can’t get to the milk while the supply dries up.
In a few days, we will gather the seven calves with the weaner clips and bring them over to the show barn so they can learn to eat without their mothers nearby. I have the last of the apple crop waiting for them, an abundant supply of food will be available 24 hours a day with chopped apples, sweet hay and grain. The last batch we weaned never bellowed at all and really enjoyed the pampering. #33 will not miss his illicit pasture raids.
We used to have a good share of fence jumpers, pacers, cranky cows and everyday bedlam. Over the years we have weeded out those traits to some degree and the calmer, less volatile and not-so- headstrong critters have made the farm an easier and safer place to be for people and for cows.
Bull calf #33 did not get the memo. #33 is nearing weaning age and has decided that this one fenced barnyard is HIS pasture. He has taken to simply pushing through the two-wire electric fence to go in and eat his fill of the grass that nobody else can get to.
The rest of the herd respects this fence. This guy does not seem bothered to get a jolt as he steps over the bottom barb wire and wiggles under the top white wire tape. He does give a little jump (this fence is run by small solar power unit and not high voltage) when he gets the current, but still every day, he is exactly where he is not supposed to be. He has snapped off insulators, and broken wires during his break-ins and break-outs.
His days of freedom are numbered. We will be weaning him this week and then he will be moved across the river to do time with the big guys (those calves that were weaned last month). When in the bull pen, it won’t take long realize the fence is more stout with a considerable kick it he messes with it. We are hoping the new memo is heeded.
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.