Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Saturday morning started as it normally does. We were sleeping in because Farmer John didn’t get home until 3am from a trip for his real job. I got up with Badger around 8am and we went for a walk. During the walk, I saw two cows out of their new fence. They were deep into the hayfield munching away. This was frustrating, but I figured I could get the two of them back in without bugging Farmer John.
Before I go on, let me explain the new fence. Our helpful visitors from a couple weeks ago helped us put it up. We wanted to get the cattle on some fresh grass for a little while, so the fence was meant to be temporary. The posts are fiberglass, with an insulator in the middle and a topper. We strung two lines of electric rope, attached it to the electric fence and that was that. Happy cows on lush grass. (There was a chunk of time spent untangling a giant knot of electric rope. A knot that only 8 hands and 6 college degrees could untangle.)
Back to Saturday morning- I walked back towards the field with good intentions of putting the cows back where they belonged. At which point I discovered that the ENTIRE length of new fence was down. Toppers were not on top of the posts, the electric rope was all over the ground, and the rest of the cattle were grazing their way into the hayfield. Obviously, cattle, deer, or some other crepuscular individuals thought it was a good idea to string our new fence, and all the insulators, across the new pasture. This job called for teamwork!
Down into the pasture rode Farmer John on his trusty four-wheeler, in a blaze of cattle-rage. His hair was red, his eyes were red, his blood was boiling and a tapestry of swear words came coursing out of his mouth. He herded ALL the cows back to the proper side of the fence. And let me just say that being in a wet hayfield, with cows running around, horns swinging, and a noisy four-wheeler zooming past is not the way I like to start my mornings- especially when I haven’t had my coffee yet!
Here’s how the rest of the project went. Farmer John stood guard as I searched for missing insulators and re-strung the electric rope. He chased the cattle back to their pasture many times. For some reason they were in the mood to stampede. One of the red cows was especially persistent in trying to cross to the hayfield. Finally, the fence was back where it belonged and so were the cows. The fence was plugged in and Farmer John checked the voltage.
Then it was time to have some coffee and change out of our pajamas and muck boots.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
The cows were soaking wet, but they don't seem to mind since they have all that lush grass to munch. (Plus, they're getty used to being wet all the time this Spring)
This is a view of one of the hayfields. If it ever stops raining, we'll have some great hay to cut. The three new calves. They seem to have lots of fun together.
There is an old electric fence in the cow's new pasture. We'll set it up when it's time to plant that garden. In the meantime it makes for great posts to scratch heads on.
The forecast looks good. Hopefully those shaggy coats will dry out this weekend.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Duing one of the many conversations on the porch, Becky mentioned the changes that had been made on the farm since her last visit. It felt so good to hear her say those things. And I don't mean it in a "pat on the back" kind of way. Sometimes living here, and trying to run the farm, is so overwhelming that it feels like we're getting nowhere. Projects take longer than planned and there's ALWAYS more to do. Hearing that we'd made progress, from someone with a different prespective was encouraging. Then we too could sit back, take a moment, eat our samosas, and appreciate the work that's been accomplished.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Here's what went in the ground:
- 1 long raised bed with 2 types of lettuce, 1 lettuce mix, spinach mix, and onions
- 1 row of sugar snap peas
- 5 hills of cucumbers
- 25 broccoli plants
- 45 cabbage plants
Saturday, May 7, 2011
The wedding was held at Gale Woods Farm. Being the farm geeks that we are, we ran around the property a bit before the party started. (At some point I realized I should have brought my muck boots. ) We checked out their fencing, garden sites and livestock. And then, we found the hogs.
Oh how badly we want hogs! They would make us so happy. They'd root around. They'd entertain us. They'd add a new aroma to our farm. And then they'd be turned into delicious food.
You should hear Farmer John talk about pastured pork. His eyes light up. He's got a whole business plan based on raising hogs and then turning them into brats and other sausages. Thinking about hogs makes him happy.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Then, we rode up the hill to check on the herd after our recent trip to the midwest. I had to agree, she did look close. Her udder was very swollen. And after school yesterday Farmer John reported that the much-anticipated calf was finally here!
The cow and calf are both doing well. They appear happy and healthy. The calf is nursing and pooping up a storm - which is a good sign. If only they could get their farmers to leave them alone
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The first project was clearing out a fence row.
Here are the "Before" pictures:
The dogs were going to help too.Farmer John worked with the chainsaw to cut out the bigger shrubs and trees. My mom and I used clippers to clear some of the smaller shrubs. Then it all got drug down the hill to make a pile of brush. Here's the view from the brush pile looking up to the fenceline. We all made a lot of trips up and down that hill!And the cows kept an eye on everything. There was some bloodshed. There were a LOT of briars along that fencerow. Wow! That's a nice brush pile you've got guys!After we'd cleared most of the big trees and shrubs out, Farmer John used the "Brush Hog" to mow everything down. "Brush Hog" was not a word I even knew before moving to the farm - let alone knew how to use as a noun and a verb! A "Brush Hog" is an attachment for the tractor, it has large heavy-duty blades that chop up everything in it's path. It's like a mega lawnmower that can deal with shrubs and brush without any problem. It's pretty cool!
And now (drum roll please!) the "After" pictures:
Doesn't that look SO much better??!The cows approve. And so does Farmer John.Thanks to the Rockford Farmhands we completed a BIG project in just a short afternoon!