It’s been five years since we first moved to the farm. A lot has changed since we arrived. You may recall, I had cows coming home and no fence to keep them in about the same time I had chickens ordered and no coop. Yep, that happened. (It seems to be a recurring theme for me and started long before the farm.) Mike and my dad were there to save the day once again!
One rainy night that first summer Mike and my dad went up to Grandma’s farm to pick up some old fence posts and barb wire that she said was in the back of the barn. When they were heading back my husband called and said “Boy do we have a surprise for you!”
After I got home from work we walked through the dark and rolling thunder to our barn. There against the wall was an old gate. He didn’t have to say a word. I knew exactly where that gate came from. I was so excited to be able to use it!
The gate was blackened with years of motor oil that had been painted on for weather proofing. I remember being allowed to swing on Grandma’s garden gate but we weren’t to touch the corral gate because the oil would ruin our clothes. By that time the animals were gone as far as I can remember. When the fence line was finally taken down nothing went to waste and the gate, still in good shape, was stored in the barn.
The old gate has been keeping the cows in our pasture and now it’s my turn to paint the gate.
I put the little Miss in some old clothes and we set out to the barn. She carried the paint brushes while I carried the jug of used oil. She was pretty excited to be able to help with a “big girl” job. I filled us each a small container of oil and gave her a warning “do not get any on your clothes.” –you can laugh its ok. I knew as well that was going to be a joke. There was no way that she was going to make it more than one brush stroke before it would be on her clothes. But, in trying to be a good mama I needed to at least say the words.
She worked at her eye-level for a while, then over by me and then it happened.
There was a short week where we didn’t have any morning chores. The cows were in the pasture and the goats had been sold. I’m back to morning chores now. We’ve got the steers that are scheduled for burger and Sweet Caroline in the corral and the rest of the herd in the pasture. That means filling a second stock tank and feeding hay and grain to the boys and Caroline. They all could use a little fattening.
Poor Caroline, she’s been so skinny. I’ve dewormed her a few times thinking maybe that was the problem. According to the calendar she was due to calve in a month but she was just too thin. I spoke with the vet and he came out and gave her a look-over. Diagnosis was slight pneumonia, very nutrient deficient and not pregnant. All around disappointing but fixable. His recommendation was give her some finishing grain along with her hay and some extra minerals. And ween that darn calf!!
The other girls kick their calves off when they’ve had enough. We haven’t had much of a problem getting them to ween when needed. Elwood is a few weeks short of a year. There’s no good reason he still needs milk. Sweet Caroline is living up to her name once again. She will nurse any calf that tries and will not kick Elwood off. That is draining her as well.
Long story short, I’ve been trying to keep the two separated for a good month now. It hasn’t been going well. Elwood’s head is still small enough to fit through the fences and gates. He calls from the gate and she stands there and lets him eat. We had finally been making progress when she was in with the steers.
Last weekend we took a break from the farm and baking and went to the lake. It was a fun, family filled weekend. I turned my phone on once and saw a stack of missed messages in all forms and quickly shut it back off. This was to be vacation and Mike might lose it if I started baking.
Once we were home it was back to work. The goats were to be sold. The ladies that were taking them were there and waiting. The loading of the goats went pretty well. They are all very friendly so catching them wasn’t a problem. Hoisting them into the kennels in their SUV took a little extra muscle. Mike got that job. Hank is a big guy. Lyle, well, he never quit eating, so he had some heft behind him. Sweet little Scarlet and Lily were pretty easy.
A few years ago, the little boy found himself in the middle of an angry hive of stinging, flying somethings. They were in his shorts and up his shirt, he got it pretty good. The following summer he stayed in the house every time we checked bees.
Fast forward to this summer, curiosity got the best of him. One night I went to check the bees and he asked to come with. “Next time. You need pants and boots and long sleeves.”
We weren’t even finished with supper the following night and he has excused himself from the table and came back dressed to check the bees. Together we built a fire in the smoker. He “suited” up in Mike’s beekeeping hat and gloves and grabbed the hive tool. We hopped on the four-wheeler and headed out for his first hive check.
Rain, rain, stay away. Come again another day. Papa wants to hay today.
By Friday night we had the first cuttings bales of fresh hay in the loft. I think this was the first year nothing broke and we didn’t have the worry of rain. I should probably write that down because who knows if we will ever be so lucky again. I guess I am jumping the gun a little bit; the hay on dad’s fields still needs to be put up and the sky is looking pretty dark.
Personally, I love haying season. As with anything there are some not so great parts but I do my best to overlook those. Things like a million cuts on my forearms from the scratching hay, the constant heavy lifting in the summer heat, the chaff that clings to sweat and itches and the sneezing and snot. Yeah, haying isn’t always pretty, easy or comfortable. All that aside, it’s great. (Yes, I know, I probably am outnumbered everyone to one on this.)