It’s that time of year when we say goodbye to the steers and they take a ride to the butcher shop. The last few times we’ve had at least three people to help load the cows and it (knock-on-wood) goes really well. Even the loading of Wheezy went without a problem. I was excepting to not have too much trouble that night either.
Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s said. That being understood, I should have let Caroline out of the barn that morning. Instead, I let her out that evening, when the trailer was backed up to the loading door, which was open. A cattle panel (wire fence panel) was loosely leaning as a guide for the boys to get to the trailer. When the barn door opened for her to go outside she went running. There was shit flying as she was kicking up her heals like she was training for a PBR. Her excitement got the boys excited and they joined in.
I don’t usually have the kids to daycare early enough in the morning to have breakfast but this particular morning we were planning to be there early. According to the schedule we received in the beginning breakfast is as 8:00 which means I try to have everyone there be at least ten to-.
We were doing great. We were right on track to get there on time. I told the older three to get their shoes on and get buckled while I got the baby in the carrier. It’s nothing new, they do it every morning. Then back came the little boy, “mama, there’s a cow in the yard!”
A quick silent prayer “Oh dear Lord, please let it be the neighbor’s cow.” We’ve never had any visiting cows wander through but it would have been fine with me this morning. I would have waved at it and left on time.
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.
That all went to hell on Sunday morning.
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.)