Spring Rain and Loose Barb Wire

Thelma by the “scratching fence”.

During the winter months the cow are kept in the corral to keep them from damaging the pasture. They do quite a number on the barb wire fence during that time; scratching and rubbing on it all winter long. When spring arrives the fence is always in need of tightening. As soon as we can get some savings set aside I want to put boards up for the corral fence instead.

We have yet to have a calf that has not slipped out at least once. At least when they a new they are easy to catch and carry back. The yearlings are a bit more challenging. They are too big to carry and don’t come to the shaking of a grain bucket yet. These spunky little guys can make life on the farm rather exciting.

Last Friday night I raced home from work to pick up Mike so we could go pick up our bees. It’s only about a 45 minute drive but the way things go we wouldn’t have much time before the beekeepers close up for the night. I came flying down the driveway watching for kids, ducks, dogs and a cat, so the cow in the yard was a surprise.

“Caroline’s out.” I called towards the house as I headed towards the barn. I tossed some duck feed into my milk pail, grabbed the rope halter and headed back out. The second surprise of the night, I should have known better. Sweet Caroline doesn’t get out unless I leave the gate open and invite her. Elwood, our yearling steer was out.

I tried a couple times with the pail of duck feed and then went back to the barn for a rope. The idea was to rope him and then lead him back. By that time I had help and that plan was pretty well out the window too. We chased him into the pig gate and up the hill to the corral gate. Just as we (Mike and I) opened the gate the rest of the herd thundered over. On to Plan C… or F?

We didn’t have time to mess around, our bees were waiting. We closed the pig gate and opened the corral gate and let everyone spend a night on the pasture.

A few nights later, one of those nights when everyone was exhausted, supper was late, because bathes were needed first. We had spent the day working outside, Mike was working on the tractor and cleaning coops and pens, while I was cleaning out the garden. The kids were busy playing in the sun and the baby napping in the shade. The night was winding down everyone was settling into the living room and I was doing a weekends-worth of dishes. That’s when I noticed a new sandbox toy…Thelma…the heifer.

“Mike, Thelma’s out!”

He headed for the door and I kept washing dishes and watched the rodeo unfold out the window. He wasn’t messing around that night. He started with the rope right away. Walking up and down the fence line trying to the perfect time to throw. It wasn’t long and he had her and wasn’t happy about it. I watched as he leaned back, the rope was tight and Thelma was kicking and running. Down through the pig gate and up the hill. (Obviously, the cows know the drill) Then they turned from the corral and headed out to the pasture; Mike still in tow. Then they disappeared.

I don’t know where he left her but pretty soon he was back to the house.

“I’m gonna need some help.” Mike said.

I dried my hands, situated the kids and headed out. I rounded the corner of the barn and there they were again, one on each end of the rope.

A little back and forth and a slight distraction on the other side of the corral and I was able to open the gate. Mike pulled Thelma in and then hopped out just before the rest were over to visit. She was wearing the rope like a Girl Scout sash and we let her. It wouldn’t be too long and she would step out of it.

At this point we should have tightened the fence lines. We didn’t.

On to a couple days later. Coming home after another long day and guess who’s trimming the grass by the chicken coop? Yep, Thelma. We sent the kids to the sandbox and the chase was on again.

It had rained almost constantly for the last couple days so everything was delightfully sloppy. Thelma kicked and bucked her way around the barn, through the yard, into the pig gate, up the hill and around the barn again. Mike fed the cows to distract them…again. Then he started to send her back down the hill to the pig gate while I ran (actually ran this time) around the barn to get to the corral gate and get it open in time.

That spunky little heifer snuck right by and went for lap three! She was half way around and saw Mike at the bottom of the hill and me at the gate and that little $#!* squeezed through the fence and was back in with the rest just in time for more rain.

Mike tightened the fence.

What happens when Mike and I chase cows.
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The Cow Came Home

“Dad! Come up here! There’s a monster outside!” –Little boy

“What? Come down here.” -Mike

(little feet stomping down the stairs)

“Come ‘ere. Look! There’s a cow out there!”-Little boy

“Anna! Anna!” I was vacuuming in the laundry room. It took a while for Mike to get my attention.

“What?”-Me

“Come see this.”-Mike

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Duck, Duck, Chicken

Okay, so we all know it’s “duck, duck, grey duck”, but for today it’s chicken.

I was out cleaning the coop this morning and right in front of me a rough looking little red hen pecked a shell and proceeded to eat a scrambled egg. I’m all for good chicken feed and a eggs are a great source of protein and other healthy stuff (especially ours). But I’m not about to let the girls start (or continue) to eat eggs. We are not buying feed for them to turn around and eat the eggs too.

So I did what any good farmer would do.

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Local Farmer Knocked Out by Cow Pie

That’s what the newspaper would title it. The whole thing would go something like this:

Local Farmer Knocked Out By Cow Pie

At approximately 5:30 am Mr. Lauer found his wife unconscious in the cow pen. “I usually stop out to say goodbye in the morning. I went out early because she forgot her coffee on the counter that morning. She usually has a cup with Caroline, her cow.” said Mr. Lauer. He found Mrs. Lauer laying next to her pitch fork and Caroline her cow was standing next to her looking very concerned. After assessing the situation, Mr. Lauer could see that his wife had finished feeding the cows and started cleaning the barn. The weather has been seasonably cold and the cow pies have froze. Judging by the size of the crater at Mrs. Lauer’s feet and the size of the pie next to her head it was safe to assume that she pried the frozen pie from the ground, which sent it airborne hitting her in the head and knocked her unconscious.

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Chicken Pot Pie

“Hey! Where did the meat birds go?!” It had been a couple weeks since we butchered chickens and the little miss just now noticed the empty chicken tractor. She wasn’t too concerned when we told her they were in the freezer and we had been eating them for supper. She was already on to talking about the new chicks in the coop.

The little boy helped plant the garden and I’ve had all the kids out there helping harvest now too. They’ve been busy pulling onions, picking tomatoes and corn. At ages 2 and 4 there’s some vegetable casualties, squished tomatoes and topless onions for starts. It’s so much fun to see the excitement in their eyes when they are handed a cob of corn and after they curiously peal back a few layers of husk they discover “there’s a corn in there!” The potatoes are next on the list. Mike and I can dig and the kids can do the picking there too.

“I found a corn!”
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