Painting the Gate

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. It was only a matter of time and I didn’t even see it coming. I looked over and she’s two rungs up on the gate belly rubbing the spot she just oiled.

“What are you doing?”

“Mama, I needed to paint the top.” She told me quite matter of factly; like obviously this is the next logical spot to work on.

“Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?!”

We worked a while longer before I told her she could finish the outside while I worked on the inside. This project was happening during the weekend that the bull wasn’t staying put and was unpredictably rowdy. I didn’t want to take the chance having her in there with him too.

Grace the donkey had been “talking” to us as we worked and ever since she kicked G.W. in the face he’s been pretty respectful of her space. So I wasn’t too concerned to go in. I unhooked the chain and let it fall to the barb wire on the fence and screamed.

I felt that chain drop right up my arm, through my chest and into my back. Then in a moment of electrocution I started swearing. There was a lot of swearing that weekend but this was the first time in front of any little ears. Of course these little ears come with a constantly moving, well-spoken mouth of a three year old. And this time it wasn’t the “kind-mama words”, you know: Shoot, Oh my goodness, Son of a biscuit. No, no, this time it was the “I should just call daycare right now and apologize for what may come.”

Once I got my bearings back together and apologized I had to convince the little Miss to hold on to the gate so that I could run to the barn and unplug the electric. The gate naturally swings open and there’s no way I was about to grab that chain again!

She did a great job. It wasn’t long before we had both sides of the gate oiled and were on to our next projects. She was to scrub out the duck pool and refill it while I oiled the gates to the coop- one of those was Grandpa’s too.

We were almost finished and thunder started rolling in that’s when we called it a day.

 

 

Later I found where the hot wire and barb wire was twisted. I corrected that problem so there aren’t any more electrifying surprises for now.

 

 

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Who’s in the barn?

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.

It was my fault. I should have known better.

Caroline went into estrus and G.W. knew it. She’s already his girl. They are usually side by side all the time. He’s been her protector since she first came home. He was running her up and down the fence line all day Saturday. This caused the steers to run and Caroline wasn’t getting the rest that I felt she needed to get back to normal. So, my genius moment I put her in the barn for the night.

Sunday morning Mike left early for work. Soon after he sent a text. The conversation started like this:

“Are you up?”

“No, whats up?”

“The cows not bad but will need a new gate.”

“Yikes. Ok”

“GW is in with Caroline”

“Holy $#!+ ! I’m up”

Lucy and the gate

Minutes later there I was, bathrobe, barefoot staring down the bull in the wrong pen. The gate was still on the hinges and chained to the post but clearly not functioning properly. It was bent in half-ish and upward.  The 1/3 of a bale ring and smaller gate that was blocking the barn door had been tossed aside and there he stood between me and Caroline.

G.W. and the 1/3 of the bale ring.

I should have known better than to take her out of sight.

The only ones that stayed where they belonged were Lucy and Grace (the donkey). It was obvious that I was not going to get everyone sorted out right away. Instead I managed to get Elwood the unruly calf penned in the barn and let the rest go.

Fast forward through my electrocution by fence and bee hive attack to Monday morning chores. I’ve started playing a new game the cows have made up called “Who’s in the barn?!” I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t Lucy or the donkey… Six bovine, a variety of sizes and colors watched eagerly through the fence as I opened the barn door that morning.

I may or may not have started swearing.

I love doing morning chores and love working with our cows, but sometimes it can be a little… challenging. I love the challenge though too.

Calmly and with the help of some hay and a grain bucket I got the whole herd out of the barn with the exception of Caroline. Using the mangled gate as a first defense I blocked the run from the corral to the barn. Then, I got smart and turned the piece of bale ring around so that it fit into the corner made by the fence and barn door. I climbed through the ring into the barn and leaned the other small gate across the door and used a lead rope to tie the two together! Let’s see Elwood get through that! Ha! G.W. could destroy my handy work I’m sure but that’s beside the point. I’ll take a win when I can get one.

As for the rest of them, I just said the hell with it and left them to the pasture until Mike could get home and help.

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Lonely Mowing

Clyde and Lyle – Fainting Goats

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.

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The Making of a Beekeeper

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.

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Putting Up Hay

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.)

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