Sunday, August 22, 2010

Deer, Oh deer, Oh deer

Yesterday, Anders and I went out and picked sunflowers in the bed along the front of the farm. We noticed the deer had gone through the electric fence and knocked it down. I hustled back and turned  the electric off and Anders mended the fence. Then we turned it back on. All the cows were still in the pasture so no harm done.
This morning as I groggily stumbled through the kitchen with a glass of OJ, I happened to glance out the north window.
That's odd, I thought, as I glimpsed a black and white shape heading at high speed across Wagler's alfalfa field.
"Honey," Brian said as he came into the kitchen. "Sarah Wagler just left a message on your phone. She says our...."
"Cows are out again, " I finished for him.
Not only were they out, but judging by all the unusual places we found cow manure, they had been out for most of the night. Luckily, this time Brian was home so he called them into one of the page wire paddocks by the barn. At least the deer can't knock that fence down.
Now you may well ask why is it so much easier for Brian to call the cows in? I have a theory, but I'll have to back up and explain. When we bought our White Parks and Belties the man we got them from called his cows with "NOW, NOW, NOW!" 
Don't ask - I don't know why. I do know that those cows wouldn't come to anything else so we changed how we call all of our cows to "NOW, NOW, NOW!"
My theory is: Brian has a Southern Indiana twang that makes NOW sound almost like a two syllable word. I just can't match it. Believe me, I've tried.  My NOW! just won't cut the mustard when it comes to our cows' discerning ears.
Who new cows were so picky?
But back to the deer problem - the hunting season is approaching and I'm practicing with my bow...jerky anyone?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ahhh the green leafy shade on a hot day

The other day it was 104 and our cows decided to go on walk about looking for some shade that was cooler than the shade they had in our field. They decided that breaking down the fence was a good idea.

Anders called us as we were headed from the doctor's office to drop Brian off at school. I told him I was at least an hour away. He said he had already tried to get them back in - no way were they cooperating. I told him to keep an eye on them and I'd be home as quickly as possible.

At home I  loaded up tools and a bucket of feed & headed out in the pickup to find the breach in the fence and our cows. It turns out our neighbor has a beautiful forest of mature pine trees, with a lovely carpet of green at their feet. Our cows thought it was a lovely place for an afternoon nap.

I coaxed the cows back in with a tempting treat of feed. (Good thing they are all chow hounds!) I felt a little like Hansel and Gretel leaving bread crumbs to find their way home. I had to drop a handful of feed every 10 feet to keep them coming along while simultaneously  brushing off giant black horseflies and wiping the sweat out of my eyes.

When I finally got them back in, Anders and I started to patch up the fence. That's when I realized the lovely carpet of green in the neighbor's pine woods was lovely green  POISON IVY!

We high tailed it in for showers as soon as we finished. I think I did pretty good I only got a little patch of rash on my ring finger and my right ear.  Not too bad for having waded through it and touched it bare handed while patching the fence. :^)

And we waited, and we waited and we wondered...

if the momma duck would ever hatch her eggs. It seems like forever since she set up housekeeping in the corner of Gertrude the sow's stall. Yesterday when I let Gertie out I noticed half an egg shell in on the ground.

OH NO! I thought Gertie finally got wise to the treasure trove of goodies stashed in the corner!

I hustled her out of the barn and went to investigate. Momma hissed at me stood up and spread her wings.

Three little heads peeked out looking for all the world like plush stuffed ducky toys that you see at Easter. They are SOOOO yellow!  So far I've only been able to count 3 but I think there are more. Momma just doesn't want any one to get too close. So I locked the stall gate so nobody  would bother her and relocated Gertie to a stall further down the line. Gertie wasn't too thrilled with her new location but she is adjusting.

I'll post the pics I took as soon as I can get them off of my camera. It's acting a little crazy lately. I think maybe I accidentally changed a setting I shouldn't have. Who knew?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We bid goodbye to Bonnie & Clyde

As I type this the Haflingers, Bonnie and Clyde are on the road to Michigan along with the wagon and their harness. I am sad that they are gone even though I didn't have time to do much more than admire them and pet them. I know they'll be happier where they have a job to do.

Brian doesn't believe me, but as soon as he gets done with Vet school, I am getting another Hafllinger. Mark my words. I am counting the days. ;^)

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Hazel compromise

This morning my mother announced that she was buying Hazel. Do WHAT? 
That's right she said she was buying Hazel and that Anders and I could milk Hazel for her. That would relieve Brian of responsibility for the cow and she said she is going to buy Hazel's food. I tried to reason with her. I explained that if she buys Hazel that won't really solve our time problem. We'll still have to milk and care for her.

Have you ever tried to argue/talk sense to a red head? Or a stubborn little old lady?

There was no reasoning with her. Hazel is staying. The only compromise I could win was: if the milking gets to be too much we'll dry her off and put her out with the beefers. Then we'll try milking again when she calves in the spring.

:^) I admit it. I'm glad Hazel is staying. :^)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

You are either moving forward or going backward....

...but you just can't stand still or as my Daddy always said "Piss or get off the pot."

So here we are with horses, pigs, cows, ducks, rabbits, chickens, sheep, pigs, guineas and turkeys. And Brian in school full time to become a vet. And I'm working full time. So tough decisions have to be made and followed through on. I hate letting any animals go, but we have to get the chores down to something that doesn't cause stress and anxiety every day.
We've decided to sell the Haflingers - Bonnie and Clyde. And our milk cow, Hazel and her heifer calf, Gaia. Some of the sheep have gone to live at my son's. Some of the sheep are going to be going to the processor for meat.
We've already sold most of our RW's. We are keeping just 3 sows and 1 boar.  We'll still have plenty of RW pork for sale.
We are cutting down the chickens to just my mom's Auraucanas and my Buckeyes - minus all but 2 roosters. So we will have eggs available.  All of the broilers will be in the freezer by mid September. 
The ducks and guineas are self sufficient so they are staying.
The bunnies are no bother & they are Kacie's project, so they get a reprieve. 
The turkeys will be gone when we get close to the holidays - Yummy pasture raised main dishes you know!

I think I am the saddest to see Hazel and Gaia go. Hazel is so kind and gentle. Even Brian,  who has little affinity for cows, loves Hazel. She is the undisputed queen of the barn. Gaia is the princess and will be a great milk cow when she grows up. It's hard to sell a baby you bottle fed from 3 days old. :^( 
If you know anyone who needs a great cow or a sweet heifer, give them our number. 812-521-1063

 We need to simplify our lives as well, so much of our accumulated hoard must go.

Our new motto is: "When in doubt throw it out." (or sell it or give it away). The most frequently asked question: "Have you used____ in the last 6 months? Can you honestly say you will use it in the next 6 months?" If the answer is no... it must go!

So far we've sold off our pony cart and a walk behind sickle bar mower. We have a manure spreader, several hay wagons and hay wagon undercarriages with wheels and a horse drawn passenger wagon with double harness for sale.

Next we'll be clearinf our the garages. Then it's the house.

We are looking at ways to simplify our daily chores as well. We've created 5 gallon self feeders for the chickens and float controlled self waterers for them as well. We bought miles (actually several hundred feet) of garden hose so we can more easily water hogs and cattle.

Long term we will be reducing the size of the garden and increasing the intensity of the gardening.

I admit there are several things that fail the question test, but I refuse to give up my spinning wheel, loom and kiln. I just can't admit I'll never have time for them again.

All this sorting and moving is depressing but at the same time liberating. I just wish we were already done with it. :^)