If I Ran the Farm: First Day on My Own

DAY ONE

Since the hay feeding had only taken place the night before, I didn’t have that to worry about for the morning. I figured I would top off the rings in the evening in my quest to keep them full. So, that left just checking to make sure all animals were in their correct pasture, tossing some feed (non-GMO, of course) for the junior steers who are weaned and separated out for processing, and just doing a farm once over to verify that all is well.

Zooming around on a four wheeler is fantastic fun to me, though I rarely take the time to do it. For now, however, it’s my job. Happy me. And, all animals were in their proper place. The sheep, I noticed, had actually not moved. Very unusual for them given the fact that they can basically go anywhere they want inside the farm’s perimeter fence (which they seem to test relentlessly). Also, a handful of newbies had just been added to the herd and I was afraid that would cause all of them to roam a little more than normal just to get away from each other until the two groups acclimated. But no, all is well.

It is important for the cows to stay in their assigned pastures as well, due to Keith’s master plan of rotational grazing. A simple explanation is that he moves them off a pasture to let it recover and regrow and onto a new one that has likewise been rejuvenated. It’s part of his method of getting the most nutrition from his pasture land all the while healing the land by building new topsoil, and something he should write about himself.

A few cows separated off into an upper meadow, and I needed to see if they were calving. I couldn’t find a good way up there that wasn’t bogged in mud, so I decided to park and walk. I would never want to risk getting the four wheeler stuck and then have to walk all over the farm until someone could haul it out.

As I trudged up the hill I idly wondered how many calories I was expending. There are calorie counts for everything—jogging a 7 minute mile burns 261 calories, swimming 1/2 hour burns 300 calories, and so on. I’ve never seen a calorie count for slogging uphill after a fresh rain in a cow pasture. I could probably liken it to one of the now popular mud runs, except that on our farm it wouldn’t be called a “mud” run, and my boots were getting heavier with it at every step.

No cows calving, but the rains had shifted a few of the small temporary fence posts so that the electric wire fencing was lying practically on the ground, so I straightened those. An easy enough job, but the mental dexterity it requires wears me out. I have to remember to only hold the post and tamp the end down with my foot and don’t lean into or provide any other way for that wire to touch my skin! It really makes me angry when the electric pulse pops me. Instant anger. No other way to describe it.

Day one evening I planned to just top off the hay rings to replace any hay eaten. Not necessary, but part of my plan to avoid an onslaught. Also, with more wet weather coming in a few days there would be a window of time when I wouldn’t be able to get out there at all, so I wanted their supply to be as full as possible when that happened. But despite all my planning, I got only one bale of hay dropped off and ran out of daylight. OK, another variable in addition to weather that I need to plan for.

Our main herd eats through about 3 1/2 bales each day.

Our main herd eats through about 3  bales each day.

I was brushing my teeth when I realized I had forgotten to cut the twine on that bale. I briefly panicked as I wondered if the cows could choke on that or if they would know to avoid it. A phone call to Keith, who said they wouldn’t eat on it much because it wouldn’t come apart easily. Phew!  “Just lift it back out of the hay ring and cut the twine, then put it back. That’s easy to fix.” Oh, for crying out loud.

 

Jerlene CannonIf I Ran the Farm: First Day on My Own