Groundhog Day

Yesterday was supposed to be an easy day. We were going to sort off the two little bull calves from their mothers. The cows will have babies soon and we don’t want any competition. Now mind you, we tried this in the fall and one of the two crazy babies ran off and stayed away for a couple of days before coming back. We had to let it back in with its mother to get it into a fenced area. We fed on Friday and all of the lower area cows came in so we shut the upper gates so it would be easy to herd them on Saturday.

Saturday morning I went to pick up Mr Professional and I noticed that there were no cows in the correct pasture. That is because I failed to check on the lower pasture gate, it was wide open and the cows were down by the schoolhouse. As we came back from town we stopped at the schoolhouse and ran cows back into the area near the creek. We reinstalled the gate that the bull had removed. This is where one of the heavy duty Packy welded gates are going before we let the bull out of Alcatraz. Mr Professional followed the cows up into the designated field.

Annmarie opened the new yard gate and moved the corral gates around so we could herd the cows in. She also moved the horses to one side of the barn lot and the upper cows into the barn lot so we could sort them next. We opened the gate into the orchard pasture and Mr Professional got three cows in and stopped the rest. We only needed to sort off the little bull and he was one of the three. The new gate in the pasture blocking off the alleyway is not yet completed and once we had the dogs in the field the cows of course bum rushed the gap and got mixed in with the weaned lambs. We got them out and managed to let one cow back into the lower pasture. Now we just needed to move the little bull and his mother to one side of the pasture and into our upper yard hillside. Unfortunately, our youngest Border Collie, Mouse, was just not listening. After a couple of herding chases, Annmarie called him and put him on a lead and took him to other side of the fence. We got the pair onto the upper hillside, the alpaca were in the same field. They had seen the gate opened the day before and ran into the field, but only a few of them, the rest were outside the fence. So we are closing in on the necessary fence opening with the cows, the little bull is looking edgy and trying to bolt. I look up and two alpaca are both on their hind legs standing at full height and trying to fight over our wooden fence! Look squirrel! At this moment, as I am exclaiming my wonder out loud, the bull calf makes a break for it and jumps the ditch. We turn around and try to get him back when he does the same thing he did last time! He jams his head above the woven wire between two strands of wire and starts trying to jump through! Annmarie turns Mouse loose in hopes that he can push the calf back but the calf is faster and manages to leap through the fence. He runs for the long driveway with Mouse in pursuit. We finally get Mouse back and then Annmarie jumps in the pickup. The calf is at the end of the driveway near the cattle guard eyeing us from a quarter of a mile away. Annmarie takes the pickup down to the little seven acre field. If she drives along that field she will be on a diagonal from the calf and can then drive up the road and push the calf back from the cattle guard. Nope, as soon as she started to drive up the edge of the field I saw that calf make the decision, he jumped the cattle guard again and ran down the road.

I was not going to wait two more days just to do this again! The decision was made, it was time for some milk fed 9 month old beef. I headed to the house for my 243 rifle. Annmarie calls me to see if I was getting a gun, once informed I was already headed to the house she followed the little bull so we would be able to solve this problem. Since she had the pickup I loaded up a knife, plastic bags for heart and liver and a rifle. The little bull was kind enough to run into the upper CRP. Annmarie had trailed it on the road to keep it from coming back to the pavement and running into the neighbors field. I was already planning to talk to as many neighbors as it took to solve this problem. I gotta say that the Covid has been rough, that was enough physical activity to give me the shakes. I only wanted to head shoot the calf so we didn’t mess up any meat. I sat down and formed a tripod position and shot it. Nope, it started to trot off and I had to shoot it in the head at a run. It dropped on the second shot. This was not on the list for jobs to complete this day. But once the decision is made everything else has to be set aside so you can process the animal. When we cleaned up the carcass, I had shot it in the neck the first time behind the head but had missed the spine, second time was in the head.

Mr Professional went to get the tractor to make everything easier. We spent the rest of the day skinning and cleaning the carcass. Annmarie had a great idea to tan the hide so we were super careful when removing the hide. I didn’t have any game bags but luckily Mr Professional did. So we will be ordering game bags for when this happens again, because I am sure it will. We could not find any tanning solution locally and after reading the instructions on how to brain tan an animal, I did not think that cooking the brains then running them through the food processor then applying them to the hide seemed like a good use of our time. I am going to get a tanning solution also so we have that on hand. Once we had the carcass all cleaned and bagged up we moved it out to the machine shed. I have a couple of hanging spots for animals and it is away from the chickens and any animals. We moved it with the tractor and when we tried to hoist it up on the single pulley we could not do it! We had to use the tractor and with both of us pulling we managed to get the carcass to move slightly. So using our combined weight the carcass weighs around 330#. I will be adding a second pulley and rerouting the rope so we get a reduction when pulling! I did not expect the carcass to be that heavy. I figure we will get at least 200# of meat off of this animal. Now I just have to plan on cutting up the entire animal this upcoming Friday. It will be an all day affair. We did not get the upper cows sorted. That will happen in the near future.

The wild turkeys found us yesterday and cruised through the property. I don’t mind them passing through, but really don’t want them living anywhere near the houses or outbuildings. Annmarie got tomatoes in the ground and walls of water around them so they don’t freeze. It also keeps them warmer and they grow faster. We are probably going to revisit the driveway gate decision again after this last cow escapade. We had talked about putting two gates across the driveway entrance that are open at all times and we only close when we are working animals so they don’t go down the driveway. It’s hard to get them out of the long driveway. I will need to measure the opening so we have a better understanding of how far of a gap we are trying to block off.

More gardens

I have been getting help on the farm from Mr Experience.  We are trying to get the fields ready and planted for spring barley and its getting late.  I am not sure if we are going to make it but we only have about one week left or it will never fly.  I spent Thursday working on the bathroom a little and playing catch up.

We made a trade last fall some electric netting fence for some fruit, flower and herb starts.  Well the fence was handed out in the fall and I kinda knew the starts were coming but had managed to delay them a couple of weeks.  They showed up Friday morning.  I had already started on the area, got different help to rough in the fence and posts and I had raked the entire area by hand to make it very pretty!  Now I had a bunch of plants that needed to go in the ground.  This is a blessing and a curse, as I only have a couple of days to get them all in the ground.  One cannot simply just start digging holes as there are a bunch of berry plants and other various edibles.  So I made measurements and Annmarie and I kinda laid it out.  I painted marks on the ground and started digging.  I spent all day Friday and managed to get the cane raspberries, blackberries, bush raspberries, clove currants, and Nanking cherries planted and watered in the orchard garden.  We planned for 40 feet of blackberries and raspberries but only planted 10 feet of blackberries and 15 feet of raspberries.  We plotted out the Lavender area in the orchard garden and have 80 of those plants to pickup soon.  I ordered plant cover cloth, drip system parts and 28 cubic feet of colored rubber recycled tire chips and those should be here the first week of May.  Once I have all the supplies here we will lay it all out and start cutting holes for the plants.  The garden fence priority is moving up the work list quickly.  I just kicked all the animals out of th orchard so no one would eat our new plants.

I had just enough time in the rain to go over to the rock garden and kill all the thistles and stinging nettle before dark.  I was tired and needed a shower, I have gotten so used to the stinging nettle it does not bother me much anymore.  We still had 4 acres to disk in the upper field but it had rained and I was afraid that the little tractor would not be handle the moisture. So I called and borrowed a tractor from a friend.
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The plants perked right up with some soil and a lot of water!  Always nice to see them come back after getting stressed in the move.

This plan went together pretty smoothly on paper.  Annmarie is going to plot them out on the computer so we can remember all the different plant names.  There is no way I am going to remember them without some type of reminder.

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Saturday morning she tried to draft out the plan on a computer and my measurements were not quite up to the mark.  I did some ball parking on the numbers and that made the electronic version a lot harder to put together.  I vowed to do better with the rock garden and brought a couple of pieces of paper out with me to jam into my pocket and ensure I measured everything.  Did I mention that it started to rain?  The soil on one half is mostly clay and I had to hand water everything from the spring?  It was not very pleasant getting everything into the ground.  This time I planted six Seaberry trees with two more male trees, three more clove currant bushes, two autumn olives, two Josta berry bushes, a honeysuckle plant two Artemis, two Agastache purple haze, four sunflower (perennial), five echinacea, a five foot section of Iris tubers and a few odds and ends that I did not write down but did plant in amongst the rocks and down by the water.   I took lots of measurements this time!!  It still did not quite work out on the computer as expected. But it’s close enough!!

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Once Annmarie gets the plans all spiffy and neat on the computer I will post that.  I have some wild flower seed I need to spread out amongst the rocks also but I need to get the sprinkler working first before I plant them.