The rain pours today. Sheep hunker down, round balls of wool with faces. Cattle munch on hay. Horses enthusiastically chomp on grain. The dog curls up on straw piles in the barn, tail wrapping around ears.
Calving season started last week, two weeks early. Four calves have been born; only two have lived. Most of the mothers have been heifers, first-timers.
I ride a quad bike through the cow pasture, counting to 31 to see that everyone is present.
The number was 32 for a little while.
But when I made my rounds Thursday night, looking for signs of new or about-to-be-born calves, I found a heifer lying to the side. She wasn’t breathing hard, but she didn’t move when I approached, either.
It was finally warm enough to take the doors off of the Ranger.
They’d been on the ATV for six months, having been hung on their hinges as soon as the wind started to bite. Every time in May I considered taking the doors off, the temperatures would drop.
Finally, the 80s showed up, and I swung the doors off the hinges and laid them in the garage for a (hopefully) six-month break.
This is usually a sign of summer.
For a few days after removing the doors, temperatures dropped again, and I wondered if I’d jumped the gun. It’s been wet and rainy and cold this spring, preventing crop producers from entering their fields to plant their corn or soybeans. The five-year average amount of Indiana corn planted at this time is 73%. Right now, we only have 14%. This has made for stressful times for many farmers.
Because we focus on livestock and hay, we have not had these same travails. However, we have been working in a lot of mud and wet conditions while feeding the livestock, and work on a chicken tractor (a movable coop that will allow the chickens to forage while being protected from predators) has been delayed several times. The up-and-down temperatures have been tough, as well.
As of late, though, there have been good photo opportunities. Calfie has started eating Big Calf feed, along with her milk.
Since the last time I wrote, things are looking up on the farm. The cows are divided into two groups, running with our two bulls, the three young horses are as friendly as ever, and my new chickens are getting close to laying age. I conducted my weekly clean of their coop yesterday.
The weather was beautiful over the weekend. It was true Indiana summer weather: cool and crisp in the morning, warm in the afternoon, golden sun over everything. Saturday, we turned one group of cows back into our creekside pasture, a wide space surrounded by trees at the bottom of the hill. They had been in a smaller area so we could keep an eye on them after some treatments from the veterinarian. Mist hung over the grass. The calves sprinted ahead of the cows across the field. I watched from the edge of the field near a water tank as I waited for it to fill. Branches of full green leaves bowing low in front of me framed my view of the running calves, outlined golden in the morning sun. Continue reading “Looking Up”
On Saturday, March 24, more than half a foot of snow fell on our little corner of Indiana. The roads were slick. Every time I looked out the window, the density of the snowfall changed. But it remained steady.
It was beautiful.
I spent most of the day inside, but ventured outside to feed the livestock in the evening.
The snow was piled high on the truck, even after brushing most of it off.
Last night, I helped Dad sort cows and calves. Some were going to the other farm to be turned out with one bull for the breeding season, the others were staying at this farm to be bred to our second bull.
We loaded the group destined for the other farm on the trailer, and when we arrived, closed gates so the creatures could step out into the barn lot and then meander into the pasture south of the barn. They generally knew the routine, and all went well.