Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘cows

Real Farming

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Cyndie and I got a taste of the real thing yesterday. We visited George and Anneliese at Walker Farm this weekend. (Renee and Jeff, we waved in your direction as we drove by!) The real farming aspect started before we even reached the highway leaving our place on Friday afternoon.

On a section of one of our county roads with barely a shoulder to speak of, we came face to face with a combine that almost filled the full width of both lanes.

I hoped he was planning to turn into a field, because I had run out of turn-off options, but that rig just kept coming right at us. Moving the car as far to the right as I dared, I came to a complete stop. He moved as far as he dared to his right and squeaked by us with an uncomfortably small amount of clearance.

It is harvest time and farmers are working like crazy to finish before winter weather stops them for the season. Yesterday morning, I started the day before dawn with George, trucking a load of soybeans down to a grain terminal in Savage, MN. That was a first for me, doing a walk around inspection of a big rig, copiloting our way to the terminal, and feeling the cab shake as the beans roared out of the hopper.

We got back to the farm just as Cyndie and Anneliese were finishing up with chores to feed and water the cows, turkeys, and chickens. We were just a few days too early to witness the processing of about twenty Thanksgiving turkeys.

After breakfast, we herded a bull and one heifer onto a trailer to be moved to a neighboring farm, then drove to a different neighbor to pick up another recently purchased heifer. The choreography is done as a means to control breeding possibilities of specific cows.

Sometimes, controlling access is done to avoid breeding, and sometimes it is intended to encourage it. Those separated for the winter may have a chance to meet again in April.

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In the afternoon we walked the fence line to look for a reason the electric charge was being loaded down. We discovered a section by the road that appeared to have suffered impact from a vehicle. After several of the seemingly obligatory walks back and forth to the shed for additional parts or tools, we restored the integrity of the wiring to George’s satisfaction.

We finished in the nick of time, as the sun soon dropped below the horizon. Despite the sun shining most of the day, the cold temperature stung after standing out in it for very long, so we were ready to be done.

That made it all the more satisfying to be inside and warm for dinner, some card games, conversation, and eventually, making music.

We were spending time with friends, but at the end of the day, I had this strange feeling we were also experiencing what it might be like if we added a couple of cows to graze our pastures someday. Could it be, that we were given a glimpse of our possible future?

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2018 at 9:00 am

Never Dull

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There is rarely a dull moment in our lives with acres and animals. Yesterday was a particularly full day. Before I get to that however, I really must post more pictures from our great cow adventure last Friday. These belong with Saturday’s post, but I was up at the lake, and just didn’t have the bandwidth to support my intentions.

Here is my view of the main herd as their curiosity brought them over to see what we were up to at the fence:

I didn’t want them to get any ideas about joining the remaining escapees, so I worked to convince them they’d be happier going the other direction.

This is Cyndie, holding the opening as wide as possible while cooing sweet nothings to woo the last stragglers back into their pasture:

It was a hard sell. The second wire from the top was the only broken one, but holding them open provided plenty of clearance, if only the overly cautious (now they decided to be cautious!) bovine would step through.

After a busy morning at the lake yesterday, tending to minor chores before heading home, we traveled in Cyndie’s car with the top down in the beautiful sunshine, joining a LOT of other vacationers for the trek home.

It was as if our full day had barely gotten started. I was able to connect with our next-door neighbor to borrow his large trailer for hauling hay. Our first source of bales reported a shortage of availability, due to a new client who required 4000 bales. Five minutes after that sorry news, he called back to say his brother had bales we could buy, but needed to get them out of the wagon by the end of the day.

Cyndie whipped up an early dinner and then we set off to begin this summer’s hay bale escapades, the first of multiple expected trips.

Thankfully, due to our previous experience, the loading and transport went smoothly, and we got the load stowed in the shed while there was still daylight.

As the last light faded, I found Cyndie out picking black raspberries because there are still so many berries ripening.

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From inside the house, I heard branches breaking in the woods. I called out the window to Cyndie and she said she was hearing it, too, but didn’t see anything. She prolonged her berry picking to see if that last stray cow from Friday still might be roaming around, but neither a deer nor a cow materialized before she quit to go secure the chicken coop for the night.

We are happy to report, all twelve birds were safely inside.

Honestly, the fullness of our day was the epitome of the saying, “never a dull moment.”

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Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2018 at 6:00 am

Venturesome Cows

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We had never imagined this day. It wasn’t unprecedented that Delilah would serve as our alarming alarm clock, with her loud barking outburst at the screen door of our bedroom to disturb the quiet early morning solemnity.

I astutely commented to Cyndie that I was surprised that I wasn’t hearing the usual dog in the distance that typically sets Delilah off.

After the second outburst in quick succession, Cyndie gave up trying to snatch a few extra minutes of lingering in bed and got up.

“There are cows outside our window!”

Oh? I sprung up to witness the spectacle for myself. Yes, indeed. No question about what Delilah was trying to tell us. I spotted three cows standing in the most unlikely place I could think of.

They were by the wood shed, at the top of the big hill trail coming out of our woods.

I sleepily stumbled after my camera, which was on the far side of the house. When I returned to the bedroom, there were no cows in sight. Ghost cows?

Cyndie invited me to get dressed and join her in morning chores, wherein we could also investigate that bizarre sleepy visual we had just witnessed.

Unsurprisingly, from the top of our back yard hill, we could see the rare sight of white animals down by the labyrinth. By the time we got down there, the shifty cattle were gone again, though not out of earshot. The sound of their navigation through our forest can best be compared to a herd of bulls wandering the aisles of a china shop.

Branches snapping left and right, a bovine face appeared out of the trees. Then another, and another. We counted ten at one point, though it was never clear we were seeing the whole picture.

While Cyndie tried to shoosh them out of her garden labyrinth, I set out to see if I could tell where they had come from. Tracking them wasn’t hard, as the 40 heavy hooves left a trail that looked like a rototiller had rolled along our soft wooded trails.

They had tromped everywhere! It made it difficult to determine where they had busted out of a neighbor’s fence, because they had moved to and fro in every direction.

We tried coaxing them into our back pasture to contain them, but the boring grass offerings there must have paled in comparison to the adventure and foliage they were finding throughout the forest. They bushwhacked toward the most difficult wooded passages in lieu of our pasture gate.

Eventually, while trying to get back with the main herd, they busted a strand of wire in the fence and very slowly, one at a time, most of them figured out their own way through. When we found them trying, Cyndie stepped on the bottom wires and lifted the top one, cooing to the stragglers to take that last step.

I tried coaxing them with a branch of leaves. That brought the main herd toward us, which was the opposite of what we wished to happen. I tried my best at novice cow whispering and turned the herd around, bringing two of the last escapees back into the fold.

For some reason, the last cow either panicked or just decided it was never going back. It turned and disappeared deep into the woods.

Unable to find the loner cow, Cyndie and I decided to reattach the broken fence wire (I had learned the neighbor was gone on a motorcycle trip in Iowa) and called an end to the big distraction of our day.

We were hours beyond our planned departure for the lake place.

With a note to Jackie about the possibility of an odd cow showing up while we were gone, we hit the road.

That was one very strange day at Wintervale.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2018 at 8:41 am

Nearby Cows

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Walking with Delilah yesterday morning, as we approached the southwest corner of our property where four fence lines meet, we came face to face with a group of neighborly cows on the property kitty-corner to us.

This corner is as far as possible from the barn and feeding area of the neighboring farm and the cows rarely venture out this far, especially through snow. Needless to say, it was surprising to find them there.

Delilah was as curious as I about the unusual presence of company on our stroll through our woods. We stopped at the corner to be sociable. The cows showed a similar curiosity about us and closed ranks on the limited space of the corner. The mutual attraction drew Delilah and I to leave our trail and step through the brush to get closer to the fence.

I don’t have experience with cows, so had no idea how to read their behavior. Did they think we might offer some treats? They seemed exceedingly interested in us. My reaction was to get chatty with them, but they stayed mute for the most part.

As we stood ogling each other, more and more cows decided something important must be going on in that corner and made tracks to join the herd. Some seemed determined to waltz right through the crowd for a position front and center, which offered a comical demonstration of bovine group behavior.

I would translate it as, “Excuse me, excuse me, coming through.”

Followed by, “Hey! I’m standing here! Who do you think you are?”

I offered a few futile “Moo’s,” and decided to resume Delilah’s and my walk before a cow fight broke out.

I felt bad we didn’t have any treats to offer, but it was nice hanging out with the neighbors for a spell.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2018 at 6:00 am