Sunday on the farm

Kid standing in top of trailer on farm
Spork, always doing a bit more than I expected.

Yesterday was a good day on the farm. I was worried about a couple of cows who were feeling poorly combined with the bone chilling cold we had on Saturday night. I didn’t sleep well worried that I’d find a dead cow in the morning.

At daybreak, I took a walk through the pasture and counted heads and everyone was accounted for. While it was cold, and a few cows were still looking a bit sad, everyone was up and moving and ready for the day. I made sure to get them some fresh produce and fresh hay so they got a full belly first thing. Then it was back to the house to make breakfast for everyone (eggs and bacon, yeah!) and then Spork and I headed over to feed the pigs.

My guys had hooked us up, pre-filling all the boxes for us so all we had to do was move some boxes around, move some produce around, and bring the trailer out of the barn where we’d stored it so the produce didn’t freeze. It only took us a few hours to get everyone fed and clean up the cardboard and get it compacted. Then it was off to the market to pick up the day’s produce from  our farmers. Sunday’s are the light days at the market and winter is lighter still, so picking up on Sunday was pretty much a formality, netting about 1/4 of a box of food. Probably less than 200 pounds.

After picking up, we headed over to our leased farm where the row crop farmer had planted rye grass as his winter cover crop. We’ve been planning on grazing over there this winter but it’s been so wet I wouldn’t think of turning a bunch of cows loose to cause damage. But now it’s dried out for a week or so and spring is coming so if we are going to graze it, now is the time. I had visions of wind blown fields of rye grass up to my butt, or at least my ankles. Turned out it was loose soil with green fuzz on it. The rye was only an inch or two high and pretty loosely spaced. That’s actually ok because turning the cows onto a field of green grass with no transition period would be bad for their digestive system. It would give them a terrible case of scours so limited grass along with hay might actually work to our favor. Miguel and I will take a look this week.

Back at the house, we parked the truck, put all the equipment away, and went to treat Betsy, our milk cow. She was due for her follow up and final shot of special milk cow (read horribly expensive) medicine. Erin had left her in the barn for me so all I had to do was tie her off with a lead rope, then hold her while trying to give her a shot behind the ear. Whoever decided that was the best place, I don’t know. Even tied tightly, she still danced all over the place which makes it even more fun since she has horns. Eventually I got it done without getting gored and we moved onto trying to get water to the cows.

The water lines were frozen solid so there was no way to get water to the trough short of hauling it in five gallon buckets. That’s doable, but the cows will drink it faster than you can haul it in. Then I recalled we had some old water hoses we hadn’t used in years. They would be dry because all of the water would have evaporated. We hiked all over the farm and pulled old water hoses out of storage to try and get one run long enough to reach the trough. In the end, we had more than enough hose, however someone must have used one recently because it did indeed have water, correction, ice, in it. No go. So I got the bright idea of pulling the water hose into the shop where we could warm it up with the wood stove.

As we were just beginning to work on that project, my phone rang. Turns out a couple was sitting at our gate, wondering why we were not open. I point you, kind reader, to the second question on our First Timers FAQ.

Can I just stop by unannounced?

Right now, no. We are looking to add regular store hours on Saturdays, hopefully starting in the spring of 2016 but for now we need to know you are coming. When you have an appointment, we are expecting you and greet you with warm welcoming smiles. Stopping by suddenly, we tend to frown and look grumpy.

I tried mightily, but I was grumpy. I’ve got frozen water lines, cows with no water, and now folks trying to make up their mind what product they want while I’m watching the clock tick. I probably scared them off forever but I did my best. It’s not like I didn’t warn folks about the grumpy version of me, in writing, in advance.

It wasn’t just me though, they explained they planned on having dinner at the Angus Barn, on Valentine’s day, with no reservation. And they had driven from Jacksonville, NC to have said dinner. They had ended up at Tripps in Garner after being turned away at the Barn. I guess they were spur of the moment people. They were a young couple, I guess experience will teach them over time. Was I ever that young? God, I don’t remember being so.

After we saw them off, meaty goodness in hand, we went back to the water lines. Everything was pulled inside and a fire made. Then Spork had the idea of turning the cows into the pasture with the pond. A marvelous idea! We hiked down to the pond, opened the gates allowing access, made sure everything else was secure, and called the cows.

They studiously ignored us. As in they turned their butts to us and pretended they didn’t hear us. We tried talking to a few of the older cows, explaining the water, the grass, the freedom! Meh was the response.

Defeated, we went to the house where the kids and I played penny poker. After taking all their money (that I’d given them to start), I explained statistics and how playing cards isn’t exactly a get rich quick scheme you should plan on. While we played, we watched through the window as the cows slowly discovered the new pasture they had access to. They were very excited and soon were all in having a large time.

We finished the night with a batch of Ninja Cow pork chops (awesome) and a Valentine’s day chocolate fondue party after. Finally we watched The Martian, which SWMBO, Spork, and I had all read. I made it to Sol 45 before I passed out, and woke to find Mark Watley having just been rescued. I turned over and went back to sleep and slept all the way till 3am. Time to start a new day. There is snow and ice coming and animals need tending all over again.

This all skips the three hours I spent in the office before anyone got up, or the texts, calls, emails, etc from customers, the vet, board members, and friends. Do you know how many people told me I’d be bored when I “retired”? Yeah right.

2 Replies to “Sunday on the farm”

  1. Love your newsletters, and the folksy style articles. I’m looking forward to moving down that way this summer (hopefully-after the house sells.) We want this to be our last New England winter, even though it’s been a pretty mild one overall. Thanks for all you do. I hope I remember to call ahead when we’re ready to visit. Betty

    1. Thank you! Please look us up when you get here. SWMBO is from New England. She says she misses the winters but I think that’s just because she’s in shorts in February and she forgets what it was like.

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