Archive for Life on the Farm

Mr. and Mrs. Goose: (Part 2) Harsh Reality

I suspect the one on the left was the female as it was the one doing all the honking.

Life can be hard and sad and the reality is that it is sometimes harsh. Mr. and Mrs. Goose are experiencing harsh reality.

Yesterday morning we notice both of them in the pasture behind the house grazing. It was a beautiful, cool, pleasant morning. The sun was shining, the cows were grazing and the birds were busy feeding.

I opened the patio door and Mrs. was honking as if she was crying as she ate. There were no little goslings in tow. A cow will stash her baby calf in the brush or tall grass and somehow tell him to stay while she goes off to eat, sometimes for several hours. When she comes back, the calf is waiting for her. But not geese. When the pond is probably half a mile away, through the woods and across several fields the parents do not leave their babies. Not for one second. But here they were, grazing without the goose children. Mostly one would keep watch while the other grazed.

I texted Mark. “Have you seen the geese? Has something happened to the babies. Mr. and Mrs. are over here grazing by themselves. Geese don’t do that when they have babies”.

The sad reply was, “No, they haven’t seen the babies for a couple of days and mama was on the pond yesterday making a lot of noise.”

It is nature. Survival of the fittest. Foxes, coyotes, turtles, hawks, and coons are all creatures of prey. Their next meal is a feast on something they just caught fresh!

But that didn’t keep Mrs. Goose from grieving over her lost. For a long time she honked. Finally they flew over the treetops towards the pond, honking as they went. Were they going back to look, just in case?

This evening they were back in the field again. It will be interesting to see if they nest again or eventually join other fellow goosers.

Geese mate for life and stick together through thick or thin. Hopefully the next time they will be more successful. It truly is amazing that they are able to ever raise youngun’s.

Blog post, Part 1: Mr. and Mrs. Goose

Mr. and Mrs. Goose

Several weeks ago one lone goose showed up in the pasture behind the house. Every evening we watched it wandering around and grazing with the cows. It seemed to be frantically eating as if it was really hungry.

The cows paid it no mind. This seemed rather strange and baffling as geese travel in flocks or gaggles. We do not have a pond on the farm but often hundreds of geese will land and graze and then fly with loud honks over the tree tops to where ever they go. You never see one lone goose by itself day after day. I took pictures and wondered if it was a Mr. or Mrs. I started thinking of a name; a name that could be a Mr. or Mrs. I considered just “goose” but finally decided on “Sam”. I figured Sam could work for either male or female. I wondered, was it injured and not able to fly, had it lost it’s mate, or was it’s mate nesting near by. It seemed a little unusual for a nesting pair to be on our farm with only a small stream meandering through the woods.

Last week on Monday evening I sat in my golf cart by the field until dark watching to see where Sam went for the night. I watched and watched and then suddenly it was too dark to see him. I drove down closer to where he was seconds before but he had magically vanished, right before my eyes and I could not find him.

The next evening (Tuesday) I went down into the field with my golf cart and eased up as close as possible. I wanted to see if he would fly away or whether he was injured. He was not overly afraid but became restless, alert, head up, watching me intently. When I was about 100 foot from him he flapped his wings, turned on his honker, and flew up and away over the treetops behind the barns honking his pleasure as he sailed. I suddenly realized he was heading straight for a neighbor’s pond. That ruled out option #1. He was not injured.

I called neighbor Mark Johnson and told him the story and wondered if he had a lone or setting goose at his pond. We were so curious to know the story on Sam. Mark did not think so but would be on the lookout. Sam was back the next evening (Wednesday) and following morning (Thursday) and then we didn’t see him anymore.

This afternoon (Sunday) I got a call from Mark. He suddenly has a pair of geese swimming on the pond with three newly hatched, fluffy, yellow goslings. Sam is a daddy goose!!!

With camera in hand we went over to the pond this evening to get the goose family portrait. Now we know the rest of the story!

Canadian geese mate for life.
I loved how they swim together, mom and dad, keeping their young’uns between them.
They parked to rest and think they are hiding from me!
The goslings had to really paddle to keep up but the did not fall behind..

Another blog post: Mr. and Mrs. Goose (Part 2) Harsh Reality

Hay Season Has Begun

Spring on the farm means fertilizing and harvesting the hay crop. Gene says all spring and summer he makes hay and in the fall and winter he feeds hay! His whole work load seems to center around hay one way or another.

Making hay is a three day process. This week, on Tuesday, Gene laid the first hay on the ground. This week was a narrow window for hay. They were calling for rain on Thursday evening so he cut a small amount. He also has some new equipment he has to get used to.

Can’t you just smell that freshly mowed hay?

Last fall Gene planted Wintergrazer 70 and Passerel Plus Ryegrass. The two mixed together make a really good early crop of hay. After it is harvested, Gene will let it grow back some before turning the beef cattle into the fields to graze.

Wintergrazer 70 is an extensively proven and widely adapted cereal grain rye. As a grain rye, it has superior cold tolerance when compared to other cereal grains such as wheat and oats. With its excellent cold tolerance and upright growth habit, Wintergrazer 70 is well suited for mixing with legumes, brassica, and/or other small grains such as wheat and oats.

Passerel Plus, an annual ryegrass that produces highly palatable and nutritious forage for all classes of livestock. It is excellent for growing cattle producing average daily gains of 2 lbs./head or more. Good late fall and excellent spring growth. It is is a late maturing variety that provides grazing long after many other varieties mature and diminish. Good cold tolerance and rust resistance.

Wednesday morning he tettered the hay, spreading the windrows out so that the sun could dry it faster.

Later in the afternoon he raked it back into windrows for baling.

Thursday, he baled and wrapped the hay. Tonight while it rains he will sleep well, knowing they hay is finished and wrapped.

The bales may look like big marshmallows in the field to the nonfarming community but wrapping the hay has numerous benefits. It saves time as it cuts at least a day out of the process as you want/need more moisture in the hay. Gene constantly monitors the weather patterns during hay season and often deals with narrow windows on good hay making weather. It improves the quality as the hay ferments inside the plastic making silage which the cows love. It improves the preservation as it cuts out spoilage and mold especially when storing the hay outside. In short, you can make hay faster with better quality and lest waste.

Gene bales a lot of hay, last year he made 2200 bales for his beef herd. He has a grinder, mixer wagon that he uses in the winter to grind/shred the hay before feeding it to the cows.

Checking the quality of the bale and hay.

Gene traded balers this spring and the equipment dealer (Spaldings) and the Kubata rep came on site to get him started. There is always a learning curve with a new piece of equipment, especially the computer technology. This baler has a new feature, it cuts the hay into small pieces as it bales. This will cut his grinding time in half this winter which will be a huge time saver.

Sample of the freshly baled hay.

Friday morning update: It was suppose to rain last night but since it didn’t, Gene was able to get the bales out of the field. He likes to move them within a day or two as the bales sitting on the grass soon make a dead spot.

His first cut was 39 bales. By the time the season is over there will be big stacks everywhere!!!

Red Got Fred

Remember my blog post on November 11, 2020 about Fred, our Mr. guinea? Click on this link to read his story…. “Fred“.

Fred become a beloved friend around the farm. Every day we looked to make sure he was still with us and at supper we talked about his antics. . We would find him running around the chicken house, feeding in the cow troughs, sitting on a hay bale, scurrying across the chicken house roof or exploring the fields around the barn. One day when Gene was loading calves on the trailer to take to market, Fred went fussing to the loading area and thought he had to get in the mix. He was not a help! Another day our employee, Tim, was running the chain saw behind the store and it was not long until we heard Fred back there just a fussing up a storm. He was not impressed with the chain saw. Fred had a lot of personality; it was loud and quirky but also unique and endearing. I am not a fan of guineas but I became a fan of Fred.

Last fall Red sleeked into the scene. He was the most beautiful, healthy, velvety red fox we had ever seen. It was kind of neat to see him passing through. He was huge, about the size of a German Shepherd dog. He would watch him stroll through our yard early in the morning. He was spotted in the woods during hunting season. We would see him running through the pasture or hunkered down in the grass. We all knew it was Red when we saw him, there was none like him.

I started worrying about Fred. We knew Fred was always on the move and very quick, but he also let it be known where he was at with his constant chatter. At first Red didn’t appear to be concerned with Fred, it seemed he was just passing through on bigger and better hunts.

This winter, especially the past several weeks, Red has become very brazen. He is leery of humans but also doesn’t seem to mind being close by and started hanging out around the barns. We would spot him on the hillside right behind the chicken house, just chilling out as if watching Fred. I became more and more concerned. Every day we made sure Fred was still around but didn’t really know what to do to protect him.

On Friday, February 12, Fred was running around and I warned him about Red. Friday night it snowed. On Saturday morning there was several inches of snow on the ground. All was still and eerily quiet on the farm. There was no good morning squawk from Fred.. I missed him but figured he was hunkered down in one of the barns. By the day’s end, we realized none of us had seen Fred.

Fred has not been seen since. There is a little pile of feathers by the chicken house door.

We have now determined that Red is calling this home. We are pretty sure we know where he is hiding out and it is just behind the chicken house. This evening he was running around the barns when Gene was getting hay for the cows and laid down in the middle of the driveway to watch. This is beginning to not feel to good.

Several days ago he was laying in the field along the driveway just surveying the landscape and looking straight at Tim’s cats.

There is circumstantial evidence….big bad Red, did you eat Fred?

Fred

One morning Fred was just here. We heard him squawking his howdy-do. We never saw him come and have no clue where he hailed from. He does not seem to have any intentions of leaving. The nearest houses are half a mile or more away with woods, fields and fences in between.  He appeared after a week of storms and wind in August. Guineas can fly up into a tree or rooftop but they can not fly like a bird.  Fred hasn’t told us if he got lost and wandered here or if someone thought it was a good place to dump him.

Fred is very territorial with home base the area round the chicken house. All day he runs; round and round and round, looking in on and guarding the chickens, squawking his commands. He is hyperactive max as he does not stand still one minute. He acts like he wants in the building but is very skittish and keeps social distancing from humans. He does not eat the chicken feed or cracked corn I throw out for him.

He is an interesting fella and we have fallen in love with him. In the evenings when the cows come up in the pasture behind the house, he runs out to greet them,  fussing up a storm and telling them all about his day. He likes mingling among the cows as they graze, picking for bugs and grain in their droppings. They watch him but don’t seem to mind his intrusion except to occasionally toss their heads at him if he gets too close.

One evening  a calf got her hoof stuck in the fence wire as she was being naughty, trying to sneak out and got caught.  Fred ran full throttle to her scolding and fussing. She was so scared at his raucous that she was able to kick herself free and run. It was hilarious. 

Sometimes we spy him on the chicken house roof running around and other times he has been spotted in the cows feed trough gleaming from their leftovers or pretending to be guinea king of the mountain on a round bale of hay.

I have tried to figure out where he spends the night. I have stayed out until dark watching him as he picks around the yard. He goes to bed late, we know not where. So far he has been safe from night critters that love snatching and munching on unsuspecting poultry.

Rain and More Rain-August 2020

The inches are adding up. After a hot, humid, July (we did get 2.2 inch of rain in July which is unusual) it is raining and raining and raining some more, and calling for more days of rain. As I write this we have had 12.2 inches of rain in August with 6.2″ of those in the last twenty-four hours.

This afternoon I braved the rain and went to Food Lion. Coming home on our road, there was a fair-size tree laying 3/4 the way across the road. Facebook is “flooded” with pictures and reports of flooded roads and downed trees in our area. Our driveway is one large water puddle!

During the night it apparently rained really hard. The picture below shows some gravel from our driveway in the middle of the road heading almost all the way down to Route 60.

It is a dreary, quiet, peaceful afternoon with nothing to do except for what I want to do-in the house. I was planning to process my second patch of sweet corn this afternoon, pick tomatoes and okra and finish mowing the lawn. Instead I have read the mail, checked email and facebook a dozen times, and pitter-pattered around the house, restless. Church is cancelled for tomorrow so it will be another long day. I don’t have any new puzzles to put together and I can’t convince Gene to play a board game.

The conversation went like this…

Me: Let’s play a game of Settlers.

Him: It’s almost supper time.

Me: It would be fun.

HIm: Supper?

After supper I announced I had fun eating supper and that the Blackberry Crunch in the oven was for those who played a game. I have a feeling he will still get his share of crunch, without the game! Where are my grandkids when I need them. Guess I’ll have to get motivated and make a batch of truffles.

One sad thing for us is the new creek-crossing and bridge we put in late February for cattle crossing and stream exclusion has been badly damaged-twice this month. I’ll show you some before and after pictures.

February 2020
You can see how far up the hill the water was. That steam is normally a trickle.
The bridge, early November 2018
The support posts on the sides of the bridge held.

Gaggles of Canadian geese have been feeding in the fields the past few days and the cows are grazing. The rain is not bothering them one bit.

Neither has it fazed Mr. Squirrel who has been savaging the seeds from the ground under the bird feeder.

At least we have not had wind or fire as some areas of our country are experiencing. Our damage is very minimal, the water table is being replenished and there should be a good hay crop this fall.

We are blessed.

A Beautiful Evening

After supper I mowed the lawn, and then I took an evening ride on my golf cart and enjoyed the beauty of the evening. I saw and enjoyed the glory of God’s creation.

The evening was perfect with a slight gentle breeze. The birds were tweeting their bedtime lullabies, a bull bellowed in the distance, a calf baa’ed for it’s mama, a horse snorted, and the tree frogs were starting to chirp. The bees were all gathering into the safety of the hive for the evening. A squirrel was stuffing his face with seeds from the bird feeder before scurrying to his nest in the treetop.

I saw the sun dip behind the clouds as it sank on the horizon and glory rays lined the clouds. It seemed a perfect time to see Jesus step forward and say, “Saints, come home!”

Storm clouds were gathering in the east.

The cows and horses were quietly grazing in the pasture, filling their bellies before they laid down to chew their cud and rest for the night.

I saw a rabbit resting in the lawn with his legs stretched out behind him. He let me ease up fairly close before he hopped off.

The fragrant yellow blossoms of the evening primrose are starting to bloom and at 8:30 p.m. numerous blossoms popped open as I watched.

When the store closes, everyone goes home, work ceases and all the equipment is parked for the night, the farm is a oasis of absolute peace, quiet and beauty. I love sitting outside, breathing in the fragrances of the farm and listening to the different animal noises. I see God’s handiwork in the flowers, wildlife and sky. I feel His presence in the stillness and love using the opportunity to thank and worship Him. For those moments, the busyness, worries, and stresses of the day and world fade and it is just me and God.

When Unexpected Things Happen

I was jolted awake at 3:15 Sunday morning by a crash in the bathroom. Normally I am a sound sleeper and miss such things as thunder storms, phone ringing and all sorts of night-time doings. Gene had fallen. He didn’t think it was his heart. He wasn’t nauseated or light-headed, just extreme pain in his ribs. His skin was cold and clammy and he was sweating profusely. I helped him up but he immediately “crumbled” to the floor, three times. The last time I couldn’t get him up and had to call 911.

It is a terrible feeling watching your loved one leave in the squad and you can’t go along. They did an EKG and ruled out his heart. We figured the root of the problem was the big bruise on his back. They told me to stay at home, if I went to the hospital, I would be turned away at the door because of covid 19 pandemic restrictions.

Earlier in the week we had a bull get out and as Gene was putting him back into the pen, he slipped and fell as he jumped a ditch and fell on his back on a piece of angle iron. He heard a crack and figured he had either cracked or broken a rib.

He didn’t feel it was necessary to go to the doctor because he knew they would say there is nothing they can do, just be careful. (Just like a broken nose or toe). He developed a big bruise on his back and had to be careful how he turned, but after a few days felt really good. On Saturday, he put forty acres of hay on the ground. He knew he had a narrow window with the weather but because he wraps his bales, he planned to rake and bale on Monday (Memorial Day) and Tuesday. At supper Saturday evening, he commented on how good he felt.

Little did we know the unseen danger that was lurking. It didn’t take long at the hospital to discover that he had blood in his chest cavity. He was bleeding internally. They inserted a drainage tube and drained off over a liter of blood. They ended up moving him to a different hospital that could handle a trauma injury.

I had to take some things to Gene before they moved him and I was allowed to speak to him as they loaded him onto the ambulance.

The next two days were excruciatingly painful but on Tuesday evening he was able to come home. He is resting and on the road to recovery. Today I took him on a “field trip” to check on his cows and see the hay fields that had been baled, without him.

Gene basically makes the hay by himself. He has a friend (Wray) who helps some with the raking when needed. Suddenly we had a big problem. We had 40 acres of really nice hay that needed to be raked, baled and wrapped before the tropical storm comes in Wednesday night. Not just anyone can do it.

It is really neat to watch God work. God specializes in the miraculous, the big stuff, the tough and overwhelming, the seemly impossible. Gene was stressing big time, trying to solve his problem while dealing with unbearable pain. I made a few calls and soon the phone was ringing. Within a few hours I had Wray lined up to rake the hay, Steve to bale, Keith to wrap and Sam to go for more plastic wrap. Luke had volunteered to bale but he had never run our equipment or a computer controlled baler. I called Steve, a good farmer friend and past employee who knew our equipment, and asked him if he could come for an hour or so and help Luke get started. Luke is a farm guy and no stranger to baling hay, just not using our equipment. Steve had his own hands full as he had sixty acres of hay on the ground. He said, “if Luke tedded his hay, he would bale ours”. Steve’s hay wasn’t ready to bale until Tuesday. Suddenly everything felt right and good. The heavy bag of worry I was carrying just rolled away.

Sunday evening Keith got all the tractors filled with fuel and attached to the proper equipment so that everything was ready to roll. Some of the equipment was moved to the field. Monday I just watched the day unfolded. I took pictures and kept saying, “thank you, Jesus”. At 9:05 p.m. the last of the 200 bales rolled from the baler and the tractor parked. About fifty bales had to be wrapped on Tuesday morning. The job was done, thanks to family and friends.

After hearing the many phone calls and texts from concerned people and hearing the offers to help, our grandson who had watched an amazing thing unfold said, “I can’t BELIEVE how many people have offered to help.” He had witnessed what seemed impossible as a community of friends, family and church friends rallied to help. When the unexpected happened, the unexpected happened. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. God is good.

Raking

A beautiful sight.
Baling
A beautiful field.
Wrapping
Just checking on things!

The Recycling King Hits Again

How tell me, what would you do with a 2-drawer metal filing cabinet that’s sitting around doing nothing? Take it to Goodwill? Give it away? Put it on the junk pile?

My hubby found a very ingenious plan for it. He turned it into a waterproof cabinet for his solar fencer and battery.

On top he install the solar panel that charges the battery which powers the fencer.

The battery and fencer he put in a drawer that he insulated. He drill a hole in the side of the cabinet for the ground wire and the wire that connects to the fence.

He now has a nice fencer station and everything is in the dry. It is behind a fence that the cows do not have access to. The meter for the solar panel is attached to the back of the panel.

Rather ingenious, don’t you think? I have been amazed so many times the “junk” he finds ways to put to good use.

Fence Walker

I noticed this dirt path all around the fence behind the house and when I mentioned it to Gene he said, “It is the bull, he’s walking the fence.” I began to watch and sure enough, every day the bull spends a good portion of his day walking the fence. Today I went to take his picture and caught him resting on his walk.

Now you have to understand, he is not a slighted or mistreated bull. He has his own green, grassy five acre paddock with a harem of ladies at his bidding with no competition. But, up and down that fence he paces with his gaze fixed on the other side of the fence.

I wonder what he is thinking. Does the grass look greener on the other side of the fence? Is he not satisfied with his group of heifers? Does the pasture on the other side look lest restrictive? Is there not enough activity for him? Is he just plain restless? Or, does he not like the restrictive fence?

He just looked at me with his big, sad eyes.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from Mr. Bull.

I wonder….am I content with my lot in life? Does the grass look greener on the other side of my fence? Do I wish for what is not mine to have?

What about the restrictive fences in my life? Do I resist the fence thinking that there is more freedom is on the other side without stopping to realize that I would be looking a the same fence, just from the other side.

We all have restrictions and boundaries in our lives but when we push on them we almost always get in trouble and create chaos. If we move the boundary fence on our property, the neighbor will get upset. If we take what does not belong to us, it is stealing and we are in trouble with the law. If our eyes lust after another partner, we break our marriage vows and destroy relationships. If we do not obey the laws of the land, we will end up in jail. If we do not follow the moral code of the Bible, our lives are filled with destructive behavior and conflict with God and neighbor.

One evening about dusk, King David took a stroll on his rooftop and peered over the fence to his neighbor’s place, a trusted official of his army. He saw Uriah’s wife taking a bath. As he gazed, lust filled his heart and he desired what was not his to have. He summoned Bathsheba to come for a visit and then he violated moral law. Bathsheba became pregnant which cause a downward spiral in David’s life. (II Samuel 11).

Fence walkers see the fences as restrictive. Pasture dwellers are contented and free because they only see the fences as boundaries.

Are you a fence walker or a pasture dweller?

« Previous entries
%d bloggers like this: