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Farm Escapades 01.18.19

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Laughter helps..

Calves are adorable. Right? They have such cute little faces, big eyes, ears, and well their babies! We plan for Fall calving. So, this past September/October we constantly checked the Mommas. Who’s showing signs of eminent delivery? Eminent delivery for a cow presents in several ways: Her udder swells to the point of OH MY!, her tail head starts to stick up, and she becomes very restless, not eating, laying down, pacing. So, we go on high alert -should we check her throughout the night? (yes) So when the calf is born its like Christmas! We’ve waited for 283 (give or take) days for this baby!

So our calves are all about 4 months or more now. They know who we are (their slaves) and are used to our voices, movements and so forth. This past week we opened a new grazing area for mommas and babies. (Remember – adorable!) We’ve slaved away repairing ancient fencing, putting in new electric fence, checking everything – exhausting work. The moment is here…. We call the cows –Woooowhoooo- here they come. Their eyes are bright, full of excitement, we walk them thru the gap (what we call an opening/closing in the fence). They immediately start grazing, munch, munch, munch…sigh, satisfaction. Months of work paying off with happy cows.

Wait…. oh no..1 calf wasn’t paying attention. Way back in the South 40 there is a calf who will be panicking in about 10 minutes. Shoot. We scurry to round up said calf (Babe) and rejoin her with the herd. Babe is not having it. She knows there is not an opening (gap) in that fence and she is not going thru it. We patiently walk her back and forth, back and forth 10 plus times. (Keep in mind parts of our pasture are still swamp – boots, mud, not waterproof, ugh). Her adorableness has faded. We are tired beyond measure. WE JUST WANT YOU TO WALK THRU THAT 12 FT GAP AND JOIN THE REST OF THE HERD!!!! Our patience has been tested to the limit and we are so close to walking away- DEEP BREATH – try one more time. We box her in, she calls to momma (Ruthie-who is happily grazing and could care less – no help AT ALL!) We stand still, please LORD, let her walk thru…catching our breath…

Babe, looks back at us. Then, ever so slowly, walks thru that 12-foot gap and joins the herd. We just about fell to the ground/mud. Whew…. too exhausted to care, we close the gap, and head back to the house. A hot shower and dinner are finally in sight. We chuckle and then laugh out loud. After all she’s just Ruthie’s BABE!

 

ANDREWS FARM 01.18.19

 

Farm Escapades 01.11.19

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Highs and lows..

 

We really enjoyed and took advantage of the beautiful weather this past week. The cattle, sheep, and goats all enjoyed long hours in the pasture. Sometimes frolicking, especially the little ones. The lambs jump straight up in the air and kick their legs back, the goat kids run sideways kicking up their heels and occasionally headbutting their siblings. You can’t help but smile at their joy.

 

We made headway with the high tunnel this week. Our neighbor was available at a moments’ notice and the work began. All 16 rafters are now up. Yay! We think the worst part is over, but we could be wrong, and now the stabilizing, anchoring, and covering will begin. Construction also started on our greenhouse which should be completed next week. So, seed starting will begin in earnest.

 

While we were erecting the rafters, we noticed our cows all staring in the direction our sheep and goats were grazing, ears erect—UHOH. We hustled over and saw a couple of goats staring at the brushy fence line- double UHOH. We called them in and walked the perimeter. Something wasn’t right. Little did we know…..

We tucked everyone in their pens later and settled in for the night. The next morning, we were shocked and angered to find one of our beloved goat doelings (young female goat) had been killed by a coyote in their enclosure. We will never know for sure how he entered, if he jumped the 5ft panels or squeezed thru, but we do know that coyote’s days are numbered. We respect and understand the balance of nature- predators, prey keep populations in check, maintaining a degree of balance in an ecosystem. But we take exception when a predator breaks into a safe place and we farmers believe in protecting our livestock. He obviously watched us from that brushy fence line and planned the attack. He will be back and we will be waiting. Coyotes are presently the most abundant livestock predators in western North America, causing the majority of sheep, goat, and cattle losses.

 

Did you know- A predator's eyes are usually located in front of its head. Forward facing eyes (including us humans) allow for binocular or stereoscopic vision, which allows an animal to see and judge depth. Predators need this depth perception to track and pursue prey. A prey animal has eyes that are located on the side of its head. Side eye placement allows for greater peripheral or side vision. This enables the animal to see predators approaching from the side as well as from behind. This vision is very important for protecting an animal when it is grazing or feeding. When goats, sheep and other grazing prey animals put their head down to eat, their eyes rotate to maintain the pupils’ horizontal alignment with the ground. Amazing!

ANDREWS FARM 01.11.19

 

Farm Escapades 01.04.19

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

SWAMPED

 

We both grew up in the country and learned the importance of rain. It was a sin to complain about the moisture. Everybody was silent when the forecast came on the 6 o’clock news. We knew a lot was at stake and if rain was predicted the mood was considerably lighter. We heard countless stories of the drought in the 1950s and we lived thru the 2011 drought, but STILL….we pray that He will turn off the faucet for about a month. However, we know He is in control and we trust Him.

 

The pastures are literally a swamp. They are overwhelmed with water. Our rubber boots have seen their fair share of action. Going to the barn is an adventure. The cows gather around slipping and sliding. We are slipping and sliding as we navigate thru them. Thankfully, no toes have been sacrificed, no collisions of monumental proportions have occurred. (Yet)

 

Grazing is not as nutritious this time of the year (hence the barn gathering). Combine that with cold wet weather and the health of livestock is of utmost importance.

 

As most of you know we moved a little over a year ago from a farm where we raised much of our own hay. We are working on having our hay field ready this year, but thankfully, we are blessed with friends who grow excellent hay. Clean, no herbicides, no GMO, just beautiful grass (variety of coastal, and hay grazer). It is cut at the point of highest nutrition, dried and baled. A lot of physical labor is involved. Once the baler is finished, we then drive thru the field and throw the bales on the trailer, then drive to the barn, unload and stack the bales as high as we can. We stocked up this past year (our backs still ache) and will feed during the remaining cold months, so our livestock maintain health, weight, and vitality. 2019 will see us planting and harvesting again from our own pastures.

 

It was good to see and feel the sun today. The cows, sheep and goats enjoyed the rays. Lots of sunbathing while chewing their cuds occurred. The rain has slowed our progress on fencing, erecting the high tunnel and planting, but we swallow our frustration and just keep putting one rubber boot in front of the other.

 

 

ANDREWS FARM 01.04.19

 

Farm Escapades 12.07.18

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Weather…

 

As farmer’s we obsess about the weather. Constantly checking the forecast, sometimes groaning, but always planning. We have learned to be flexible, but it is not always easy. Patience is not one of our strong suits. We knew our first year at the Walburg farm would be challenging. What we didn’t know was weather would up the ante. Drought. The much-needed rains just quit, but we kept working, planning and praying.

 

We joined our Ram with the Ewes early spring when the percentage of twin births is higher. Smaller babies, easier delivery, more productivity – it’s a win win. The drought hit hard. Weather stepped in. We had some twins but ended up with lots of singles. Big babies, hard deliveries, pulled 4 lambs. (Thankfully, mommas and babies are thriving.) We consulted fellow sheep farmers and they experienced the same issue. Drought conditions when bred then the rains came late (boy did they ever!) lush pastures which resulted in big single lambs. It’s amazing how weather affects every-single-thing.

 

We are trying to erect a high tunnel. Once again weather is a determining factor. This rain is not helping. 32 post holes have been dug – 16 on each side of the 30 x 60 tunnel. Back breaking work. Plus, the posts must be level, aligned, exactly 4 feet apart, driven to the same height. Precision work requiring lots of patience. (Did, I mention patience is not one of our strong suits?) Unfortunately, before we could put all the post in, we had to switch gears and prepare for the forecasted 3 inches of rain.

 

Livestock shelters were checked. Cattle, sheep, and goats shuffled around a bit to make sure all would have cover. Sheep are the easiest keepers in that regard. They huddle together and forget their differences. Cattle have a definite pecking order, but for the most part will share space for the sake of staying dry. Goats on the other hand are a whole different breed. The pecking order is absolute regardless if it’s pouring down rain. They will run the lowest ranking members out from the shelter, turn their backs and munch happily away, while some of their herd stand shivering in the rain. Aargh! Our most important job is to take care of our livestock, especially those in “low rank” positions. So, the “low ranking” goats were happy to be moved to a separate area with their own barn. We now could sit back and enjoy the weather, resting up and anxiously awaiting the next work day. Weather permitting of course!

 

ANDREWS FARM 12.07.18

 

Farm Escapades 11.30.18

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

PEACE

A bull elk. That’s our Peace, without the antlers of course. He is our gentle giant that we raised from birth to be our Angus Bull. The first time we heard him call to the cows we had to look twice. He sounds like an elk bugling……

He is a big boy, but he has a big soft spot…Craig and a small one for me. I’ll never forget the time (years ago) Craig came home from a hunting trip. Peace wiggled and danced like a puppy. He ran to Craig…half a ton of pure muscle sprinting towards my beloved husband. I closed my eyes – no way could I watch the collision. Finally, I peeked with one eye. Craig, on his knees with his arms wrapped around Peace’s enormous neck. Who says man’s best friend couldn’t be a bull that sounds like an elk. Peace is even gentle with his off spring, stays in fences and loves his ladies. We say this often – he’s a good boy. A good boy indeed. His forever home is with us and we are very blessed to be his keepers.

This week we’ve been working on two important projects. Spreading manure and preparing to construct a high tunnel. Manure is an excellent nutrient source for fertilizing hay fields. Topdressing hay fields with manure can build soil fertility with on-farm resources. We are not certified organic, but we strive to use everything on the farm to enrich its life. We shovel, scoop, spread a LOT of MANURE. It completes the circle of life. Feed the livestock good and their manure is even better fertilizer that helps grass to grow which in turn feeds them. They grow and in turn provide quality meat for all of us. Now the high tunnel is for something else entirely. FLOWERS! A high tunnel, or hoophouse, is an unheated greenhouse that can help farmers extend their growing season. We grew flowers on our farm in Jarrell. Zinnias, sunflowers, marigolds, lisanthius, bachelor buttons, and more. A little over a year ago we relocated to our farm in Walburg. It’s taken awhile, but we are finally breaking ground to bring back our cut flowers to the market. So, Lord willing, we will have fresh, locally grown flowers available for you next spring!

 

ANDREWS FARM 11.30.18

 

Farm Escapades 11.23.18

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Timing is everything

Farming involves timing. A time to plant, a time to harvest, a time to lamb…and the list goes on. So way back in April we joined the Ram to the Ewes so the lambing would start after calving and end before Thanksgiving. We were so clever….

08.26.18 we lambed. What?!? Lambing was supposed to start in October…scratching head. You mean the very 1st day the Ram impregnated a ewe. Wow..ok but the rest will be in October-nope-we’ve been lambing almost every week since then. Missed my sister’s wedding….then eerily quiet until November. Thanksgiving, a favorite time of the year. The leaves change color, the air is cooler *sigh* pumpkins, turkey, dressing…yum. We’ve lambed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. Talk about bad timing. Dottie decided it was Thursday. Thursday she would lamb and he would be big. She would need help…labor started early. She was alone in the barn, she started pawing the ground, laying down, getting up, circling..oh no – not today. We sat with her to observe – she walks up to us, baaa, its today – buckle up buttercup- no turkey for you! When a ewe goes in labor, she may or may not talk, but she will be up and down, paw the ground and when the heavy pushing begins – she will curl her lips and arch her neck. Dottie curled her lips..here we go.

We cheered her on “Hurry Dottie, we can still make Thanksgiving” but she stuck to her own timing. 5 hours later..we welcomed her ram to the farm with a final push and a pull from us. Thoughts of family, turkey, tamales and more still lingered, but in the end we were thankful for leftovers, pumpkin pie, a healthy ewe and her baby.

 

 

ANDREWS FARM 11.23.18

 

Farm Escapades

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Farm Escapades

We are trying something new…sharing our adventures on the farm.

Rarely does a day go by without some craziness so we thought it would be fun to share these with you. Maybe, hopefully, you will come to understand why we are so quirky. (lol)

So today started out slowly. (That should have been our first clue.) The sunrise was gorgeous, the air crisp, the sheep, goats and cattle all still laying around chewing their cud. No reason to rush out and disturb the peace right? We casually walked out with our sweet Bay (12 yr old puppy) and were surprised to see an Osprey flying above the north pasture. Wow!

Then we decided to stroll down to the ponds, check for coyote tracks and just enjoy the morning. We stumbled upon a turtle who was in no hurry until one of our heifers got curious…

And we figured if the turtle kicked it into high gear we should too…so off to chores for us.

The sheep and goats were happy to be released from their night enclosures. Craig went to pick up hay. I started boiling a chicken and washing clothes. (I’ve been hungry for Grandma Jessie’s Chicken and rice. Yum!)

The day progressed well until it was time to put out hay for the Steers. I volunteered since I love to drive my dad’s tractor and Craig was getting some haygrazer square bales. Hay bale was loaded and I started thru the gate to the pasture all is well right? Wrong…the Steers noticed me. UHOH. At that moment I realize the hay bale has fallen off the forks (this could only happen to me..). Stop. Reverse. Steers are eyeing the opening. Pick up Bale. Throw tractor in 2nd gear. Pray they follow. NOPE. They run out the gate, kick up their heels and start walking down the gravel road. AYE! Stop the tractor. Run in front of the Steers – they laugh. I’m scrambling to keep them from heading down the road and then our heifers come to the rescue. The Steers are distracted by these beautiful girls. Here’s my chance…the Steers all bunch together and now I can calmly encourage them back to their pasture. Whew..crisis avoided. Craig arrives home observes my wild eyed expression and realizes there won’t be Grandma’s Chicken and Rice tonight.

 

ANDREWS FARM 11.16.18

 


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