Well it finally happened, the break in the weather we’ve all been waiting for. Everybody is out in the hayfields, but as luck would have it, all of my farm hands were out of town. This meant that it was all up to me and Mr. Deere to get the hay done.
Getting in hay is a multi-day process. Thursday I cut the hay; Friday and Saturday I tedded both days. Tedding the hay causes it to dry faster and is done with a piece of machinery that flips the hay up in the air to “fluff” it up. This allows air to flow through and dry the hay faster. Sunday I rolled all the hay up.
The hay is all dried and rolled up now in the fields. It isn’t the best hay because the abundance of rain caused a lot of weeds to grow, but it’ll still fill cow bellies in the winter.
Now it’s time to focus on the Mountain State Fair. It starts the 6th of September and goes till the 16th. We usually take three or four of our cows for everyone to see and make jokes about “oreo cows”. More on that later.
We’re again being pounded by rain storm after rain storm this weekend. Normally this time of the year I have the rotary cutter attached to our smaller tractor in order to mow the pastures and along our driveway. Not this year, it’s been a scrape blade year.
I’ve had to leave the scape blade on the tractor most of the summer in order to fix our driveway. We have a long driveway and it’s all gravel. The ground is saturated so any rain that falls, just runs off. With every deluge of rain, all the gravel in our driveway either ends up in our pond, the hay fields, or piled up in the middle of the driveway. Deep ruts appear as the water cuts down through the red clay. It’s a real mess. I just try to make the driveway passable and forget trying to fix it permanently. That’ll have to wait till we’re out of this pattern of gully washers.
Today, I couldn’t even find all the calves before we were driven back inside by all the rain. I like to check on them once a day to make sure they are all okay, but that’s impossible with all the rain we’ve been getting. We just have to hope for the best. At least the cows are staying on the high ground with the calves.
Meanwhile the hay continues to stand in the fields. It’s beginning to look bleak. We need to get a break to cut the hay.
Cows are herd animals, meaning they don’t like to be alone so if you see one off by itself, be suspicious. Today I noticed Regan was missing from the herd so I went to find her and sure enough, she had a calf. Cows usually go off by themselves when it is calving time or when something else is wrong. Regan’s calf is a little heifer calf. It is a nice looking calf, but it has some white hair at the top of one of its feet.
In order for a Belted Galloway to be eligible for registration, it must have a continuous band of white around its middle and no other white hair. There is one exception, it can have some white hair on its foot as long as the white hair doesn’t go above the dew claw. This one is eligible for registration, but we’ll need to notate the white hair on the foot in its application for registration.
While looking at the calf, I also noticed Ellen standing at the top of the ridge so I hiked up there to see why she was alone. You guessed it – she had a little bull calf. I was a little leery of leaving her calf up on the ridge because of the coyotes so I ended up carrying it down the hill. Of course it had just rained so calf and I ended up slip sliding down the hill in the mud. Newborn calves usually weigh 60 or 70 lbs so it can be a real challenge carrying a kicking, little calf any great distance – especially with the Mama cow right on your heels. In the end, we all made it down the hill okay and all is well.
Both calves are nursing, which is very important. It’s important that calves nurse within the first 12 hours of birth. The mama cow’s milk is rich with colostrum and it’s a great energy boost for the calf. Plus, the calf gets a lot of antibodies from the colostrum as well.
Today was market day in Marshall on the island. It was an okay day but we’re not going to quit our other jobs any time soon and try to live on just the farm income. At least it didn’t rain.
According to the weather man, this was the first weekend since 20 April with no measureable rainfall at the airport. However, the Northern Mtns had some brief showers this morning and that included us. We almost had a rain-free weekend.
The hay is way over due to be cut. The blossoms on the red clover have turned brown and the alfalfa is in full bloom. It’s not a matter now of waiting to get some dry weather to cut the hay, but now it’s just a matter of when to cut so we’ll get the least amount of rain on the hay. We’re not going to get a break on the weather any time in the near future. We’re going to have to cut and hope for the best. We’ll soon be in September and there’s that first frost looming not far behind.
Chica’s calf is doing fine. It is coming down to the feed pen in the evenings. Regan looks like she might calve any day now. Our biggest fear for the calves is coyotes. We lost a calf to coyotes a few weeks back. That’s always painful.
It’s all about the cows, as it should be.
Today we went to the feed store to buy some feed for the cows. It’s a standard ration to help balance out the cow’s nutrition but more importantly, it keeps the cows on a routine.
Cows like a routine. We make it a routine of giving them some feed in the evening so all the cows will come down and we can check them out and make sure they are all okay. Just off the feeding pen is our squeeze chute in case we need to vaccinate or perform other cow maintenance. It’s best to keep the cows familiar with the squeeze chute so they won’t be so worried when you have to put them in the chute. It’s also good to move around in the pen with the cows so they will get used to you. This is all part of making the cows more comfortable and easier to handle.
Today is market day in Marshall. We’ll be there from 2 to 6 pm with a variety of our beef cuts. The weather should be good.
We’ve had an addition to our farm. Chica had a little bull calf Wednesday. That brings our total calves for this year up to 6 calves. We are expecting three more any day now.
Still waiting for a break in the weather so we can cut the hay again.
Lots of work was done today. Clearing fences, feeding tasty-looking cows, playing in the mud. Lots of work.