Farm Update: June 2013

It’s almost hay season on the farm, with a few more weeks to go before harvest. This time of year also means it’s time to do one of the more glorious farm aspects—mucking out under the barn with the tractor. Our tractor is small enough to fit under the barn with the roll bar down, so that means every May or June Andy heads on down and gets to work.

DSC_4926-01DSC_4927-01There’s no two ways about it, a barn filled with fresh manure in the hot sun smells like roses. Roses that the cows have eaten and then digested and then crapped out.

DSC_4937-01Good job ladies and gents.

DSC_4928-01DSC_4936-01DSC_4931-01 DSC_4934-01It honestly doesn’t take too long to do, maybe 30 minutes or so. While it doesn’t get all the manure out, it gets enough. We could shovel the rest out but the farmer doesn’t seem to worry about it so neither do we.

DSC_4956-01DSC_4957-01 DSC_4959-01Eventually some of the fresh manure Andy mucked out will age and become compost for the gardens, while the rest will be spread back across the pastures to keep the greens populating that the cows love. Where some might find pungently horrible crap, I just think about the fact that it gives the cows more food to eat as the seeds in the manure re-seed the pasture, and with the composted manure it gives many of the neighbors soil an extra boost of nitrogen to help our gardens grow big and strong.

Some people might say happy life, happy wife but I think it’s happy animals, happy life. It might not rhyme, but it’s true.

xo,

Heather

A Barnyard + A Happy Soul

As I sit here snuggling a hot cup of tea (yes, snuggling, it’s tucked by my side while I type) I realized I couldn’t wait to share an exciting experience I’ve been wanting to see for years – a live calf birth.

When I was in sixth grade I loved the smell of a farm. I loved cows. I didn’t even mind the smell of manure. So my family indulged me by getting me a few cow trinkets, including a mug I still own. They did not indulge my desire to paint a farm mural on my wall or drive me to the local farm (in a suburban town) at 5am to muck stalls before school since they figured the cow thing was a phase I’d get over.

Wrong.

This morning when we stopped in after church one of the cows was stirring, her bags were full, she was swollen and she was agitated. This was my chance.  We drove home, I did a few crafts here (which I’ll post about later) and then threw on my $2.00 church fair shit kickers (can you say church and shit in the same sentence?), flannel and camera and went up to the farm. Sure enough the lady’s water sack was out. There was no way I was leaving.

First I stood outside the gates. I didn’t want to upset her.

Then the farmer, seen below, said it was no issue if I came closer. Because she wasn’t gated yet I stayed by the feeder. Okay, I stayed in the feeder.

Yes, I’m in your feeder. No, I would not like to explain myself.

Once the mother was gated by herself, I plunked down on a fence about 5 feet from her and sat quietly, for about an hour while she gave birth. It was windy, it was cold, but it was incredibly worth it. You can click on the photo below to make it larger. In the first picture you can see a calf born about 5 days ago.

I can’t believe I got to see this. It was an incredible experience and I’m forever grateful. While it was happening I sat there up on the fence, smelled the farm, heard the tractor, watched the cows, crunched the hay and thought “well, I never got over it”.

My soul was happy.

Here’s to living a wished for experience whatever it may be,

Heather