Friday, October 23, 2009

words not necessary

The cattle have all been moved over to the barn side of the property, the water tanks moved, salt and minerals as well. Snow fence stands ready to be put up in the vacated pasture.
Its nice to "button things up"; it just seems right this time of year. There is a quiet satisfaction one feels when you can spend a day preparing for the upcoming winter. The cattle look great, most bred for calving next spring and summer. Mr. Bull went to his new home this week; he loaded just as calm as can be, and I was fortunate to be able to be there when he popped out of the trailer at his new home. I figured if he heard my voice as he stepped out into unknown territory it would provide some sense of the familiar, and, he may not be quite so agitated. As it was, he walked along the new fence while I talked to him until he spotted his new "girlfriends", then, just like children I suppose, he didn't need me anymore and off he went at a gleeful (yes, gleeful) trot to greet them!
As I watched Bull frolic and kick up his heels, stretch and pose for the ladies, I realized what a magnificent animal he really is....I know now I would have regretted it if I had sent him to the local auction (market). I know he is in a good home with a caring man to look after him, and, I could not be more pleased!
Take some time whenever you can to just "kill" a few hours doing whatever it is you like to do, "putter" I call it, and in my case today that's exactly what I did, cleaned up, moved cattle, put down some pasture seed, checked all the fences, sat on a bucket in the pasture and just looked at the animals (!); put things in order, walked with the dogs and took the camera....sometimes that's all I need. No clock, no phone (well, ok, my Blackberry was with me, but surprisingly quiet!).
Nice. Just ....nice.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

A fine October afternoon

Mr. Bull , Amber and Darby

The best of days

"No, I am not dead, just incredibly relaxed....."

Pleased to announce that Mr. Bull will be going to a new (approved) home this week on a lease agreement; the gentleman was so impressed with the quality of Bulls calves and his demeanor that he decided to bring him up to his farm until next spring.

Winding down for the season

Well we all know it is just a matter of time, and the other morning was a subtle reminder that winter is not far away.
Now we get some pretty decent winters out here in central New York state, but luckily we are not in one of the so called "snow belts" or "lake effect " snow regions. Most of the real bad weather (you know, the stuff you hear about on the Weather Channel) seems to miss us, but we do get a good solid winter most years, and can get quite a bit of wind here as well...(enough to completely remove our barn roof in one piece!!)
I wanted to share these pictures of our autumn, as a reminder all of us that winter is just around the corner......time to take heed, gather in, button up and batten down.
Make sure you have your feed supply lined up so you wont be caught short late in the season, check your water supplies and tank heaters if you have them, stuff those cracks up in your barns, and have lots of dry bedding available for your stock.
If you have to deal with mud in your barnyards, now may be the best time to dig out the dirt, put down a load or two of cobbles or any large coarse rock, lay some landscape fabric or Geotextile over them and bring in a few loads of gravel to top it off. This will keep your animals out of the cold sloppy mud this winter and spring. We finally did this in our barnyard and lanes last fall and what a difference it has made! No more dirt and no more mud! Great for everybody; feet, hooves, and equipment. Just be sure to use a smaller size stone on the top that will not cut or hurt the soft parts of the animals feet!
More on this later.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Additional information

Pictured above:
The very first "barn" awaits the arrival of our miniature Herefords from Texas, October 2005.

You know, I feel so strongly about my last blog, I started searching for the book I referred to , the one with all the illustrations of barns, sheds and shelters. I recalled the last time I had it in hand was when I was drawing up the plans for our barn, which is really nothing fancy. I was looking through the book, which was a reprint from the 1880's, and was amazed at what folks did with crude implements and the very basic of materials. The herds of cattle and sheep were considered a sign of wealth back then, not unlike our cars and trucks are today. Do you have a garage for your vehicle? Where do you park your vehicle? Are your animals "parked" as well as your car? Do you have a "garage" for your livestock? The car doesn't feel the cold, snow, mud or ice, but your animals will. The car or truck will continue to depreciate day after day; your livestock should not. How do you protect your investment? Are your animals the sign of wealth they should be, even today? Are you as proud of your stock as you are of your new car or truck?
For those of you interested, I found this book still available online. I just ordered another copy, since I have yet to find mine (I may have lent it to a friend...). LeeValley Tools has the book, and you can find the original online to look through if you like. The book is: "Barn Plans and Outbuildings", first published in 1881 by Orange Judd Co. It is considered a classic, and one look though it will convince anyone it is timeless.
Our livestock 's needs haven't changed much since 1881, and this publication proves it doesn't take a fortune to house any animal comfortably and economically.
Oh, and that little "barn" pictured above:....I built it myself.
Next blog: Getting ready for winter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thrive or survive: money vs. ethics

Well here is a subject I cannot believe I have to touch upon, but,for those of you who read this blog on a fairly regular basis must know by now, I am pretty careful and conscientious about my livestock, and, animals in general. The way I see things, animals, like trees, are pretty dependent on what us humans determine is their lot in life. Stick a tree in a lousy spot, in a tiny hole and give it just enough water to survive, well, you get a poor tree, one that's going to just survive. Do the same thing with animals, give them just enough to tough it out and eeck out the very basics of survival, you get an animal that may survive, but will not thrive.
It still amazes me that there are people out there with the mindset that because an animal is of a certain breed or function, (beef, lets say) they are less deserving of the basic creature comforts that every living thing should be allowed. Every animal in the wild will seek shelter in a storm, be it a cave, woods, windbreak or hollow, every animal, no matter how basic it is, will seek out comfort, dry land and shelter when necessary. No animal in the wild will be covered with its own excrement, or stand for days in water, mud or its own manure. Without adequate rest and nourishment, no creature can survive very long under the constant stress and strain of having to fight the elements. To assume that any animal should do that, and, remain healthy and productive, is a fallacy.
When we as human beings domesticated livestock, it became our obligation to provide for them at least as well as they could provide for themselves if wild. To take an animal, give it no opportunity to seek shelter in a storm, or bed down somewhere safe, dry and out of the elements, is, in my eyes, criminal. If one researches old books and farm publications from the turn of the century, there are many pages and illustrations of shelters for the livestock that were out on the great plains of our nation. Simple but effective structures that offered shelter, safety and food for the herds of cattle and sheep that were kept far from any homestead. Most were simple structures built of logs and posts, covered with rough boards, earth or hay and straw, allowing the animals to find food and get out of the elements. Today, cattle out on the western plains range far and free from any man-made comforts, and, if one cares to examine the records, these same animals die by the thousands from exposure and starvation each winter. They are subject to a man induced unnatural environment where they and their offspring simply weaken and die. No animal in nature subjects itself to what us humans will subject them to, and I find that very disturbing.
Now I am not a tree-hugger, and understand that animals are here for a reason, but I also understand that it is our obligation as God given caretakers of these animals to provide for them in the best manner we possibly can. If you cannot provide for your creatures the very basic of accommodations, and that would be clean water, decent and adequate food, dry bedding, a barn or shed for them to get out of the elements and medical attention when needed, then you simply do not deserve to own them. Period.
Thrive or survive, no living creature should have to just survive. Money or ethics? I'll be adding on to my barn before I let any animal go to a buyer with no facilities to care for them properly. I know I will be able to sleep well at night, knowing my animals are safe and comfortable for the night as well.

"A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast..." Prov. 12:10

Sometimes its not just about the money.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Early morning

Almost every day I get up before the sun comes up, and I get to see a new day begin. Here is some of the scenery as seen from our back 20. Our property is surrounded by some of the finest farmland in New York State. We buy our hay from our neighbors who are award winning farmers. They raise corn for feed and ethanol, hay, wheat and soybeans. They companion plant their crops with red clover, which they harvest not only for hay but for seed as well. We feed our cattle their hay, which we buy in 800# bales that are delivered and slid into our barn that was designed and built specifically for that purpose. The bales are stacked and then pushed in with a hay fork (on a tractor obviously) on 4 x 4 skids that are laid out on the barn floor. Works pretty slick, and I have to admit, not throwing around all those prickly little bales all winter is kinda nice, too! Just peel and feed! We buy the clover seed from them to frost seed our pastures, and the straw we buy from them is so fine our cattle prefer eating it to sleeping on it, although they do both.
We've had some round bales delivered one year, but they were hard to store and almost impossible to feed, and I just don't see the sense in putting hay up dry only to leave it out in the weather to deteriorate and mold. But the cows loved the big round bales,(novelty item....) as they managed to tip them over and began unrolling them like big rolls of toilet paper. After the bales finally stopped,(hit a tree or the neighbors stockade fence....) the cattle proceeded to thrash the hay around with their horns, obviously enjoying themselves immensely! What a mess! So, we feed in covered feeders and consequently have no waste. With the cost of good hay, who can afford to have any of it stomped into the mud?
Enjoy your mornings!

Friday, October 2, 2009

2009 Calves

I was out this morning taking some pictures of the youngest calves while the light was still soft. I think these are the nicest calves we've had yet here.
I have also included a picture of our new polled bull (well, new to us this past summer) who doesn't like to pose for pictures very much, but at least you can see him as well.
The first picture is of Amber, our heifer calf out of Blue, who's picture speaks for itself. Lovely and refined. The second picture is of Darby's mother and sire, Miss Piggy and Mr. Bull. You can see the tremedous thickness on both his parents: I may just keep Darby for a sire myself if he is not sold. The third picture is of Darby himself, just a little over a month old, already claiming a pile of hay as his own (just like his momma...!)
The last picture is my camera shy, but very tame Hawkeye, our up and coming herd sire. He is keeping company with the younger crowd this season, and we cannot wait to see what his calves look like next spring!
Hope you've enjoyed these pictures as much as I've enjoyed sharing them!