Wednesday, September 24, 2008


It's been a busy time here on the farm. Harvest time is here, so the fields are full of combines getting off their crops --last week the roar of engines and the shine of headlights went long into the night. It can be a noisy place out here at harvest time.

The girls and I set off for a walk to take in some of autumn's great colors. We passed the garden, where we saw this green grass snake who made a visit to the pond, ending his swim by crawling in a tiny crevice under a rock.

Then past the flower border, where the dahlias were putting on one last show before the frost.

Through the fields, and by the dugout we found a little bunch of wild flowers that had volunteered. They are bog plants growing on the wet peaty side of the pond.

Then through the long grass, where even a mastiff can disappear

And into the woods where the cows obligingly cut some great walking paths
And finally back up and over the hill toward home. And that's where the geese are headed too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Round Up

The time has come to send the cows home. It took 150 yearlings only two months to eat 110 acres (or roughly 306,000 lbs) of grass. Before they came, the grass was about three feet high. Now it's mostly reduced to stubble. It was time for them to go home.

So early Thursday morning the cattleman drove up with two Freightliners, a hired man, three cowboys, a trailer full of quarter horses and an ATV.

This farm was formerly a cow-calf operation so it is fenced and cross-fenced. Bringing in the cows means first fixing all the fences that were opened up, either by us or by the cows. The cows make holes in fences for the same reasons we do-to give them more direct access to water.

This place has fences around each pasture to make it easier to move cattle. And it's much easier to empty each pasture if the fences are intact. Once the fences are restored the roundup can begin.

The cows were spread over four or five pastures and into a 15 acre stand of trees. When cows are moved by cowboys, their natural defense is to herd together and run as a group. These cows were spooky which means they would stampede if pushed too hard, so it was important for the cowboys to go slow and guide the herd, sometimes positioning themselves in the way.

They ended up moving them across the grasslands toward the trees. Unfortunately the cows thought the trees would make a great escape, so about half the herd ran straight through the fence and into the bush. The cowboys had to ride into the trees, whistling and hollering to scare the cows up to the ridge.

The dogs and I could hear them whistling from the yard, and Kylie was ready to go help.

Altogether it only took them about two hours to bring the cattle from the pasture to the front corrals, where they could be run into the chute to the truck. It would have been faster with another rider, and I was supposed to be that rider, however, I had to go to work in town that day.

It was a great roundup however -- the weather was wonderful, there were no mishaps, and what's not to like about three handsome cowboys?