Posts Tagged ‘cattle’

The cow adventure comes to an end

June 24, 2009

The cows are in a different pasture now. Scott the Farmer was waiting for the people from the Farm Services Agency (FSA) to come out and document that we had cattle and fencing already. The FSA people have that documentation, so after the cows got out on Monday, that was the end of our cow keeping adventure (for now).

The cows hadn’t caused us any trouble for a while. There was one time that Sweetie Cow was out and Tom got her back in with the bucket, and another time that Tim did the same thing. She hadn’t wandered far, obviously. Anyway, those silly cows got out on Monday afternoon. They must have gotten out when I was in town with Tim and Mo and Tom and Aidan were in the house playing video games. That’s all I can figure because they came for their treat in the morning and they were grazing right by the fence while the boys were lighting off bottle rockets.  This time they went south, which was a good choice since one of our neighbors, Mr. G., has cows that way.

We didn’t even know they were out. They should have been in the trees, lying in the shade and chewing their cud. Around 3:00 PM  Scott called and said that he received a call about two cows that were out. He said they might not be ours, but once you are known for having adventurous cows people will assume they are yours. In this case, the assumption was correct. Tim and I immediately went out with buckets to check for them. Tim went inside the fence to check the brush because it is pretty thick and it’s hard to see them sometimes. They weren’t there, so we decided to get in the car and drive south. We didn’t go far before we saw Mr. G. waiting on the north end of his paddock. Scott slowly herded them toward the paddock since they were stopping to drink at every puddle. Apparently cows pee to cool themselves off, so they will drink and pee at the same time. Scott said they were peeing, but not much because they were so thirsty.

So, now they are on some other pasture with other cows that Scott takes care of. He said they wouldn’t like it there because they will be the smallest cows and some of the other cows have horns. Also, they won’t be getting any grain as treats. I feel a little sorry for Sweetie Cow because she really is very sweet. Bullseye, not so much. She always ate her treat and then butted Sweetie Cow out of the way so she could eat Sweetie Cow’s treat. Anyway, as much of a bully as Bullseye was at times, she is still pretty mellow. Even Mr. G. said they are very tame cows.

We miss them, but I suppose we can find out where they are and see if they will come to the fence to see us. If we do that, I will be sure to take my camera and get some pictures.

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Picture Friday

May 8, 2009

It’s Friday, so here are some pictures. I’m thinking of making this a regular thing on Friday. I don’t have more pictures of Little Gray’s kittens because she moved them and it’s hard to see them. She is doing great as a first time mama cat, though. I am a little surprised because she is so young, but she is taking good care of her kittens. The cows are doing well. We’ve even taken the kids up while feeding them. Sweetie Cow didn’t come too close when Aidan was up there, but she didn’t run away. Bullseye was fine with Aidan, but she was fine the very first day, too.

Mama Cat and her kittens

Mama Cat and her kittens

Kids and Chickens

Kids and Chickens

One of the Roosters

One of the Roosters

Mo and the two roosters

Mo and the two roosters

Chickens near movable coop

Chickens near movable coop

Cows grazing

Cows grazing

Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself

May 5, 2009

I am full of ideas, some good and some bad. Before the grass grew and we had to mow, I was telling the guys that we could get a reel mower. I saw one of the Amish boys using one on their lawn and I felt inspired. I figured between that and letting the cows and chickens* mow for us, we would be doing our part for the environment and getting some exercise.

Yes, you can laugh uproariously now. If I weren’t so tired, I’d be laughing at myself, too. After two days of using a push mower to mow my mother-in-laws yard, and then parts of ours, I was exhausted. Our lawn is not even entirely mowed, either! There’s still the side of the garage and one side of the house, a small part by the garden, some by the cornfield and out by the road, and then another part by the corn. I have no idea how many acres we have to mow, but it’s too much to do with a push mower, let alone a reel mower and cows! Clearly, that was not one of my better ideas.

Despite how that idea turned out, I keep thinking about what we can change so that we have less grass to mow. Even when we get a riding mower, it would be better for the environment, not to mention our pocketbook, to not have so much grass to mow. So another option is to let some of the grass go wild and turn into prairie grass again. But where to do that? Not near the house, of course, because we already have too many bugs and ticks. Not along the driveway for the same reason. There might be some parts near the corn that we could either skip mowing or we could incorporate into pasture when the time comes. The only other idea I have is to put a big circle of mulch around all the trees. That will help, but there’s still a lot of grass to mow. If we just had two acres of flat ground to mow, it might not be so bad. Or maybe if I were in better shape. Even so, I do have better things to do with my time than spend an entire day mowing. We have spent well over two hours mowing for each of the last two days. Everyone but Mo has mowed. Aidan loves mowing, though his technique could be more efficient. (I figured I’ll let him figure that out on his own because for now he really enjoys mowing and who am I to change that?)

So anyway, I have more mowing to do today. I can take the kiddos down by the bridge that is over the creek. They will have fun in the mud and the creek and I can get some mowing done. That’s the plan anyway! I might get all the mowing done today if I’m really ambitious.

*Scott the Farmer knows someone who wants a cow to show at the fair, which apparently means the cow would be tied to a tree and would eat the grass for us as part of the taming process. Also, the chickens do a fantastic job of mowing! The area around the garden is almost weed free and the grass is not long at all!

Cow adventure (yes, again!)

April 30, 2009

Yesterday the cows were out again. They weren’t out there waiting for their treat in the morning when Tim left for work. He had to leave early, so it was up to me to feed them in the morning. I didn’t get around to it right away, but I did notice that they were not in sight. Sometimes that just means that they are up at the top of the hill where I can’t see them from the lane or the garden, so I wasn’t too concerned. Then Tim called from work to ask if I had seen the cows, which I hadn’t. He also asked when we last checked the fence. Well, to be perfectly honest, we had not tested the voltage or walked the fence in days. So, I started up the hill to check the fence and the cows. I checked the fence first and I saw the lights flash (the electricity pulses and the meter we have flashed 1-5 or 6 or 7 red lights, depending on the voltage), but only once. I finally figured out that it wasn’t flashing all the way to where I was looking because it was only flashing 2000 volts. I knew something was wrong and continued to walk up the hill where I noticed a big part of the wire was down. I got all the way to the top of the hill and the cows were not there, so I called Scott.

The one smart thing I did was to grab the following things before I went to check: cell phone, voltage checker, walking stick, and bucket of treats, along with my camera, which was not necessary or helpful, but did allow me take some cool pictures. So anyway, I called Scott and he said he would be over soon and that I should follow their tracks. That’s what I did, but I was thinking to myself that they could have been tracks from the last time they got out, or they could be deer tracks because they would look the same to me. I’m not a tracker, obviously. I followed the tracks to the east end of our property, which is where they went the two previous times. It didn’t look like the went through the fence, but I kind of lost the tracks. I went south towards the woods and found a fresh cow pie and a few more tracks, but I didn’t see them. I tried calling them, but they haven’t really started coming to me when I call them and feed them, so they didn’t come.

I was feeling quite dejected and thinking perhaps we are not ready for cows and it’s time to let Scott take them elsewhere. I was feeling quite disgusted with myself for not checking that fence and not being able to find the cows. I stayed in the woods for a while trying to find where the tracks led and calling them. I couldn’t find them, but I did manage to get a few cool pictures.

No idea what this is, but it's cool looking

No idea what this is, but it's cool looking

Fallen Tree, looks like a broken Y

Fallen Tree, looks like a broken Y

Better view of the Broken Y

Better view of the Broken Y

I finally started back toward the house when Scott called to tell me he and Aidan were heading up the hill. We met up and I told him what I had seen and where I thought they had gone. He told me to take Aidan and go back to the house, so that’s what we did. By the time I got back, the phone was ringing and Scott was heading back with the cows. They had come to his call, thankfully. It took him a little while to get them back because they are so tame (I know that sounds funny because they keep escaping, but they are tame!). I went out with him and we fixed the fence and he showed me how to take one of the fiberglass posts out of the spring that attaches it to the wire and how to put it back on. I’m not sure if I could do it again, but I might be able to figure it out. Then we moved some of the posts out a ways because the wire was all stretched out and was too low. Scott checked the fence with his digital voltage meter and it was still low, so we walked the fence. It looked fine and then he realized he had left the gate open. So he closed that and we were done.

I have to say that Scott is possibly the most patient person I have ever met. Not once has he yelled at us or told us we are idiots, even though we have given him cause to do so. We had not checked the fence visually or with the voltage checker in several days. We had gotten lazy. Now, I can’t say for sure that something was wrong with the fence and we didn’t catch it, but I’m guessing that is what happened. It’s also possible that the cows got spooked by something in the night or early morning hours and trampled the fence getting out. We can’t know for sure, but we do know we need to check the fence more regularly. The cows do come to Tim when he calls them, but I need to work on that and do it more consistently. I need to work on my call, which apparently is not loud enough. I need to really work on getting them to come to me when I call them so that if and when they get out again, I can get them without calling Scott.

Eventually we will have more cattle and better fencing and then Scott will be doing all the work and just paying us some rent for the land. That is the plan for the future. For now, though, these two cows are ours and we need to take care of them ourselves. Someday we will probably have a dairy cow, but we have a bit to learn before then, including how to make our own butter, yogurt, and cheese. For now, we need to focus on taking care of these two cows and keeping them in their pasture.

Here are some pictures of the two cows. The muddy head look is the new fashion for cows, by the way.

Sweetie Cow and Bullseye

Sweetie Cow and Bullseye

Sweetie Cow

Sweetie Cow

Bullseye

Bullseye

Cows, chickens, and kittens

April 25, 2009

Sorry I haven’t written much in the past couple of days. We’ve all had a pretty mild cold. It’s mild in the sense that we don’t have boogers and snot all over us and the sore throat wasn’t that bad, but I felt like crap and I know the kids did, too. The cold seems short lived and I’m grateful for that since the weather has been so nice!

The cow drama seems to be over. They seem much calmer, but we also haven’t let the kids near them and won’t until the cows are used to us other adults. Tim has been giving them a “treat” in the morning and I’ve been doing it in the afternoon. They seem comfortable with Tim already; this morning they were waiting for him to give them their “treat.” By the time I got home with the kids around 5:30 today, it seemed like they were waiting for me. So it seems they are getting used to Tim and me. The kids haven’t gotten close to the cows but have been in the garden area, which is not that far away. I think by the end of next week, the kids might even get to go near them. We’ll see.

The garden is going nicely. I’m still waiting for tilling, but the ground isn’t quite dry enough and it’s supposed to rain for a few days. Maybe that’s a good reason to go with no tilling? The pepper plants finally sprouted and now are going crazy. I put some of the broccoli outside to get sunshine and it is thriving. Some of the little seedlings died, naturally, but the others are filling out nicely. The zucchini and watermelon I started are doing really well and some of the herbs are doing, too. I put the spinach starts outside for some sun, but I think I waited too long. I think they all finally died. I just thought I should add in some of the plants that didn’t work out so well, for the purposes of full disclosure. 🙂

The chickens are awesome. They are in the movable coop out in the garden and spent last night and tonight out there. Apparently Chicken Joe is crowing, or attempting to crow. Tim and Tom have heard it and I think I heard him doing something tonight at sunset. Honestly, the kids and I just don’t get up early enough to hear him in the morning. Eventually, he will be loud enough and the windows will be open and we will wake up early. Right? Tonight Tim was looking at the chickens and thinking that one of the other chickens is a cockerel and not a pullet because “she” is developing a comb and wattles more quickly than the other pullets. I told him I didn’t think she was a he, but we’ll see.

Oh, and it seems that Mama Cat had her kittens. I thought maybe she was pregnant because her belly felt round and I could feel her teats, but now I think she started coming around for food once they were born. Mo found the kittens in our shed tonight, but I think that Mama Cat had them elsewhere and brought them here very recently, possibly today while it was quiet outside since the kids and I were in town almost all day. We only saw 3 kittens, but then Aidan said he saw another kitten under the one we have named Vicious. She (or he) has hissed and growled at us anytime we came near. Mama Cat is totally fine with us being near her kittens, but apparently this one kitten is very scared or very protective of the others. I’m not sure as I don’t really have a lot of experience with kittens that are with the mama and litter mates. I’ve had tons of cats, just not in this particular situation. I can’t tell how old the kittens are, but their eyes are open and they are not newborns. I think Mama Cat started coming around for food around 2 weeks ago, so I would guess the kittens are about 2 weeks old. If I can get some pictures I will do that and post them and maybe someone else will have a better idea how old the kittens are.

Anyway, that’s as much as I can write for now. I know I need to post pictures and stories about the chickens, so I’ll try to write about that tomorrow. The kids are so super cute with the chickens, who are now 6 weeks old. I’ll write more later. I need to get to bed!

P.S. Cows are back

April 21, 2009

I said on twitter that the cows are back, but forgot to mention it here. We woke up late this morning, so by the time we got up Scott and Tim had found the cows and almost had them back. They were right near the edge of our property, so we aren’t sure if they just ended up there or if the neighbor herded them back with his ATV. Tim mentioned ATV tracks in the neighbor’s field, so it seems he might have seen them and tried to herd them back last night or this morning.

Anyway, they are back, and we are leaving them alone. They are up the hill, as far away from the house as they can get. I’m not sure they’ve had much water since the water bucket is near the house. Scott will be coming by later to take care of them and work on taming them. Then I think we will introduce them to me, then Tim, then we’ll see.

Pictures of the cows

April 21, 2009

When I woke up this morning, I realized that my post last night was supposed to include pictures and I forgot them. Moira was tired so I was being rushed off to bed (I shouldn’t have been blogging so close to bedtime anyway), and forgot to include the pictures. I only have a couple of pictures of both cows and that is from yesterday when they decided to have their adventure. As they were running away, I decided I might as well snap some pictures. The other pictures are just the one cow that stayed on Saturday while Sweetie Pie; was gallivanting around. The other cow seems unafraid of us or Aidan. She only runs because Sweetie Pie runs, I think.

Cows running through our corn field

Cows running through our corn field

Cows running through our corn field

Cows running through our corn field

Cow behind electric fence

Cow behind electric fence

Side view of cow

Side view of cow

Doing our part to help out the wild cow population

April 20, 2009

Well, it’s dark out and our cows are still out adventuring. Scott couldn’t stop the truck from picking up his wheat, which is just fine. I would have felt really bad if he had missed out on that opportunity to sell his organic wheat. I think he’s been waiting a while to sell it, so it’s good he got to do that.

I’m sure the cows are just out in the neighbor’s woods. They went far enough that they weren’t spooked and then stopped and probably grazed out there most of the day. The woods are big, so Scott will look for them tomorrow and Tim will go help him. I’m sure we’ll get them back somehow. Scott is great with them and herds them almost silently, from what Tim told me.

I’m really quite mad at the cows and upset at the same time. I feel bad for them because it was quite an ordeal for them to be taken from the herd of 15 or so that they were used to. Then they get here and are totally afraid of these little kids. It seemed silly that they could be scared of someone so small, but after you see a cow go under an electric fence and one jump over because they are scared of a 5 year old, it’s not silly any more. I don’t know why they are so scared of kids, but they are. I knew they were and I shouldn’t have taken Aidan up with me. They aren’t used to me yet, though they seem OK with me. Just OK, though, not happy or relaxed, just wary. They are obviously not comfortable enough with me to be OK with Aidan and me.

Scott has said a couple of times that this is a bit unusual and that he learns something all the time. I suppose I have learned some things, too. First, chickens are way easier than cows. Second, cows are not stupid. They may be pretty simple animals, but they aren’t stupid. They know how to get out of that electric fence and they know how to get through the rusty barbed-wire fence, too. They did it once and then they remembered. Third, size is unimportant. Just because the cows are big does not mean that they are not scared of animals smaller than them. And despite their size, they are quite nimble. One of those cows jumped over a fence! I don’t even think she was scared, I think she was just following the one who was scared. Fourth, I know nothing about cows so I need to relax and be patient and learn. I need to watch Scott and let him teach us instead of thinking I can try something. I should also have listened to my own instincts. I KNEW those cows were not OK with Aidan and I still took him up the hill with me.

Anyway, here is a picture of the one that didn’t bolt on Saturday. Aidan and I got pretty close to her, close enough that Aidan took some of these pictures. She was fine, so I am sure it is the other one who is scared of him for some reason. The funny thing is that the one who is so scared is the one that the Cow People called Sweetie Pie. Scott got a good laugh about that name since she ran off Saturday. She also kicked the crap out of the Cow People’s Son when he tried to get her out of the truck and inside the fence.

The good part of the day is that I met some other neighbors and they all seemed understanding and said they would watch out for our cows. They didn’t seem surprised or annoyed at all. I even met an Amish neighbor that lives right by the neighbor behind us (the one who came over to complain) and she was very understanding and mentioned that sometimes their horses get out onto his land and he’s not very happy about that. So, maybe he’s just a big grump. He did help the other day, so I should be grateful for that.

I’ll be happier when the cows are back and I can look back and laugh about this experience, that’s for sure!

Those darn cows

April 20, 2009

OK, the cows are out again. I took Aidan up the hill with me to check on them again today and they saw him and got spooked. One went under the electric fence, one went over. They are off in the neighbor’s land and Scott the Farmer has to call and cancel a semi coming to get his organic wheat, which he has been trying to arrange for some time, I’m sure.

The neighbor who helped us the other day came over to basically yell at me because our livestock are on his property again. He called our farmer an idiot for not improving the barbed-wire fence and said we’re going to need an ATV to get them out of his timber. This was the first time I met him, so I was polite and pleasant and apologetic. I explained to him the steps we’ve taken already: changing out the fence charger to increase the amps, testing the voltage daily. I told him what we are planning on doing to keep the cows on our property: repairing some of the barbed-wire, which he said will cost lots of money because it’s older than me, totally rusted, and will not hold the cows back at all and introducing the cows to the kids slowly.

Nonetheless, he was upset because none of the previous owners had livestock and now we have it and are causing him problems. Though part of me doesn’t see how it’s causing him problems as his fields aren’t plowed or planted yet, so it’s not as if the cows are tearing up his fields. Right now, as far as I know, they are in his woods grazing and not hurting a thing. However, I also understand that it’s not fun to see some cows on your land when you don’t have cows of your own. So I can understand his upset, but would have preferred not to be yelled at and basically called an idiot. Looking on the bright side, at least we met another neighbor.

Cows on the run

April 19, 2009

The cows arrived yesterday and are giving us a run for our money. One of them was pretty spooked by the ride and ended up kicking the Cow People’s Son* and then getting out of the fence. Unknown to us, Aidan had gone up the hill to see them and then came back down the hill to where we were all standing around, talking. Scott asked if the cows were OK, and Aidan said that one had gotten out of the fence. It took a while to get her back, probably about 2 hours. She had gone through our cornfield, through a hole in the barbed-wire fence, and through the neighbor’s fields and further. I’m not sure how far she went, but Scott the Farmer and the Cow People found her, with the help of a neighbor and his ATV. Needless to say, we did not make it to Peoria last night as we had planned, but we did have a nice family dinner and watched Star Wars: Episode III.

This morning I checked on the cows right away. I could see them from inside the playroom so it was easy to check on them. A little later, Tim and I walked the fence and they were there and seemed fine, if a bit wary of us. Tim and I were getting ready to put the chickens out in the garden when Aidan told us the cows got out of the fence. He had come outside and, unknown to us, went up the hill to see the cows. Tim and I went tromping (tromping is really very different from walking, as I’ve discovered) off in the really soggy cornfields and found them. They had not gone through the hole in the fence, but had gone along the fence into a wooded area. The mud worked to our advantage because Tim could see their tracks, which was how we found them. We kept an eye on them while we waited for Scott the Farmer to get here.

Scott arrived with a 5 year old boy, his girlfriend’s grandson, I think, and came up to the corn field to find us. Tim had gone to try to fix the hole in the fence as best he could, considering it was really rusted barbed wire. Scott asked me to go stand by that section of the fence while he and Tim herded them back towards the corn field. Well, the next thing I know, Scott is standing in the neighbor’s field asking me to not respond to him, but to undo the fix Tim had done and then walk to the house. So I got home and changed out of my wet shoes, socks, and pants and waited. Tim called on his cell phone to tell us that Scott was getting close with the cows and that they were skittish, so we needed to stay in the house. Scott got the cows back in, but then the cows got spooked by Scott’s 5 year old friend again. Scott had to take him home because he was cold and wet and has a cough.

Anyway, while Tim and I were watching the cows in the woods, we were thinking that somehow Aidan must have spooked the cows. At first, it seems funny to think that a 5 year old boy could scare two cows, but I am sure that is part of what has happened. Maybe he was moving too fast or was making noise or was thinking of his future hamburgers. Whatever it was, they were  scared of him, I’m sure of it. Yesterday, none of the adults realized he had followed the cows up the hill until he got back. At first, I thought it was good that he had gone so that we knew right away that one of the cows had gotten out. Now, I think maybe that was part of why one ran out (not to mention the fact that he shouldn’t have been alone near the cows since they were stressed out and could have hurt him). Today, I also didn’t know he had gone up to see the cows and again he came back to tell us they were gone. So, now we told him that for his own safety he needs to go with one of us.

The other reason they have gotten out is because of the electric fence. Apparently Aidan touched the fence yesterday and said it didn’t hurt too much. I have no idea why he touched the fence since he fully understands that it is electrified and will hurt him, but the fact that he did made Scott think the solar charger for the fence is not sending out enough amps. We have checked the fence for voltage and it is fine. Another thing Scott noticed while herding the cows was that one of the cows put its nose to the fence and got a little shock. I guess the cow’s wet nose should have gotten more than that!  

So as it stands right now, Scott came back out and hooked up a different charger and he and Tim pounded some fence posts a little further into the ground. They checked on the cows and found them inside the fence. Hooray! So all is well for now and if the cows try to get out again they should get a good shock. By the way, they have been trained on this kind of fence, so I’m guessing they must have been pretty spooked to run like that. We’ll have to make sure the kids don’t go close for a while and that we take things slow until they are used to us.

*I’m calling them the Cow People because I don’t want to use their names and because I don’t know what else to call them. The check was made out to the LastName Cattle Company, but it’s a small family operation, not like most people think of a cattle company. It was a husband and wife and their son who sold us the cows and delivered them.