Saturday, November 30, 2013

A November Day On The Farm

Perhaps your remember this photo which I posted on November 11 where I wondered what that little red "locomotive," which I'd seen on County Route 54, really was. I never got an answer until a few weeks later when.................

 This team of massive horses went by pulling it:

I stood by the side of the road with my camera and the driver stopped to chat and give his hard working horses a rest. They were pulling not one, but three wagons, loaded with firewood:

 And a few moments later he was on his way once again:

 With all three wagons in tow:

 And right outside my house, they were belatedly (because we'd had so much rain) harvesting corn and dumping it into big trucks to be hauled away:

 But in the process, they left lots of corn on the road. I shoveled up three buckets full and could have gotten much more if I'd had more containers. Both the cows and the chickens were quite happy to see corn in their feed bowls:

 And the chickens have taken over everything, helping themselves to the cattle's feed and tromping all over the barn. I spent a lot of time shooing them away:

 And the cattle were getting friendlier each day. They were also gaining weight at an amazing rate, drinking up to almost 300 gallons of water per day:

 Besides mending fences, clearing fields and tending livestock, I treated myself regularly to some locally raised, minimally processed honey:

 They use old jars and ask you to return them when you're finished with the honey. It's all self-service and on the honor system, although there's a lock on the cash box:

 And I have a jar of honey on my kitchen counter at all times:

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Red Polls Have Arrived!

I've worked toward this goal for five years now and on a Monday morning, I received a shipment of five purebred cows, all the way from Virginia:

They were stressed, frightened and dirty from their long, crowded and chilly ride to the north country and fled the stock trailer for the far end of the field, where they immediately began eating grass as if they hadn't eaten in a long time. Well, I suppose they hadn't as it had been a long ride:

I thought they were a bit skinny, and their former owner agreed that they needed grain and minerals to fatten them up and prepare them for calving in the spring:

The girls chowed down on grass but could find no water. There was a large stock tank near the barn, but they hadn't found that yet:

I put bowls of sweet feed inside the barn to tempt them. They were indeed tempted, but refused to go in. So I moved the bowls out onto the grass and then they ate. I also spread a five gallon bucket full of apples on the grass but they didn't seem interested:

I didn't have the paperwork yet, so I didn't know their names. I did note, however, that the cow with ear tag #35 was calmer, friendlier and more inclined to go exploring. She found the stock tank and then the others followed, sucking up at least fifty gallons:

They explored all along the fenced borders, getting to know their new home:

One cow tripped as she walked across some tall weeds and I knew at once there had to be some old fencing buried beneath the grass. Indeed there was, and I spent a whole day removing it and bundling it for discarding. The cows wouldn't come close, but they watched me with interest:

Oddly, their coats look muddy brown sometimes and red at other times, depending on the light. And the photos I took when their coats looked brown showed their coats to be red. I found that all very odd, but at least it explained why photos I'd seen on the internet showed cattle of both colors:

The girls will need a lot of feed and a lot of attention to tame them, but that's what I've been looking forward to for so long. They had relaxed considerably and were feeling more comfortable after just one night in their new home:

I followed them around with the tractor sometimes, snapping photos where I could. I considered whether that was harassment, which I didn't want to do, or getting them used to me, which I did want. By observing their behavior, I decided that it was the latter:

So now I have a small herd of five young cows. I'll keep you posted on their progress:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Evolution Of Tie Stalls

If you've been following this blog, you know that I've devoted a lot of time and money into getting my old barn cleaned and fixed up. I finally got it almost ready for the cattle, but there were no stanchions or stalls and the old gutters had no outlet and were too close for cow comfort anyway. So more work needed to be done:

So the first order of business was to get a load of fine gravel with which to mix concrete:

I filled the gutters about two thirds full of gravel:

Once both sides were filled and tamped down, it was time to mix concrete:

We spent a sunny Sunday mixing concrete. Steve mixed and I hauled it into the barn, dumped it and troweled it:

It was a slow, laborious process:

But by the end of the day, we had made the barn floor usable and easier to clean. I hope to be able to drive the tractor down through, pushing the manure with the bucket:

And then the welder began removing some old pipes from places where they would not be used:

He removed pipes from the old tie stalls and from the former watering system. His plan was to fashion the old pipes into new ties stalls:

He fashioned dividers back at his shop and brought them to the barn:

Then he attached them, installed cross members and safely affixed the old support columns:

He made and installed two more support columns for extra safety and from which to hang two farm gates. These gates will keep the cattle in their own part of the barn. We finished on a Sunday afternoon and that was not a moment too soon because the cattle were due to arrive the following morning. But I'll post about that tomorrow:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Autumn Walk In The South Field

My old camera was dying and I ordered a new one. As soon as it arrived, I charged the battery and took the dogs out to the south field to try it out:

Happy little Madeline got "caught" on a smell and fell behind the rest of us. The upside of that was watching her hustle to catch up:

They were very excited dogs and didn't seem to remember much from all the "stay close to me" lessons I'd given recently. But they had fun and I got to try the camera as well as give them another "stay close" lesson:

The south field is large and we headed across it for the woods:

With lots of stops along the way to sniff and roll and play:

Clover and Fergus nearly always lead the way, but this time it was mostly Clover:

By this time, Madeline had caught up with us. Well, almost:

We got almost to the woods and then I decided to return home. So I gave a call to the dogs and off we went back the way we'd come:

By this time, the dogs had done enough running to slow them down a bit:

And they found plenty of fascinating smells:

Fergus ran, his ears flopping, while Clover continued to lead the pack. Walking slowly and calmly is not part of her strong points:

One last photo, this one catching Madeline in mid-romp. She looked so happy:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nicholville To Lawrenceville, County Route 55 - Part 3

I continued on my driving tour of County Route 55, passing exquisite and elaborate old barns and silos. This was indeed farm country and had been for many years:

A comfortable and friendly looking home:

And a very old barn, apparently unused, in front of modern, one story barns:

A lovely brick farm house:

And an old barn, all by itself and apparently abandoned beneath several trees in a field:

Another old barn which now serves as a garage:

A farm house with an extensive porch:

Another very large, old barn:

And more farm houses, more old barns:

This lovely old barn didn't seem to be used anymore, but I couldn't be sure:

Uncountable acres of corn fields, now just stubble:

I ended my driving tour at this old farmstead with modern barns. There is still a lot of active farming in this area: