Monday, March 31, 2014

Around The Farm In The Month Of March

Today is the last day of March and it seemed fitting to post a monthly review. Winter has continued almost unabated, including major snow/wind/cold winter storm on the 12th, 13th and 30th. I have 3 to 9 foot snow banks at the edges of my driveway right now. I added another bird feeder, so was feeding the local birds mixed seed, sunflower seed and suet. They were happy to eat everything I put out:

My little hens stayed indoors and I kept them supplied with layer pellets and heated water. I cleaned them regularly and replaced the pine shavings on their floor:

 I also collected eggs daily. My 12 hens were producing about 6 eggs per day and are now averaging 10 per day. Once I let them outdoors, however, I may have trouble finding the eggs:

This is a people's eye view of the chicken coop, the scene I see as I'm tending to my feathered pets:

As for the cows, they had become much more winter hardy than they were when they arrived here from Virginia in November. If you are wondering why they look more red in some photos and brown in other photos, it's all a matter of how the lights hits them:

I pulled this frozen chunk of hay out of their bale feeder to make room for a new bale. But the girls, apparently, had become attached to that icy slab. So instead of eating their fresh new hay, they persisted in trying to eat this giant haysicle:

Their contentedness after a good hay dinner is always apparent. They lie down for a nap and cud chewing session:

I've wondered for some time how to tell a Red Angus from a Red Poll. There are subtle differences, but the internet told me that only Red Polls had white tail switches. I balked, thinking that mine did not, but then took a closer look. Indeed, they all have white hairs in their tail switches:

Inside the house, the dogs lived a comfortable life. In this photo, little Clover used Seamus' fat and wool as a living doggy bed while Fergus snuggled up close:

Little PeeWee, being nearly deaf and blind, has nonetheless made himself a real part of the family and delights in being part of the dog pack. Here he is, with gigantic Seamus trying to share his dog bed and Clover looking on from behind:

Daphne, Madeline and Fergus were on top of my bed. That white stripe on the bed was just a patch of sunlight:

One last picture of Seamus with his little buddy, PeeWee:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Snowy, Rural Beauty On County Route 56 - Part 3

I was getting closer to the place where I'd planned to end my driving tour, yet there was still more country beauty to see and photograph such as this farm home of Potsdam Red Sandstone with a tractor out front:

This old silo was still standing, but the barn was nothing more than a pile of rubble:

Another farm house of Potsdam Red Sandstone with an old barn out back:

A classic farm house with icicles hanging off the front porch and old maples standing guard:

This curious herd of beef cattle watched me with great interest. They were a mix of Angus, Hereford and the resulting cross, the very popular "Black Baldies." There was no gate keeping these animals from walking out onto the road, but they seemed content where they were:

This beautiful old barn was part of the property with the cattle. In fact, that lone Angus watched me until I snapped its picture and then it ran quickly behind the barn to join the rest of the herd:

A comfortable and friendly country home:

Alas, another barn falling into ruin. Although they make beautiful, interesting photos, it's a shame that so much history and functionality is disappearing:

And yet another old barn on its way down:

This wonderful farm had haying equipment and firewood and all manner of interesting things for me to photograph:

A third house built with Potsdam Red Sandstone:

But I was almost at the place where I had to turn off and continue my journey into town, so I took one last photo of this handsome herd of Angus. Then I put my camera away and concentrated on driving:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Snowy, Rural Beauty On County Route 56 - Part 2

I was taking a driving tour of County Route 56 and enjoying the beautiful rural scenery such as this farm house with a barn and silo out back. As a side note - our weather began to moderate yesterday and reached temperatures above freezing. Yet even though our snow is melting, things still look pretty much like this:

A spectacular old barn:

And a not so spectacular old barn:

This corn field was backed up by woodlands, with more farm fields beyond that and more woodlands beyond those - and farm silos on the horizon:

A farm house with a wonderful back porch:

D&D Small Engine Repair:

I see lots of tractors on mailboxes, but this was a surprise to me and, I thought, very clever. I guess I don't need to tell you what this person's winter hobby was:

Another country home, all comfy and warm despite the winter weather outside:

This old tractor, silo and hay bales had apparently not been accessed recently, at least not since the last snowfall, but they make a wonderful scene for a photo:

Snowmobiles, pickup with snowplow, split rail fence with corn stalk and lots of rural trimmings. This is country living:

Another logging operation. This one clearly seemed to be for firewood:

This old barn housed a small flock of very calm and friendly sheep. They watched me with interest but no alarm as I snapped their picture. Yet there was still more to see on this country road and I'll post Part 3 tomorrow:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Snowy, Rural Beauty On County Route 56 - Part 1

Yes, I know it is March 28, but our winter has lingered, with snow and frigid temperatures. Nonetheless, I headed out, one recent sunny day, for a driving tour of County Route 56, which runs from Hopkinton to Parishville:

Beginning in Hopkinton, I passed a big mill of some kind with loud machines running and giant stacks of big logs out back:

I had the impression that they were processing firewood, but perhaps they were cutting lumber (though I saw neither) - or was it something else? I didn't stop to ask because they looked too busy:

But they sure had lots of big logs stacked up, big enough to have been saw logs for lumber:

I proceeded on County Route 56, passing attractive rural homes. This home had a "For Sale" sign out front, but I checked for a listing when I got home and found none:

An attractive, small country home whose owners care for the wild birds:

A small herd of Holstein steers:

A farm home with lots of additions, attached in the New England manner:

This home had one of the biggest, most useful porches I'd ever seen:

And they sure had lots of nice, rural scenery to see from that porch:

And most everywhere was backed up by woodland:

This handsome old barn and silo, with surrounding corn stubble, was surely a scene out of our rural past. But there was a lot more to see on this road and I'll post Part 2 tomorrow:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Meet The Bovine Ladies.

I was doing the chores one evening and all was peaceful except that Violet kept a watchful eye on me. That's her head, lifted above the other cows with an alert and curious look on her face. Well, she had to keep tabs on me. A cow just never knows what I might do next:

And that's when I decided to introduce you to my five bovine girls. This is Violet. She's bigger than the others and a deep red color. She's one of the most skittish of the cows, though she's made a lot of progress, getting used to being petted while she eats grain. When I approach her out in the field, she shies away, but then kicks up her heels playfully, bouncing around the hay bale feeder. Violet looks like she is pregnant and I've never noticed her in heat, so I'm hoping for a calf this spring:

Jasmine is a lighter red color than any of the others and her fur seems softer. Her personality seems softer as well. She's second only to Violet in size but quite wide in the belly. I believe she will be the first to calve this spring. Violet is the calmest cow and is actually affectionate. When I walk up to her in the field, she holds still and allows me to stroke her side or take her by the collar. She's also playful and mischievous, though, and loves to watch me open the gate to drive the tractor through. She pretends she isn't watching, but the first chance she gets, she bolts through the gate and bounces around the yard. I've learned to push her away from the gate and make sure she's eating hay before I open it:

This is Gracie. She's the oldest but smallest of the cows. She's also the big boss and will butt any other cow that gets in her way. When her food bowl is empty, she just takes someone else's bowl. She has a strange tail which tilts to one side and a different shaped head than the others. Gracie is not all bad, though, and is rather calm and docile with me. I don't believe that Gracie is pregnant and I am working toward using artificial insemination to change that:

This is Scarlett. She is perhaps the prettiest red and the has nicest conformation of any of the cows. But Scarlett is easily frightened, both by me and by the tractor. Like her stall-mate Violet, however, Scarlett has come a very long way towards becoming tame and allows me to rub her neck, head, ears and belly as she eats. If however, I approach her in the field, she moves away. I've never noticed Scarlett come in heat but if she is pregnant, it doesn't show much:

 And lastly, meet Amy. She was downright petite when she arrived, so much so that I believed she'd been bred too early and that had stunted her growth. But her legs have grown since she's been with me. Her back is arched, her head looks kind of small for her body and she is the at the bottom of the pecking order. I also believe that Amy is the least intelligent of the cows. But don't think that I don't value her. She is still a nice cow with a docile disposition and from excellent lines. Amy is definitely not pregnant and throws the herd into a tizzy at precisely 20 day intervals when she comes into heat. I am planning to use artificial insemination to breed her to one of the finest bulls in the country:

 Here's another shot of Jasmine, my big teddy bear in which her lighter color shows. But I have learned that this breed's coloration looks different, depending on how the light hits it. Sometimes Jasmine looks dark red. Sometimes they all look a sort of mud brown, even though the red usually shows up in a photo taken while they looked brown. I used to wonder why some Red Polls on the internet looked an ugly brown, while others were a pretty red. Now I know it all depends on the lighting:

I put down bedding hay for the cows every morning and then lock them outdoors during the day. But as soon as they come back in for the night and finish their evening grain, they begin eating their bedding hay. I try to explain to them that they'd have more bedding if they'd not eat it, but will they listen? No, they will not:

I've also learned that their back-lines are highly flexible and variable. Sometimes a cow's spine looks perfectly straight as it should. Sometimes she'll let it sag and sometimes she'll arch her back. Only Amy's back is permanently arched, but even that is variable and improving:

I'd just fed them their grain and all five were eating their bedding when I took this photo. Amy and Jasmine were the closest to the door and, being the two tamest, perfectly content to have me standing in front of them with the camera:

But then I walked down to the other end of the barn where Scarlett and Gracie were scarfing down their bedding. I took the picture and then shooed them all outside, where they had a 1000 pound bale of hay to much on:

I've learned a lot about my five girl's personalities and a lot about cattle in general since they arrived in November. Of course I still have a lot more to learn, but I'm enjoying the process and looking forward to a few calves this year: