Today a job that should have been done a month ago was completed. Weather changes and the fact that Eddie and I have been sick for a week prevented us from pulling a bull from our fall calving herd.
Stormy weather prevented the cattle work for at least a month.
Buckshot has been with this herd since November 30th, 2017 and we normally only leave the bulls with our herds about three months. Moving a bull away from a herd is not always easy but today it was a piece of cake!! A bucket of feed, a cattle prod and competition down the lane will work every time. He stood at the gate with 46 cows and calves and all the master had to do was walk him to the front of the line and when he herd his brother bulls down the lane he came through the gate pretty as you please!! He is now in the bull lot with the other two bulls showing them whose boss or so he thinks!!
Buckshot and Samson back in the bull lot together again for about three months. Arby is in there with them but he would rather eat his “Cheerios” first before confronting big brother!
Now, our mountain long field is opened up and full of the Fall calving herd and hopefully all of them mother’s have been bred. There’s 23 cows and 23 calves grazing our part of Little Mountain today and it will be wonderful sitting on the front porch watching them graze but not today!
Our Fall herd is enjoying some very precious green grass this afternoon.
The three bulls are playing nice for the moment!
I’m back in the house out of the wind nursing my sinuses and trying to get well!! We’ve been sick since last Tuesday and a week is too long to not be out on the farm or at least on the front porch! I’m so tired of being cooped up when the sun is shining. The wind is still blowing so I mustn’t take chances of being out too long.
Our morning ritual around here in the winter season begins shortly after breakfast and I always fix us a good breakfast to start the day.
Hubby heads out to feed the three small herds of cattle. Each herd is a little different but the two biggest herds (25-30 cows) get two 4×5 round bales of hay every day. One of these herds also has 24 calves with them which are 2-3 months of age. They mimic mom and eat some of the hay too but mainly depend on her milk until they’re about 5-6 months old. The third herd consists of 14 heifers that will be bred in June. They are fed one 4×5 round bale each day along with a five-gallon bucket of corn gluten/whole corn mixture every other day. Then we have our herd of bulls which is only three but those guys can eat and get two square bales of hay each day and corn gluten once a week. Everyone is fat and sassy!
My feeding schedule consists of three rabbits that we use for breeding stock. They are part Lop but the perfect size for meat rabbits. Each morning and afternoon they are given fresh water, a cup of rabbit pellets, a carrot and half of a sweet apple. They love apples and I treat them in the winter time because there is no fresh grass to feed them. I keep a bat of hay in their hutches for eating but I also keep hay covering the wire floor of the hutch to keep the frigid wind off of them. They have a nesting box in the hutch in the winter time to get out of the wind. Their hutches are cleaned weekly regardless of the weather.
Then I head out to the chicken house with a gallon of hot water, an egg basket and any scraps from the table. I have 33 chickens, one of which is a rooster. I have five young hens that tend to roost in the egg nest every night after I shut them in the building. Each morning those nest have to be cleaned out so the eggs aren’t nasty because chickens just don’t care what they lay those eggs on. The chickens have a large tub outside of the building for water during the day and a large pan inside that doesn’t freeze often but when it’s in the 20’s it has to be refilled four or five times a day and the eggs are gathered more often too. They have a feed trough that is four feet long, six inches wide and about four inches deep. I fill it every day with scratch grain, black-oil sunflower seeds and during the winter laying crumbles. In the summer they forage the entire farm but there’s not much to be found in the wintertime. A few times a month they get a treat of dried mealworms which they love. Currently with all those chickens I’m only getting about a dozen eggs a day but they’re wonderful eggs that are large, brown, pink, green, blue and a couple white ones. Egg production will pickup in the spring!
Once the feeding is done and the eggs are gathered, I’m off to the wood shed to bring in enough to fill of the stove for the night and if it’s calling for rain or snow, I fill up one end of the porch. The bird feeders are then filled and then it’s time to come in and make preparations for dinner!!
On February 20th our new cattle holding/working pen had progressed to this.
Hubby and I have been working everyday on the pen when the weather permitted. We were delayed in the beginning due to problems finding the lumber we needed. One of our neighbors, Mr. All, has a portable sawmill and sold us 20 of the 1 x 6 x 16 boards to get us started. We then finally found a sawmill that took private orders and we bought 100 of the boards. Most sawmills that we contacted don’t take private orders anymore and only sell to commercial builders such as mining operations.
100 oak boards from Bennett’s Sawmill in Lowmoor.
First row of posts are boarded and this side of the pen faces Little Mountain Road. We put heavy woven wire on first and then put the boards on top of that. We did this to prevent the cattle and calves from sticking their heads through the fence and breaking the boards. We’re learning from EXPERIENCE!!
Post holes are dug using a drill and our Kubota tractor. We are drilling into a bank of slate and sometimes had to use our big tractor and its front loader to press on the drill to force it into the slate and break it up.
Next row of posts are dug and post put in the ground with Quikrete.
And some bracing rocks are placed in the holes for durability.
This is the roll of wire that we placed between the posts and the boards.
The is the outside of the pen next to the main road.
This is the second section of boards and woven wire. We put boards on both sides of the posts for a sturdier loading chute. This needs to be sturdy because if the cows or calves are going to get honery getting on the truck, this is the spot where they’ll do it. They’ll try to back out, turn around or go over if they’re really anxious.
From this angle you can see the double layer of boards reinforcing the woven wire
This is another angle from the end of the pen to see the reinforced chute.
This gate is at the entry of the loading chute.The chute opens to an eight foot chute that narrows into a four-foot chute. The eight foot gate will swing from the narrow chute to the wider chute depending on what we are loading, cows or calves.
This four foot gate was then hung at the end of the chute where the trailer will load. You can also see another short gate about half way down the chute to help control turning and backing. Cattle are more apt to go into a wider space at the other end and that’s why we start with a 8 ft space that narrows as you get toward the end of the chute.
This section is where the wider chute will be and the next we will board up. The posts are set and now we put the boards on. I might mention the posts are treated but the boards are not. We are using 3 inch screws to mount the boards. Once those green boards dry they’ll make the chance of coming out because the boards will shrink around the screws.
This is another section of the pen that we expanded from the old pen. We were experiencing lots of pushing and shoving when trying to separate 50 – 75 head of cattle at the same time. This section will have a gate that opens on both sides at the end of the pen toward the scale house. We can release them into the barnlot or if we still need to do some separating we can release them back in to the loading section.
Yes we have a scale house. The scales with in this building are state certified every year. We can watch the growth of the calves, we can check the weight of the cows or bulls and we can get an idea of how much weight is going to the market before they’re loaded on the truck.
This all I have for now but will continue the saga when the pen is completely finished and we can send a load of fall calves that we’ve weaned and been holding for the completion of the pen and hopefully a price increase. I’m hopeful it will be completed this week!!!
It has officially began on Caldwell Farms. I’m going to miss seeing those waves of grain in the field while sitting on the front porch every evening.
The orchard grass is over the backs of the whitetail deer.
The first field cut, raked and baled this year is out behind the barn that’s closest to the house.
This fields total yield last year was 191 and we’re anxious to see how it does this year.
Kubota tractor and rake have completed their work in this field for today.
The spring rains brought us a heavy crop of orchard grass.
The 4×5 baler is hard at work as is the driver of the tractor that’s pulling that baler.
The previous pictures are of the first field which was completed on Friday and Mr. Caldwell has moved on to three smaller meadows today. He probably won’t put anymore hay down until the weekend because it’s calling for heavy rain on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The grass is so heavy that it has to have at least two drying days before it can be baled. Wet grass means moldy hay which means sick cows that eat it and bad milk for the calves that nurse their mothers.
Meadow beside the mansion is small but produces big.
Meadow at the stable is the smallest and worst of the hay. We’ve already decided it’s needs a load of chicken litter. The litter has already proven itself on the other hayfields and pasture.
The only issue had this season is the poor quality sisal baling twine.
He’s making quick work of this field.
These ladies will be fed in the coming winter!
Posted in Farming, Hard work, Harvest
Tagged baling, cattle, feed, hay, mowing, orchard grass, raking, round bales, tettering
Last week we had a visitor during the night that tore down some fence along the main road and left the scene. The field where the fencing was damaged held 30+ weanling calves and Miracle. Our neighboring farm manager came to visit to let us know about it on a very foggy cold morning and luckily the calves were on the opposite side of the field. The driver did the damage and ran leaving what could have been a very dangerous situation especially for people going to work that morning and the bus full of kids going to school if the calves had got in the road. It was so foggy that morning that we could not see more than 10 yards in front of us but thankfully it only took about 30 minutes to repair.
We had just paid a fencing company to build this stretch of fencing in January due to the urgency of getting the calves in a secure field away from their mama’s while we waited for the right time to sale. The mama’s needed a couple months of recuperating before their new babies arrived this month.
The bottom two strands were broken and it would have been very easy for the 30+ weanlings to have gotten in the road and caused a more dangerous situation.
This was new fence that we paid to have put in along the highway.
The new post wasn’t broken off but the wiring was knocked off of it.
These are the tracks of the vehicle where it went into the field and back out. Hubby is sure it was a car instead of a pickup or more wires would have been broken.
The insulating tubes were shredded on the bottom and fence tore off at the end of the tubes.
More tracks along the road leading to the broken fence shows that the driver went out of the road on the wrong side, over-corrected as he went back on the asphalt and went back on the wrong side and into the fence and field. This is where we found the broken antennae from the car and some amber light fixture fragments.
Black marks on the road in front of the field.
Skid marks heading to the broken fence.
Skid marks in the grass.
Broken fence wire hanging from the posts.
We were upset the fence was torn down but more upset thinking about what could have been a more disastrous situation. I would hope that if it ever happens again that the driver would have the common courtesy of letting us know as soon as it happens!!
During our work this morning with Miracle we found out that Annabelle has pinkeye!! This will be our first issue this year and pray it’ll be our last. With a couple doughnuts and leftover biscuits we were able to get her up and treated her with LA-200 antibiotic. Now we wait and hope she get’s better, doesn’t spread it to the other cows and especially to her little bull calf!!
Hubby and daughter spent another day working on fences and replacing gaps between pasture and hayfields. It’s a never-ending job on a farm as big as ours. We are constantly patrolling the fences to keep good neighbors and the cattle where they’re supposed to be. The deer and wind downed trees are our biggest problems. Wild cherry trees are a particular hazard now because if the cattle eat the wilted leaves of a down wild cherry it’s almost instant death to the cattle/calves. Here’s some of the last board fence replaced and it looks so good.
Treated 7 foot posts and lumber sawed from the farm. Very nice!
The pastures and hayfields are surrounded mainly by electric fencing. The woods are surrounded by barbed wire, woven and rail fencing. The fencing along the highway, which isn’t a lot is woven wire. Gates are placed in all the major entries to fields, pasture and woodland. And yes, none of it is inexpensive!!
The fences surround our hayfields, property lines, woodlands, house property, orchards, gardens and anywhere else you can think of.
Corner posts are cemented into the ground for extra sturdiness.
Beautiful when replaced and probably the oldest that has been replaced.
More driveway fence to but only needs a couple of posts replace.
Treated posts in the ground.
We take the old fence to the recycling plant if it’s to rusty to use for tree protection. The tree protection is when we wrap a 4-5 foot piece in a circle and put it around the fruit trees to keep the deer from horning the trees which kills them. The old post are cut up and used for some mighty fine firewood.
More tree cages
Here’s some more of the fencing completed this spring.
Since hay season is upon us the fencing that is never done will continue in the fall and before hunting season!! 😉
I wanted to share some photos my daughter took last week while helping her Dad harvest some more hay! I think they’re beautiful!
Jippy decided to take a nap!!
Everyone was enjoying the day on the farm!
It was such a beautiful day to be on the farm!
2013 Spring calves
Our spring calving season began mid-March and we’re almost done. We have three more yet to calve and they don’t look like they’re “springing” at all. We’ve lost four calves this year and one cow. The cow was Annabelle’s mother but two weeks later another cow loses a calf and hubby uses a little of his magic and convinced her that Annabelle was her daughter. All is well!!
Staying warm in the sun and off the wet ground laying on the hay.
Babies scattered everywhere!
Annabelle and her new Mom! Just in time for Mother’s Day!!
It’s two weeks into the new year and I haven’t made anymore blocks for my sampler quilt. The weekends have been slam packed with other stuff and I haven’t sit foot in my quilt room. Shame on me!! This week I’ll try to do better.
Last weekend we hauled in firewood and put away the last of the venison and pork. This weekend we worked around the house, cleaned the hen house nests, and today spent most of the day working cattle. We had twelve 3-4 month old calves to vaccinate, worm, band and eartag and 15 cows to worm and eartag. Our daughter helped with was a blessing and we finished in about two hours.
There is ALWAYS something that needs to be done!! No pictures today! Cattle don’t fare well in a head chute and having their pictures made. Anyway, on with the new week and hopefully the sampler blocks will be made. I’m only about 30 blocks behind!! 🙂
It’s amazing to me that anyone may be short on hay this winter since we had such a great season. But then I think about the drought the rest of the country had and still has and then I understand. We had about 70 round bales left from summer 2011 and met our needs with some to spare this year. We started feeding out the older hay first and when the snows come hubby puts a couple in each patch of woods that the cattle are in and feeds the good hay first thing in the morning. The cattle move from the fresh to the older as the weather turns bad. The calves like playing and nibbling in the older hay too. Our cattle are in good shape and the fall calving is complete now since the end of November. Our spring calves will come in late March, early April through May.
One of three haylots full of round bales.
Gielbiev-Angus cross – love the babies!
My older hens have quit laying but I also raised late chicks in June and they’ve started laying for me. I guess it’s a type of rotation laying in our henhouse. I never use heat lamps or special lighting because I think they need a rest too. I make sure they get a tablespoon of vinegar in their fresh water each morning, lots of grit in one feeder, and cracked corn to put on some fat on their bodies which will help them make it through the winter. The vinegar helps rid them of worms, I’m told and they seem to be in better shape since I started using the apple cider vinegar. I don’t let them out of the henhouse when there’s snow/ice on the ground. The biggest problem I have is the younger hens want to sleep in the nests at night because the older hens (pecking order) run them off the roost. Hubby fixed that by building an additional roosting section to the existing roost and all but one hen now uses the roost. She tends to make a nasty mess in the nests during the night and by the time I get to the hen house in the morning another hen has laid her eggs in the mess. I have 38 chickens of which three are young roosters. I’m only getting 6-8 eggs a day now but it’s more than enough for us to use and share with the kids as they visit. I have about 10 hens that need to be culled but I find it hard to let them go because when I enter the henhouse some of them come to me singing and of course, I sing back to them. I always have a couple hens that get broody and hatch but you never where the hatch will be roosters or hens. I think this spring I”ll order a new batch of Buff Orpingtons and Americauna’s. I love those beautful eggs. Two of the three roosters I have are Americauna and the other is a mix but he is a beauty.
New roost addition to accomdate everyone!
King of the Roost
He’s a little over a year old but his sisters are giving me double yolk brown eggs. I haven’t found an adequate name for him yet but thinking about it!
Posted in Animals, Farming, WEATHER, Winter
Tagged cattle, Chicken, Egg yolk, eggs, hay, ice & snow, livestock, roosters, winter feeding
This is a happy time of year for hubby and our finances but somewhat of a sad time for me. In the spring we had forty + babies born and now they weigh between 425# and 500# and it’s marketing season. We’re delaying it for a couple weeks because a few have been plagued with “pinkeye” and they are recovering. I wanted to share some of their pictures before they leave.
They’ve put on about 300 – 400 pounds since they were born and are grazing along side their moms now. Most will only nurse a couple times a day at their present weight and they’re first to come to the feed troughs which make it easier on them when they leave their mom behind.