Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Next Indicated Thing

It's funny how things that sound so simple often end up to be quite complicated. For instance, the process of becoming Scottish Highland breeders/owners. Finding information? Easy. Buying animals? Relatively easy. Scheduling an appointment with the Thurston Conservation District? Time consuming, but pretty easy.

Finding hay? Preparing the pasture? Planning for the future? Being ok with the unknown?? tilt tilt tilt :)

Ok, I'm being dramatic. In reality, there is more to Scottish Highland ownership than meets the eye/brain. (I'm sure you're all saying, "Duh" to yourselves. We're a little slow.)

For instance, our Conservation District rep gave us a list of things to accomplish to get our pasture ready for grazing: Crossbow the noxious/poisonous weeds, brush hog (i.e. "mow" with a huge mower), then fertilize. It took us a while to find the Agriliance place he told us to go for fertilizer (it's actually called Wilco, and it's hiding in plain site), and thankfully the guy there was very knowledgable and hooked us up with ten 50-pound bags of 24-7-14 (instead of the triple 18 Jim recommended, which was more expensive), a blue dye additive for the Crossbow herbicide, and a backpack sprayer. Whew. Again, time consuming (and a bit expensive), but easy enough.
Then we waited for a break in the weather. That came Sunday morning. Paul was up and at'em at 7 a.m., and I threw on some clothes to help him mix the Crossbow and point out the tansy ragwort and lupine we needed to kill, since he wasn't familiar with those. (We don't have a ton of either, thankfully.)

Four and a half hours later, we sprayed our last bracken fern and called it a day. Yikes.
Next step, wait a couple days for the Crossbow to do it's thing, and then brush hog. Paul will do that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we received our membership packet from the American Highland Cattle Association, including the nifty window decal (it'll go in the Subaru!), our official registration certificates for Bridgit and Sheila listing us as the official owners, and some other materials. We need to choose our farm letters and provide those to the AHCA. These letters will be tatooed onto the ear of each calf born on our farm. The farm letters make up the first three digits, followed by a number and a letter that indicates the year. Hopefully we'll get our first choice of letters (you can't have duplicates, as it's part of the animal's registration), and then we can look into getting our hands on a tatooer (is that an appropriate word?).

Thinking about tatooing calf ears brings to mind the whole process of calving, the fact that Paul and I have no first hand experience with it, and that we will have our first calf arriving in the fall. Thankfully we have friends in Oakville, one of whom grew up on a dairy and knows a ton about this stuff. I'm sure she'd be happy to help us out. I started reading the article in one of our membership packet items last night on calving, learning that "every breeder should have an esophogeal tube on hand and know how to use it" made me nervous. I'll read that article later.

For now, we'll focus on doing the next indicated things. Tomorrow that will be brush hogging the pasture. Then we can fertilize. One step at a time. First pasture, then fencing, then cow hauling...calving will come later! What a relief!


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