Thursday, July 10, 2008

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Sometimes I feel like I go on and on about how wonderfully peaceful my new life feels, how serene the setting, etc., and yet here I go again. Can I just say how much we love our home and farm?

Last night Paul met me in the driveway (I should've known something was up!) wanting to race into Centralia to the saw shop so he could get some new work boots. Having just driven my hour-long commute from work to home, I needed a few minutes to unwind, use the bathroom, discard the work shoes in exchange for Birkenstocks, etc., but after five minutes we headed back out the door and down Highway 507. Madsen's closes at 6. It was 5:40. Yikes. Needless to say, every pokey driver feeling the need to go (the posted) 35 MPH on the freshly oiled road was in front of us, and while the "Open" sign was still on when we pulled into the parking lot at 6:02, they must've realized it when they heard Paul try the (locked) door and promptly turned it off. Drat. No boots for you!

Hungry, riled up and "out town," we decided to stop at a little drive through diner called Mr. J's on the outskirts of Centralia on our way home for burgers. We decided to dine in after himming and hawing about it, but at the last minute Paul said he'd rather take our food home and eat outdoors on our new patio set. Awww!

So we did, and it was divine. We could see the cows in the pasture, watch the dogs run back and forth across the lawn to bark at whatever (imaginary) thing there was to bark at, enjoy the barn swallows diving across the paddock after their dinner, and enjoy not only great food but also the fantastic scenery and temperature.

The night before we ate outside, too, and watched seven turkey vultures soar at various heights above our area. That was kind of freaky...I've never seen more than two at a time, and you could see these everywhere. It felt a bit like a scene from a Harry Potter movie, with the vultures instead of the Dementors flying around looking for prey. We were grateful the cats were inside. It was all very weird, but still enjoyable.

This weekend we will go get our hay, 200 bales at $3/bale. That's actually a great price...hay is going for as much as $4.50/bale in our area. Thankfully this comes from a co-worker of Paul's down in Winlock, and we know he takes great care of his pastures so this won't be full of dandelions and daisies and dead grass. It's definitely time to get that hay in the barn, too. It's obvious the grass is dormant, as Paul mowed the lawn around our house last week and it's still short! (Miracle!) I've been taking mental notes during my commute as I pass by other farms with cattle - who has hayed, are the cattle on pasture or getting hay now, how long did they leave the cattle on this paddock before moving them over one, etc. So much to learn.

Speaking of learning, I am grateful to have found another online forum, this time for cow owners, from which to glean the wisdom of others. I posted a concern about Sheila's pushy, overbearing behavior and asked for and received some great suggestions. Bottom line? She cannot be the boss, she's already gotten away with too much, no more grain for her (especially in a bucket - in fact, don't even go in the paddock with a bucket in hand), and if she gets pushy, too close, or throws her horns around at us, smack her on the nose and run her off. I was a bit uncomfortble with those ideas at first, especially when some recommended a hand-held mini-cattle prod to shock her with, but after reading more from folks who clearly have owned more cattle for longer than your average person, and after also reading a horror story from a seasoned milk cow owner who got a concussion and cracked rib from a milk cow's kick she can't even remember, I am now confident that a firm hand and stern voice are our best protection. We can't have an aggressive, bossy cow behaving like a monster after she has her calf in a few months.

Last night the girls didn't get any grain, nor did we approach them or enter the paddock with a bucket. We had to install a second hot wire in two spots in the pasture, and Sheila followed us around like a (massive horned) dog, positively sure that the box of porcelaine isolators she'd just sniffed (and tried to lick!) was really something yummy. At one point she came to close to Paul (who had his back to her) and I ran her off a few feet. She kept her distance after that. This morning, too, I went out to check on them (we left them out in the pasture all night for the first time, and unattended today as well), and she tossed her horns around at me again, so I said "No!" and stomped my foot, which ran her off a few paces. Ha. That's right. Who's your momma?

It's a learning process for sure, but I wouldn't trade any of this for the world! I can hardly wait to get home at night to absorb some more of that peace!


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