Saturday, April 4, 2009

Marshmallow Time

After our exhausting cattle wrangling experience on the 24th, we spent the entire next day wiring the pasture and paddock up like Fort Knox. We have a second hotwire strung all the way around the pasture (which will eventually be divided into three separate smaller paddocks for grazing management), and added a new hotwire around the inside top of the paddock fence. Remarkably, the cattle seemed to come to a concensus late that evening and realized the hay we were still feeding was a more reliable source of nutrients than the short but growing pasture grass, and they all filed back into the paddock. We shut the gates behind them and they've all been happily trapped ever since, with only occasional sideways glances by Tabor toward that hotwire, probably wondering if he dare attempt to breach it.

Meanwhile, the grass is growing, slowly but surely. One of the things on my to-do list this weekend is to walk out with a ruler and measure the height in several spots. We've been instructed to keep the cattle off the grass until it's about 7-10 inches high - but not any higher lest it grow out of control and get away from us. (If you've been reading for awhile you might recall a post from last year where I said the grass in the paddock was up to my armpits...hard to believe today when all I see (and smell) is nasty, poopy mud, but there's still grass trying to grow in there!)

We are officially out of hay; Paul fed the them the last bale this morning. This afternoon we'll hop in the truck and make our way down to the Mary's Corner area in Lewis County, where we'll buy another haylage bale, those giant white-plastic-wrapped marshmallow-looking things you see at farms during the winter. I'm going along this time because I'm curious to see how a haylage bale is loaded into a pickup...I heard it involves a tractor bucket, but these bales are BIG!!! I'm a little more nervous this time about unloading the bale in the paddock since Tabor is in there, so we'll be extra careful. The bales are so heavy and unweildy...last time I burst into a fit of giggles as we attempted to push one from its round side to its flat bottom and lost all my strength in doing so.

I'm resolved to the smell...I know it'll remind me of vomit again, but since we're out of hay and the grass isn't ready, I'm willing to deal with it. (It IS supposed to be nice for the next few days, too...the haylage will probably smell extra special. Great.)

Our last haylage bale lasted almost ten days, but with Tabor here, we expect it to only buy us a week or so. Hopefully that will be enough time for the grass to grow and be ready so we can open the paddock gates and let everybody out to graze. I'm ready to have some space between us and the cattle (especially Tabor, Mr. Spooky). Plus, seeing FIVE Scottish Highlands out in the pasture even the one day was a sight! I'm sure our neighbors, who watched our attempts to get the cattle back into the paddock with a probably mixture of amusement and terror (from the safety of their house - I saw them through their sliding door), will enjoy seeing the big hairy red beasts out there again...and will pray our fencing holds! We did zap Tabor with the new hotwire as we were installing it so I believe he's remembered what a hotwire is...


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