He who has water and peat on his own farm has the world his own way. -Old Irish proverb.

Category: Farm Life (Page 2 of 4)

Found and Lost

We found the cows: four white Charolais steers bedded down in a waterway in the middle of a farmer’s beanfield.

The same four white steers that farmer Tom’s fieldhand has seen while mowing a waterway. The ones he had called Tom about, the ones Tom had called Stewart about, the ones that Stewart had called Mr. Palmer about, and yes, the ones that had caused the hired hand to be the butt of some good-natured jokes. Those cows.

Turns out the family at that pretty Campbell Road farmstead we had visited 5 hours earlier had known that there were white cattle sightings on their land, but had forgotten about it when they determined Tom’s hired hand was a dope.

A lesson for us all: hired hands aren’t dopes.

Well, news of finding the lost cattle traveled quickly and by this time we had a small posse of locals rounded up to help us….maybe 10 people or so. We decided to move the cattle back up that long farm lane and divert them into a 5 acre pasture. From there we could get them into a corral, load them up into our trailer, and have them outta there.

The first part of the plan went rather smoothly. It took only 45 minutes or so to get the cattle moving up the lane and into the pasture. Marcel quickly went home to get our trailer, which he backed into position at the end of their corral. We shifted our positions around and had a nice three-point-corral system laid out. Marcel and the other guys would herd the cattle into the corral and Laura would shut the first gate behind them. Then Mary (a neighbor) would push them into a second area of the corral and shut another gate. Monica (Stewart’s wife) and I would keep them moving straight up and into the trailer, finishing the show of pure herding talent with a slam of the trailer door.

What a plan! We were so confident of success, even, that we ordered a few pizza’s.

The cows, however, had a different plan. They weren’t returning to the captive life without a fight and wouldn’t go into the corral. After a long and painful hour, we had another stroke of bad luck. One steer broke away from the group and leapt right up and over the pasture fence as if he were an albino deer. *ahem* He ran back down that long lane and returned to the beautiful beanfield with the stream and cottonwood tree. NOoooo!!!

Well, we chased him for a bit but decided to call it a night. We collapsed upon Stewart and Monica’s chairs, ate some pizza, drank some beer, and made friends with our neighbors on Campbell Road.

To be continued……..

And I promise the next time will be the last. This suffering must end soon.

Lost and Found

We were at the intersection of Campbell and Pecatonica roads, in the corner of our neighbors’ beanfield, and had lost the trail. The cattle had run into the road, that much we knew, but to where?

We drove down Campbell Road to a beautiful farmstead where some cattle of ours had “visited” before, in the late 1980’s. (I remember helping my Dad round them up and watching him mutter and curse under his breath. I also remember that while he seemed mad, he also seemed like he was thoroughly enjoying himself.) We pulled in and asked an older gentleman and what looked to be his daughter if they’d seen 4 white steers come by. The daughter told us that no, they hadn’t seen anything but that they’d keep their eyes out for them. We drove away disappointed and returned to our neighbor’s beanfield. Again.

At this point, Marcel was very diligently trying to find more cow tracks (oh, how I wish I were talking about ice-cream) while I was quickly losing patience with the slow pace of the cattle-sleuthing. You see, I can sometimes be an impatient person. I can also sometimes downplay my personality faults. But honestly, while Marcel was going all Sherlock Holmes on me, I was in the pick-up truck worrying about cow-car accidents while trying to keep the 3 kids from strangling each other in the back seat.

We decided to split up. That way he could continue dusting for hoof-prints and rubbing his chin thoughtfully, and I could drive around like a madwoman in the pickup truck and trespass on other people’s farms. All in all, another win-win situation.

It was at this point that I called my sister Laura. She’s always first on my list of who to call when there’s trouble on the farm. Ahem.

Could she be oh-so-helpful and get Madelina to her birthday party? ‘Cause we’re, like, a little busy trying to find our cows that escaped. Laura was the first of many to exclaim “The whole herd?”, referring to our herd of 42 grassfed cattle of varying ages, sizes and maturity levels. Thankfully, no. They were still happy as clams (what does that mean?) in their pasture.

As usual, Laura came through for me. Not only did she get Madelina to her party so I only had 2 kids wrestling in the backseat, but she joined the search party afterwards. Marcel was CSI-ing it in the beans, I was trespassing on area farms, and Laura was driving her van around the local roads, stopping in and asking anyone who was outside if they’d seen some cows. We had all inadvertently fallen back on our personal strengths: Marcel was being diligent; I was multi-tasking behind the wheel; Laura was talking.

And the talking saved the day. Saved the day, I tell you. Laura stopped in at a Buffalo farm (yes, you read that right) and the owners told her that no, they hadn’t seen the cows, but their neighbors down the road had! Laura called me just as I had pulled into my driveway in defeat. She told me she had a lead: there had been a sighting and I should meet her at such and such farm on Campbell Road. According to the buffalo farmers, these people had seen the cows.

Wait a minute! That is the same farm where I had stopped 4 hours ago and they said they hadn’t seen them. What is going on? I drove over anyways, met Laura there, and once again the nice lady told us they hadn’t seen anything. At which point our hearts sank. We had been so hopeful, so excited to at least have a small lead. But then, this time, the nice lady said, “Feel free to drive down the lane and check around if you’d like.”

By this time Marcel had arrived (cow-sighting-news travels fast), everyone hopped into the pick-up and off we drove down the nice lady’s farm lane. The lane was long, and it divided a large pasture with trees and some dairy cattle on the left from a very large cornfield on the right. AS we drove on, we got to the bottom of a long hill and into the middle of another soybean field where the lane basically joined up with a long waterway running through the middle. There was a pretty cottonwood tree in the waterway and a gentle creek flowing through.

One forgets how pretty it is here in Irish Grove until you drive down a lane into the center of a farm. You’re away from the road and houses and there’s a quiet peacefulness that fills your soul. The gentle rolling hills, the contrast between soybeans, corn and pasture, a small herd of cattle dotting the landscape: the pastoral beauty leaves you absolutely speechless.

Laura and I were admiring how pretty it was back there while Marcel jumped out and started poking around. Soon he found an area of long grass that had been flattened by something. And wait, a cow pie! Hail Holy Mary, he found a cow pie! Poop had never been so well received as in that moment.

By this time, we had all jumped out and were poking around. “Yep, looks like they’ve been here awhile. They bedded down here, and there’s a trail leading this way…and over there. And look, there it goes that way…” And then, all of a sudden, there they were. It was 5:00 PM and we had been searching for 8 hours. But we found them: four stupid white Charolais steers bedded down in a waterway in the middle of a farmer’s beanfield.

To be continued…..

Rewind

It was Thurday, and Farmer Stewart received a phone call from Farmer Tom. Tom told Stewart that his hired hand was doing some mowing on the Palmer farm–a dairy farm that butts up to the back of Stewart’s land–when he saw four white cows bedded down in Stewart’s waterway.

This didn’t seem too hard to believe, especially since Stewart rented one of his own pastures to Mr. Palmer for some dry Holstein cows and a bull. But Stewart was busy tending to his other farm in another town, and so was unable to run down and see for himself. Instead he called Mr. Palmer up, told him his cattle had gotten out, and to go gather ’em up again.

Now being a farmer–a mighty poor farmer as is now painfully obvious–I know that these calls are the ones you dread the most. “Ah, sh*t!” is usually my own personal response, but I’m sure Mr. Palmer (whom I don’t know) is much more civilized than I; he probably just shook his head a little.

I’m also pretty sure it didn’t take Mr. Palmer long to get down to the pasture to check out the situation–a cattle escape is something you attend to NOW. But funny thing is, Mr. Palmer’s cattle were lazing around nice and happy under a few trees in a pasture corner. He counted them: one, two…….yep, they’re all here. And then, get this! Then, as the responsible, non-sucky farmer that he is, he also walked the perimeter of the pasture and checked his fence.

He checked his fence? My, what a novel idea!

And by golly, his fence was fine! Sure it was a little bogged down by weeds in a few places, but that trusty electric fenceline he had put around the inside was working like a charm. Mr. Palmer cows won’t be trampling another farmer’s crops anytime soon.

So then something happened that was bound to happen. You see, there’s this well-kept secret that only those of us foolish enough to call ourselves farmers know about. It’s the bread and butter of a farmer’s day to day existence. It’s better than coming home to a home-cooked meal, better than growing a record-setting corn crop, yes, even better than toodling around in your brand new souped-up gazillion-horsepower tractor.

Farmers just absolutely love to humiliate other farmers when they make a mistake.
And seeing four white “ghost cattle” in a waterway is one of those mistakes that no one makes.

And so the jokes began. Farmer Tom’s poor hired hand was teased to no end about seeing “ghost cattle”, about not knowing the difference between a deer and a cow, about how there might be one albino deer in the area, but four?? Etc. Etc. Etc.

Yes, I’m sure that poor hired hand was the laughingstalk of the coffeeshop. And I’m also sure he’ll quite possibly never report a rogue cow ever, ever again.

The Escape

It was Saturday, and we had plans. Over scrambled eggs, the girls and I had decided I would take Ana (and Armando) shopping that afternoon after dropping Madelina off at a birthday party. It was a good plan, a win-win: I had the whole morning to get some jobs done around the farm, Madelina could hang with her buddies, and Ana could “you know, like maybe go shop around Kohl’s or JCPenney’s; you know, do girl stuff.” (Insert lots of hair fluffing and hand waving, Lord help me.)

Ana was so excited about our plan that she ran upstairs to put on mascara. I don’t let her wear makeup on a regular basis but try not to make a big deal of it when she does; my theory is the more we freak out about stuff, the more the kids want to do it. Wrong or right, it’s my theory. And anyways, have you ever seen pictures of me in high school? Holy cake-face.

I digress.

It was beautiful outside, so I decided to sweep the sidewalks and garage. Marcel had already finished probably 15 major projects by now–he’s a total overachiever like that–and was impressed by my surprising show of Saturday morning ambition. We were chatting as I swept, and he mentioned that the cattle hadn’t eaten the grain he had given them the night before. Had I seen them yesterday morning when I fed them?

**Insert note here: We are feeding grain to 4 Charolais steers that are not a part of our grassfed beef herd.**

“Well, no, actually. They weren’t in the barnyard when I fed them. You don’t think they could’ve gotten out do you?”

Marcel replied calmly, “Nah. I’ll go check on them down in the pasture.”

It is at this point that I’d like you to understand how the pasture that connects to our barnyard is at the end of a very long lane. It isn’t uncommon for us to go a day or two without seeing the cattle. What is strange, however, is that they hadn’t eaten their feed. Ground corn and oats is to a cow what a Snicker bar is to a teenager, if you know what I mean. It might give them pimples or a muffin top, but they’re not gonna pass it up.

It took all of 25 seconds for Marcel to see that they were gone and had pushed through the fence down by the sweet corn: the electric fence had obviously not been working. A situation like this makes a farmer like me go “Doh” and slap my forehead. If you have livestock you absolutely must have a working electric fence. You see, cows are an awful lot like rich people’s kids. Sure they have their every need and want fulfilled by their over-indulgent parents, but that only fuels their desire to break free from their suffocating life of priveledge to experience freedom, danger, a walk on the wild side, man.

I’d better stop with the lame metaphors before I cause y’all some stomach illness.

We grabbed the kids and set off on a long day of looking for the cows. We started the search by walking our cornfield, stop #1 on the cow’s Freedom Tour. We found their trail and our hearts sank when the trail crossed a section of downed fencing into the neighbor’s soybean field. Cursing ensued.

We drove over to the farmer’s house and asked them if they’d seen 4 white cows. “Nope, but feel free to walk the farm,” which we proceeded to do, to no avail. We did find the cow tracks around the whole perimeter, though….the cows had made a complete circle around the field. What the…???? Maybe they had returned to our cornfield??

They hadn’t, but we did. We even saddled up a horse to help us cover ground as we, once again, searched for cows in our 60 acre cornfield. We saw no new signs of them, however, so we went back to the neighbor’s field and re-followed the tracks. Sure enough, we found a spot where it looks like they ran out into the road. A very busy road. Oh Lord help us, someone could’ve been killed had they driven into a cow.

Unfortunately this is where the trail went dead. There was no cow poop, no tracks, no nothing to be found in any direction. It was noon, we had been searching for 3 hours, and we had lost the trail.

To be continued…….

Break Out

We’re starting day two, yes DAY TWO, of a first class, bona fide Irish-Grove cattle round up.

No, this is not the open rangelands of the West. But our 4 Charolais cattle think it is. They’ve found themselves a nice new home in the midst of a neighbor’s bean field. Did I mention the bean field is a mile away and across a very busy road? Or the fact that we didn’t know these people before yesterday? Yes, it’s a tricky situation. One that has been much alleviated by the complete graciousness of the farm owners. I’ll fill you in on the whole sordid story once we get these buggers caught.

We’re off. Wish us luck……

Whippersnappers

Rountine chores on a livestock farm can be a pain in the you-know-where because of the numerous small obstacles you must pass through in order to get to the work at hand. Whether we must check on the animals, move fences or cut hay, we have to pass through a handful of those necessary but pesky fieldgates.

Now opening and closing fieldgates is easy. Easy as spreadin’ butter on a hot summer day. But each gate requires us to stop vehicle, exit vehicle, open gate, re-enter vehicle, drive through gate, stop vehicle, exit vehicle, close gate, re-enter vehicle and be on our merry way. Usually we’re on that merry way for about 2 minutes at which point we come upon another fieldgate through which we must pass.

This is where the little whippersnappers have started to come in real handy. Now all I do is drive up to the gate, sit back, relax, and let the kids earn their keep.

Please observe the beauty of our new fieldgate routine:


Armando finds it easier to undo the chain from the other side of the gate. Hey, I don’t care. I’m kickin’ back in the truck, jammin’ to some tunes and checkin’ for nose hairs in the rearview mirror.


Look at the little whippersnapper, all hard at work. Sometimes the chain gets hooked up on the barbed wire and stops him up a bit, but the little bugger is determined, man. Ain’t no barbed wire gonna get in his way.

At this point I’ve moved on from nose hairs to my eyelashes….didn’t they used to grow thicker than this?


Oh, well look at that. He’s gotten it! Time to snap out of my rear-view-mirror beauty session and get to work.


Armando not only opens the gate, he opens it with style. Lookin’ good, bozo-brain!


And there it is. The signature thumbs-up. Gate’s open and I can drive on through. Easy as slicin’ chocolate pie on a hot summer day. I tell ya, kids really come in handy on a farm.

Next time I’m bringing along a nail file. Farms can be hell on the hands.

Of Life and Death

The last time I wrote about learning opportunities I was scoffing at a silly mistake I made that could have broken a part on our tractor. In all honesty I was making a joke to deflect my embarrassment at being a dope. A dope that forgot to unplug the tractor before she drove it.
What I’ve come to realize, however, is that being a dope and breaking a tractor part or two is the least of my worries when it comes to the farm. The farm is about more than that. It’s about more than a simple tractor part, and it’s definitely about more than my silly vanity and pride.
The farm is about life and death. Life and death. It’s as simple and basic as that.
The lessons I need to learn and the opportunities that have arisen to provide me with those very lessons have been numerous and varied this spring, as are the emotions that come with the living and dying on this farm. These circumstances have come at a time when I have been feeling impatient with the farm’s progress, with the organic conversion, and with the cows who hadn’t calved and who also hadn’t been very cooperative in my new grazing systems. “I’ve been at this three years,” I kept muttering. “It shouldn’t still be this difficult.”
Yet three years didn’t prepare me for this:

This is our bull and a pregnant cow lying dead in our pasture. They were struck by lightning during a thunderstorm.

Two good cows gone. All of a sudden my grazing difficulties don’t seem all that important. Instead, my impatience was transformed into dismay and concern. Our bull was so gentle and easy-going. How could we replace him? And this mother cow was one of our lead cows, not to mention that she was due to calve any day now. Death on the farm. It happens, but who expects to find this scene after a routine thunderstorm?

The cows were extremely distressed, so we moved them to another pasture so we could remove the carcasses. In fact, I think it was stress that put one heifer into labor. Our very first calf of the season was born that night. Ironically, the bull’s first offspring was born the day he died:

We named her Storm. And she is a beautiful, spunky little Murray Grey.
Life and death at the hands of a lightning bolt.

The shock wore off after a few days as I busied myself with smaller farmer duties–you know, the ones I like to do because I can manage them. The ones that rookies can’t screw up. (And if we do, we can write funny little stories about them.)

But then my favorite heifer was in labor, number 11, and she was in trouble. She had progressed to the point where the calf’s hooves were coming out and then stalled. We let her work for 2 hours wondering if we should pull the calf or let her alone. A cow will suspend her labor if stressed, so if you bother her too soon you’ll cause problems. And yet if you let her go too long, both she and her calf could die.
As a rookie, I have no experience in making these calls. And the literature says you just have to have a “feel” for it. Great. That’s helpful.
Finally we decided to pull it. We corralled her into the chute and called Farmer Scott from down the road. He’s a dairy farmer and is absolutely not a rookie. He showed us how to hook the chains around the calf’s second foot joint and then how to pull it down and away from her backbone. He and Marcel strained, and I mean strained, for about 10 minutes. They got the calf out and he lived, but barely. And number 11 was OK. Ahhh, life. Sweet, sweet life.
Disaster was averted and a lesson was learned.
Or so I thought. Because today we lost one. A nice large heifer calf died because we didn’t pull her soon enough. We acted quicker than last time, but the placental bag hadn’t broken. Farmer Scott came to help once more and told us that if the bag isn’t broken in time, the mother can’t get enough traction to push the calf out and the calf suffocates.
I had seen the intact bag and thought it had meant there was time. Precious time, ticking away for that poor little heifer calf. “It’s hard to say,” said Farmer Scott. “Sometimes an intact bag means you should leave the mother alone a little longer. You just have to get a feel for it.”
There it is again. That “feel” thing. The way I see it, the “feel for it” is a farmer’s way of saying you need to be experienced enough to know. And as easy as it may be to learn to drive a tractor or make good hay, this calving thing is throwing me for a loop. A very precarious loop. After two difficult births, it’s hard to say if I’m really getting a “feel” for calving or not. The first time we waited longer and had a live calf. The second time we acted and it wasn’t soon enough.
I am, however, getting a “feel” for the ups and downs of farming. The joys and sorrows. The celebrations, the frustrations…the life and death of it. I’m just not sure I have enough experience to know how to deal with it.

My Bad Week Continues

I went out this morning for my regular chore routine, which involves:

Feeding grain to the Charolais calves
Letting the chickens out to pasture
Checking the horse/goat water tank and filling if necessary (it was)
Walking around and acting important

This amounts to a whole 10 minutes worth of “work”, so you can see I’ve got it pretty tough.

But then I checked the egg refrigerator and noticed that the eggs weren’t collected last night. That happens a lot when I work my two evenings at Atwood. It’s no big deal–really–it just means that I have to stick my arm under hens that are laying today’s eggs in order to collect yesterday’s eggs. Understandably, this doesn’t make the hens too happy. They squawk at me, fluff their feathers up all big and poofy, and once in awhile a real grumpy one will peck at my hand. Hen pecks don’t feel too good, so I’ve learned to hold their heads in one hand while fetching eggs with the other.

Well, as I walked with my egg basket into the dark corner of the barn where the nests are, I noticed a hen cowering on the floor. Her head was all bloody and she was looking pretty beat up. Oh no. She was injured badly enough that I knew it wasn’t just a pecking order injury–she had been attacked by something. And when something gets into our barn it’s usually one of three animals: a raccoon, an opossum, or a skunk.

Raccoons kill lots of chickens in one night. We’ve had raccoon attacks that wiped out 20 birds in one fell swoop. The most frustrating part is that they eat only the chicken’s brains and neck. They like the blood, not the meat, and so waste the rest of the carcass.

Opossums will kill only one or two chickens at a time because they will tend to sit and eat the meat. They are also a lot dumber, and don’t leave the barn once daytime rolls around. Instead they find a dark corner to hang in, where inevitably they meet their demise at the hands of a few unnamed farmers. Ahem.

Skunks usually go for the eggs first, although they’ll take a chicken if it’s conveniently in the way. I can usually tell if one’s around before I walk into the barn because of their signature perfume, but I have had 2 really close calls with skunks in my barn. I consider myself very lucky, because a skunk can accurately hit a target up to 12′ away. Yikes.

Obviously we don’t want any predation on our hens, but we’d prefer an opossum or even a skunk over a raccoon anyday. When I found that bloodied hen, however, my heart sank. Her head was bloodied, her body perfectly fine. It must have been a raccoon. Which means there will be other casualties.

I walked slowly around the barn and found 4 more hen carcasses. Four large, healthy, young hens…lost. And another dying.

That’s the type of week I’ve been having. A long, crappy, frustratingly bad week. What next?

Frustration

You know those lovely cows I’ve been so enamored with? And how I think rotational grazing is the most awesome kick-butt farming system out there?

Well today I can’t stand either one. And the only butt that’s getting a kicking is mine.

I’m frustrated. F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-E-D.

You see, we’ve been working hard to set up our leader/follower grazing system. What is a leader/follower grazing system, you ask? A leader/follower system is where we take a section of our pasture and divide it into small paddocks. The yearling calves that are fattening for market are let into that fresh paddock first. They eat as much yummy goodness as they can until they get moved to a nice fresh paddock the following afternoon. They are the leaders.

The followers are the pregnant mothers and the bull. Once we move the leaders into their new paddock, these ladies (and one guy) get put into the paddock just vacated by the leaders. They clean up what the leaders left behind, which includes some yummy goodness, but also the less yummy stuff like weeds, alfalfa stalks that have been stripped of their delicious leaves, etc.

This systems allows all of the cattle to fulfill their nutritional needs, but the leaders get first choice at the sweetest, highest energy plants in the paddock, which translates into nice meaty grassfed steers by the end of the summer.

Sounds great, right? Harrumph.

First off, it took us two days and many trips to Farm and Fleet to get the system set up. We had the water tank, but the float didn’t fit it. We got the float to finally work, and then the connection was leaky. We got a new connection but then needed longer hoses. Hoses in place, we found we needed another polytape reel for the extra paddock divisions. Trying not to lose my patience, I bought or found what was needed and moved forward. You see, Marcel isn’t so sure about this grazing stuff, and I didn’t want to show any weakness in the system.

Which in hindsight makes me laugh. Or cry.

Here we are, getting the water tank in place. Ah, the confidence I was projecting. I look pretty convincing, don’t I?

Next we sorted the calves at our place, loading the grassfed steers into the trailer and leaving behind the four Charolais calves that we’re going to grain feed. We haven’t been too enamored of these Charolais so far, and Sunday was no different. They are so skittish it makes the whole group nervous. Because of them, the separating took a lot longer than planned.

But we got it done, and hauled the Murray Greys over to Mom’s pasture. We let the steers into their ‘leader’ paddock, where they got to rub noses with their mama’s across the electric fenceline.

And all was well. For one day, at least.

‘Cause on the very second day of grazing, my lovely children were having so much fun running through the tall, lush pasture grasses…….

that they spooked the leader calves right through the electrified backline that separated them from the mama cows.

Oh the joy!, the ecstasy!, the sheer delight that overcame these calves as they were reunited with their mothers once again. It almost brought a tear to my eye.

Almost, but not quite, as this wonderful, joyful reunion undid two solid days of work on the farm. It undid the previous day’s work, plus the long day’s work of separating the calves from their mamas that happened a few months ago. On a not-so-nice day, if you recall.

By this time I’m feeling discouraged. How are we supposed to re-separate the calves from the mothers in the middle of the pasture? How are we supposed to keep the bull away from those two young, impressionable heifers that he now has access to?

Most importantly, how do we restart our leader/follower system without discouraging Marcel? I need him to buy in to this system because…well, frankly because he’s the backbone of this farm. Without his enthusiasm and belief in this system it’ll be an uphill battle for yours truly. One that I will likely lose.

Ok. So we need to re-separate the calves, but at least for now they’re happily grazing in a nice, fresh paddock, right? Wrong.

When I went to check on the cattle this morning I found two very stubborn, curseword-inducing calves outside of the temporary electric fencelines. They had somehow escaped the paddock.

You’ve got to be kidding me!

It’s not like they were going anywhere, as the perimeter fence would keep them in the field, but the water was in the paddock. And on a sunny, windy day like today, they’d soon be thirsty.

I called Marcel and grumbled in his ear for awhile. He suggested that I take down the whole system, let all of the cows back into the barnyard, and we’d start all over later tonight. “OK. You’re right. That’s fine. I’ll take it all down.”

NOT.

I hung up, grabbed the pick-up truck, picked up Armando from preschool, and proceeded to torture him (and those two darn calves) for over an hour. I even broke the first rule of cattle rusting–never herd cattle alone–but I’d be d*mned if I was gonna take all that work down and accept defeat.

I moved the mothers, calves and bull into a fresh paddock full of yummy goodness so they wouldn’t pay mind to the fact that I was lowering the electric fence on one side. I pinned the fence down for a 20-foot opening, and then chased those two stubborn calves around the open field until they finally (finally!) saw the opening and crossed over.

I swear they stopped in front of the opening at least 6 times before they decided to cross into the paddock. And speaking of swearing, I think I gave my 4 year old an education, if you know what I mean.

So there you have it. My frustration runneth over, my rotational grazing system runneth amuk, and my yearling heifers runneth with the bull. And I’d better stop saying runneth, or I’ll be talking with a lisp for the re-thst of the day. Laugh.

At least I’d be amused. That’s a lot better than frustrated.

Visit Irish Grove Farms!

Irish Grove Farms is participating in the Openfields farm tour on May 24th!

Take advantage of this great opportunity to come and see just exactly what it is we’re doing with this lovely farm of ours. We’ll tour the pastures and visit the grassfed beef cattle. We may even get a peek at some young calves. You could collect an egg or two, climb up a hay shaft to the second floor of a milking barn, or find out exactly what a round barn looks like on the inside. Kids can feed carrots to the horses and goats; families can bring lawnchairs and a picnic and enjoy our hidden pasture for a bit. Better yet, you could just hang for awhile with the wackiest rookie farmers in the area.

Hope to see you!

For more information and a map of all participating farms, visit the University of Illinois Extension–Winnebago County website:
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