A May Day

Mayday! Mayday!

I think I’m going down. Downstairs and put another log in the fire. Or was that log in the web. I’m getting old. I get so confused. When in doubt cover every base. So I’ll do both. I’m down to only stocking the stove twice a day. The draft is turned down to almost off so it burns nice and slow. The outside temps have been around forty for three days now so it isn’t hard to keep the old house nice and toasty with a low fire. It’s this time of year you realize how much heat that wood contains. A little goes a long way when all you need is a little. I hope the little heat we had in the soil goes a long way. Until it warms back up. That’s all I’m asking. Now that I’ve planted. We’ll see, last year about this time we had snow. That planted corn did alright. I’m not really worried. Sorry to mislead. Sort of.

Those are happy exclamation points behind those Maydays. Not panicked ones from a plane going down. I’m saying kick up your heels and be glad you’re alive. Watching the newborn calves scamper about exploring their legs, the ground, gravity and such it’s easy to see the happiness that life is. They’re not affected by the drizzle and the cool. They are taking advantage of the cool by running all the faster and playing all the longer. Their moms are busy munching the new grass about the buildings since they broke out the other night. The whole herd jumped the hot wire down by the creek and have made the grand tour around the terraces to arrive back up here about the buildings on the wrong side of the wire. I let them be yesterday and haven’t headed out to roust them yet today. Though it’s definitely in the plans.

As soon as I’m done with these logs. The fire’s off and burning. This log’s about to burn up in the web too. Like a flea in a black hole. FffffT. Forty words amongst forty kazillion. Looking around, nothing left to stoke but the leftovers and the cattle. The cattle are busy eating so that’s what I’m about to do. If I don’t burn it. Have a great May. Have a great day.

It’s May, every day is going to be great. See you then, see you there …….

Cc

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Hauling

Rain. Good. Good rain.

But not before six more bulls sorted themselves. I quickly loaded them up and hauled them off to the sale barn.

This morning when I got up and looked outside it hadn’t rained. I decided to give the cattle a second bale of hay. I’ve been feeding them only one bale at a time for a few weeks because once it warmed up they started wasting too much hay. They were only half done with the bale I had given them last evening. I decided that another bale was timely if it was going to rain since I hate slopping around in the mud to hay them and by evening again they would need another bale. While I was driving by the cattle pens (I’m haying them out in a corn stubble field) I noticed the two herd bulls that are there to breed the cows were in the pen following a cow in heat that was trying to lick the mineral blocks I feed there. A few other younger bulls were tagging along for sloppy seconds. I jumped out of the tractor and swung the gate shut to lock them in.

After I finished haying cattle I unloaded the rest of the hay from the flatbed trailer so I could unhook it from the pickup truck and hook up the stock trailer. I threw a small square hay bale into the catch pen to coax the group in. A few cows and calves were swept up into the catch pen with the bulls and heating cow. They sorted out quite easily since the whole bunch was busy with lunch and not really aware of what was going on. I ran up to the house and asked the stay at gone mom to help me run the bulls up the loading chute. The last six bulls I had loaded were a lot smaller and I had barely been able to get them pushed into the trailer. I needed her to stand outside the chute and give them a little shock on the butt to get them up into the trailer while I stayed in the back of the column and kept pushing them towards it. Mine is a rather dangerous job given that cattle can kick backward very hard. I was fortunate. I was only kicked once and it wasn’t that hard.

Once I had them loaded and the truck and trailer were back up on the gravel pointed towards the road I was safe from rain and the mud that goes with it. I backed the rig up to a drop cord and plugged in the air compressor I keep in the truck box. It’s a thirty gallon tank with an electric built in pump. I like to have extra air out on the road in case I need it to get to the next town should a tire start to leak. I grabbed my hat and a cup of honey tea and we were off to Dunlap, the earliest sale in the area coming up on Tuesday. On the road again …….

On the way to Dunlap I remembered the first batch of calves I had sold way back some 28 years ago. Probably because they were sold at Dunlap also. Back then I hired a trucker to haul the calves the day before the sale. When I went up to watch the calves sell I noticed after passing the last town along the way that I was running very low on gas in my car. Having left my wallet at home I had no way of buying gas. With seven miles to go to Dunlap I began parking the car and walking the ditches for empty beer and soda cans. Here in Iowa we have a nickle deposit on each one. I would go about a half mile at a time and walk up one side and down the other side of the road throwing cans into an old box I had found in the trunk.

I wish I had left earlier. I waited quite a time on the bleachers watching calves sell hoping to see mine. When the killer cows started selling I went to the office to see if mine had sold. The cattle had sold by the time I arrived at the sale barn and they had my check waiting when I walked into the office. It was almost as much money as I had paid for the cow/calf pairs the year before. And I still had the moms. Maybe these cows were worth the effort after all. Maybe my old man was right. Livestock was farming, growing crops was glorified gardening. I pocketed the check and have never looked back.

What I did look for was a service station that would take all those empty cans. Here I was with a multi thousand dollar cattle check but no gas money, both feast and famine. Dunlap isn’t that big of town. I finally had to explain to a gas station proprietor what had happened, showed him my calf check and convinced him I wasn’t trying to con him. He seemed to think I had too many cans for that stretch of highway.¬† I was a little in awe myself as to how many cans there are along the roads. I had a trunk full and a few on the back seat floor. I think the rest went to a HyVee store to buy beer.

This isn’t what I had planned for a Sunday but then I’m not allowed to follow my plans anyway. Something better always comes up. That’s OK, plans are tentative at best anyway. I had planned on getting the two breeding bulls out of the herd a couple weeks ago so I wouldn’t have cows calving in January next winter. Hopefully those two weeks will be during our January thaw. Sometimes His plans, no every time, His plans are better than mine. Have a great Sunday even if your plans don’t pan out. As long as the gold does it will be alright.

If you’re at the Dunlap sale barn Tuesday …….

See you then, see you there.

Cc

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The New Boss

And it’s April 1st already. All ready? Oh boy. Here we go! Again. Spewing forth. I hope we don’t get fooled again.

I am glad April is coming in like a lamb. A cold lamb but a calm one. The way the winds blew yesterday I doubt if anything not tied down is where we left it. If not for the fence behind the wind break we wouldn’t have garbage can lids. We have cats so we need lids if we’re going to use the garbage cans. Which you have to do on days like yesterday when the high winds make burning any refuse a dangerous proposition. Even if there’s a burn barrel or pit available. Not enough new green grass but plenty of last year’s old dead grass to easily catch burning and spread like wild fire. The flames a lickin’

There seems to be grass enough to lead my cows astray. The amount of hay consumed per day has really gone down as the temps have warmed up. I know it takes less fuel to keep warm in the spring than in the winter. That’s factored in. This goes beyond that. It happens every year in April. The cattle are walking away from the uneaten hay and roaming the fields looking for anything not hay. I think after a long windy cold winter they feel restless plus they’re tired of eating the same old prairie hay they’ve had since January when the alfalfa/prairie hay mixture ran out. Cornstalks. Corn husks. Cobs and scattered kernels, even old weeds and grasses. Anything but hay. They like go hide to have their new baby calves also. Another spring right of passage. Old bos meet the new bos. Lick it clean.

You’ll notice I said not enough new green grass. We’ve had a few warm days. There is new green grass. But only just barely. A kind of green tint to the long brown grass. That is, it’s been brown a long time. The old brown grass is actually pretty short around these buildings. What wasn’t grazed down before winter has been creep feed all winter for the smaller calves that slip under the hot wire. I see the robins easily bobbing along¬† poking here and there in the grass. They never seem to come up with anything in their beaks however. Then I notice a branch lowering from the weight of a squirrel that only just landed on it. Lickitty split.

The brown squirrel is flitting around on the branch seemingly licking the bark here and there. It goes up to tiny broken branches and seems to chew and lick on the frayed ends. I start looking closer and can see little drops of fluid beading up into drops here and there on the tree. The tree in question is a Silver Maple. I wonder if this squirrel and these robins aren’t busy lapping up the nectar of this Maple tree. Who needs a tap and bucket? Who needs to reduce it down with fire? These creatures have learned to take it like it is. One sweet lick at a time. They’ve taken tree loving to a whole new level. Lick it up.

It’s only right now!

Cc

 

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