Oct 31, 2010

"Roll 'em Out!"

As soon as the weather warms up enough, usually in early to mid-June, it is time to take out the animals for the summer.
For some, it is a fairly easy task and only requires a few basic preparations.

Moving the pig hut to a new location was first on the list.  Last year's lot was muddy and wet after the winter so the hut and the grain feeder was relocated up higher on the hill where it would be dry and warm. 
Then Gustav loaded up a large straw bale (and a surprise stow-away)  in the loader of the tractor and took both up to the new digs.
The hut was lined with straw that would be replenished all throughout the summer so that the little porkers would be dry and warm and the grain feeder was kept full of barley to supplement the fresh water and vassle (a whey by-product from the cheesemaking) that they also had in abundant supply.  Both Tony and The Jar were unloaded happily from the haywagon into a soft, grassy field.
In the world of pig habitations, this was
The Ritz.

 The older cows and bull are also relatively easy. 

They 'know the drill' and will walk along quite cooperatively to the field where they soon learn that the new lush grass is waiting.  This year we had a little glitch because we had what we called "The Young Mother's Club" consisting of two of our younger cows, (but more about that later in the post). There they are waiting with the larger bull in the left can see the bull and the brown and white  by the water trough and just behind her the back of the other member of "The Club".  Maxie walked them all out with ease and opened the gate of the field for them to start their summer grazing. If it is still too chilly we let them out in the day and bring them in at night until it is comfortable enough for them. 
They love to be out in the fresh air.

The sheep are loaded up into the horse trailer and taken with the young bull and "Mellankalvar", ("middle calves" or young heifers who have never been pregnant) to the beautiful fields at the village of Östansjö where they will stay for the summer months.

No Problem.

And then there are the calves...

They have been indoors from birth and they have been in a group.
Going anywhere alone, and certainly going out of the barn is completely unfamiliar to them.
To add to the trauma,  for their own safety they must be taught that the fence is electric.  That requires coming close enough to get just a tiny "zap!" so they will stay within it's bounds.
It's a real handful. 
They are young but they are strong and it is important that they learn.  Both the boys were so patient with them and encouraged them along reassuringly but firmly.
They managed it really well.

It's said that in farm life there is always something new.
This year we had two unusual cases:
  The first was this cow who had been pregnant and quite ill in the late winter.  We had the vet come who did all possible, but we didn't know if the calf would survive.  We kept the mother in a separate stall and she had the best of care.  Calving season came and went, but nothing from her.  So when it came time for the cows to go out in June, it was still a question as to whether she had retained the calf.  Gustav kept a close eye on her in the field because of course she never came in to milk.  In late July he saw a change and brought her in to one of the calving stalls that Pappa had made. Sure enough she gave birth to this beautiful calf.  Maxie loved it and made sure the little rascal couldn't crawl through the bars onto the feeding table.  He fastened on a board as a barrier for safety.

The second case requires an explanation of how "The Young Mother's Club" came to be.

Each Autumn as the weather begins to change and the grazing is depleted, we have to go every day to Östansjö to check that the heifers, young bull and sheep there have water that isn't frozen and a bale in the feeder.  One morning in late September it was Manny's turn to do it and he returned to tell us that there was a "new calf at Östansjö".
We could hardly believe it, but it was true.  There were actually two heifers who had given birth to a calf each, but one had not survived.
It was totally out of sync time-wise.
When we tried to figure out how it could have happened we realized that in the previous December there had been an incident in the Ungdjurstall (young animal barn) where the four young heifer calves were housed, when the gates had been left open for a short time unnoticed during the feeding and cleaning.  When the boys discovered it they closed them up immediately.  There was no sign that any of the four heifer calves, who were only 8 months old, had strayed out of their pen. The only plausible explanation was that during that little break in the security somehow two of the four heifer calves managed to get over to the young bull, who was in the same barn but in a different stall, and get pregnant.

And this is the little heifer calf that survived.We named her Pearl, she was so, so white and she was beautiful.  We fed her with a bottle and she was in a warm pen by herself, but she was lonely.

Enter Basil.
Out of the blue, at about the same time, a woman called us that Pappa had contacted ages before looking for a black ram. 
She had one and was ready to bring it to us.
It was the perfect answer.
Pearl and Basil have never been separated.  Because of her late birth she couldn't go with the young bull this year at Östansjö.  Instead, she and Basil spent the summer in Nina's pasture two farms down from us.  All summer long we saw them romping together in the field, and sleeping side by side during the warm summer afternoons. 
They were and are an unlikely, but companiable pair.

We were just a little later than usual getting all the fur-babies out this year.
It was the third week in June by the time it was all accomplished.
I am always amazed at how the young ones adjust.  Manny says they are a lot like children in that respect.  When they first go out they stand by the fence and wail and carry on all day long.
 We call them
"The Moo-man Tabernacle Choir".

But if, as you are working around the farm, you go by and talk to them soothingly and in a comforting voice, they settle in very quickly.
Some of the farm people around us say we are "too soft".  That you have to "show them who's boss".  In some cases with the animals that is true.
But in this case, we always err on the side of kindness.

And it works.

1 comment:

midnight hysteria said...

i think your posts are absolutely amazing ... i can imagine emilie reading them to the two little girls as they look at the pictures you so abundantly put up .... it can only bring your family closer to you, to knowing who you are and how you live ...

thank you so much for your insights and thoughtfulness and for the many mentions of the church and the blessings it brings you and your family .....

darlene in yakima, washington, not nearly as poetic and prolific, and wishing she were ....

oh, yes, congratulations on a new aaronic priesthood priest -- not too long now before gustav's mission!