It is the humidity! After rain and temps in the low 60s, the temps soared into the 90s here and it is taking a toll on me. Without time to acclimate to the new temps, yesterday proved problematic for this old body of mine and I got sick from the heat while mowing. Still need to finish some of it today, but won’t be as enthusiastic about it.
The calves enjoyed the higher temperatures by staying in the shade of their shed, except an occasional foray to eat. Mike’s friend Earl (yes, that’s really his name) came over to help with the field preparation and fed the cows. Funny how that farm boy only yesterday discovered that the weight of a 600 lb calf on a tennis-shoed foot rather smarts! I’ll bet even the calves got a laugh out of that and I swear they no longer moo, but call, “Eeaaaarrrrl, Eeaaarrrl” to taunt him.
We can laugh at the situation because Earl was not really hurt, but had the calf been a full-sized bull it might have been a different story. Our adorable little Charolais bull, Sam is probably only 500 lbs now, but when he’s full-grown could be as large as 2,500 lbs.
Hopefully, he’ll be better looking than the one from wikipedia.
I’ve been amazed at the intelligence of these creatures. Sam, Diane, Hal and Big Mama all know their own names and in a catlike way will come when they are called. Catlike, meaning if they feel like it they will come. All of the calves recognized Mike on site as their feeder and come to the shed when they see his truck…or the tractor in the case of Frick and Frack. But animals this large can also be dangerous, so I’ve spent some time trying to learn their ‘body language’. Seems a bovine will show you their side first as a defensive stance. It means “back off.” More defensively, they will stare you down head-on, like Big Mama used to do me. Even the city-girl in me recognized that as a warning and I’ve observed that when strangers are in the shed area, she and another large black Angus take up positions showing their broad sides between the stranger and the rest of the herd. They make no sound; they just stand there, refusing to eat until the stranger backs away. I’m thinking they were both raised on the cow, rather than being bottle fed, and had good mamas.
Big Mama, however, has warmed up to me. We don’t have a petting-zoo affection, to be sure, but she no longer takes the stance against me and will feed within about five feet of where I am coming to that area when I say her name. She watches curiously, but doesn’t stare, if I move around and will take alfalfa from my hand as I stand outside the gate. We have an understanding. She is the dominant one and I accept that.
So today Mike will try to get another 50 acres ready for the soybeans, plus catch what remained from yesterday when his equipment broke and he had to come back to the house to weld it. Yep, another new observation about farmers– they also have to be mechanically minded and have skills in electricity, welding, mechanical repair and construction. Where they fall short in one skill or another, they must network to find others with better capabilities. It is this necessity of networking and coöperation that forms a basis for the close-knit farming community and though existing on a daily basis, is most apparent in emergencies and high-need times. Because of this willingness to help their neighbors, farmers continue to be a source of strength for communities assaulted by tornado, flood or fire. Many stop work on their own farms to travel to other states to help in rescue, recovery, and reconstruction efforts, like those taking place in Joplin now, asking nothing in return, because they know if they were in a similar situation, others would do the same for them.
So while the farmer’s life is often one of being alone, he is never truly alone and on a hot summer day, while others are picnicking and partying and he is sitting on his tractor, we should remember that. And on this Memorial Day, we should also remember that a great many of our soldiers throughout history came from the family farm where they learned cooperation, hard work, and dedication to their community.