Bush Hogging and the Struggle Against the Status Quo

Seems chilly out this morning, almost like a real Spring, by comparison to last week’s temperatures. Next week, the heat is expected to return. I’m falling behind on my chores due to my ankle and feeling overwhelmed at the idea of catching up. Mike just keeps going, kind of like a little Energizer bunny. Well, maybe a big one.

Earl is coming over this morning to help Mike with some tractor work. They need to cultivate the produce and bush hog.I don’t ever remember the grass being this high around the farm and it has already gone to seed. Of course, my experience with almost putting the tractor in the creek has taught me a whole new appreciation for the bush-hogging they do on the hills of this farm. I think bush hogging is one of the most dangerous chores they do — at least on this one. In some places, new sink holes appeared last summer after the drought, apparently from the lack of rainfall which dropped the water table and caused some cave-ins of underground caves. The guys will have to watch carefully during this season’s first cutting for new sink holes hidden by the tall grass. A tractor tire hitting a deep one could easily overturn the tractor, driver and all. In other places, deep gullies, rocky cliffs, and marshy low hills leading to farm ponds pose a significant danger, as well.

Bush hogging. Photo courtesy of: messicks.com

I actually think Bush Hog is a brand name, though I’m not entirely sure. But the term bush hogging is generic in these parts for the use of a pull behind finishing mower. They vary in size, up to about 20 feet across and their use is what gives the Kentucky horse farms their pristine appearance. They can take down high grass, small trees, weeds, and if you are not extremely careful any living being in its path. Since this is the time of year small animals and fawns rest in the high grass, the guys will be especially alert.

Fawn in grass. Photo courtesy of: lilscountrycritters.com

I expect the guys will work a couple of days doing the cultivating and bush hogging, but their day will begin as it usually does: feeding and watering the cattle.  Mike wants to bush hog a portion of their pasture so the alfalfa and fresh green growth is more accessible to the calves, too. A neighbor, who rents a few acres to grow his own produce, already hayed the nearly spent alfalfa field near their pasture as both a favor to Mike and to use with his own herd. Next year, the field will probably be reseeded to bring up the quality of the hay, but it is not needed for our calves, since Mike and I planted the acres next to the creek a few weeks ago and it is closer to the feed shed. With over 300 acres available, feeding the calves in the field should not be a problem, especially since we plan to sell many of them before winter makes its not-so-welcome appearance. Our breeding pairs at that time may be moved closer to the house where there is additional forage available.

There are now half a dozen or more freshly inoculated mushroom punching bags hanging in the garage. Mike finished those yesterday in his spare time, while I sat in a lawn chair with my foot up. Can you tell being ‘out of commission’ is really bothering me? Normally, inoculating and stuffing the straw into the bags is something with which I help. Fortunately, it only took him about an hour to complete the task, or the guilt of sitting there with a cold soda, tossing a ball for goofy Eddie, and enjoying the beautiful day might be too much for me to bear. Naw, probably not. I’m getting used to him always being busy, I guess. It is worse when he goes to his “real” job.

I lied. I’m not getting used to it, although I am more used to it than I was before. I grew up in family that did things together, even if it was only watching television or playing card games. This is the most difficult adjustment I have to make to farm life. At times, I just feel lonely for his company and it is not always possible for me to be there, like now, with my bum ankle or when he does a dangerous job, like bush hogging. My feelings put stress on the relationship and I wonder if other farm wives feel the same way or if it just the city-girl in me struggling against a farming status quo. Should I just chill out, or should I fight for more time together outside of farm work? Where do I draw the line within myself?

It seems to me our attitudes, preconceptions, and misconceptions about life are like that high grass out there. As we concentrate on our problems, or make problems out of nothing, it is our attitude that needs adjusting more than life around us. Are we paying closer attention to the bad things than the good? Are we letting our troubles overwhelm and depress us?

From time to time, our lives need a little bush hogging so we can see the true beauty in them– we have to be careful not to lose those little treasures hiding in the weeds.

Photo courtesy: michaelandjudystouffler.com; Photo copyright Judy Stouffer. Used with permission; all rights reserved

About cattlebaroness

I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a BA in History, nearing completion of a Master of Arts in American history. Born and raised first on military bases around the world, then in Orange County, CA, I moved to Kentucky when my children were small. I now live on a small family farm and am learning about farm life, planting and our newest addition to the landscape--cattle. Until a month or two ago, all I knew about 'cows' were that they came in brown, black and white and that some are raised for milk and others for meat. I am a quick study out of necessity.
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4 Responses to Bush Hogging and the Struggle Against the Status Quo

  1. M.J.Deare says:

    Reading this almost makes me want to live on a farm. Just lovely.

  2. I found your blog by accident. I love posts like this one. Great article and straight to the point.

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