Farm Lessons: Life

Pip and the Painted Ladies

While picking up the house a little this morning, I glanced out the picture window to see a flock of about thirty wild turkeys courting in the asparagus patch. The toms were fanning their tail feathers and strutting around the nonchalant hens in a Spring ritual that has gone on for eons. Some things never change, eventhough the weather does.

Mike originally planned to put plastic on the greenhouse today. It blew off in shreds in the recent storms here that also spawned killer tornadoes across the country. We were lucky. It was our only damage. Besides, it was due for replacement this year anyway, since the plastic only lasts about three years. In any case, Mike’s crew of four will have to wait for tomorrow.

It may seem strange that it takes at least four men to replace plastic on the green house, but ours is over 100 ft long and far bigger than our house. Mike used to plant tobacco seeds in float trays and grow them there until time to set the plants in the field. Since we no longer grow tobacco due to a shortage of workers, we use it for vegetable and fruit plants for the garden and commercial produce fields. It is probably twice the size we need at this point.

I suggested to Mike, since the greenhouse has two entrances, that we partition off half of the frame, put shade cloth on the top and chicken wire on the sides and add a smaller wood frame house within it to act as a chicken house and aviary. The jury is still out on that, though and I think he intends for this year just to cover it as he has in years past. Afterall, we don’t have any chickens (yet) and he plans to use the run-in (open air barn of sorts) for the turkeys when they are old enough by just attaching wire and a door to the front of the run in. The greenhouse seems like it would be larger and more accommodating to 35 large birds, but I am not the farmer in this household.  I will remind him of my suggestion before the new plastic is installed, you can bet on that, though. Ha!

Broad Breasted Bronze turkey chick about one week old.

The little peeps (turkeys) are still in the garage in the swimming pool, but we had to cage them in for their safety. It did not take too much time before they figured out how to jump out of the pool and run amuck in the garage. Mike found some used wire fencing  and bent it like a tomato cage around their pool. It did the trick.

Escape artist wannabes

I sauntered out to check the calves this morning and was pleased at how much they grew. Some of them were large calves for their ages anyway, but to see them almost nose to nose with me in height delights me…not that I am short or anything. Pip and the Painted Ladies seem attached at the hip and although he remembers me and longs for a good pet (prohibited by the electric fence) he also displayed bull behavior, standing broadside between me and his herd of females. Considering his age, it was a little funny.

Belle, the totally blind Holstein, is forced to stay inside because she cannot see the electric fence. I don’t think she likes it much and spends her days spinning in a clockwise circle over and over again. This morning, however, she felt the warmth of the sun and tried to stick her nose out the door of her stall. Hopefully, she will soon have a permanent fenced pasture area so she can enjoy the sun she yearns for.

Belle basking in the warmth

The younger calves are growing so quickly and they, too, need the sunshine and very soon the new pasture will provide much of their nutrition. Mike planted fescue, alfalfa, and clover and will plant corn at the other farm to chop for sileage this winter. Feed prices have increased this year, as well as the price of replacement calves, so we are mindful of the budget. We are also getting away from raising dairy bottle calves. There is not much call for them now and Kentucky is losing dairy operations right and left. Sad news for several of our ‘babies’. We are now looking for black or white cows…just like everyone else.  I do hope to keep Cocoa, because one day I think she will be a good hand milker and nurse cow for new orphan calves in a couple of years. I am not considering her a quick return on investment, but a long term possibility. Of course, that leaves a question of what to do with Runner and some of the other babies.

 I always thought I was adaptable as a city-girl. I learn daily that I never knew what that really meant in terms of life and death. And unlike the ritual of those mating turkeys I saw this morning, plans on the farm must change with the wind and the times.  Sometimes, the changes are exciting, like the new arrival of infant animals; sometimes, even the thought of change is heartbreaking. Life goes on here and death is a part of it. That is a difficult lesson for me. I want to hold life in my hand, keep it close and safe and warm. I want to keep it sheltered where it can only feel the warmth as it pours inside the cracked door of its enclosure. Life won’t let me. The farm has taught me that.

Runner looking as if to ask...what is my future?

Some of the 'babies'

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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2 Responses to Farm Lessons: Life

  1. Sis I hope for your sake (sanity) and mine you are letting Mike or someone else do the slaughtering !!! I am like you I want to hold life not take life !!! I understand that is just the circle of life and with life comes death and with death comes new life BUT I dont want to be the one to do the killing !!!! I love you and love your blog so far what I have read anyway !!! ❤

    • My “breeders” will be sold for breeding unless the third party chooses otherwise…in which case, I don’t want to know. LOL Thanks for the compliment…I hope it doesn’t bore you too much. 🙂

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