Living in the Desert

Angus (cattle)

Angus (cattle) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes it is hard to decide what to write about in the blog. I wonder if I bore you with my ramblings or whether you find a bit of “country” education in them. Today is one of those days. I am at a loss. I guess I will rehash a little of yesterday.

The have forecasted rain here several days in a row now and even put us under a severe thunderstorm watch a couple of days ago, but we live in what Mike refers to as a ” ___(hometown)___ desert.” For some reason storms approach, then split and go around our little patch of land. The other farm, just a mile or two away may get blasted by a storm with wind and rain, but (and this is particularly evident during a drought) nothing happens here. My point is, we plan our days based on the weather report and all too frequently it is unrealiable for us.

Yesterday morning the weather guys forecasted rain, so I hurried outside after feeding to mow, even leaving Mike to deal with one sick Holstein calf on his own. I mowed around the cutting garden (flowers), I mowed the road to the mushroom logs, I mowed between the rows of asparagus, and caught some places I missed while mowing a day or two before. I even mowed “crop circles” around the apple trees that run parallell to the asparagus patch and imagine that someone flying overhead in an ultralight might wonder why there are three large cirles followed by four stripes on the ground below. Boredom will do that to you.

The rain never materialized.

While I mowed, Mike took care of feeding the cowshed calves and the 30 turkey chicks in the garage, ran to town for diesel, fed the herd at the other farm and came back to tell me he started prepping a field for pasture there, but had a hydraulic problem on the tractor. I never even saw him, I just kept driving around and around. It startled me to see him standing next to the huge lilac bush as I made a pass and I nearly jumped off the mower. He does that a lot, I think. He could wave his arms and warn me or something! It reminds me of when I was a kid and my Dad would sneak up on me doing something I shouldn’t have been doing and say my name in a voice that meant “you’re in trou-ble!” I jumped then too.

It was good of him to tell me what happened and where he now headed. I worry about him on the tractor alone. A roll over, a slip, an unexpected sink hole and he could be seriously injured, but with just two of us and so much to do, the “buddy system” simply will not work.

After he left and I finished mowing, I got to thinking about Big Mama, our largest Angus heifer. We bought her last March when she was about seven months old (or so we were told.) Today, Big Mama stands a little taller than Brahma Mama. (You know, the one I said “Holy cow, what a cow!” to when they brought her home.) Well Big is now VERY pregnant. From Mike’s description delivery could be fairly imminent.

There is only one problem with that. All our bulls were younger than she when she arrived and did not reach sexual maturation until about August. Cows have a human-like gestation of nine months. If Big’s delivery date is in April, she had to get pregnant in July. None of our bulls reached maturity at that time. She has to be due later and is just big OR there is another culprit.

I keep trying to remember when it was that the neighbor’s wild bull led his herd into Mike’s soybean fields and dessimated the crop. The herd was so illusive, it took the cattle guys over a month to find them and then by horseback in order to round them up. Ultimately, the owner had the bull killed because he would not stay in his enclosure and was wreaking havoc on several farms. Could Big be pregnant by that bull? Was the electric fence down at any time during that period? I remember there was evidence that the wild herd visited our herd, they poked holes with their hooves in the plastic mulch that covered vegetable crops in the adjoining field. Was it possible that he got to her?

We will not know until Big delivers, and maybe not even then.

Nevertheless, when Mike headed back to work on his tractor and sow the pasture, I decided I wanted to see Big for myself. I have not been to the other farm in a while and needed to check on my “babies” anyway. So I popped into my little sportscar (not a wise choice for a farm, by the way) and headed off to the other farm. Our half mile driveway curves and climbs uphill as it snakes past cliffs, rock walls, and barns. The abundance of rain over the winter washed out several places and Mikes travels two and fro, along with the weight of cattle trailers, have rutted out others. I learned to drive these sorts of roads by keeping the wheels on one side of the car to the highpoints in the road and avoiding, when possible, the deeper gutters. First obstacle course complete in record time. Now for the next.

To enter the other farm, one must ford the creek. For city folks, that means, drive through the creek to get to the other side. Doing so flies in the face of weather guy warnings about driving in high waters…on a good day. The creek was swollen from the rains that went around our farm the night before. My car has about a six inch clearance underneath…that is all. The water looked a foot deep or more in some places. Sigh.

Mike spotted me and took me across in his truck and we spent the remainder of the day at the other farm. He, on the tractor, and me, babysitting the dogs at the truck, checking out the herd and throwing them armfuls of clover I picked for them, and all of us enjoying the sunny weather.

Once again the weather guys were wrong. It did not rain a drop.

Mike was wrong too, I think. Big is pregnant, largely so…but I do not think she is due anytime soon. Rhino the long bodied Angus must be the daddy. I hope so…the wild bull was a Hereford, our other of-age bulls were Jerseys, and Sam the Charolais is short stock (too short to accomplish the deed with such a large heifer). I suspect we will find out if it was one or our herd or the wild one sometime at the end of May. Big as she is now, she might even have twins. I don’t really care, so long as she has a safe delivery for her and her offspring.

I decided, as we returned from our day in the sun, that Nature has a way of teaching the farmer something we city-folks do not readily learn. We make plans, expect traffic to flow smoothly, stoplights to work at a certain pace, to take the same routes, start and finish work at the same time every day, our plans for the day to work out just as we plan. All things on a farm are subject to change at any time, for any reason, and often without warning. Sometimes, you cannot live life one day at a time; life exists one moment at a time only. As a city girl, that frightens me, but it also calms me. If plans can change without warning, then why worry about things in life changing from the way we plan them? Just accept the change and move on, expecting that too can change.

Maybe that is the essence of living in faith: accepting change instead of fighting it.

I forecast I have a long way to go to learn that…then again, forecasts can be wrong.

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.
This entry was posted in Animals, Cattle Baroness, cattle information, farm advocacy, Kentucky, lamentations of a city girl, mushrooms, Soybeans and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Living in the Desert

  1. jimkda says:

    What did I say about a soap opera! Check Big Mama’s eyes for a faraway glazed look whenever Daddy wanders across her vision. You’re such an accomplished cow whisperer, the state of things will be obvious to you before long.

    I guess you’re mending okay if you’re going out mowing. Glad to know. Happy weekend … if you ever get a weekend.

    • What did you say about a soap opera? Ha! Big Mama still has not “popped” and Mike says he can see “lumps” on her size indicating that she has a calf in there. Two days ago, he reported that she is moaning…okay, so what I don’t know is how does a cow moan? I will have to check that out and get back to you. And yes, I am mended, mowing, and now redecorating. Ain’t life grand?!

  2. jimkda says:

    What did I say about a soap opera. Watch Mamma’s eyes for that faraway look whenever Daddy wanders across her vision. You’re such an accomplished cow whisperer, it shouldn’t take you long to figure things out.

    Seems you’re mending okay if you’re out mowing after your deck tumble. Glad to hear. Happy weekend … if you ever get a weekend.

    • So glad to hear from you again, Jim! We’ve missed you around here! Yeah…well, SOMEBODY should probably check Big Mama and see how far along she is, but, well, I am still a city girl and there are certain things I am not prepared to do. lol Hope you are having a great weekend too.

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