Monday, April 19, 2010

The moratorium is over

I'm not sure what finally convinced Glen to plan a winter break from calving, but a couple months ago he told me there wouldn't be any cows bred from March 10 to May 10. Hallelujah, I said. Theoretically, that meant no calves from December 15 to about February 15. When reality is accounted for — the fact that cows calve early and late — we'd have about a month off.

I caught Glen looking at the breeding calendar early last week and he admitted that he wasn't going to wait until May 10. I know it had to be terribly difficult for him to ignore the heats the cows were showing. Yesterday afternoon when we let cows out, six cows were in heat — that's ten percent of our herd. I know Glen had planned to synchronize a bunch of cows to come into heat next week, but these cows synchronized themselves. I asked Glen when the breeding ban was over and he said, "Tonight!" So, the moratorium is over.

Now we'll have a rush of calves during the first weeks of December, since Glen synched and bred every eligible cow before March 10. And a rush again starting the last week of January.

At least we'll have a little break. Maybe next year we'll make it a whole two months.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You have to start somewhere

"Start with what's necessary. Then what's possible. And suddenly you're doing the impossible."

I stumbled upon this quote today while digging through some boxes of stuff from college.

Funny how inspiration like this falls into our hands when we most need it.

I certainly didn't appreciate the wisdom of this advice when I was in college. I do now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Farmer Dan

Dan has become quite the young farmer in the past couple weeks. As soon as the snow was gone, he was in his fields (aka his sandbox). He had everything tilled by the end of March, despite his father's warnings that it was too wet.

He spent so much time outside "working" that a week later he had all his planting done and he'd hauled all his heifers out to pasture. I think Glen was jealous.

If Dan wasn't in his sandbox, he was in the tractor and skidloader with Glen hauling out bedding packs from the cow and heifer yards. He'd come in at the end of the day covered in dust and dirt and full of stories.

"Mama, I tell you story..." he would start every time.

Then, one time it was, "Mama, I show you something!"

Curled up inside his grimy little hand was an earth worm. Dan was helping Glen mix feed and when they lifted up a bale of balage, Dan spied the worms. He insisted upon picking out a worm and then carried it around for another couple hours. You can imagine the poor worm's state by the time it made it to show and tell.

My favorite story from the past two weeks, however, is about nurturing.

Dan found a short piece of red garden hose (the end of the hose that was sliced in two by the skidloader this winter) up in the machine shed. When I first saw him with the hose, he was using it as a chicken chaser.

When I checked on him a little while later, the sight melted my heart.

He was standing outside Ginger's pen with the hose in hand. Ginger was standing right in front of him, trying to eat from her bunk. There was a half a pail of water next to her water tub. He had one end of the hose in the water and was putting the other end up to Ginger's nose and saying, "Here, Ginger, take your medicine."

I was astonished (but I shouldn't have been). My three-year-old was trying to stomach pump a 500-pound heifer. He "helps" Glen use our stomach pump (which has a red hose on it) to orally administer fluids to fresh and ill cows all the time. He calls the pump solution "medicine" even though it's usually just electrolytes and sugars.

He knew Ginger was in the pen by herself because she wasn't feeling well. Now that he had a pump of his own, he had apparently decided that Ginger should have some medicine "to help her feel better".

My thought later that night was, this is how farmers are born. Whenever you ask farmers why they farm, most of the time their response is something along the lines of "farming's in my blood" or "it's what I feel called to do". I feel the same way. It's hard to describe the force that pulled me back to farming after I left the farm to go to college. But I have an idea now of how that force got it's start. I, too, grew up out in the barn and started "helping" at a very young age.

Dan probably won't remember trying to pump Ginger (or trying to plant corn in his sandbox), but if someday he sits us down and says, "Mom and Dad, I want to farm," I won't be surprised. The seeds have already been planted.