Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hanibal the Animal

Our Australian Shepherd came in on three legs about a three weeks ago, and when I took a look at the unused foot there was something sticking out of it. My guess is that it was a porcupine quill. I tried pulling it out but wasn't able to. I made a vet appointment for him for later that day, but by that time he seemed to have it out and was going on all four again. Then a few days later it got infected, so I ended up taking him to the vet anyway. Doc was pretty certain that there was something in there causing the infection and ended up cutting the foot pretty much in half to get it out. Two days later we took the bandage off and Banjo had the stitches out 10 minutes later, so he went back to get re sutured. Then again 5 days after that.

Now we are just hoping the third time is a charm. He is on 10 days of crate and muzzle confinement. I am hoping he doesn't explode before them. Hearing me move the cows without him is just about killing him.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Head'em Up, Move'm Out

This week I moved the cows out to pasture. The pasture isn't quite where it needs to be for them to really start grazing, but we had an incident that kind of forced my hand. We were up to 9 calves on the ground, and they were all doing well. One evening last week while I was doing chores I noticed one of the most robust of the calves laying there dead. The only likely explanation was that she must have gotten trampled by the bigger cows. Cows are generally pretty mindful of the calves but there were just too many calves in too close quarters. Moving them out to the pasture will give them enough room that it shouldn't be an issue again. Because there isn't much grass yet we are still feeding hay.

I also decided to keep it from being a problem again next year by keeping Bubbles the bull in until July. That way we shouldn't start calving until May when the cows will certainly already be out on pasture. I don't like keeping one cow in by itself so I kept a lady friend in with him. Brockle Face calved in September last year so she was a good candidate because she is likely to be bred back already, but shouldn't calve until arter their release. Also, once the other cows get out on their rotation I plan to fence them in around the buildings to clean up the grass there that would otherwise have to get mowed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Farmer Todd

Our neighbor Todd brought his Ford 2N up yesterday with a Rotovator attached to the 3 point hitch arms, but the PTO (power take off) shaft was too long to hook onto the PTO stubb on the back of the tractor, so we had to shorten it by about 4 inches. I figured that we better make sure it was going to work properly so we set it loose on our garden. Forty five minutes later the whole garden was tilled about 3 times, and the 5 spreader loads of manure I had put on it last fall were pretty well mixed in. It would have taken me about 6 hours to do the same thing with my little Troybilt tiller.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Big Steamy Forkfull

Having a front end loader on a tractor makes a lot of jobs a lot easier. But cleaning the manure pack out of the cow sheds was still pretty difficult if it wasn't composted first. The main problem is that since they get bedded every day with junk hay I end up with a matted together pack which acts just like a stack of carpets when I try to dig into it with the loaders shovel like bucket. So I started to think about the old manure fork buckets that most of the early front end loaders used.

As it would happen, a few days later one of my favorite customers stopped by to get some chickens. Frank deals in used farm equipment. He claims that he "buys junk and sells farm machinery". He's also the kind of guy thats going to tell you a pretty good story while you are with him. The last one I heard was about back when he was a bachelor farmer. He had a big German Shepherd that got a face full of porcupine quills one night. Frank said the only way he was able to get them out was to back the dog into a corner of the barn, hold onto him with both arms and pull the quills out with his teeth. It was going along pretty well. After a while he looked up and the vet was standing there watching him. The vet said "Frank, we got to get you a girlfriend"

Anyway, I asked Frank if he might have any old fork buckets at his place. It turns out he had two identical ones, so I welded them together to make one big fork bucket. I think it is going to work pretty well. Here we are putting a couple forkfulls of manure on the rhubarb.

Spring Beard Melt

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sweet New Ride Revisited

Saturday I went down to look at a new(er) truck. It turned out to be such a peach that I couldn't resist buying it on the spot. Had to give $1200 bucks for it though. She's a baby blue 1990 Dodge 3/4 ton with 4 wheel drive and a quarter of a million miles on her. Now I know this sounds an awful lot like an "out of the frying pan and into the fire" situation, but I think it's going to work out all right. Unlike my old truck, I think someone actually did some maintenance work on this one. It sits square, runs good, the tailgate can be opened and closed by one person. It is geared really low, which gives it loads of power and a top speed of about 60 mph. Although there is something wonky with the speedometer, so I ended up having to call my wife who was following me home with it to find out how fast I was going. I thought it seemed slower than 83.

But the real clincher on the deal was the monster truck tires with the cobra valve caps that came extra, and the chrome skull gearshift knobs. Never before has a farmer felt this cool.