Today is a very good day. I am finally starting to feel better from this 3 week illness I have had. One thing about being on a farm and having an illness, the animals still need to be fed. Today I was running a little late and one of my border collies, Phoenix, came and stared in the window and cocked his head as if he were saying, “Hey, mom! Did you forget to feed these noisy calves? You’re late!” I have to laugh. Such a sweet and gentle reminder.
Yesterday was the first day that the older group of calves did not get a single bottle. It was also the first day the youngest calf got into the weaning program, losing one of his three bottles. The calves were not happy and any time they saw me, they all came to the fence and bawled. It has been quite a task to try to get the youngest one out of the fence for feeding and keep the others in. Thank goodness he is the skinniest one so when I open the gate for him (if I can keep it steady), he is the only one that will fit through. I have trouble putting him back in without the others getting out, as I have to lure him in with a bottle (it’s empty), and if the others see it, they all want it.
We also had Lauren and Themis from the NRCS back out yesterday so they could see what winter forage was coming up and advise me where to place the cow waterer in the pasture. They are full of good knowledge and advice. I would highly recommend that if you are a new farmer and don’t know what plants are in your pasture or need some advice in designing where everything in the pasture should go, that you call your local NRCS. While they were here, one of our black angus steer got quite friendly. Cattle are so curious. Ours reminds me of an old neighbor, Willie, who used to come over every time someone drove up in our driveway to see what was going on. Best security we’ve ever had, even if it did get a little annoying sometimes.
As work on the calf barn continues slowly, we have had to make a few temporary adjustments. We bought a gate to stand up at one end and used a board on the other side as sort of a creeper barrier (thanks Linda for the idea) to allow the calves in and keep the older ones out so they don’t push the younger calves off of their feed buckets. As you can see by the picture on the right, one of the calves graciously agreed to model how it works. So far, so good.
As we are planning for the finished calf barn to have three stalls, a kitchen area and hay storage, I have been watching out for a sink with big drainboards to put in the barn. Thankfully our neighbors (thanks John and Karen!) were pulling one out from one of their buildings, so that worked out well. Currently it is just sitting in the barn until we get the opportunity to run water out there. We are trying to figure out what we are going to use in that area to level it and provide a better flooring, and are considering sand and stepping stones. Stay tuned.