Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No animals...remember?

So, the cows are doing marvellously, and our learning curve has been steep. Surprisingly, cattle dont' take that much to care for. Aside from a vet bill for some Ivermec (which we later discovered we could have purchased at the TSC Store and applied ourselves) and the evening grain ration - they mostly keep to themselves and pasture amongst the rolling hills.

I joke that we got them only to improve the view.
The Highlands are very docile, and while it took me a few weeks to get used to their horns, I have become accostomed to them. I do use a "sherpherd stick" when I am in with the herd, but tend to use it more as they use their horns. To say "out of the way please" or "back off, I am not giving you any of this". They seem to respect my "horns", even though they are in the form of an old maple branch with a knotty end.
When we went to the feed store to ask for "cattle feed", everyone had a good chuckle. Which was fine, because we laughed too. They were very helpful, and we not give a mix each night of grains and corn screenings, with a little diatomaceous earth mixed in for good measure.
I can stand down by the barns and whistle, and all 8 cattle come running like dogs over the hill. Actually, they are better trained than the dogs, as when I whistle for the dogs they tend to run the opposite way.
I am still not sure if they were a good purchase, but as a starter herd for two city kids who are trying their hand at farming, they are a perfect breed. Whether we keep them or not remains to be seen.
Now...I think we need some chickens. Since the no animal rule has been broken, what's the harm?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Honey Do

I remember when we used to go looking for a farm, and we would drive past farm houses for hours. As we drove along, I would often comment "If those folks painted that house it would look so great", or "I wonder why they don't fix that fence? It would look so much better if they did".

If only I knew then what I know now!

The "TO DO" list is never done. At last count, our To Do list had 57 items on it, everything from fixing fencing, building chicken coops, and repairing the cattle barn roof to such sundry items as finally finding the time to dehead my tulips! It seems that every time I turn around, another "To Do" pops up.

And so you begin to prioritize. Certain items go on "next years" list, some items go on the "winter list" and you begin to tackle the items that need doing immediately.

The trouble is that between us, we often have differing opinions of what can wait, and what can't. I don't understand why it is that the man cave garage needs to be cleaned out immediately, but then again - since it is said man that is doing most of the work I suppose I should let him put that one top of the list.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No animals for one year

That was the agreement. One full year of no farm animals, and then we would carefully choose what to get into.

But that was before the train ride.

In the beginning, it seemed rather romantic. We won a trip for two via train, from one large city centre to another several hours away. By car, it would be an 8 hour trip. By train? It was 11 hours. I know I am terrible at math, but I am still unable to figure that one out.

Regardless, it was a terribly long train ride, and would have been completely unbearable but not for the free rum and cokes, and the complimentary internet access.

So we sat, drinks in hand and used our iphones to surf Kijiji. 6 hours in, we began to run out of things to look for, and so our searches turned to livestock.

"how about a goat?" , "look at this cute pig" and then...

There they were. A small herd of Highland Cattle.

We had always said we wanted Highland Cattle. There was something majestic about their long horns and shaggy coats. But we knew nothing about cows or the keeping of them.

Still, and email wouldn't hurt. With a lowball offer, just to see - right?

We are now cattle farmers. Funny how that no farm animal rule went out the window. I blame the train.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The price of hay

We had a lot to learn about hay it seems. Those seemingly similar round bales are actually quite different than one another.

Round bales are measured in feet- in our area a 4 foot round is the preferred choice. While square bales do pack into a barn more readily, round bales tend to last longer as they are packed tighter.

The makeup of hay greatly increases it's value. Timothy hay with a mix of clover, alfalfa and leguemes being the prefered choice. Straw, the leftover stalk of a grain, is worth less but is useful for bedding and cheap feed.

So how much is hay worth? In our area a 4 foot round bale brings about $30 - our 48 acres gives us about 50 round bales, seems like a lot of work for $1500! However it's valuable feed for livestock.