Friday, August 23, 2013

Frozen In Time

Life seems really weird right now. I went from the craziest July I've ever experienced where livestock is concerned, to a creepily calm August, now that practically everything is gone. It's like the calm before a storm; where the wind dies down, the birds and crickets go silent, and it feels like everything is holding its breath. Waiting... Waiting. And for the record, I'm not good at waiting for things.

Life around the farm is getting quieter still. I made the decision to just go ahead and sell Ruby and the two sheep. If I'm going to be gone for a year, then I might as well just start everything over when I come back, and not leave the burden of caring for them on anyone's shoulders. It's a hard, hard decision though... Ruby is the most amazing little heifer, where quality and hardiness are concerned. She was and is everything I could have wanted in a future milk cow. But I'm trying to not think about it. In fact, I'm trying not to even be out in the barn very often these days, just to make it easier to sell her. I've had so many people ask to buy her that it's been shocking. Folks from all over Oregon, folks from WA, and even a few folks from CA! She went from "for sale" to "sale pending" in about 3 hours of being posted. Meanwhile the goats have been listed for 5 solid months... Oy vey. But I am finally down to only needing to sell one goat, and that's Rose Of Summer. I gave Tamarack to someone who needed a buck (selling bucks is practically impossible right now), and I had to put Trigun down a few weeks back, since she stupidly ate some foxglove and the result was NOT pretty. Things happen on a farm though; no way around it.

The microgreens business is still going strong, and I'm happy to report that one of my sisters will be taking over the whole thing while I'm gone. Right now the two of us are working on plans for winter, and how to keep the micros going; I think our plans are good, we just have to execute them now. ;) Having the livestock gone, and expanding the micro business has done an incredible job at showing that in the long run I am NOT a vegetable person. The microgreens pay really well, and they're certainly easy to do, but oh my goodness... They are so boring. It's a job I could do in my sleep. Mentally stimulating, they are not. I miss the brain power needed for livestock. I miss having to outsmart the hogs, and getting to convince the 1,200 lb. cow to cooperate. I do best with a mix of this. Livestock to keep me on my toes, but then also the micros to give me something mindless to do when I'm fed up with the animals. 

And I really, really, really miss my milk cows. I get depressed when I don't have a milk cow around. There's suddenly no reason for me to get up at 5:45-6am, no reason to be outside at 7pm on the nose, there's no daily routine, no familiar chores that are always done precisely the same way... Not to mention there's no presence of the cow herself. Cinnamon especially has been missed. It was neat getting to try having a "HoJo" around (dairy person's term for a Holstein/Jersey cross), and I'm quickly getting quite hooked on crossbred cows. Their hardiness is amazing. A week or two ago I saw a day old Brown Swiss/Holstein heifer calf for sale on CL (mistake... I now try to not go to CL seeing as I can't buy anything!), and all I could think about was what a killingly good milker she'd be. Raise her up and then breed her to a third breed like a Montbeliard or Normande... Oh man, just thinking about a cross like that makes me grin. Three way crosses intrigue me and I've been doing a LOT of research these days, comparing them with 2-way crosses. Another cross I'd like to tamper with someday is a Holstein (cow)/Brahma (bull). It'd have to be an "old style" Holstein though; I'm rather particular about that. The "new style" girls these days are TALL, leggy, and prone to hoof/leg problems, mastitis, and usually milk too much to be hardy enough for a small farmer. The old style Holsteins are incredibly hard to find, but they're still here and there (confession: I almost bought one last month. But once I decided to intern out of state, I sadly had to cancel on her.). These old girls look like tanks. They are heavyset, broad, short legged, and they know how to put the food away. ;) They still milk well though; often doing 10-12 gallons a day. Anyway, my logic behind this cross is wanting a cow that milks well, but also has the will to graze right through the heat of summer. This year is said to be the driest summer that Oregon has had in 119 years. Yeah, three digits there. It's been HOT, and it's been DRY. Ellie and Cinnamon both did fairly well in June, grazing their way through the pasture, but once July came on and we started having days on end that were in the 90's, both just hunkered down and wouldn't graze at all during the day. Which meant I had to increase grain and give them good hay to keep their milk supply up, which then meant they were too full to graze by nightfall! Aargh! So I'm wondering what an infusion of brahma blood would do... My thinking is that the brahma would strengthen the feet/legs, lower milk supply a good bit (I figure if I start out with a cow doing around 12 gallons a day, perhaps the brahma blood would bring that production down to maybe 6-8 gallons a day? I really have no idea.), while increasing butterfat content a good bit (I hear brahmas have a butterfat percentage that is higher than Jersey cows!). Being a crossbred, the resulting calf would be much hardier than a purebred, and with luck, that brahma blood will create an animal much more willing to graze right through a summer afternoon. I hear these cows are pretty placid too, so that's an extra plus in my book. LOL. Someday I want to try this cross. :) Amongst others of course... I'd still like to try some three way crosses (I could totally go nutty with the 3-way's... So many breeds to try out! Norwegian Reds, Holsteins, Brown Swiss, Montbeliards, Normandes, Australian Reds... And those are just the dairy breeds!). And hey, maybe if my F1 Holstein/Brahma crosses turn out, I'll try crossing two F1's and see what THAT offspring is like. I know, you're thinking that that's going to be a lot of cows around... Something wrong with that though? *innocent look*

On the subject of cows... Here's a quick video I had taken last month and completely forgot about until today. Hurray for my grand memory. Not. This shaky, crazy clip is one that I nabbed while walking Cinnamon down to the barn for milking time. If there is ONE thing I miss most about having cows, it's leading them to and from milking. Walking the cows is/was the best. Especially when you get to cross a road and listen to their hooves clip-clop on the asphalt. Cars would always slow down and people loved watching me and my huge cow lumber by. Mornings were my favorite time though. The morning mist would be rolling off the road and hay fields, and everything would be completely silent. All you could hear was the cow plodding along, and snorting in anticipation at the thought of breakfast. I really miss that...

As I've mentioned already, not much is going on here right about now. :-/ I feel like I'm frozen in time. Waiting for the months to go by, and eventually leave to Missouri. Part of me feels like time is going to crawl by, but then the other part suspects that it may go faster than I'm prepared for. I need to get hopping in the next couple of weeks, buying a plane ticket for me and Gyp, getting my driver's license, and all those other necessary things that are required when one's about to move. I'm really looking forward to being in MO and being back to having 8-9 hour work days. I'm getting insanely bored these days, not having enough to keep me occupied! But hey, it's good to practice patience right? Hehe.

I will try to get back into my writing groove for y'all. Just bear with me here. I'm still trying to figure out WHAT there is to write about seeing as I'm in the "hurry-up-and-wait-stage", where I don't really have any animals, but in a few months I'll be on the biggest adventure I've been on yet! But I'll be thinking on it. And I'm sure this crazy farm girl can find plenty to write about if she'll only stop and think about it each day. LOL. I'll do my best. Just be patient with me. ;)


Bil @ Silk Creek Farm said...

Pending :)


Lindsey said...

If only, if only we weren't on opposite coasts - I want Rose of Summer! :)

Can't wait to hear all about your new adventures.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing!!