summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Monday, September 28, 2015

Deviation from Routine

Exactly one week ago, I had a slight mishap.


A neighbor called Glenn to let him know his cattle had come over onto her property.  He responded with, “I’ll be right there.”


Looking out the window and down into the pasture just below the house, we saw bunches of cows and calves.  Evidently, not the entire herd went over to pay a visit. 


Glenn informed me that he would need my help to be guardian of the gate.  This way he could easily slip over on his ATV without having to get on and off to open and close the gate and it would guarantee that the remaining herd would not follow him onto the forbidden grounds through the fence vulnerability which had not yet been found…by us.


I had not gone for my morning walk since it had been raining and still was.  So, the reprieve from the wetness I thought I had gotten was not to be.  I had to go out into the pouring rain.  I followed Glenn, in tractor, down in the ‘mule’ and was able to guard the gate without incident.  I stood solid while the herd crept closer to me.  They did not intimidate me. The cows and bull gathered within feet of me but not one tried to make a run through the inviting open gate - ‘the grass is always greener’ syndrome.  Shortly, Glenn retrieved one calf and one cow.  Not the numbers we had expected.  The two easily ran back through the open gate and joined the herd in waiting. Two delinquents are easier to rescue than 40.


On his return, Glenn wanted help with a second gate while he went to fetch some of that amazing corn he gleaned last week to feed to the cows.  As he approached the gate, I opened it for his access while the cows looked on with eager anticipation.  They cooperated, again, by following the corn laden tractor deep into the pasture where they would spend the next few hours munching to their delight.  But, where were the sheep?  I could not see them and I did not want to reclaim my mule and have the flock decide, on their own, to change fields.  I waited and waited for Glenn and his turn to watch the gate for me.  I was getting soaked having only layered with two sweatshirts and no raingear. The dogs, quiet by my side,  waited for some indication of my intended plan.


Finally, I decided to take a chance and check on Glenn.  Just a few steps from the gate, I felt a horrendous jolt to my ankle and went down to the ground instantly.  Snowball either decided to run at me with his full force or he was playing with Buddy and jumped without thought of where he would land.  I do not know exactly because my back was to the dogs. All I know is that he collided with my ankle with the entire weight of his body.  Snowball is one big dog, a Great Pyrenees to remind the readers. 


I was prone in the mud and manure (again, remember that the cows were just waiting in that exact spot and when they stand around they just go through their normal activities - relieving themselves of excrement, for one) with the rain falling at a steady clip. 


My entire left ankle was throbbing in pain.  I immediately thought I broke my ankle and about all the things I would have to put on hold.  My dogs are no Lassie.  They stayed by my side, jumped on top of me as if I was playing and made no attempt to get Glenn.  I put up an arm to wave to try to get Glenn’s attention, but he was still a distance  away inside his tractor cab which is quite comfy - no rain and no noise (as in my yells) for him.  Eventually, he made a turn to where he could catch a glimpse of me on the ground.  But, would he? Thankfully, he did.  He drove me back home in the ‘mule’.  I undressed from my wet and soiled clothes, hobbled to the recliner, covered up with an old blanket and remained as still as possible, cold and in pain.  Glenn did bring me an ice pack (oh, so cold) for my foot, heating pad for my body, and two ibuprofen.  Sympathy was not in the picture.


Five hours later, I managed to get up and walk slowly if I kept my foot straight and stiff.  After 5 hours of sitting, I was quite bored. 


I could not wiggle my toes without pain. I self-diagnosed…a bad sprain.


I told myself that ‘Tomorrow, I will be back to normal.’ That was my hope, anyways.  Ah, wishful thinking…


Still, I know I will need to be careful for weeks.  My plans of getting my perennial garden fully weeded in the next few weeks might be delayed until spring.  My entire ‘to do’ list is based on my ability to move about freely and with vigor.  Not this past week, maybe soon.  I did go out into the garden for a bit on Friday, four days after the incident, and was overcome with pain. Ugh - more rest.  My recovery might take longer than I want it to - double ugh!


A couple of years ago, I chipped a tooth while I was guardian of the gate.  A cow slammed the gate into my mouth. I never saw that gate coming. 


Farming, at least gate duty, is certainly hazardous to my body.  And, being careful is irrelevant to blindsides.


Maybe next time I should gear up with full-body padded protection…couldn’t hurt.


Update:  I am still hobbling with a swollen ankle/foot - a totally blue foot to be more accurate.  My dogs are not happy and they are confused as we have not been on our daily walks.  Can they not notice that I am barely walking?


The up side is that last week it rained daily and the forecast for this week is the same…more rain.  My outside activity has naturally been minimized giving me a bit more guiltless recuperation.  No great photo opts from inside the house, though.  I do miss seeing my birds and nature’s daily changes I realize on my daily walk with my canine buddies. 


I will return…routine here I come!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumn Arrives

I was awakened this morning to honking geese flying directly and low over the house.


This appropriate gesture from Mother Nature was a fantastic way to begin the official autumn season.


Happy Fall Y’All !



Friday, September 18, 2015

This Picture Says A Thousand Words

What are your words?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Silage Up Close

A portion of the U.S. population thinks that milk comes from the grocery store.  In a way, that is correct, but first, the milk is produced by cows before it makes its way into plastic milk jugs and is available for purchase at grocery stores.  


The process is long.  It takes a pregnant cow to produce milk.  And, it takes plenty of high quality feed for that cow to get through the nine month gestation period and to the point of producing quality milk.


One such feed is silage, corn plants chopped when at about 35% moisture and piled to ferment.  This is one of several feeds that are fed to milk cows.  Milk cows require a higher quality feed than beef cattle and silage is a wonderful food source which helps promote milk production. The dairy farmer is always striving to increase the quality of his feed resulting in a higher quality herd and milk…all the better for human consumption and health.


I have never seen corn being chopped for silage; that is, until this week.


As mentioned in my previous blog, Glenn was helping a local farmer friend with the task of chopping his 2015 corn crop for silage.  Glenn was one of two truck drivers. Glenn mentioned to me that I should come by to see the process.  I was interested, so I did.


This year’s corn crop, as well as many other plants including those growing in my garden, benefited by an abundance of spring/early summer rain.   This corn was tall.


I watched as the chopper cut the rows, about 11 at a time, and blew the chopped vegetation out a spout aimed at a large hauling truck, moving alongside this chopper, which collects and hauls the chopped corn back to the barn lot to be stored and to ferment in concrete silage bunkers.  The actually chopping took place sight unseen within the huge silage harvester.


The huge truck filled fast.  A second truck was waiting to slip into line to collect the next rows. 


The filled truck drove back to the barn lot and unloaded.  This particular truck has a mechanism to push the contents out rather than raise and dump.  Then, a weighed tractor packed the chopped corn into the concrete bunker.  This chopped corn ferments and is stored until needed for feeding. 


I was fortunate, too, to be able to drive as a passenger in the truck and as a passenger in the chopper.  I saw the process from a front row seat.  Now, that was exciting!


There are many steps to the end result of silage. Preparing the soil, planting the corn seeds, hoping for and receiving adequate rain, cutting and chopping the entire corn plants (stalk, ears and leaves), and  storing and fermenting the chopped corn are the basic steps.


The cows are happy to have nutritional and tasty feed.


Milk consumers are happy to purchase their milk so simply.


Hurray for farmers!


Ok, Ok…I know I am a bit biased because my family is a family of farmers, but the sentiment does not change…hurray for farmers!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Glenn Gleans

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system.


Yesterday, Glenn was a gleaner.

Check out his haul…pretty impressive. 


Glenn is helping a local dairy farmer harvest his silage corn (upcoming blog).  There is a certain amount of edible plant material for livestock, including whole ears of corn, remaining in the fields after the actual harvesting.  This residual is due in part to some of the corn stalks being blown flat to the ground during heavy winds throughout the growing season and which cannot be recovered by the chopping harvester and in part to a certain amount of wastage by the process of harvesting.

Glenn was invited to glean what he could from the fields.  This is the first truckload.  Glenn estimates that he can retrieve another five or six truckloads.

This morning Glenn scattered a portion of his bootie to our cattle and sheep.  Within seconds, the cows were chomping down with determination.  These corn stalks are a special treat for them.  Corn is like a banana split not just a one-dip cone, is like an entire cake not just a sliver of a slice, is like the entire candy bowl not one polite piece.
Licking the bowl...

Yep, our cattle are happy today and will be for many days to come. 

Glenn a gleaner…yes, on - more like not letting this valuable food source be discarded, but gathered.

Waste not, want not.

Monday, September 14, 2015

September Rose

My late season roses are gorgeous!


Can’t you just smell the sweetness?  I can. It is a fragrance like no other - not overpowering, perfectly captivating.  I grow roses for the scent alone. I can get the magnificent color from so many other flowers, but I cannot get this aroma. One whiff satisfies my need to ‘smell the roses’.


And, they are so pretty…so unlike my midsummer roses.  Yep…this is the same rose bush that the pink beauty pictured above is growing on minus the mob of Japanese beetles - yuck!

Yes, there is/was a rose blossom  under all those beetles.  Seems they like roses, too!


A Rose Is A Rose only when those nasty beetles have departed.


I love September roses.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Caught In The Act

Lately, I have been noticing that I have not been getting my full quota of eggs…9 every day to be exact.  I have nine layers laying at, what I thought, 100%.   Now, I am collecting 8 and sometimes even seven eggs per day.


Today, I went to let the hens outside and to collect my daily take of eggs.  I usually stroke the backs of a few of the hens as they gather around my feet.  They were acting normal.  As I opened the little hinged door and all the chickens exited to their outside run, a foul smell came over me.  Now, that was not normal.


I turned to collect the eggs out of the nesting boxes and was startled by a face to face encounter with a black rat snake inside two of the boxes.  Yes, two of the boxes.  His rear end length was looped around the inside of one of the compartments and his head end was in the adjacent box.  Evidently there is enough of a space between the narrow board wall separating the two cubicles for the snake to slither through. I did not think so. But, I am not about to argue with a very long and very ugly snake.


The snake had its mouth wide and halfway around an egg.  I was not going to gather that egg, but I quickly collected the eggs out of the other nests.  I did not want that snake stealing yet another egg.  After all, I had no idea how many eggs one snake can manage to ingest at a single meal. And, here I thought my hens were being lazy.  Silly me. Then, I ran for my camera.


Hey, that's my egg you just swallowed!

By the time I returned, the snake had swallowed his egg, whole.  As I watched, he glided up and over the top of the dividing wall, which was still hidden from my direct sight, and the snake was now comfortably and totally in the end box.  How did that egg, encased in the snake, get through the slit of an opening? Well, I was not about to investigate further at this point in time.


The snake stared at me.  And, I stared at the snake.  The snake won.


I left the chicken house.  I have no idea what happened to the snake.


And, that fact is a bit disconcerting for my future and very regular hen house visits.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Summer's End

Yesterday was Labor Day…the unofficial end to summer.


As a kid, school always started back after Labor Day; thus, the end of summer.


Glenn and I observed the holiday by going down to the farm pond and taking a short swim in the’ still warm enough to take a dip’ water.  In addition, I floated, via an extra-large and fairly stable air mattress, to catch the last of those summer UV rays.


 We decided to spend the night in the pond house which is equipped, very primitively, with a wood bunk and sleeping air mattress. First, we made a fire in the free-standing fire ring on the deck to roast a few hot dogs. Yummy!  As the sky darkened into night, the stars began to jump out one by one.  Soon, the big dipper and the north star were in full view as well as the millions of other stars that are unknown to me formally by name.  Star gazing is one thing and constellation knowledge is another.  I am only a star gazer.


We roused a couple of times during our sleep by the sound of nearby coyotes.  We can hear the coyotes howling up at the house, but down at the pond, they were extremely close to us.  Now, we have a better idea of the location of their nightly gatherings. 


When I finally awoke in the morning, I quietly crept out to sit on the dock and watch for birds.  Initially, the fog was heavy and lifting slowly. The early morning was beautiful and oh, so peaceful.  Finally, I could see my surroundings. I first noticed a doe scampering uphill away from the pond.  I saw a kingfisher keeping watch over me from the safety of its perch on a nearby electric line.  A few bluebirds entered the picture and landed on the fence.  A group of about a dozen American goldfinches lighted on some nearby weeds to feed on the seeds.


Then, I saw it approaching…the Great Blue Heron.  But, this time, the heron was not silent as is the norm.  I heard it barking as it approached the pond.  I realized one bark, then another bark, and another.  So, that is what the Great Blue sounds like.  I was astonished.  I never knew. Quickly, the heron recognized that either I or Snowball, who had been wandering along the shoreline, had taken up at the pond and that there was no room left for him.  The heron circled and slowly flew in the opposite direction disappearing behind the tree tops.


A barking heron…who knew?