Our four-year-old grandson does his part to herd the cattle down the road by waving his cap in order to encourage them along. His dad takes a bit more active approach as he runs along behind the critters!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chasing Cattle

Since I married Farmer John there have been numerous occasions when I've been recruited to help chase cattle.  I am always reluctant to participate in such endeavors because I don't do it right.  The way I know that I don't do it right is that my husband says, "You aren't doing it right." 

After a few of my failed efforts to be of help when cattle were out, we reached a consensus:  if cattle need to be "put in," it is Farmer John's problem and not mine. The advent of cell phones helped greatly with this arrangement; if I see a critter where it should not be, I just call Farmer John. 

However, yesterday afternoon there was a 700 pound heifer grazing contentedly in our front yard (I know she weighs 700 pounds because I became an expert at guessing the weights of livestock being run into the ring at the sale barn when we were selling our cattle this fall).  I stood gazing at her for a moment or two and then set my jaw in determination.  If I didn't do it right there were would not be a witness; Farmer John had gone to a sale in Topeka. 

My little red Ford Escape was conveniently parked in front of the house and I jumped behind the wheel and drove toward the heifer.  She gazed at me impassively and decided I posed no threat.  She resumed grazing the tasty dandelion greens and crabgrass of our front yard.  I gunned the motor, laid on the horn, and headed toward her again.  She took the point and ambled down the driveway in the opposite direction I'd intended her to go.  The chase was on. 

She trotted down the road ahead of me and I opened the gate on the south side of the road.  I circled behind her and brought her back to that gate, but she'd already checked it and, having found it closed, saw no point in checking it again. 

I opened the gate on the North side of the road.  I circled around behind her again and she obligingly turned and trotted down the road.  But she had already tried to get in through the gate I'd just opened, and the result was the same as with the south gate.  She didn't even cast a glance toward the open gate and down the road she went. 

This went on for what seemed like several hours.  She finally tired of being chased in circles and jumped over the fence, trotting out into the pasture without a backward glance.  I wearily closed both gates and went back home.  When I checked the clock I saw it had been only about 25 minutes since I'd walked out the front door. 

When Farmer John returned home from his sale he said, "Anything interesting happen around here while I was gone?"  

I hesitated just an instant and then said, "No, nothing much."

No use changing the status quo. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

He Makes Them Skip Like a Calf

Just a few seconds before this photo was taken these calves were cavorting by kicking up their back legs and butting one another with their heads.  
Finally, after ten days of being under the weather with two different viruses, I was back out doing chores this morning.  I was so happy to be outside and feeling better that everything seemed more delightful than usual, from the mourning dove cooing on a high wire to the antics of those calves pictured above. "He maketh them also to skip like a calf..." (Psalm 29:6 KJV).

My new skill of the day was picking up a big bale with the hay fork. For some reason I cringe as though I'm frightened of whiplash when Farmer John is backing up to a bale. Once in awhile he backs into the bale with a bit of a jerk and I act like we've been in a car accident.  Today, after looking at me for a long moment when I reacted like this, he said, "Why don't you drive?"  And so I did!  

Me, in the driver's seat.  John had no comments about my driving--though when I went around corners I noticed that he grabbed onto the edge of the seat.  I like to go fast. 

I picked up 3 bales and set them down by the bale feeders, which John then plopped down atop the bales.  This system worked pretty well because it saved him a bit of time.  

The main thing I needed to remember was not to set the bale down on top of him while he was cutting the net wrap off.  Ummm...just tried to do that once, but he hollered in time.  

I hope we have an extended time of this moderate weather.  People keep smiling in a knowing way and saying "Wait until it gets cold."  In anticipation of that I've ordered insulated coveralls which, I fear, will not make me look ten pounds thinner as I earnestly strive to accomplish with my other wardrobe choices.  

I am very glad to be back out doing "farmerish" things. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wish I Were Back on the Farm!

This photo was taken October 24.  Throughout October when the sunlight was at the right angle, plain old bluestem grass turned into stained glass with the light shining through translucent yellow stems. 
Last week I combined 20 acres of soybeans ALL BY MYSELF!  The machine was easy to run, but nevertheless there was a lot for me to think about at the end of each row; how far to allow for a turn, don't take out a fence row, remember to raise the header, and perhaps more importantly, remember to lower the header once I start combining again.  And I'm sure my wavering paths through the field would have bothered Farmer John--if he'd been there.  But he was taking a load of beans to town so I had freedom to figure things out by myself.  I didn't ruin anything, praise the Lord.  

But this week I've been housebound with a cold, and have really REALLY missed being outside.  I'm reminded of a "Farmer Johnism" from one day a few weeks ago.  Over his lunch break John had completed a couple of jobs from my "honey-do" list; a leaking faucet had been repaired and some needed items had been fetched from the scary basement. John does not bear being housebound any better than I, and when he emerged from the basement he didn't allow me time to think of another household job for him to do.  "I've got to go do some farmerish stuff," he said emphatically.  And he was gone!  Well, this week I've been missing doing "farmerish" stuff.  

I carry a notebook around with me in my "farm bag" because, let's face it, I'm more a writer than I am a farmer. When anything amusing happens (more often than you might expect), I jot it down for this blog. Here are a couple of Farmer John quotes from last week:  
John protests loudly at my careless treatment of a wrench when I toss it aside so I can sit in the passenger seat of the truck. 
 Me:  (sarcastically) Ohhhh, is that an important wrench? 
 John:  If it's the size you need it is.  
 Me:  I have GOT to clean this pickup out for you.  
John: (offended) What do you mean?  
Me:  It is filthy.  
He leans down and pulls an ancient container of Armour-all sheets from beneath the seat, extracts one, and begins to swipe ineffectually at the dash.  When he is done there are now muddy swirls where there was simply a thick layer of dust before.  
John: (martyred) There. 
John has had to finish the combining without me and I really don't know how he managed (!).  Next week I hope to be back on the farm!