Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Routine

For the past several weeks we've been adjusting to a new routine here. Guv'nor has been working full time - an hour and a half away. That means he leaves early and comes back late, tired. So during the week, I've been trying to keep up with the chores around our property - mainly the feeding of animals.

As long as our Mule starts in the morning, I do fine and am able to get out to the goats, dogs, and cows to feed them. Our Mule is old and temperamental, so a few mornings when it wouldn't start I thought I was going to have to walk out to feed them.

The standard feed bag weighs 50 pounds which presents a little problem for me. I'm pretty much a weakling when it comes to lifting heavy things. I've got small hands, short arms, and weak muscles. We use metal trash cans with locking lids for feed bins for the goats and dogs which are kept out in the cow barn near the goat area. Guv'nor usually fills them up for me on the weekend. I use small buckets to take the feed from the bins out to the trough and bowls. 

The cows are a different story. The supplemental feed for them during the winter months, since they eat so much, needs to be set out every day. At first I was emptying half a bag into a bucket which I could carry. I can manage 20-30 pounds as long as I have something easily I can hold onto, like a bucket handle. Then I had this crazy idea to ask the the Feed Store if they could bag the feed into half bags for me. I like to call them Baby Bags. Our local feed store happens to mix and bag this feed, a 2-in-1 ground cotton seed and salt mixture, and even reuses empty feed bags that I bring back to them. So lately, as long as I have these smaller bags, I'm able to manage easier. I can't really drive the Mule into the cow area (I tried that once and they all got out!) so I have to carry the bucket the 20 yards from the gate to the trough. This may sound pretty easy, but when the cows see or hear me coming (it's hard to sneak up on them in the Mule), they start making their way to the gate (imagine running cows). Depending on how hungry they are, it is sometimes literally a race to see who gets to the gate first - me or 15 cows! It can be rather scary seeing them running toward you. Lately they have given me more space since I've been carrying (and waving madly) one of the white electric fence stakes, which they may or may not think is hot.

When everything is going right, I'm able to manage on my own. But a few days some of the cows weren't where they were supposed to be which causes me trouble. We had a lame heifer for awhile that we had separated until she healed. All she wanted was to get back with the other heifers, mainly her mama. We also have three bull calves in a separate area and they get out sometimes.

And when the weather is pleasant I can manage. I have found that my least favorite weather condition is wind followed by rain, or a combination of the two. I don't mind the cold so much because I can wear several layers of clothes. 

Here's a baby bag - half full of feed - and easier for me to lift.

I empty the 25# bag of feed into a large bucket for the cows and a small one for the bull calves.

We save the empty feed bags and take them back to the Feed Store to be reused.

We use metal cans with locking lids for the feed out at the cow barn.

The goats and dogs are eager to see me in the morning.

One day we accidentally left the water running to the goats.

The dogs are protective of their food.

The cows like to crowd around the fence line and gate when they see me coming.

The view from the gate to one of the troughs where I put out the feed.

After the feed is in the trough, the cows eat happily and ignore me so I can make my escape.

The cows love the 2-1 feed and will self-regulate how much they eat.

The lame heifer was separated for awhile and only wanted to be back with her mama.

The lame heifer got out of her area several times and made it straight to the hay barn.

The bull calves are smaller and less intimidating and I can feed them easier.

One benefit of the new routine is enjoying the peaceful sunrise.

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