Monday, June 17 2019
June 17, 2019
Yesterday and today are another conjoined series of events brought about primarily by a basic form of negligence inspired by holidays. Yesterday was my first Father’s day, and I was rather unwilling to take up my post at the keyboard before bed, so I didn’t. Sometimes simple indulgences are all we need.
It rained significantly Sunday afternoon and so unsettled was the weather that a tornado apparently struck just south of here. As the tempest was reaching its crescendo, I, of course, was on a tractor delivering water to the grazing herd. It was only because Gina called in a panic that I took out my earplugs and heard the tornado sirens blowing in Clarion and Strattanville. I told her to keep the dog and Henry close to the basement and said I’d keep my eye to the sky, scanning for an oncoming twister. I’d run if I saw one. She didn’t see the humor in the situation. Last year the tornado sirens blared several times, too. I don’t remember such meteorological upheaval when I was growing up. After the violent front, the rains poured down on me, and I was stuck without my raincoat. You haven’t felt dumb until you’ve driven a tractor in torrents of rain alongside a busy road. Laughter can practically be heard from passing vehicles.
Gina and I had grassfed New York Strip steaks for Father’s Day dinner. Oh my, were they good. Those steaks and the whole of the animals’ rearing process make periodic soakings completely worth it.
Monday is cattle day on the farm. We sort the grainfed herd to keep the growing animals moving along through the system in similar sized groups. The oldest in a pen move out, and a younger group moves in to fill their space. Groups in the middle age bracket remain in place.
We shipped one final grassfed animal to the abattoir, a heifer that didn’t breed. She’s a great looking creature; the girls always get fatter than the boys. I think she’ll make excellent beef, and I’m excited to see how it turns out. Dad and I caught her in the small corral to await the truck and trailer, then headed over to the main farm to do the same for a couple of grainfed steers. When they were sorted and ready for loading, I returned to check the grassfed animal only to discover with a shock that in our absence she’d unhinged three gates and departed the barn. In desperation I retrieved Dad again and we attempted a second catch, which history says will never work because cows are once bitten and twice shy. Much to my relief, we pulled it off with nary a blip of trouble. This time we learned and kept an additional companion animal in the small coral. The duo remained completely relaxed together.
I’ve taken up scything to control weeds under our fences. It’s a recent interest that sprang up for two reasons: First, in his book Craeft, Alexander Langlands does a wonderful job rousing interest in the old ways of completing tasks, and use of a scythe commands a significant portion of his introduction into the world of Craeft. I fell victim to curiosity after reading his words. Second, I’m coming off several days of attacking the vegetation with a weed eater, and, though the machines have their high points, they don’t hold up well to the mixture of thick stems and wiry grasses that choke space beneath electric wires. After running out of gas, repairing the wire spool, and then digging twisted stems out from the rotating head multiple times in one day, I am more than willing to exchange mechanical convenience for sweat. There are several good things about a scythe: they’re quiet; they do well against Goldenrod and other heavy stems; they don’t run out of gas. But they do need to be incredibly sharp (mine is in desperate need of a tune up) and I’m sure that uninitiated muscles will be screaming at me in the near future.
It keeps on raining. Everything is saturated, and I’ve done a number on a pasture by placing a watering trough on soft soil. The drinking cows turned the sod into pure mud, and the sight is horrific. I will have to deal with the mistake when the weather dries.