This morning early, I took the dogs for a walk (the two cats who come along think they are taking us for a walk) and checked the fences. In the barn, I fed Daisy( dairy cow, who I really hope is pregnant) some of the new grass hay, she looked at me scathingly and said I wouldn’t even waste spit on that, where is the good stuff. And then watched longingly as I fed the sheep the same hay. Mama and Hairy (mama and papa sheep) were not having any of it either. Then they all turned to watch the Baby Bobby as he (not aware of the mutiny in the making) munched into his hay and stood looking back at them chewing and blinking benignly. He will eat anything which is a good thing as he is the beef steer.
The barn doors have been opened so they can come into the barn from the fields to get some extra feed. Also you cannot take grass fed animals from summer green grass straight to winter dry hay all in one nasty hit. It is not good for the digestion. The change needs to be gradual so that they keep the weight on and with the cold coming I have to slowly get them used to dry grass as opposed to green grass. But my dry grass hay sits in their mangers- studiously ignored. The good stuff Daisy is waiting for, and she knows it is somewhere in the barn because she can smell it, (it is in the loft) is the afalfa hay and that does not come out until it is really cold, and the world is frozen. Alfalfa is a legume, very high in protein. So now we commence the battle of wills. If all else fails I pour a little molasses on the hay. I use the spoonful of sugar theory!! They are very susceptible to sweet bribes.
I put the leash on Queenie, (5 month old Hereford cow) she trots along beside me like a large red dog. This morning she is clipped to a dog chain that is clipped to a long wire, she is grazing some old clover that I grew for flowers for the bees. She will not need hay today. Little fattie.
The chickens only laid SIX eggs yesterday, instead of their usual 18. You see we cleaned out the chook house to make the first big pile of winter compost. The chickens get their knickers in a knot if I change anything in there and new straw counts as change. You would think they would like smelling sweet like that. Such a delicate bunch.
The compost recipe is green grass clippings by the tractor scoop full (2 scoops), chook house litter (6 scoops) and dirty straw from the barn (2 scoops). Wet every scoop on the way past the hose. Turn every weekend. Cook, then freeze for a winter. We only do the chook house twice a year. I let the straw get quite deep in there over the winter for warmth. I HATE cleaning out the chook house, hate it!.
Tonton (border collie) is in serious trouble for digging up Our Johns fall lettuce bed. So he is grounded to Close and Busy. When my tweenage children were naughty they were put on close and busy for a few days which means they had to be with me all the time. And do whatever I was doing. No time off except class time at school. Cook if I am cooking, clean if I am cleaning , walk the dog when I walked, write when I write, garden when I gardened, read if I read. The offense is never mentioned after the initial haranguing (which was usually long and arduous until they begged me to stop.. I got, I got it!) Usually naughtiness is a symptom anyway- no point treating a symptom. The sheer drudgery opens them up in the end. And we might begin to get the bottom of the problem. Plus I never watched TV or talked on the phone to their friends or played in the ditch so neither did they. Once things settled down we always ended up having good discussions usually family wide. I did this with kids in my classroom too (High School) and I remember days when I would have three or four of the naughtiest kids trailing after me all over the school, carrying my books. So presently TonTon is lying at the French doors looking out longingly as I write. Occasionally I drop a pencil so he can trot over and pick it up and give it back to me to relieve the boredom. Close and not so Busy.
I digress. Today I shall order 12 more Rhode Island Red chicks. They are great for this environment as they will lay all through the year even when it is so cold that the eggs freeze solid shortly after being laid. If I order them now they will be ready to lay in the spring. The tiny chicks come in the mail. I still want a peacock (sigh).
I fed the two Murphys (sheep for the freezer) in their field a bucket of beet shreds and eggs. They are on a serious get-fat diet now, Mia (girl sheep who will stay) is still with them so she is thrilled to be getting all the good stuff too and being in the special get-fat paddock.
Soon I will set up the last hive for harvesting the honey. I put a board outfitted with a kind of maze on one side, between the supers. In the cold evenings the bees move down the maze to cuddle together and keep warm. Then they cannot get back up again in the morning. So I can steal that honey unmolested.
Lovely. Good morning.