Shuffling the cards of cows.

On the way out to milk yesterday morning we were greeted with a cheerful little shower of powdery snow. dark-days2

Just a little. dark-days-001

Then it melted before our eyes. Ah well. dark-days-3

When I counted the hay bales the other day, and after doing the rather rudimentary maths  associated with this exercise, which frankly is as far as my mathematics will take me,  I concluded that we have enough feed to last through to the end of February.  Not long enough. With supplements like beet shreds and alfalfa cubes I can drag that through to mid march.

Still not long enough. So Daisy and I (oh please admire Daisy’s fringe, she is getting quite vain with all her brushing lately) anyway Daisy and I sat down to continue with our sums and she whispered in my ear that she did not want to be mean  (actually she did but we will give her the benefit of the doubt) but she is a milking cow and dark-days-4

Queenie is not. So Daisy should be eating almost twice as much as Queenie (according to Daisy) and once again she did not want to be mean, but Queenie is a bit of a pig and eating more than she needs.  No offence, Sheila. She said to the pig who was wondering if the notebook I was scribbling in was food,  dark-days6

So I reshuffled the paddocks. Daisy is now living in solitary splendour next to the milking parlour getting the full amount of hay. Queenie is next to her in another field getting half that. dark-days-7

Can we pause for just a moment to admire Big Dog, he was going with an 50’s Egyptian theme, hence the soft focus.

Daisy has suggested that The Bobby Blanc be isolated from the big sheep so that he can also get his whole quota without Hairy and Mama pushing him out of the way.  She has observed some ovine bullying in my absence.  Also Mama and Mia are expected to be breeding so in a short while their diet will change too and Bobby Blanc does not get to share their grain. So they have been seperated as well.

Now that I am home we can manage a more high maintenance regime upping the work a little, running things more economically.   Maybe we can save some hay. This is the plan anyway.  When it gets cold they will all need more to eat. dark-days-5

I’ve got men!

Then last night a friend of John’s called with a question and Our John idly asked him if he had any spare hay. Sure, the fellow said, (John sat bolt upright and made pointing gestures and optimistic hand signals towards the phone). I am selling it for Eight dollars a bale.  John’s mouth dropped open … but I can do you a deal.  He shut it again. Buy it, I said.  Do you have twenty bales? asked John. He nodded to me, the phone to his ear, the guy could spare that much. Twenty more bales with slim healthy animals should get us through to  the spring grass. Hopefully we can get it for less than eight dollars a bale though. darkdays

Good morning. Why do we panic about ordinary stuff? Things really do have a way of always working out.  One way or the other. This is why I am not having a hissy fit about having all these chickens and NO eggs at all.  I am unable to cook anything that has eggs in it at the moment.  Thats Ok. I have a plan.

Have a lovely day.


71 Comments on “Shuffling the cards of cows.

  1. We’re just hardwired for panic…it takes a lot to overcome it.
    Around here, 8 dollars is a good price, sadly. It’s 10 from the feed store.
    Have a good day, C. And I love Daisy’s ‘do!

  2. Never a dull moment with farmy life C. Always so much to think about and take care of. Please do tell Daisy that her fringe is very becoming.
    Have a beautiful farmy day C.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  3. Things always do seem to work themselves out…especially when you have a plan. Curious to hear about that one. And Daisy is looking quite lovely. So is Big Dog-very handsome.

  4. Oh my, that’s one handsome pharoh dog! I’m curious about your egg plan. We’re in the same situation here because of the lack of daylight but also some of our hens have decided on a late moult. There’s one poor lassie whose bare bottom makes me shivver just to look at it!

  5. Morning Celi. So glad you found some hay. I know you all out there had a rough haying year. We’ve had to buy hay but have found a good source of round bales of grass hay that’s not too expensive and not TOO far (about an hour drive) away. We can only haul 2 at a time but they last about 3 weeks. Come on Spring! Daisy is beautiful as always. I have some new layers from chicks hatched out this summer so we usually get at least 1 egg a day (when we can find them). I hoard them for special stuff! 🙂 Have a great day!

    • my easter chickens should be laying by now too, I have been searching the sheds but still i have not found where they are hiding them. Today they were locked back up in their chicken coop for a while.. c

  6. Here’s our strategy with the chickens: Egg production starts falling as the light fails, and we let them rest as the darkest days of December approach. They deserve this rest after a summer of production. Once we get past the 21st, we rig up a timer that turns on a light in the chicken coop one hour earlier than sunrise. That way, the chickens go to roost naturally as the light of day fades, (no sudden turning out the light before they find their roost.) Egg production goes up a little better with the earlier “daylight.” I am not comfortable with pushing their production too much, plus, we sell fewer eggs in the coldest months, but this is a compromise which seems to work for us.

    • I agree, mine have had a big holiday and from today I am increasing their feed and a light goes on when we milk at 6am and off again when we milk at 6pm. .. Though also I suspect they have been laying elsewhere as they have been free-ranging the whole time I was away so their door is shut now too. They always come out of it though I have never been completely without eggs before.. morning maggie.. c

  7. Good Morning C, I grew up on a farm in Georgia and you are absolutely correct in that everything does turn out. Don’t worry; don’t fret…you will make it through to spring. Have a lovely ending to 2012.

    • Morning sabra, i hope you are having a good few days off from work.. is new years soon? I must check the calender. I am not even sure what day it is!! c

  8. It’s amazing to me that you are going to be short on hay but then I think about the drought you guys had and understand. We had about 70 round bales left from summer 2011 and had an abundance this year. We started feeding out the older hay first and when the snows come hubby puts a couple in each patch of woods that the cattle are in and feeds the good hay first thing in the morning. The cattle move from the fresh to the older as the weather turns bad. The calves like playing and nibbling in the older hay too. I wish I could send you some from Virginia!!
    My older hens have quit laying but I also raise late chicks in June and they’ve started laying for me. I guess it’s a type of rotation laying in our henhouse. I never use heat lamps or special lighting because I think they need a rest too. I make sure they get a tablespoon of vinegar in their fresh water each morning, lots of grit in one feeder, and cracked corn to put on some fat on their bodies which will help them make it through the winter. I don’t let them out of the henhouse when there’s snow/ice on the ground The biggest problem I have is the younger hens want to sleep in the nest at night because the older hens (pecking order) run them off the roost. Hubby fixed that by building an additional roosting section to the existing roost and all but one hen now uses the roost. She tends to make a nasty mess in the nests during the night and by the time I get to the hen house in the morning another hen has laid her eggs in the mess. I have 38 chickens of which three are young roosters. I’m only getting 6-8 eggs a day now but it’s more than enough for us to use and share with the kids as they visit.

    • I long for one of your big round bales, that would do daisy for a while.. I am off out to do the waters now and often add a little vinegar too, I must remember to do that today.. I also have a problem with someone sleeping in the nesting boxes, we have too many old hens, they will have to go this winter I am afraid, and i will start another lot this spring as well. Our young ones should have started laying by now though. Thank you for such a lovely message too, tons of info for us all in there.. c

  9. I never realised that chickens could be so wilful. I thought that their gift was eggs on tap, so to speak. It appears that chickens are fair weather operators. Having no eggs in the kitchen would be a bad thing for me, that’s for sure. I’d have to eat one of the chickens “pour encourager les autres”:)

    • In fact there is a plan to ‘move along’ a few of these older ones, maybe i should hang a sign, i wonder if my chickens can read french?! c

  10. Gosh, I think every city schoolroom in America should be tuned in to these lessons in husbandry. We city slickers are woefully ignorant in the ways of farm life.
    Still, we can at least admire Daisy’s fringe–I love that SHE loves that brushing part best–as for Big Dog–maybe you can dress him in John’s royal red robe to keep him warm while you give the blue coat a wash. (I’m remembering TonTon in it.)

  11. $8 is the norm here now. There was a time $4 was the norm, not anymore, not this year anyway, with the drought and all. One feed mill charges $12, the other place is a store and charges $11.50….the first place is the nicest so most people go there. What is $.50 when the person who owns the feed mill also loads for you and the other store has you do it?

    I have three bales left until first cutting of our new alfalfa next September. I hope I don’t have to buy any. I use my bales for the chickens, they love the green leaves!


  12. Admiration for you c. Love how close you are to seasons,reasons and thererfore
    REALITY ! planning. organization.reorginization. and then there’s Mother Nature
    with a giant stir stick mixing it all up….isn’t there something about sustainability
    in all this too. YIKKEESS Again admiration ……have a farmy day…full of glorious
    sights and sounds ! I love that you share with us.

    • trying to be sustainable that is for sure.. not succeeding quite yet though.. and yes, the planning has to be very thoughtful.. c

  13. Things really do have a way of working out. I love the details in this post and the Egyptian photo of Big Dog!

  14. Big Dog appears to be sitting on his tail to keep his rump warm–Harper and Cerveza are envious of his coat.

    • My problem is getting that coat off him for washing.. he hates me touching it.. crazy old dog! morning alice.. c

  15. You guys wouldn’t like buying hay in California this winter. It’s almost $20 a bale. I have enough hay, but have two old geldings that need supplement this time of year. Equine Senior is now $20 a sack. I’m afraid there will be a lot of backyard horses that won’t be fed properly because of the high prices. It’s interesting because we didn’t have a production problem in California last year, it was actually a good hay year. They’re blaming it on the drought in the midwest that caused a corn shortage. It’s the same twisted story as when gas prices go up immediately every time there’s a bobble anywhere in the world. One thing has changed in my county, though, that makes hay harder to find. There used to be large empty fields that entrepreneurs would hay for the owners. You could buy out of small stacks in lots of places. Now those empty fields are covered with houses and the hay mostly comes from bigger growers farther down the valley. I usually do okay because I’m in an area that’s rural and one of my neighbors still grows hay for his own stock.

    • Twenty dollars is outrageous.. and don’t they just invent reasons to put the price up.. scoundrels, lucky you have a neighbour who will not rip you off.. c

  16. Daisy’s hair style is so so. hmmm word … au courant; and to think you are her stylist; in Beverly Hills, you’d command a great fee. Loved the pictures of the dog. i love photos of animals back’s as I think they are whimsical and dear. Best to you

  17. It is interesting that you aren’t getting any eggs. Ours had a hard molt this year and quit laying, but now they are laying again. We are getting about 1 or 2 eggs a day from them which is low, but we are making do. Perhaps it is the breed of chicken that makes the difference?

    Glad you are home again, Celi! Oh, and I liked your statement about the relevance of “Home” (2-3 posts back). 😀

    • Usually I do get a few, rhode island reds will lay no matter what, maybe it is a mix of low light and no miss c.. the grit had run out too while i was away, and some of these girls are just too old anymore.. we will see if my plan works.. morning Lynda.. c

  18. Good morning… Bet you are missing NZ weather. Good to buy in more feed now before the price goes up end of winter. So are you getting more hens that are laying?
    Love Leanne NZ

    • I will buy more chicks in the spring, but I am hoping the easter chickens will start laying pretty soon.. morning leanne.. c

  19. It’s so frustrating when you’re short of just one basic ingredient, everything that comes into your head to make will require it. Isn’t the snow late this year? 🙂

    • yes nothing so far really, it was the same last year, very little.. and not too cold either.. I am hoping for an early spring.. but aren’t we all.. c

  20. Daisy and you are definitely back together again, what with all that brushing and those conversations about farm management. Hope you can all get through just fine. I didn’t think hens laid in winter – isn’t that normal? I love seeing the Coupe progress, though I must say I’ve never seen such wrapped up workers before (living in the land of black singlets and shorts, even in winter). It must be so cold for them.

    • They must get cold out there all day, i make them come in by the fire for their lunch.. and you are right usually the hens stop laying in the dead of winter but i always get two or three, I have never had none at all, i still think they are hiding their nests.. ! c

  21. I really enjoy these posts about big picture planning, I can imagine it is almost impossible to get it right, so many unknowns. Maybe now when feed is tight is also the best time to think about your plans to add another milking cow. Will it be in calf or have a calf at foot? Do you also plan to breed Queenie as well as Daisy this coming year ? If so you’d be looking at feeding hay to six cattle instead of three next winter. That said in spring you were concerned about housing two pigs through winter and that seems to have worked out just fine so where there’s a will and all that.

    • This is true, the piggies are doing just fine too. Yes i will breed Queenie at the same time as Daisy and you are right even though I would love to be milking two cows (just think of all the cheese) I am not sure that my little farmy can sustain that many animals.. But if I can milk Daisy right through the winter then we should be fine with just her for the time being. Good points.. c

  22. Hey Celi! I remember us talking hay and prices a few months ago! And buying it to ship down here! We’ve got enough, thank goodness, but of course we really only have our two goats to sustain. Fingers crossed you get the hay from Our John’s contact at a good price. I loved your visual of John on the phone with him! I could just see it!!! 🙂 xoxoxo

    • We go to collect it tomorrow, and i have discovered someone else too.. same kind of price.. though i am hoping I have enough now..I just need to be careful not to be too generous.. c

  23. Daisy sure is making up for her prior behaviour what with all these economic chats and posing so artfully! Can’t get over how big the coupe DID grow during your absence: it’ll have quite a view of the prairies!

    • The view will be magnificent, and I am putting in three thin tall windows to maximise it .. Though I am also re-using old windows so it will be a wee bit rinky dink all at the same time! c

  24. Good planning to count the hay right now!
    I just LOVE your picture of Big Dog~ he’s so cute in his blankie!
    It’s so good to have you back on the farmy with us Celi!

  25. What we are wanting is SNOW. Glorious snow Celi. So much snow we know that spring is going to be very green. It is reassuring to have the bales of hay in the barn – enough until spring. We had to be one of the few places in all of Canada that didn’t have snow for Christmas. I don’t miss the intense prairie cold but I do miss the beautiful snow. Miss C. is back at the Farmy and every one should be very happy. I know we are. V.

  26. Tell Daisy her fringe is lovely the way it falls so softly on her forehead. I love that photo of Big Dog, he looks very majestic, but not too happy about the headgear!
    There is so much to do and think about on the farmy, I don’t know how you cope with it all, but you have a plan, so I shouldn’t worry – things always have a way of working themselves out.

  27. It’s always something, isn’t it? I do hope you can get some of that hay for a better price than $8/bale. Good to see snow on the ground and though we’ve not had much, there’s plenty of it all around us. Things are looking better for this Summer’s crops — hay included. A ‘normal’ Winter would be nice.
    Back in The Day, hens that no longer laid eggs were sold as “stewing” chickens. They supposedly made the best soup. Just today, Zia said she saw some in a market near her Son’s home, where she spent Christmas. These were the first she’d seen in years.They wanted about $15.00 for each bird. She declined the purchase. 🙂
    She asked that I tell you “Welcome home!”

  28. I think you’re right.. things fall into place, especially when they’re meant to be! How exciting to see the footings of your new building take shape!! I’m back to catch up.. so reading in reverse should be confusing enough, excuse me if I get muddled:) xx

  29. Glad to you are safe and back at home. I am sorry things are a little unsettled but I am sure things will fall into place, just like daisy’s bangs. What a hoot! Take Care, BAM

  30. I love your spirit. I love it that you “have a plan”…I have a feeling you always have a plan! Maybe your next book should be a book of plans. I’d buy that for sure.

  31. Great news for the hay. I don’t know anything about the current price of hay: when we had horses back in the 70’s we used to help the farmer at haytime and were paid in enough hay for the winter, though I have a vague memory of fifty pence a bale (about 80 cents.)

    I like the look of your men and what they are doing!

  32. So glad you found some hay – it’s in short supply and expensive so many places.
    Big dog does look handsome. And who doesn’t like the hair brushing spa treatment?
    Glad all the animals are catching you up on what’s happened while you were gone!

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