After John and I had attended to some business in a nearby town we headed home to scoop the poop.
There was a lot of it. Due to the extremely cold temperatures while I was gone the manure had frozen to the barn floor shortly after it hit the deck. There was no moving it until a thaw.
I reinstated the cows double beds. I clear most of the floor completely, creating walkways and feeding areas and beds. These walkways are kept scooped clean (on a good day) right down to the concrete. The feeding areas are also kept clean. Then I create their beds around the outside of the space and in the sheltered corners – I build deep beds of straw. These areas I don’t take back to the concrete floor, over time they build into a deep litter bed with clean straw on top. This is warmer for the cow. Today everything was covered in manure so we cleared the space between the four main beds and covered the beds in deep clean dry straw.
Like a very grubby dormitory for cows.
On a normal day after the milking, I scrape the clean areas and pick frozen piles of manure out of the new clean straw. (If you get the cow pats out fast it is easy to keep the bed areas clean). The cows always sleep on the clean beds, (important for milking cows with big precious udders). They always choose warm and dry. The beds need to be properly and frequently managed.
Last night I went out to check them and there were my beautiful milking cows curled up like fossils on their newly clean deep straw beds, their heads tucked against their bending knees, long necks stretched, totally relaxed and content, big deep sleeping breaths, dry and warm in the straw – out of the manure mud. Wooly mammoth trilobites. Everything around them was freezing slowly, freezing right down. And on they all slept. The three smaller cows were sharing the other clean beds, the calves in their dry sheltered creep. And on they all slept. My light studied each animal but no-one stirred. On they all slept – relieved to have their clean beds again.
These are grim mushy photos of a grim mushy job. But I did not have a lot of time for pretty photos yesterday. Nor was it a pretty day.
When everything was done, and the cows were milked and all the animals fed, I cleaned myself up and made Spinach and Kale Soup. I make this reasonably often in the winter (I call it spinach soup) but this time I used a new recipe. Spinach and Kale Soup. This is a really cleansing vegan soup. It is a basic Green Soup that I heard about on a Splendid Table podcast. I hate to say it but it is much nicer than my usual spinach soup. My spinach soup is much heavier. Here is my spinach soup.
The new recipe begins with caramalised onions, and it calls for a 1/4 cup of arborio rice. These two additions make all the difference and will be stapled steps in my leaf soup from now on. I can use most any greens in these soups which is wonderful. I saved a huge pot of the Green Soup in the fridge. I think I will eat it for a few days. My body feels like it still recovering from Christmas. Even John who lived on pizza and fried chicken and meaty curries while I was away (using none of the healthy meals I had saved in the freezer) managed to eat a bowl full.
Today dawns cloudy and windy and cold again. Our reprieve is over. It is 19F/ -7C and blowing hard. Back to winter. We received none of the forecast snow yesterday and it will be slick with frozen rain out there. But at least the barns are up to date.
I hope you have a lovely day.
WEATHER: Cold and Windy (a horrible combination).
Friday 01/12 20% / 0 in
A few flurries possible early. Windy. Cloudy skies will become partly cloudy this afternoon. High around 25F/-3C. Winds N at 20 to 30 mph.
Friday Night 01/12 0% / 0 in
Partly cloudy skies. Low 7F/-13. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph.
7:16 am 4:46 pm
Waning Crescent, 17% visible 3:22 am 1:45 pm