It’s always a splendid idea to move residences just as farm season ramps up for the summer. I have done it three times now. You’d think we’d learn. Needless to say, it’s been a busy month but we are having all sorts of fun!
This is sort of a photo-dump but here’s what has been going on at the farm in the last week:
We’ve been breeding cows (artificially inseminating) up at Carol’s ranch. She selects good bulls for sires and hires someone to come AI the cows. The Spring 2014 calf crop is percolating as we speak!
The weather has been nice, so our broiler chicks have been heading out to pasture at precisely two weeks of age. They still have their fluffy chick down, but they much prefer being on grass to being in the brooder. They really forage a lot even at this age.
We have been happy to see the variety of grass and forb, species that are coming up in the fertilized area behind our broiler pens. Now that there’s been a bit of rain there is quite the diverse landscape. This is a picture of selfheal (prunella vulgaris) in bloom.
We are even seeing some wild strawberries (fragaria virginiana) ! They are tinier than the tip of a finger, but they look just as delicious as their domestic counterparts.
Emmie picked a fight with a tougher dog than herself and ended up with a few war wounds. She was bedridden for a few days but the first sign of life was her intense desire to go with me to the farm when I’d put on my boots in the morning. She can’t stand being left on the sidelines while I’m working. It’s been said of Border Collies that each dog has the energy of a small nuclear reactor. That’s very much true of this one. I’m glad she bounced back quickly. I hadn’t realized how attached I’d become to my sidekick til I had to do chores without her.
We’ve been making hay up at the ranch. I have been assigned baling duty. I straight-up love it. It’s hot, the dust makes me itch and sneeze, the baler is old, and the fields are rugged. But the scenery is terrific! We’re making hay in the foothills of the Coastal range, with covered bridges and vineyards and rivers on every side. I’d rather be out there making hay on a sunny weekend than doing pretty much anything else in the whole wide world.
Carol and James first cut the grass down with a swather. The swather incorporates a conditioner (or crimper) which crunches the grass a little bit to make it dry faster.
Then they come along with a “tedder”, which has tines that fluff up the hay and accelerate the drying process. Getting the hay to dry quickly is important in the Willamette Valley where mornings have lots of dew and it could rain at any moment.
The next step is raking the hay into windrows. This puts the grass in nice, straight lines so that the baler can pick it up. Raking also helps with drying, as it turns the grass and fluffs it up to get more airflow.
We check the grass by hand and with a moisture meter and when it’s dry enough, we fire up the baler and I get to work.
James comes along behind me with the bale wagon and scoops up the bales. When he gets a full stack, he drives up to the barn and and deposits them for the winter.
And with that, I’m off to go bale some more hay. We are expecting rain in the early part of the week, so we’re getting it up as fast as possible.