My New Year’s resolution, to do more writing. When I moved to the ranch I thought I would have so much more free time. The studio is really only two rooms, not much house cleaning required. The usual time wasters, television, newspapers are not a part of my life anymore. I don’t have television and the local newspaper is only five pages long, including the sale pages. I live twenty miles from the closest town so I don’t meet friends for lunch and shopping. I check correspondence on the computer usually once a day, but sometimes even less than that. So what is taking up all my time?
Cows. They need water, feed, protein tubs, salt blocks, and hay all on a regular basis. Getting all this stuff to them is no simple task. The feed, cubes of pressed feed called cattle cubes, has to be spread out in a long line because they push and shove like five-year olds for a place at the table. The ones with the longest horns get the most food. The others just move from place to place grabbing a mouthful of cubes and munching them on the move to the next grab all while keeping an eye out for pushing and shoving. The hay has to be picked up with a special fork on the tractor placed on a trailer then moved to where we feed. There we cut the plastic wrapping off then spread it out. If you leave it for the cows to spread it out they use their horns and pick it apart then walk all over it. Less of it is wasted if we spread it out for them. Protein tubs and salt blocks we just set out, but we need to make sure to get new ones when they are all used up. And those cows can clean up those protein tubs because they are mixed with molasses, not something that you would usually think of a cow eating, but they love it. One day I walked over to one of the water troughs and noticed that it was not as full as it should be, so I had to figure out why. The cut off has accidentally been turned off and those cows would have been out of water soon if I had not been checking. They might find something to graze on, but fresh water is something that they must have all the time.
If you want your cows to be calm around people then you need to spend some time with them. You need to walk around them when they are eating. You need to talk to them. You need them to be used to people being around. So one day a week, or watching them from the car just isn’t the same thing. You have to be out in the pasture with your cattle. Calm easy to work cows don’t happen with just a few minutes a few days a week.
Fences The cows need fences to keep them away from the hay meadow, away from the bales of hay, and in the pen when you don’t want the too young heifer with the little bull who may or may not be able to breed, So that means digging post holes and yes you can do that with a post hole digger attached to a tractor, but it still has to be positioned and watched. It is a two-person job. Then you put corner posts in cement and you can tie you barbed wire to those. Every four to five feet another T-post has to be pounded into the ground. Barbed wire has to be stretched from one end of the fence to the other then clipped at the right height on the T-post. If there are any trees are bushes in the way of that fence they have to be cut down and pulled out of the way. That fence doesn’t go up in a day. Sure you can hire someone to put that fence up, but even after they leave you have to make sure that the wire stays tight, that the trees and bushes don’t grow up in the fence again. That your wire is close enough together that the goats can’t get under it. No, the goats are a whole story by themselves!
So the cows, the fence, building the barn, cleaning up the brush, working on the rock retaining walls, in addition to all the things that I have done inside, shelves, curtains, a quilt, have kept me from writing like I thought I would. I know that if I don’t write it I won’t remember it. When we started I took pictures of all the changes, and now I get busy and forget at times. So I want to remember that while we may be living here now things are not finished and I want a record of these in between times too. The only way I know to do that is get back to the habit of writing.