Technically the summer solstice isn’t until Friday, but today definitely felt like the longest day of the year.
We started catching chickens at 6:30. The chicken guys couldn’t come tomorrow so we bumped this week’s slaughter day to Wednesday. After that it was chores as usual followed by setting up several fences. The cattle are divided into two main groups: cows and heifers. The farm is pretty much split in half by a stream that feeds into the Brandywine river. The cows are on the south side of the stream (the side with the market and barn) and the heifers are on the north side.
Each group has completed one full loop of their half and is ready to start the circuit again which means we have to set up fences to create lanes to run the groups back to the start. The cows weren’t a problem and moved easily. The heifers were another story.
Before we moved them back to the beginning, Ryan wanted to retag several of the calves who were born before we got our 2013 tags and he wanted to separate out any heifers that didn’t calve. They will be used for meat in the coming weeks. To do all this we needed to run them through the chute handling system. Which is in the barn. Which is on the south side of the creek.
Everything would have been OK but for the creek. The calves panicked and instead of simply running across the creek they ran under the hot wire and into another pasture. You may remember my story from last week about how difficult working calves can be. Eventually, we gave up and decided to focus on the ones that had made it through and figure out how to reunite calves and mamas after everything else was done.
We ran about 2/3s of the group through the chute system before running out of steam. We took down numbers, checked for pink eye, updated tags for those who needed them, and sorted out heifers that didn’t calve. The whole process took the better part of the afternoon. Then came the really hard part. Running them back across the creek.
We had a heck of a time chasing the cows out of the pasture. They were worked up from having been in the barn and were not in a cooperative mood. This time Ryan and Laurel (Ryan’s fiancé) manned both sides of the fence across the creek to discourage babies from running under, but without much luck. We still had five escapees. Plus the two who were still running loose from the first crossing.
Slowly, very, VERY slowly, we worked them through the gate. Inch by inch. It took forever and we were all exhausted by the end, but I am happy to say that all of the babies have been reunited with their moms.
Here’s hoping we don’t have to do that again until it is time to put them back in the barn for the winter!