I didn’t post anything last night. My mom called me out on it. I’d like to offer some good excuse, but I don’t have one. I just didn’t feel like it. I decided to go see a movie instead of writing. Oh well!
Let’s see. I guess I should go back to Friday. Friday was a long day. We finished chores and headed straight to Lundale to catch 5 steers. That part wasn’t too hard. Ryan had gone down while Steve and I did chores and had actually manged to get 5 into the corral so all we had to do was help him load them on into the trailer. Then came the hard part. The steers were in two groups and we needed to combine them into one large group. Ryan had set up the lane when he’d penned off the 5 steers so everything was ready. We crossed our fingers and Steve started calling them. They just stood there and stared at us. Maybe I’m anthropomorphising here, but I think they were spooked. We were trying to call them across the lane into the corral where 5 of their herd mates had been just moments ago. They’d watched us load them onto the trailer and heard the ruckus they made in the process. They didn’t want anything to do with us or that corral. That meant we had to chase them.
Working cows is still my least favorite farm task. I think I’d rather muck out the chicken coop than work cows. I’m not good at it. I don’t it regularly enough to really understand how the cows operate and to accurately anticipate what they’ll do and when. This is crucial for effectively working a herd. It didn’t help that one of the steers was nuts. He bolted every chance he could. It took us several tries before we finally got them through the gate and moving down the lane. By the time we finished, we were all exhausted and on edge.
Back at the farm, we took a cattle break. Ryan went to work on the mineral feeders and some mowing while Steve and I bagged chickens and collected eggs. We broke for lunch and then went right back to working cows. We needed to catch 114. Typically we send steers in for slaughter, but we have quite a few heifers and cows who were not bred last year. In the interest of thinning the herd before winter, we are sending some of these in for slaughter (the heifers for standard beef – steaks, loins, etc. – and the cows for hot dogs). The hard part is pulling them from the herd.
When working the steers, we had just kind of started and worked out weaknesses as we went along. This wasn’t the best plan because each time we failed the steers got a little more worked up than the previous attempt. This time we made a plan before we started. We found 114 and made sure everyone knew what they were doing and how Ryan envisioned things going. We worked the whole herd towards the trailer to keep 114 from feeling singled out. As we got closer and closer we started letting cows peel off from the group and return to grazing. Very slowly we worked our way down to just 114 and one other cow. At that point we were close enough to the trailer to wedge them in and force them inside. From there Ryan was able to sort out 114 and we set the other girl free with the rest of the herd. Compared to the morning, it went incredibly smoothly. Actually, it went smoothly period. Not in comparison to anything. Which was good because I certainly needed a bit of a confidence boost after the morning’s kerfuffle.
The farmers’ market was wonderful as always. Lauren and I sold a ton of steaks and grinds. Everyone was stocking up for Labor Day picnics. We also sold almost two days worth of eggs! This was huge. When I first arrived at the farm we had a tiny laying flock and were always out of eggs. People would line up on Friday afternoons to make sure they got their dozen. When we held our first farmers’ breakfast, Mike had to hoard eggs for over a week to make sure he had what he needed. Now we are swimming in eggs and can’t seem to move them fast enough! If anyone in the northern DE area wants eggs, let me know. I’m serious. I can bring them home with me and we can arrange a drop-off time and place.
Today my wonderful friend Camille came to the farm for the afternoon! Yep, she drove all the way from Brooklyn to play on the farm and hang out with me for a few hours. It was fantastic. I stayed with her when I went up to NYC for Lauren’s wedding, but I actually think we got to spend more time together today than we did that weekend. A perfect ending to a great weekend.