There hasn’t been a day yet when I have truly regretted my decision to leave NYC and try my hand at farming. Sure, there have been moments when I’ve wondered “What was I thinking?!?” but at the end of every day I’m always content. Days like today are icing on the cake. Today was about as perfect a day as you could wish.
We started with our morning coffee ritual. We planned out the day and split up into pairs. Ryan and I headed out to bag chickens while Steve and Ethan – our new farm hand – tackled chores. Once the chickens were packaged and ready for the market, Ryan and I headed over to Dean’s side to set up a fence and move the heifers. It was tricky move. Normally they move from one section of pasture to another section that is adjacent to their current location. This time they were moving catty-corner and we didn’t quite have enough fence to create a lane. I stood in the gap while Ryan called the cows through and thankfully everyone cooperated – even the calves – and went right where they were supposed to go.
Ryan had an unfortunate revelation while we were cleaning up the fences. Yesterday he and Dean had gone over to New Jersey to pick up two pigs because we are running low. The two they got are huge. Like, 1,000 lbs. each. To put it in perspective, we normally send our pigs in around 300 lbs. These guys are massive. They had been difficult to load into the trailer so Ryan had planned to keep them in the trailer until Monday. They had plenty of space to move around, as well as food and fresh water so we weren’t worried about them. However, we actually needed the trailer to catch 2 cows which meant the pigs would need to be unloaded and reloaded. This was exactly what Ryan wanted to avoid, but we didn’t have a choice.
We put the pigs into one of the breeding runs. I was blown away by how big they were! They dwarfed our big Berkshire boar Sam. Just walking down the lane left them winded.
The cows needed time to calm down after their morning move before we tried to catch the ones we needed so Ryan and I headed down to Lundale while Steve and Ethan ran some other errands. We regrouped after lunch and headed back to Dean’s side to catch our cull cows. We needed to catch one and were keeping our fingers crossed for two. These are cows who didn’t calve or lost their calves and are now being sent in for slaughter in order to thin down the herd.
We did exactly what we did last week. We sectioned off a large group of cows that we knew had several cull cows in it and started working the whole group towards the trailer. As we got closer, we started letting the ones we didn’t need break away from the group. We kept pushing them forward until there were only 4 cows left in the group and we forced all 4 onto the trailer to be sorted. We thought we’d gotten two of the ones we wanted – 189 and 205 – and were thrilled to discover we’d actually gotten three! We chased out the one we didn’t need and carted the cows back to the barn.
Then came the dreaded task of loading the pigs back into the trailer. The thing with a 1,000 lb. pig is that if it doesn’t want to move, you aren’t going to make it. They aren’t like cows who will do anything and everything to get away from people, even run headlong into the trailer. The pigs aren’t afraid of us. If these guys decided to lay down and plant, we were in trouble. We found them napping in the hut (how they both fit in there is beyond me!) and chased them out. Once they were up and walking we just kept pressuring them to keep moving forward. We didn’t want them to sit or lay down. They were actually very agreeable and only hesitated briefly before ambling into the trailer.
So many things could have gone wrong today. Perhaps providence smiled on us or the stars were perfectly aligned or Ethan brought beginner’s luck with him or someone slipped some felix felicis into our coffee this morning. Whatever it was, today truly was a perfect day.