Slippin’ -n- Slidin’

Today was one of those days where everything goes swimmingly until quitting time. We’ve all had those days, right?

We began the day catching steers. Normally animals go to slaughter on Mondays, but Philly Cow Share called and needed some sooner rather than later so we rounded them up and Ryan took them to Smuckers this morning. Steve and I fed the cows and then he headed on after Ryan to Smuckers in the refrigerated truck to pick up the meat we’d taken in on Monday. It’s unfortunate we can’t haul the trailer with the refrigerated truck as it would’ve saved us a trip. Oh well.

Meanwhile back at the farm I checked the pig feed, collected & packaged eggs, found some plywood to build a shelter for our new piglets and took care of all those little things. After lunch Ryan & I fed the big pigs and treated three sick piglets. They are clearly sick, but they still had a lot of spunk. Two of them were too big for me to hold so I sat on them while Ryan gave them their shots. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Steve returned and we set about catching some more steers. The main group of steers are spending winter in the back wooded pasture, far from the barn. There isn’t a good or easy way to catch them  out there. Rather than trying to get one every week, we keep 5-10 in a smaller pasture up by the market. It is easy to run them into the barn and load them onto the trailer from this pasture.

Last time we ran all 70+ steers into the lane and sorted them out there. It took a very long time and we were all constantly worrying that someone would jump the fence. This time we planned to sort them in the pastures. No one knew what to expect, but everything went very smoothly. Ryan identified the ones he wanted, we sorted them off from the group and ran them down the lane to the trailer. Honestly, we couldn’t believe how easy it had been. All that remained was to take them up to the holding pasture and call it a day.

To get from the steer pasture to the holding pasture one must ascend a semi-steep hill. Normally this is a non-issue, but with all the winter weather we’ve been having, said hill is now a sheet of ice. The tractor could have handled this except that a large delivery truck got stuck right where the hill turns by the kitchen. The truck had been delivering supplies and had (very foolishly) driven down to the kitchen to drop them off instead of staying in the upper parking lot and carrying them down. He was blocking the tractor’s path.

Ryan managed to get the tractor and trailer around the truck, but lost too much momentum in the process. Even with 4-wheel drive the tractor couldn’t get up the hill. Steve fetched his favorite toy (the skid steer) and got around behind the trailer. He pushed and Ryan/the tractor pulled, but it was too icy. In the end Ryan backed the trailer down by the pigs so he could drive up through snow that hadn’t been packed down to solid ice. Even then Steve still had to push with the skid steer and it took 2 tries.

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What was my role in all of this? I was the middle man. Steve and Ryan couldn’t see each other so I ran along side the the trailer, where both guys could see me and told them what they needed to do relative to what the other was doing.

All of this to make up for the easy time we had catching them.

We finally got everyone situated and I set off to play with our 5 new piglets. They are now completely domesticated and I’ve decided they shall be pets instead of bacon.

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