I've been writing in an online garden diary here on this blog since the spring. I thought I'd post my latest entry here for all to see as well as in my running Gibby's Garden Diary 2012 post. The entries are a little rough around the edges much like you'd find in a handwritten diary. Enjoy!
Here in Maine the vegetable gardening season is coming to a close. I myself don’t have much left in my gardens except my tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli and corn. Despite the slow and wet start to the season, I have a freezer full of organic vegetables to last me through til the next growing season.
I’m not sure if my popcorn is going to produce anything before the first hard frost kills it off. As of last week the stalks had formed some ears and I’m hoping they’ll fill out soon. I picked whatever sweet corn was ready, blanched and froze it.
Speaking of my sweet corn, I had one heck of a bad day last week.(It ties into the corn) The green grass in the pasture is pretty much done for the season after being eaten and walked over by the cows and horses all summer. My brother and father, when they have time after work during the week, have been chopping grass in the field and feeding it to the animals to help supplement the hay we’ve been giving them - trust me they are well fed.
Well, they worked late all last week so the animals didn’t get any chopped grass, only hay which is fine. One afternoon the big bull decided he wanted some green grass and was going to sneak out of the pasture and help himself to some in the field. 2 of his buddies decided to follow.
Needless to say I was the one charged with putting them back in the pasture because my brother and father were still at work and wouldn’t be home until after dark. If you’ve ever had to wrangle up loose farm animals you know it’s twice as hard after dark and leaving them out isn’t an option for their own safety - the coyotes might come calling.
If you can picture what I’m about to tell you, you’ll probably laugh or at least crack a smile - I know my brother and father did. Our driveway runs parallel to part of the pasture. It’s not your average driveway, it’s long, bumpy and made of gravel. Our only neighbor lives about a quarter of a mile up the driveway from us. At the top of the driveway, the road curves going around a bend and up a hill. At the top is the neighbor's house.
Well the 3 loose cows were slowly making their way towards the curve so I needed to usher them back down the driveway towards the pasture. I tried walking behind them clapping my hands loudly, tapping them on the butt and chasing them but they weren’t having any of it. Once they had tasted that green grass they were not about to give it up and go back into the pasture.
After about half an hour I had enough of trying to coax them in so I turned to a usually fool proof plan - the grain bucket. So here I was in my flip flops running down the driveway shaking a grain bucket with a bull and 2 cows, all three who are almost full-sized, chasing after me. Well, the good cows that had stayed in the pasture heard the grain bucket as well.
Mind you I had cracked open the gate before running with the grain bucket in hopes I could run right into the pasture with the cows behind me, toss the bucket, shut the gate and call it a done deal. Well, that didn’t happen. Here comes the funny part - I’ll set the scene.
About 30 feet before the driveway curves, the pasture curves too and goes into the treeline. There are trees between the pasture and driveway after the curve. The rest of the herd was in the corner of the pasture in the area where it curves while the loose cows were close to the bend in the driveway.
Here I am booking it as fast as I can down the driveway with the bull and 2 cows hot on my heals trying their best to get a taste of the grain. Well, the entire herd was watching and must of heard the grain sloshing around in the bucket. Before I knew it, I’m booking it with 3 large animals on my heals and the rest of the herd running parallel to me on the other side of the fence.
I’m sure I muttered a few colorful words as I dropped the grain bucket and sprinted for the gate. Mind you I’m in my flip flops and there’s a giant mud puddle in the area that the open gate swings over. The gate needs some work and has to be lifted in order to move or the bottom drags through the mud. I thought it a much better idea to close the gate rather than have the entire herd of cows loose. Needless to say the 3 that were already loose remained loose and enjoyed what little grain was in the bucket.
Seeing as I had to babysit for the afternoon, I left the loose cows where they were and went back to deal with them after dinner. It took me about an hour to finally get them in using the Cub Cadet, whip and my mother to open and close the gate for me while I chased them. I thought I had the problem solved and went on with my night.
The Next Morning . . .
After jumping in the Cub Cadet, I drove past my corn on the way to the barn to clean the chicken coop. On my way, much to my chagrin, I noticed that half my sweet corn had been completely leveled and the ears eaten and low and behold the bull and a cow were loose once again. Now I was mad. Screw the whip and the Cub Cadet - this was personal. I put way too much time and work into my gardens for an animal or person to come along and do what they please. (I don’t hit the animals with the whip, only the ground next to them)
I was pissed. I cracked open the gate over the mud once again and wearing my sneakers this time, ran after that bull like there was no tomorrow. I got him and the cow back in the pasture. I went to the barn to clean the coop and a few minutes later the bull was loose again. Time to fix the fence.
I got a hammer and some U-shaped nail things in the barn, hopped in the Cub Cadet - I found out I really like driving this thing - and headed up the driveway. There the bull stood once again in the center of the driveway just looking at me. In the two minutes I was in the barn, he had walked right back out through the fence where the barbed wire had become loose.
Arg! I decided to fix the fence and then put him back in and that’s exactly what I did. Once it was fixed I set my sights on the bull again. By this time he was in the field across from the barn. As I made my way towards him I noticed the same cow that had been loose that morning trying her best to go through the fence.
Since I had just fixed it she only made it halfway through; she got her front legs through but not her back. She was stuck with the barbed wire cutting into her teats turning them bloody. I couldn’t leave her there so I undid all the work I had just done to fix the fence and finally got her free. This time she stayed in the pasture. I fixed the fence again.
By this time the bull must have had a full belly cause he ventured over to the open barn door that the chicken feeder was sitting in front of in my earlier attempt to clean the coop. He managed to knock the top off the feeder and gobble down all the grain. Eventually I got him in a fenced in area that the animals hadn’t been allowed in since a new steer going through the weaning process had managed to jump several times. (This is in a previous entry)
The fenced in area happened to have green grass. I gave him a bucket of water and there he stayed until my brother and father came home and could deal with him. The cows and bulls have been penned in for the past week. They get hay on week days and chopped green grass on the weekends when my brother and father aren’t working and have time to chop some.
Last weekend my brother went around the perimeter of the fence in the pasture making repairs. This weekend we’ll probably let the cows and bulls back into the pasture until hunting season when they’ll be penned until spring. We’ll see how that goes.