Monday, July 8, 2013

Moving the Bull

Saturday was a half day of work on the building. Phil put up the center column for the long row of windows and did a bit more bituthene. Maybe something or other else, but he had definitely reached the physically dragging stage, where even standing up elicited a groan.

He had several engineering calls to make today, shorter conversations that somehow ate up the daylight hours.

This evening, he and I went to herd Clover the bull from the lower pasture up to the orchard, in hopes of bringing Clover to process tomorrow. Ever since I heard that we would need to do that, I have prayed every time it came to mind. The idea of trying to direct a full-testosterone bull a quarter mile (or thereabouts) did not excite me.

The first time we tried to cut him out of the herd, he soon bolted and rejoined the rest. So Phil gave his standard, "Yip yip yip" it's time to move call. Happily, Clover came in the middle of the herd, and it was easy (though a work of brilliance with unelectrified electric wire) to separate him out.

That was the most challenging moment. The second most challenging moment was next: we had to move him from the wide paddock down below up into the lane Phil had made. Which meant that, for a bit, he had full access to range hither and yon, and a single bolt could mean the undoing of a half hour's careful driving.

Phil's fast twitch muscles came in handy. One moment in particular, Clover was in a little gully and Phil was to the north. Clover climbed out of the gully in the correct direction and Phil bolted up the side and there he was, waiting for Clover to the south. I could imagine Clover wondering just how many Phils there were behind him. (I have no doubt he knew at all times that there was only one slow-moving pregnant Amy.)

Once he got into the lane, though, all was stress-free and relaxed. Clover has walked the lane with his companions numerous times, and he dutifully headed upslope, with Phil winding up the reel behind him. Short of fencing materials, with the bulk of the herd in the largest paddock, Belle in another, and the two calves in a third, we had to move Clover in three sections while we recycled the posts and wire. But even that wasn't horrible.

Really, my prayers were answered. Now for loading tomorrow.

In a sadder bit of news, I counted eight hens pecking food last Thursday. Today we had none. We considered getting a raccoon trap some weeks ago, but the thought was fleeting and now it's too late. Before we bring birds to the farm again, we'll need to figure out better ways to protect them.

I was quite annoyed that even chickens that were a dollar or two a bird and ready to lay were, I think, a financial loss to us (counting purchase price and feed costs). It feels like we simply can't win.

But then I remembered how we had enough eggs to make delicious fried rice for me in the mornings when I was still so ill, and how much better those eggs were than the store bought ones. And I realized anew that maybe the financial aspect of those birds doesn't tell the whole story.

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