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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hey ladies - is it getting HOT in here?

Every morning I go out to the barn to feed the rams-in-waiting. On my way to their pen, I stop to watch the cows in the front pasture.
The animals are often still lounging on a pile of hay in the first rays of sun when I arrive. Sometimes they are already out in the pasture, munching on the last tufts of green grass. Julie the 1st – our Black Angus who was born on Canada Day - is sometimes suckling on her mother. It may be time to wean her. Perhaps then Ginger will go into heat.
I don’t know why Ginger won’t come into season. Last year, she and Betty were alternating taking the lead in a convoluted mating dance even though they were both still nursing their young.
Betty and Mocha were artificially inseminated earlier in the year. Maybe that is why Ginger isn’t going into heat. Her friends are already pregnant. There is no one to dance with.
The Farmer and I have discussed infinite possibilities as to why our nice, fat Hereford is not showing any signs that she is once again ready to bred.
I think I have the reason. Ginger is holding out. She wants a real man. She is tired of these mail-order males that arrive in the form of a test tube administered by a technician wearing latex gloves. Ginger wants to be courted the old fashioned way. She wants a bull.
We may have missed our window of opportunity this season, now that it is getting colder and snow is just around the corner. But in the spring, Ginger just might get her wish. If we bring a bull in here, he will let us know when our cow is in heat. And that’s a good thing, because we obviously don’t have a clue.
Our skills at determining the seasons of our animals are equally weak when it comes to our horses. Ashley and Misty have had days throughout the summer when they appeared to be acting quite strangely – agitated and bitchy, nipping at each other - but I am not convinced I can determine when they are actually in heat. In any case, my hunch is not confident enough to merit loading the girls onto a trailer and hauling them over to a neighbouring stud farm to be bred. With my luck we would go to all that trouble only to discover, after introductions are made, that our horsey-girls are absolutely not in the mood.
Perhaps springtime will be our lucky season. The animals will get caught up in spring fever, and we will be that much more accustomed to reading their signs.
On another note, Christmas is coming. I noticed a few lights going up this week, so I think it’s finally time to pitch the dried out chrysanthemums and shriveled pumpkins that are scattered around the front porch. It’s a beautiful, mild autumn Sunday so I might take the dog for a walk around the back 40, wave at the Farmer ploughing his field, and collect some decorative grapevines and cedar boughs for the urn planters.
The Christmas decoration situation is always a challenge at the Fisher farm. As a bachelor for several years before I arrived on the scene, the Farmer thought that tossing a single string of lights up a spindly birch tree was decoration enough. It wasn’t until our August wedding day that I realized he left those lights up all year. I don’t know how many years that string has been up there, but I think it has probably lost light in at least one bulb each year. Now they are all dead. Perhaps he will agree it is time to pull it down and begin anew.
Today would be a perfect day to pull lights out from the attic, test them, and string them along the edge of the roof. It’s mild, sunny, and only a gentle breeze is blowing. I might even hang some of my comforters and bed spreads on the line – I am still digging my way out of the laundry resulting from our dozen house guests last week. It’s odd to have such balmy weather in the middle of November – but we’ll take it. Hopefully this doesn’t mean we will pay for it later in the form of too much ice and snow.
It snowed briefly one morning last week, but winter is still only a distant threat. Having been brought up to dress warmly, grin and bear it and hop on a snowmobile when the roads are blocked, I love the winter. To me the snowy months are an excuse for curling up in front of the fire with a good book, a cup of tea and a bowl of popcorn. And if you’re dressed properly, there’s nothing like a winter morning to remind you of how beautiful and cleansing a new blanket of snow can be.
It’s time to put heaters in the water troughs, stuff the cracks around the barn doors with blankets and pour an extra scoopful of corn in the horse feeders. Winter is coming. Bring it on.
The Farmwife would like to publicly thank City of Ottawa paramedic Hilton Radfern for returning her wallet to her after she left it in a Food Basics shopping cart. Bless you.

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