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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sneaking out in the middle of calving season

The problem with feeding a bull apples is that now, every time I head into the barnyard, he thinks I’m bringing him another snack. He has always been very tame but now that he is fully grown I don’t dare trust him. Not wanting to disappoint, I head back to the house to cut some apples into wedges and stuff them into my pocket. There are a few beasts looking for treats today.
I put myself on the other side of the big hay feeder and reach over to offer the apple slice to the bull. He gently reaches out his tongue and pulls the fruit into his mouth. It’s hard to imagine him being aggressive but I am careful not to challenge him in any way. I won’t pat him on the head like I did with the ram once. I might not recover so easily from that.
Two of the new calves are already out in the barnyard, as the weather has been mild and they are over a week old. Mocha finally had the calf the Farmer was watching for when he locked her in the barn last week. She waited until he gave up and let her out again, but she returned to the barn like a good girl and found a quiet corner in a sunbeam to birth her baby bull calf. By the time we discovered them, she already had him dried off and fluffed up. She was looking a little worn out, lying beside him and softly mooing. I brought her a pile of sweet hay and fed her a couple of pieces of her favourite food. This girl has been known to break out of the barnyard and trot down the road when the apple trees are heavy with fruit.
This mild winter has been exceptionally easy on us compared to last year. A year ago we were praying for our water to the barn to open again. It froze up and forced us to feed a dozen head of cattle with a garden hose. It was quite an exercise. Carefully unwind hose and stretch from house to trough. Fill the trough, then carefully fling the hose over a barn rafter (don’t let the hose come back and hit you in the mouth; I learned that lesson the hard way) and slowly drain all the water out of it before winding it on the floor of the barn for the next day. More than once we discovered if you leave a bit of water in the hose, it freezes and cracks. We gave up on décor and let the hose defrost in the house.
As I write this, we are once again packing for a trip to the sunny south. We have two daughters and their men coming to care for the farm in our absence. One pair is experienced at cattle farming. The other pair can look after the house and the handful of cats. It’s hard to say which task will prove more of a challenge. I am trying not to worry about what might go wrong while we are away.
The Farmer is already in vacation mode. He is very good at turning off the worry track in his brain. I wish I could relax like he does. Something tells me when I’m on the beach with nothing but the sound of waves and Bob Marley for distraction, however, I will find a way to chill out.
Our granddaughter Leti is three months old now. She has started smiling and laughing and it makes fools of us all. We practically stand on our heads trying to get a reaction out of her. We were going to take a longer vacation this year, now that the Farmer is retired from teaching. But I can’t imagine going more than a week without seeing our littlest girl.
Next year at this time, maybe her parents will be ready for a winter getaway, and we can babysit. That would be truly awesome. Grandpa is a fulltime realtor now, so when I’m at work he can look after her. I imagine the two of them in a nest of pillows on the couch, bowl of popcorn between them, watching Fox and the Hound.

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