Friday, June 26, 2015

Preparing the cattle for heat

We have a heat wave anticipated this weekend. The temp on Sunday is projected to be 105F.

We had the cattle in the treeless, shadeless pasture for the past week. We thought about moving them back to the wooded side of the property for the duration of the heatwave, but there is simply no grazing on that side. We have been bone-dry for weeks, and no grass has regenerated.

So, with the permission of the owner, we decided to put the cattle on the "pond property," as the adjacent parcel is called. This is a lovely parcel with a stock pond, trees, and grazing. Normally we move the cattle in mid-August or so; but this summer's weird freaky hot weather is stressing everything early.

Before moving the beasties, though, Don and I needed to walk the fence lines and make sure everything was tight. We went in the morning when the temperature was still cool.

The moment they saw us walking down to the gate, the cattle immediately fell in line, thinking they were in for a treat.

The orderly column soon disintegrated into chaos. Wheeee!

The critters were very disappointed when we didn't let them through the gate.

The pond property hasn't been grazed, so there is much more feed available.

Don and I walked the entire perimeter, mending and tightening as necessary.

It's a good thing we did, too. One whole corner had been cut out of the fencing (possibly by hunters wanting easy access). Don had to go back later with the truck, some sections of field fencing, and more tools.

Here's the view across our pasture toward the pond property, where the trees are.

Yesterday mid-morning, I walked down to open the gate. The animals weren't expecting it, so when I gave my universal cattle call ("Bossy bossy bossy bossy BOSSY!!"), the entire herd literally came galloping in a thundering mass.

When I opened the gate, they poured through.

The grazing on this parcel isn't great this year either. The white-ish grass is called cheatgrass (sometimes wind grass) and is largely inedible, and there's a lot of it. But there's also enough decent stuff to keep the animals happy for several weeks. Once the heat breaks next week, we'll bring them back onto our side and "save" the remaining grazing on the pond property until, hopefully, late July. But no matter what, we're going to have to start feeding much, much earlier this year.

While most of the herd made it through the gate, a few of the babies got lost. They've never been on the pond property before and kinda got turned around. Little Hector was on the other side of the subdividing fence as well.

Jerky and Dina were totally bewildered as to where their mamas went.

The first thing to do was get Hector on the right side of the fence.

So I slipped through the barbed wire and started scooting him along the fence line to where the gate is.

Here he joined the others, but they still couldn't figure out how to get onto the pond property. Don calls this stage in life "puppy-stupid."

I left the calves alone, figuring they'd either figure out where the right gate was, or they wouldn't. A couple hours later, they were reunited with their mamas and all was well.

The combination of shade, water, and fresh grazing will keep the cattle as comfortable as is possible during the heat wave. I'm grateful we can rent the pond property while we can (since it's for sale).


  1. It's good you were able to make the move. I hope the new owners are as accommodating and continue to make the space available to your beasties.

    We're definitely feeling it here, too. We're having to let the sheep out to graze in "shifts" and keep a very close eye on them because they're bolting for the river, where it's shadier and there's still some deep graze.
    We're going through hay like there's no tomorrow.

    A. McSp

  2. Wow! I envied you your serene winter compared to our devastating winter with enormous snow falls 2-3 times a week. Now, we are having the most mild and even-tempered summer that I can ever remember and you are hotter than Arizona. Our forecast (Patrice, thanks for the tip) shows all of July and the better part of August being the same mellow temps for us. Lovely but very strange... Patrice, folks may be vacationing in your area this winter rather than Florida and I plan to open a ski resort in MA this coming winter on all of my mounded up snow that I remove from my roofs. Thankfully our great government can control the weather to give us all a unique experience. 8-|

    May God bless us all,
    Janet in MA

  3. Good Morning, please forgive me for my rant.

    I live in rural Saskatchewan, Canada. We, too, are going through a sever drought. I can feel your pain, uncertainty and concern for your animals. God has put them in our care. Hard decisions might have to be made. In our last drought (2008) we had to sell 25 % or our herd so that we would have enough to feed the rest. We are looking at the same situation again. The choices are hard. Our grass is also browning off, we have not grazed some of our pastures hard, so that there is more there than most of our neighbours. Every cow that we own was born on the farm, I can trace (and visualize) most of their grandmothers. They come when my husband, daughter or myself call. I pray that we will all get some relief, in the form of a good rain, soon. But I fear that the grass has gone dormant and regrowth will be sparse. Our hay fields were frozen off in May at a crucial time and with the drought, our yield will be down by 75 %. It is hard. My sympathies go out to everyone facing this situation.

    TG in Sask.

  4. Good Saturday morning, everyone. I realize this is off-topic, but my reason for sharing it will be evident, and I hope it means good news for home school families not just in Texas, but across the nation.

    This appointment sure has some people squealing saying some pretty silly sounding things, but I think Governor Abbott got it right, and I applaud him.

    Definitely worth the read.

    I especially liked this response to the nay-sayers.

    "“As a former classroom teacher and a woman who currently homeschools her own children, I understand both sides of the situation. You certainly don’t need to work within a broken system to know how to fix it!” Cynthia wrote.

    “Do you need to be a drunk to help alcoholics – nope! It is refreshing that government is looking towards a person who is well versed in the possibilities for good educational options! We should count ourselves fortunate that our Governor isn’t simply trying to put Band-Aids on a broken system, but is trying to appoint problem solvers and outside of the box thinkers – something that the public school system simply doesn’t understand.”"

    A. McSp

  5. The last time we had a drought situation (yes, Florida can get droughty, too) it lasted about 8 years. We ended up reducing our flock by 75% because we just couldn't grow enough grass or buy enough hay

  6. My prayers go up for all that are suffering from these drought conditions. Here in east central Indiana it has been just the opposite. We have had rain every day or nearly every day for 30 days. Some days the rain was heavy, 4-6 inches. Flooding in many areas that are water logged. Difficult to get the garden planted or weeded and a struggle for farmers to get hay mowed, dry and baled without rain. This will drive our hay prices higher than they already were. And now we are in a cold pattern, 15-20 degrees below normal. We are supposed to have high temps today of 63. Brrr.. it should be 85. Crazy. Rebekah

  7. Watched a video on YouTube last night and immediately thought of you (& Frank and Fern). You might find it interesting as I feel from following your blog you already do much of what is discussed.
    YouTube: 2015 Slow Living Summit #4 - Laura Legnick.

    She's the author of "Resilient Agriculture". Personally I feel everything she discusses can apply to anyone who gardens/farms for themselves or as a business.