Category Archives: Farm Doings

Little stories about how we do things here at Eddy Ridge Grassland

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but you’d be amazed how hard it can be to convince the animals of this.

The calves and the sheep have separate accommodations in the evening, but go out to graze together in the morning.

Yesterday I opened up a small field that had just finished a good rest and was flush with clover. The critters would have eventually found it on their own, but it’s just good practice for me to move them. The calves are learning commands, and I like to give the sheep good reasons to come when I call them.

The boys did not want to go. They only recently have been weaned off morning milk and oats in favor of me having time to move them to fresh pasture in the morning. They kept mooing at me and at the barn and trying to turn back around. Once we got where we were going though, they stopped dead in the gate, front feet on the good grass, back feet on the old grass, and started eating. Seems I’d been right after all about where the good eats were…

The sheep had been roaming far off and would be a long time in coming, so I went on with my other chores, which put me outside the corner of the fence. When the sheep finally came, they made a beeline for me, and got stuck in the corner. “No sheep, you just passed the gate, go back! See, that one’s gone in, follow her!” I had to go around, and get it all sorted out. They were quite happy tearing up great mouthfuls of clover when I left for church.

First Yoking

Two calves in a red yoke facing their teamster.
First time yoked, they did pretty well.

Thanks to Vicki Solomon of Evergreen Oxen for loaning us the yoke and taking the picture, and to the folks of Western NY Oxen who encouraged me to put this little gathering together.  John Deer and Case did well, although I myself made some mistakes.  They’re well on their way to becoming useful members of the Eddy Ridge team.

Welcome John Deere and Case

Deer and Chase
John Deere and Case, their first night at Eddy Ridge Grassland

We’re hoping two years from now these guys will be competent “handy steers” who will help us put up hay.  In five years they’ll get the proud title of “oxen” and be capable of heavier work.  But for today their job is being babies, drinking milk and enjoying grooming, and getting used to life.

Deer is a week old, Case was born just over a day ago, his navel was still wet when I picked him up yesterday.  They are close relatives, and hopefully will grow up in sync to be a well balanced team.

Thanks to breeder Jason DeMay of Towpath farm for getting us off to a great start, and all my other farmer friends that have been advising me on my first calves.

Clearing weeds the old way

‘Tis the season for many of our most troublesome weeds to flower, which is exactly the best time to control them by mowing, after they have expended their energy making flowers, but before they go to seed.  Our largest pasture was cleared by a contractor with heavy equipment, and the BCS is soon to get busy on the smaller pastures, but there are lots of little corners we can’t even get our BCS flail mower into that require really small scale equipment.

My scythe is in need of peening, so it is having trouble with the thicker weeds.  I decided to get out the string trimmer and give it a try.  I’d never before managed to start a pull-start engine, but farming has done a lot for my upper body strength, and I actually managed it, got a few feet into the mass, and realized I wasn’t cutting well because I was out of string.  So off to the store we went for more trimmer string.  When perusing products, we encountered the “Ugly Head Hybrid Trimmer Head” which claimed to reduce line breakage and convert to a light brush blade. We got the trimmer head home, and gave it a whirl. Hubby took point with the trimmer, and advanced on the burdock. He quickly realized strings were not sufficient and switched to the brush blades. I watched him for a little while carefully nibbling away at each stalk, and then I went and got my billhook. Before I could even propose a contest, he had turned off the trimmer and started to study the problem.

I cleared a good path with the billhook, then hubby asked for the billhook and I went and found the machete. In short order we cleared the patch together, and freed the tangled wreck of last year’s chicken tractor from the weeds. (Snow load did it in, the next model will be modular so we can fit it up in the loft out of season.)

The string trimmer may see some love again in some fence line maintenance, but for the time being she’s parked back in the garage. I guess I need to get around to setting up a peening log soon.  Sometimes the old fashioned way really does work best.