I don’t know how long the cold has been here. It seems like months, years perhaps. It may be as little as a week or less?
It has been snowing all day for the last three days. There is no accumulation. It’s too cold to snow. This is more like what little moisture is in the air freezing and falling down. The cattle are white though. They creak and groan as the stand up, leaving brown patches where they had been laying. The horses are frosted too. The bottom layer of their winter coats keeping them warm and dry as the top is covered with snow.
Life right now is all about trying to keep at least one vehicle running and getting animals fed.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I’ve decided to amend that to a belly of hay keeps the shivers away. All horsemen should know there’s nothing better to keep our horses warm than all the hay they can eat. Cattle are no different. We keep a bunk full of ground hay and corn in front of them and round bales set out in the pen to go with it. The gates are open. They could leave the pen to go out to their pasture. If any of them have, they returned quickly to the pens.
Baa and Violet, running out with the herd now, have their own special way of eating. Instead of fighting larger cattle for space, they crawl into the bunks and eat, standing in their food. A reminder that they stay where they are because they choose to.
Th stack yard doesn’t just provide the hay to keep the cattle full and provide a wonderful playground for the children.
All winter the wildlife flocks to it, for shelter and feed. I love to watch for the tracks of pheasant wings on the fresh fallen snow as I walk out to break ice. Where they crash to the ground, then run off, barely more capable of flight that a chicken. A flock of grouse in a tree, wobbling about. They are uncommon to see here, where we mostly have pheasant.
In a large clump of weeds the brown specks of sparrows decorate like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Along the edge of the driveway the are scratch marks in the snow. We had fun debating what had been digging for corn until we saw the birds covering the ground only to fly away in a swarm as the car drew near. Circling and diving they circled back to their grazing as we passed.
In the stack yard green stands out brightly along the edges of dull drab weather worn hay bales. The deer have been nibbling though the outer edge to the fresh taste of summer buried within. Out in the corn stalks I count a herd of deer numbering around fifty every afternoon as I drive to get the children after school. By the time we moved the cattle to that field it was with doubt that there was any corn left for them.
Cold snaps are all about feed. We provide plenty of that. To livestock and wildlife alike. As I watch all animals eat on food provided by us I have to laugh at the people who seem to think that farming and nature somehow exist separately.