When the Farmer is Away, the Cows will Play (The struggles of a Farm Wife when her husband leaves for a week!)

Last Monday my Hubby left at 5 am for Wyoming for the week.

Leaving me to take care of 34 cattle, 7 horses, 2 goats, 2 dogs and a cat.

Oh yeah, and also to take care of our 4 1/2 month old son.

If that wasn’t enough, I also do have a full-time office job in town.

No big deal, right? Before he left he made sure that automatic waterers were working, that all of the pens had round bales, that grain was ordered, and the fence fixed so that the cows could be out on the corn stalks. So for chores all I needed to do was fill one water tank, throw hay to the horses, and grain the horses, calves, and the bull, and feed the goats. Chores would only take about 20 minutes in the morning, and maybe 40 minutes in the evening.

No worries-I can handle that!

At 6:30 am, I got out of the shower, looked out the window, and saw that most of our cows were out in our yard.

cows on the lawn

Well, this sucks!

It was only 7 degrees out, so I opted to put the baby in the pack n’ play where he would be safe and warm while I ran outside.

Luckily, most of our cows we raised as heifers, and they know what a bucket means. All but three of them followed me and a bucket of grain back into the pasture where they belong.

The last three, however, didn’t want to go in.

So I called my hubby, obviously upset and mad at this point. Ok, so I was crying. And maybe didn’t use very polite language.

I mean, come on. Why do the cows hate me? After 15 minutes of unsuccessful trying, I had given up and gone inside with the baby. If anyone would have shown up, I would have sold every cow on the farm for $1/head.

So Hubby calls his Dad (Paw Paw), who was able to leave work to come and help.

By the time he arrived, it had warmed up slightly, and since getting the last three cows in was not a one person job, I dressed our little farm helper in three layers of warm clothes, a hat, and put him in the baby carrier and snuggled him up underneath my coat. (Side note-the baby carrier is one of my favorite things that allows me to carry him around and still have two hands to get a job done-thanks Grandma Deloris for the helpful gift!)

Between the three of us, we managed to get the three bovine escapees back into the pasture with their friends.

Next Paw Paw checked the fence to see how the cows got out. He even tested the fence to see if it was still working. It was.

A little bit of walking around and investigating showed us the answer to the escaped cow problem.

open gate

Hubby had left a panel open, allowing the cows to escape.

It was a good thing he was gone for a week, cause it took me a few days to cool down and get over being mad at him for this one!

Flashback Post: Our First Year

I know I haven’t done a good job of keeping up the “Farm Wife” posts. I did, however, put together a slide show of our first year this spring to celebrate our first anniversary, so it should bring you up to speed and give you an idea of what a year in the life of a farm wife is like! Enjoy!

Farm Wife in Training: Stray Voltage! (And Learning the Proper Names For Please Hand Me the What-ya-ma-call-it)

Another weekend, another project!

This weekend’s goal: change out the horse waterers. Like many farms, ours has some stray voltage issues.  The Ritchie Waterers that were in the horse pens were shocking the horses when they drank. Our options to fix this issue were 1) to pour concrete so that the horses were standing entirely on a concrete slab when they drank (making the entire area an equal potential plane), or 2) replace the waterers with the double insulated plastic MiracoFount waterers. We have the same Ritchie waterers for the cattle, but the cattle yards are all concrete so the cattle don’t have the same stray voltage issue.

In my opinion, horses and concrete don’t really mix, so we decided to replace the waterers to fix the issue.

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Farm Wife in Training: Stray Voltage! (And Learning the Proper Names For Please Hand Me the What-ya-ma-call-it)
Old Tanker decided to help
Farm Wife in Training: Stray Voltage! (And Learning the Proper Names For Please Hand Me the What-ya-ma-call-it)
Ruby testing out the new waterer
My main job throughout the process was being the go-fer.

I thought I knew what most tools were, but it turns out I didn’t! I was properly educated on the proper names! I was sent to fetch the Channellock, the wire strippers, the hammer drill, the crescent wrench, a hammer, lag bolts, nuts, and washers, run over here quick and heat up the plumbing putty with the heat gun please, fetch the pvc glue, go grab the drill and make sure that it has a phillips bit on it, get the sawzall, and my personal favorite- honey please try to find a 5/8″ socket wrench in the mess of a tool box. The weather was wonderful this weekend, so it was nice to be outside.

Good thing that Dear Country Boy is an electrician and knows how to do all this stuff!

I, of course, earned an A+ on my tool fetching skills.

Farm Wife in Training: Review Weekend

I know there are a gazillion and one things to do on the farm, and the weather was supposed to be perfect on Thanksgiving Day, but we took the day off from farm chores and went to visit my Dad and Step-Mom in Chicago. We had a great dinner with my family, and then we went to the zoo! Dear Country Boy didn’t even complain about spending 8 hours in a car in one day or missing out on one day of working on projects.

Farm Wife in Training: Review Weekend

Zebras at the Zoo!

Friday was back to work for us. Honestly, it seemed like a review of skills that I have learned this fall. We had what seemed like a gazillion corn stubble bales that needed to be hauled off the field. My job was driving the truck around the field as Dear Country Boy loaded bales onto the wagons. No biggie-I can handle that!

How many bales can we fit on the wagons? 18!

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Things were going pretty good for most of the day….until the tire curse struck again! Good thing we have an air compressor at home, we were able to put some more air in the tires and we were back to work! Nothing that we can’t handle! We were able to haul most of the bales off the field on Friday.

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On Saturday morning we went and picked up our new Hereford bull! Meet Bruiser!

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The rest of the day we worked mostly on fixing the fence. We had cleared most of the brush off of it the week before, and the voltage for the fence was around 4,000, but Dear Country Boy was concerned since we had put the bulls out. By the end of the day Saturday that fence voltage was around 8,000 volts! That should keep the bulls in!
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The Bulls: Hitman, Bruiser, and Merrill

We also made a little space in the fence with the wires high enough for my calves to sneak through, but too low for the cows to fit so that I can creep feed them. It is kinda cute, when I walk out there with a feed bucket, I feel like a mama duck with all my little calves following in a row!
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My heifer calves

Sunday morning we picked up some more corn stubble bales that Dear Country Boy had bought from a friend. These bales were wider than the others, so we couldn’t put them 2 wide on the 2nd trailer, which helps stabilize them. Dear Country Boy put some straps on the bales to hold them, and figured it would be good.

Wrong!

About halfway home the bales started to lean. We put a few more straps on it, and managed to get them home by driving slowly and super carefully!

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The Leaning Tower of Corn Stubble!

Overall a pretty good weekend! Lots of work got done, and we even managed to cut out early on Sunday afternoon and pick up a Christmas tree!

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Farm Wife in Training: The Show Must Go On

Last weekend was a tough weekend.

Our horse, Babs, colicked on Sunday morning. She twisted her intestine, so our options were a very expensive surgery with a long and difficult recovery, or to put her down. It was heartbreaking, but we decided the best option would be to put her down.

It made Sunday a very difficult day. Dear Country Boy and I are both animal lovers, we do what we do because we love our animals. The horses, dogs, cows, even the barn cat.

It is because of our animals that we cannot just lock ourselves up in the house and wallow in grief. We have too many mouths to feed, too many chores to do.

Despite our tragedy this weekend, we did manage to get a lot of chores done.

We moved our cattle from the summer pasture to the home farm for the winter.

We dewormed all of our cattle. Actually, I am pretty sure that Dear Country Boy and I also got dewormed in the process!

We put up fence to let the bulls out on the corn field.

We moved the big water tanks, since our automatic waterers are still not finished.

My tire curse struck again, and we had a flat tire on the trailer to change. (For the record, this is the 3rd flat tire this year-one on the truck, and two on the trailer.)

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On Monday night I rode along on the tractor, raking up corn fodder, so that we can make more bales.

We were blessed to have Babs for the short time that we did. God must have needed a sweet mare to ride in Heaven, but we sure miss her. It has been tough for both of us. Sometimes I feel like it would be easier and less heartbreaking to just sell every animal we own and get a house plant instead. (Although I do not have a good track record of keeping houseplants alive, so maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea either.)

Farm Wife in Training: The Show Must Go On

Babs, all wrapped up in her blankets like a Christmas present.

I know that there is no way that Dear Country Boy and I could go without our animals. Despite the heartbreaks, they also do bring us a lot of joy. Whether it is watching the heifers run across the fields, playing fetch with our dogs, or riding the horses along the field roads, we know that our lives would be empty without them.

Farm Wife in Training: Have Truck, Will Haul (And Working Late to Beat the Weather)

Last weekend (11-10/11-11) we continued working on our water lines project. We began by taking a trip to Menard’s for supplies. We needed to get 8″ diameter plastic pipe to install the new automatic waterers.

The only 8″ plastic pipe that Menard’s had only comes in a 20′ length. We had brought Hilda (Yes, I named the truck). A 20′ piece of pipe doesn’t really fit in the bed of a pickup truck.

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No big deal, we can strap it down! 
So we made it back home with the pipe strapped to the top of the truck.
Our next job-insulate the pipe.
By wrapping fiberglass insulation around it.
It was like making the pipe a big candy cane!
Farm Wife in Training: Have Truck, Will Haul (And Working Late to Beat the Weather)
After we got the pipe insulated, we took a break from the water line project to work on the fence project. The fence had been let down to let tractors in to plant in the spring, and it hadn’t been re-tightened afterwards. So we had a lot of work to do, fixing broken lines and clearing the vines and weeds that have overgrown the lines. This project had to get done, so that we could bring the cows home next weekend. It took most of the afternoon, but we got the fence all fixed.

It was just getting dark when we returned to the water lines project. After checking the weather, we decided that we had better try to finished setting our insulated pipe and filling the holes-rain was forecasted for that night and the entire day Sunday, and we didn’t need anymore moats! Good thing that the skidsteer has bright lights! We placed the two insulated pipes for the automatic waterers, and back-filled in the holes. For one of the waterers, we had to set two posts too.

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Rain started sprinkling on us as we were finishing the last hole, but we got it done! It was after 10pm when we finally got inside!

I get an A+ for the day, cause I cooked Dear Country Boy supper then! For those that really know me, I didn’t burn it either!

Future Farm Wives: Be prepared to get funny looks as you drive down the road with God-Knows-What strapped to the truck, and also to work long after the daylight is gone to beat the rain.

Although, I know I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Farm Wife in Training: Final Grade on the "Don’t get attached to the calves, steers, or cull cows" lesson

A week ago Thursday, we shipped the steer calves.

I think I failed this lesson. I cried. I couldn’t help it – I had gotten attached to my little Beefcake. How do you not get attached to these cute little calves when you feed them everyday? Beefcake was friendly, and let me pet him, and he liked having right behind his ears scratched.

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Dear Country Boy felt a little bad for me. He offered to keep and feed Beefcake for another year, but then reminded me that we would put him in the freezer then.

I decided it would be easier to sell him now as a feeder steer than eat him ourselves!

A little later, After we got all of the steer calves loaded and the truck was gone, when we got back into the house, Dear Country Boy handed me the Select Sires catalog. “Pick out a bull you like to breed Beefcake’s mama to, we can make you another Beefcake.”

Awwww…..isn’t that sweet?

I hope Paprika (Beefcake’s mama) has a heifer calf next though, so I can actually keep it!

Final Grade: C+. (Dear Country Boy says I got a passing grade because I didn’t get attached to all of the steer calves, just the one.)