A Winter without Cattle

 

If you wonder why I haven’t written about our cattle lately, the
reason is simple; they’re gone. I sold the cattle last December, the
Hay in January and the straw last week. It has been a winter without
cattle.

Feeder cattle prices typically go down with high corn prices but the
most recent cycle of cattle prices has been extended because of
overseas sales and reduced cattle sale numbers. Corn has stayed high
because of ethanol supports and decreased production-most grain
prices are predicated on the cost of corn so they are high also. Both corn and
feeder prices have been affected by drought. Hay prices are also incredibly high mostly as a result of shortages caused by dry pastures. In short, our little farm
had become a place where outside influences stood tall enough to either magnify or block out our daily sunshine. I thought it was a volatile time and best to jump
off the ride until we see if it rains this spring and if a farm bill
assumes form.

I also needed a little break. It has been twenty plus years of cattle
during which I worked nights a lot at my job. I have never found
winter a pleasant time to own cattle, anyway. I take turns worrying
about either the cattle or the water they drink from December through
March. It was time to take the winter off.

I define “puttering around” as taking the simplest task and
breaking it down into many elements, then agonizing over each element
until the day ends and you begin again the following morning. I will
not answer God one day by responding that I’ve spent my life
puttering. I have, however, occupied myself with some experiments
around the farm this winter.


I’ve spoken at length of my hydroponic fodder project which is still
a “work in progress” and a “work in the way” out in the shop. I’ve
also made a few more tire/barrel mineral feeders. I most recently
used my digital inspection camera (yep, Lisa gave it to me
one Christmas) to follow the tunnels created by red squirrels in the
snow. I never found their underground nests and suspect these
tunnels are really just for temporary escape. The area under the
hollow tree was a bit more interesting and appeared to have some
small stores of bedding and food suitable for all squirrels red.

Socially, I have become much more entrenched in the lives of our
cats. We have gotten to the point where our personalities
occasionally clash. I also believe there are lines of social conduct
which have been crossed to include the fact that I cannot remember a
time when I have been allowed to go to the bathroom without at least
one feline chaperone. I guess maybe the cattle formed one of my
social contacts and that cross is now born by Twitch, Laine and Magoo.
I actually believe I can distinguish between the tones of Twitch’s
caterwauling and understand what request is married to each
tone. My world has become condensed and my animal relationships more
involved.

It is warm outside today. The pasture will green up soon and may not
be so washy because of drier conditions. It may be one of the best
pasture years yet. We will soon have cattle again but for now I am
happy to plow the snow, visit with Lisa, learn cat language and chase
squirrels.

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