Friday, June 13, 2008

"Tails" From The Farm Part 12

You can start reading part 1 here.

We had to put up a fence around our garden. The cows got out occasionally, and Star was not trained to stay out of it. We found someone getting rid of some chain link fencing. We went and got it and cobbled together a fence. It was nice having the garden so close to pasture. You could throw tasty morsels to the chickens while you were weeding or picking produce. The bad part is that all the animals were in the same pasture. If I had a particularly large pile of stuff for the chickens, I would just wait until I was done and walk it over to them. I would walk to the fence and call out, “Here chick, chick, chick!” All the chickens would come running, all the goats would come running and the cows would come running. The whole barnyard would sit there and stare at you. If it was something really good like apple peels or apples that had gotten shriveled, Buttercup declared her Queenship and knocked everyone else out of the way. I was never able to train the goats and cows that they were not chickens.

Speaking of gardens reminds me of our “miracle corn” story. This actually happened while we still lived in Florida. Michael planted corn in our garden in Florida. He worked just 7 mins. away so he would come home for lunch. After lunch, we would go out and walk through the garden. His corn was not coming up very well. There were maybe 3 or 4 corn plants total. He was really bummed. One day, my son and I were at Lowes. I had never seen corn plants for sale with the veggies before that day and have not seen them since that day. However, they had corn plants. We bought a bunch, ran home planted them and tried to smooth the dirt and hide the plastic trays they came in. We went out after lunch to stroll through the garden. I had to walk a few steps behind him, because I was having trouble keeping the smile off of my face. When he got out there and saw the corn, he said in a voice full of disbelief and excitement, "Marci, LOOK at the corn!!!!" I said, "WOW, you've got to be kidding me!!" in my best surprised voice. He turned and looked at me, then at the corn and then at me again. He then said, "You brat." with a big grin on his face. We call it his miracle corn. We did not have enough room to plant corn in the garden at this house, so we just bought it from local people.

One day Buttermilk, the calf got out. Just Joshua and I were home. How she got out of the fence, we didn’t know. It was a 6 strand high tensile wire fence that was electric. She headed up the hill toward the back of the property. Joshua tried to go up around her to herd her back, but if he got anywhere near her, she took off further. He went and got an empty feed bucket and brought it out. At that time our cows were still grain fed. He went out toward the back and called her name. She turned and looked at him. She saw that bright blue bucket and literally charged at him. I was out there watching this wondering what he was going to do. I could not believe he just stood there because she was running very fast and right at him. He just stood his ground. She stopped right in front of him and put her head in the empty bucket. He grabbed her control halter and walked her back through the barn and put her back in. She went out in the pasture and we watched her. She went up to the fence and stepped right through it. It moved enough to let her out and she was off again. I did not think that the bucket trick would work again since he did not have any grain for her. He called her again and held up the bucket. She charge him again and the same scenario happened. This time we stuck her in a stall that did not have pasture access and waited for Michael to come home and test the fence. It ended up that it was unhooked in one spot, so it was not electrified. He fixed the fence and tested it all the way around. We got her out of the stall and put her back in the pasture. She looked at us and sauntered up to the back and started to go through the fence again and ZAP!! She turned around and found her Mom and started grazing. =)

She was still very spoiled. Joshua would go out in the pasture and she would come and find him. He would sit down and not look at her. She would nudge him in the back with her nose until he got up and started scratching her neck (her favorite scratching place). Oh, she enjoyed those scratches.
Here she is nudging him while he is trying to pay attention to Shiloh.
It got her what she wanted.. aaahhh, that feels so good!!!!
He loved playing with her.

Buttercup had calved again. It was a little bull calf that was half angus. We were going to raise him up for meat. His name was T-Bone. We bottle fed him. He went in another pen. We had learned with Buttermilk and we did not want another calf that never forgot how to nurse. We also got a couple of other jersey steers from a local jersey dairy farm. We were going to raise them up at the same time and sell them to pay for ours. After a short time of bottle feeding them, we trained them to the bucket. The 2 pure jerseys caught on really quickly, but T-Bone had issues. He would suck on your finger and you would slowly lower your finger into the milk and he would start sucking away and drinking the milk. However, if you did not hide your hands and he happened to see your fingers, he would immediately raise his head and try to grab your finger thinking that was how he got milk. If you have ever been around a calf drinking milk, you will know that they are a bit slimy with all the milk. He would get it all over you as you would once again, lower your finger into the milk. Then you would have to take your hand away really quick and put it behind you. =) Even then sometimes his head would come up and he would be looking for that finger. We had put 3 t-posts out in the yard. We would bring the calves out one by one and hook them to a post. Then we would bring their milk buckets. Oh, you should have seen the milk dance. They would start dancing side to side with their heads bobbing up and down. They could not wait to dive in the milk bucket. It was so fun to watch. This also kept them very tame and they would come to us. Here are a couple of pictures of T-Bone.

We started a 4-H club. Joshua decided that he was going to raise a market hog. We had no idea what to shoot for and what to expect. We asked a few questions and went in search of a hog. We started working on a pig area up behind the current pasture. If you ever build a pig pen or an area for pigs, keep in mind that you want to be able to back the truck or trailer right up to the pen for easy loading. We did not keep this in mind. Remember in the story above about Blackie, that the area between the garden and the pasture was narrow and there were trees in it. We could not get close to the pen with a vehicle. Getting the pig up there would be no problem, because he would be small enough to carry. We did not think beyond that. We had read of one farmer who kept his pigs in with one electric wire. We were not that sure about it, so we put up 3 strands of electric wire. The shelter was all ready, but we did not have the fencing quite in place when we brought the hog home. We had stock panels and made a pen in the front yard. A stock panel is 16 feet long and these were about 5 feet high. It was pretty heavy to lift. We connected the corners to make a pen, added a tarp over one corner for shade and put the hog in there. We were going to finish the fence and get him in his new pen the next afternoon.

The next morning was Sunday. We were up fairly early. I looked outside in the yard and did not see the pig in the pen. I asked Joshua if he had moved him. He said no, so we went out to look. Sure enough that pig was GONE!!! We were not sure what to do, but we fanned out and started looking for him. Up behind the pasture and on one side of it was a field of high weeds. Star heard him in there and alerted us. Michael went up the back way and Joshua and I went around front. We were trying to figure exactly where in the weeds he was. Then I happened to look down and saw him crossing the road and heading down our neighbors driveway. This particular neighbor, Mr Beeman had planted a whole forest of pine trees on the front of his property. He lived way near the back of the property. I hollered to the guys and told them where he was. Joshua and I were closer, so we headed down the driveway after the pig. Joshua went off into the woods on the left and was coming up that way. We tried to get Star to do and herd it toward us, and she took off running toward the pig. When she got there, and the pig did not run, she just gave him a lick and sauntered off looking for things in the woods. I finally got up and around the pig. He was looking at me and I was trying to distract him so that Joshua could sneak up from behind. Now remember this is VERY early on a Sunday morning. I told Joshua if he got a hold of him to NOT LET GO for anything. He lunged and caught a back leg. From that second on that pig SCREAMED!!! It did not grunt, it did not squeal, it SCREAMED!!!! Michael was coming up the driveway and he and Joshua took turns hugging and lugging this pig home. He was still small, but he was no light weight. His scream was almost deafening to me, so I can’t imagine having him right there against your chest. He took short breathes, but did not stop his screaming until we put him in a stall in the barn. Then the silence was deafening.

We fixed his fence that afternoon and went to put him in. All the animals came up to that end of the pasture and were watching. It was like a scene out of Babe. Even most of the chickens were staring like they were all wondering what in the world this new animal was. He again screamed the entire time they held him. We put him in the pen and quick put on the electricity. He went over to the fence and got zapped and he squealed. He did it again and squealed. Then he backed up and charged and he was out again. We went through the same scenario. We had to follow him and catch him. We put him in the barn again and went and bought some hog fence. We put that up and thought the problem was solved. He rooted out from underneath it. We had to catch him again. Joshua and I went and got some tent stakes and put them all around the bottom of his fence. He was finally contained. Joshua named him Houdini. =) Here are some pictures of Houdini.

For the fair, they wanted lean long hogs. Taste was not an issue. Many of the young people would take their pigs on walks. We had a neighbor that gave us some tips. After, Houdini had gotten used to Joshua for awhile, he decided to start trying to walk him. When you are in the show ring, you have to walk your hog around the whole time the judge is in the ring. You use a cane to steer your pig. You have to train the pig to respond to the cane. If you pat the pig on the left side, you are trying to get him to go more to the right. We all got ready for the first attempt. Star wanted in on the excitement. Joshua had his cane and swung open the gate. Star was waiting outside the gate. Houdini saw the opening and took off. Well, Star thought he was after her and she took off with Houdini hot on her heels. It was hysterical. After a bit the hog veered off another direction and Star breathed a sigh of relief. Joshua was in hot pursuit. The hog ran all through our woods. It finally got tired and then Joshua was able to start training it to the cane. For most of his training, that is how it happened. The pig would run until he was tired and then Joshua would steer him around with his cane. After he started responding better, Joshua would take him for walks down our road. People would see me at the store and say, I saw Joshua out walking his pig. =)


Tina Leigh said...

Tooo funny!! The corn & how ALL the animals come a running! Sounds like fun to me!

The Stricklands said...

Your adventures always make me smile :0) Joshua will have so many stories to tell his children and grandchildren about his life on the farm.

Peggy said...

I just love reading your adventures!

The Sisters said...

Hi Marci,
We love reading these storys!

~Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Another great one!