Come, sit with me on the barnyard gate | Bestyet A.I Sires | Grazing Genetics from Dutch Belted and Milking Shorthorns

Reprinted with permission from The Times. Winifred and Martha have been writing columns for the regional newspaper for over a decade. Here’s a slice of our farm life we think you’ll enjoy.

Here, have a seat, there’s room beside me on this tall gate. Sit and rest your feet like I do on the inverted bale feeder beside it, where the little calves can slip in for a cozy resting place.   The first two calves of the season, Lulu Belle and Truffles, are curled up there now, gazing up at us with alert and curious eyes.

This homemade wooden gate that divides the cow lot from the quonset shed is my favorite perch, where I can rest and stretch my lower back after forking hay to the cows or bedding the calving pens.

From here we can survey the herd, making sure all is well.  Cows are lined up with their heads in the hayrack, contentedly munching.  Some are reclining on the straw pack, comfortably protected by the windbreak. There is an aura of peace and tranquility about a well-tended herd of cows that really feeds my soul. They trust me, and I work to earn and keep that valuable trust.

Cows lined up eating at the hayrack

We can also see the springers in the four calving pens. The old roan cow Pippi is overdue by a few days, so she’s keeping us in suspense. I hope she has a heifer for the family in Indiana that’s hoping to add to their herd.

I keep a watchful eye on these close-up cows as I wait for them to give birth. They usually calve without assistance—we just come out and there is a new baby being licked and encouraged with motherly moos. Then I disinfect the newborn’s navel and make sure it figures out how to nurse the mama.

Here comes the sun, brightening as it rises to send its golden rays into the cowshed. Don’t you love how it rises earlier each day now, and it’s higher in the sky throughout the day than it was in the dark days of winter? Oh, that’s right, it didn’t even shine for all those gray, cloudy days that got us all down.

So, it’s a beautiful morning to be thankful, to linger and look around.

Behind us in the shed are piled rows of big round bales of hay and straw. This muddy weather has required lots of straw for bedding, and the cow herd eats about one half-ton bale of hay each day. The baler waits where we parked it after wrapping up the last cutting of hay.  I expect we’ll have it out again by the middle of May for first crop.  We love to imagine the fields filling with green again.

Then if I stop here to sit, the cows will be gone, living out in the field, only coming home for water and milking.  There is a different peace when the cow lot is empty but for perhaps a sparrow grasping a scrap of hay in its beak and straining against the wind to fly to its nest in the trusses, or a barn swallow chittering as it swoops in the window of the shed to its nest in the rafters.   

Well, I’ve made my rounds for the morning, as the milking’s done and I already checked the young stock in the other barn.  Now it’s time to head to the house and get ready for the rest of my day.

There I’ll rapidly change out of my comfortably smelly barn clothes and drive to town for a half hour to read a book with the fourth graders.  They love to hear about my cows and I love to share about farm life with them.

Thanks for joining me this morning. I hope you’ll stop by again soon.

dual-purpose cattle, Milking Shorthorn, Dutch Belted