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Monday, April 29, 2013

Snowbanks and Potato Planting

I might be crazy for doing it but I planted a row of potatoes today. Its true , those are snowbanks in the background you see in the photo but I usually try to get at least a few planted the last week in April. Its not exactly a family tradition but most years it turns out ok.
This mixed up spring is keeping us all off the fields so this is the closest I can get to working in the soil. The old roto tiller fired up on the third pull, eager to work the ground. South sloping garden sheltered by the big evergreens had dried nicely . Snow and colder weather in the forecast for tomorrow so I figured its now or never (or at least much later).
Meanwhile, somewhere to the north of me it snowed last night at goldengrainfarm . At the other extreme of agricultural happenings there are good planting conditions in the land of The Lazy Farmer .
I am , as usual, somewhere in the middle.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 25 and Finally Spring

Nothing too exciting here. I thought it might be interesting at some point in the future to look back and see how late spring was in 2013. Finally some spring-like weather arrived April 25th, about a month late. Yesterday was the first day I could drive my driveway without hitting mud even though deep snowbanks line the shoulders. The cattle are out foraging through last year's old grass for some sign of new green. They will eventually be back to the bale feeder to fill up. Rain forecast for Monday but for now we will appreciate the weekend.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Auction Sales

Standing around at farm auction sales is very hard on my back lately but I did get to a couple this spring and shot a bit of video. Watching them online from a comfortable chair is a lot more attractive. If only Sasktel would come up with more band width for us peasants out here in the sticks I would likely do it more often. Especially when snow is in the forecast (again).
Sitting up on top of a 2388 combine to shoot some video was a nice change from standing and a chance to rest my back but eventually the wind got to feeling cold at only a couple of degrees above freezing.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sometimes It Feels Like Work

I always tell people that I keep these few cattle mostly as a hobby, something to keep busy with in the long winter months. If I make a few dollars selling the calves to cover my expenses I guess I won't complain. But some days , like today, I wonder.
This scruffy little cow looked a little suspicious at feeding time yesterday so I made plans to check on her later that night. Sure enough, got home in the dark with wind blowing and light snow falling.  Shone the lights of the Blazer through  into the cattle shelter and she was missing. I knew where she'd be, out at the other bale feeder. Its a nice sheltered spot, plenty of wasted hay on the ground to lie in. A smart cow and calf would do just fine but I had my doubts about these two.
I took the bale trail through the field (how did I ever farm without four wheel drive trucks?) and sure enough, illuminated by the headlights, there she stood. Another dark object beside her with it's eyes glowing, reflecting back my headlights. Good enough for tonight.
Next morning she came in with the rest of "the herd" for their oat chop. No sign of the calf. I could see magpies out by the far distant bale feeder so headed out to check. Plenty of hungry coyotes around and a new born calf without a cow to protect it would make an easy meal.
And there it stood. Wobbly little crooked legs barely supporting it but looking like it might try to walk to the barn.
If anybody had told me I was going to carry a calf that distance without stopping for a rest I'd never have believed them, but somehow I did it.
Into the penned off corner of the shelter with some dry straw, now try to get the cow in there. A pail of oat chop was a good attraction for her and with her head in the pail she gradually followed me in to the shelter where I was able to put up the gates and leave them for some "bonding time".
By five o'clock feeding time the cow was ready for some hay but the calf still did not look too lively. Ok, right after supper, because its no job to do in the dark, I mixed up some of the good old milk replacer and headed out to the shelter to try and teach another stubborn calf how to drink. At least get something into it's stomach to survive another night. Well, surprise, the calf is now standing up, still looking flat and empty but hopeful. While I gave the cow a pail of water to drink the calf started moving to the back of the cow and I soon heard the welcome sounds of a calf sucking milk. Great! Sometimes you get lucky. And the cats really appreciated the milk replacer that I didn't have to give the calf.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring (and hope) Deferred

I was reminded of one of great Uncle Arthur's old sayings "hope deferred maketh the heart sick" while considering the latest weather forecast. We are already way late on the spring thaw and the latest forecast is for more precip, rain or snow, and clouds for the next five days. Not much hope there at all. The window of opportunity for getting our crops planted in a timely manner diminishes further with each passing day.
A late melt is usually a fast melt meaning more runoff and flooding. I guess I can count my blessings to not live on a flood plain. All our water drains to the Qu'appelle river eventually, after all our sloughs have filled up and run over , so we can usually count on seeding a few acres that stick up amongst the sloughs.
I really should count up the number of times I have had to open my driveway this year.I would suspect it has been one of the busiest winters for the snowblower in nearly 40 years of snow blowing.
We broke record low temperature levels the past couple of nights but I won't comment on global warming or climate change. There is already a good discussion on that subject over at the contrary farmer
This photo is from my latest driveway dig out. Even with that much snow its hard not to be at least a little hopeful when you have this much sunshine and blue sky.
Meanwhile, far to the south of me, the real lazy farmer has been rained out of the field.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Step Back Into Winter

Snowing, again! Visibility has dropped to less than half a mile. Not that we were making any great strides in melting the snow from the past five months but we sure didn't need any new snow added. Well we were hoping for a slow melt this spring and we are certainly getting it. Might just prevent major flooding but of course that can all change overnight. More through good luck than good management I had a good supply of hay bales to feed the cattle through this long winter. For all the talk of deep snow and starving deer I have not seen any sign of them raiding my hay bale stacks yet. In fact these two that stopped in for a visit the other day looked just fine to me.