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Battening Down the Barn

Oct
29

We’re expecting a storm here. Probably not too bad in this area–we’re not on the coast, and the “blizzard” on the news when they talk about West Virginia is forecast for the higher elevations. Where we are, we’ll most likely just see some heavy rain, possibly some power outages if there’s enough wind or the ground gets too soaked. Trees like to fall over around here–and there goes the power line. But I have a generator, and gas. (Probably, no internet, though. During the brief scheduled power outage this past weekend, I discovered the one thing satellite internet has over DSL–you can still get satellite internet in a power outage. Doesn’t necessarily work that way with DSL. Apparently this depends on how the DSL is set up where you are. All I can say is that plugging in the DSL modem last Saturday during the outage didn’t get me internet, even though the phone line was working. That said, I wouldn’t switch back to satellite internet for anything. But if I disappear, that’s why. Know that we are fine, humming along with our generator, and I’ll be back when the DSL is back.) The forecast for next Saturday, workshop day, is sunny and clear! (Yay!)


So, not expecting an extreme hit from the “perfect storm” that’s all over the news today, I waffled briefly as to whether or not to bring the animals up to the barn. It’s a production. But I decided to go ahead. If we have heavy downpours, I’ll feel better knowing everybody’s under good cover.

The goats, of course, were already in the barn. It’s already raining and goats don’t like to get their hair-dos wet. The chickens were hanging with them.

Shortcake was already in the barn, too–because she’s Shortcake.

The usual suspects were still afield. The sheep.

And Mr. Goose.

I grabbed Zip and the donkeys out of the pasture. Zip went in the barn with Shortcake and the goaties.

Zip takes up a lot of breathing room.

See how much smaller my sweet sugary Shortcake is than Zip?

Zip makes everybody look small.

Notice I’ve got all the hay up in carts or wheelbarrows. These make excellent hay feeders to reduce waste! And they’re portable. Plus functional for other uses in other times of the year.

Shortcake and Zip were glad to see each other again, by the way!

The donkeys really wanted in, but I told them their reservations were at another hotel.

Poky is a kicker, and every time I’ve put her with the goats lately, she’s taken to chasing them and kicking at them. I’m afraid she’ll hurt one of them. Small as the donkeys are in comparison to the horses, they’re still big compared to the goats. I left the sheep and donkeys in the front barn yard, open to the goat yard and the goat house. The goat house has this small door for goats that I had made this summer on this side of the house.

That small door can be shut.

On the other side of the house, the original door is larger and still available. Just turn this piece of wood here….

….and you can open it up for the larger animals.

The donkeys can take shelter there. The dogs will most likely go under the wagon when they want out of the rain, but they can go in the goat house if they want to. The sheep will probably keep standing around right where they are and say, “What rain?”

THEN.

YES, THEN.

Time to get the cows. Let the real adventure begin!

I started with Glory Bee, because she’s the easy one.

I know, that sentence still shocks me, too.

Since I just practiced with Glory Bee a couple weeks ago when we were out here taking photos for my book, she came right to me and let me snap the lead on with no hesitation. The only difficult thing about getting her to the back barn yard was containing her enthusiasm on the way. She has a lot of youthful energy. I had to just forget all about my camera at that point and concentrate on controlling her high speed derby to the back barn yard.

Then I went back for BP. There was a lot of grunting and balking. She’s quit, I tell you, QUIT. She’s NOT a working cow anymore! She doesn’t care what I’m offering, she’s not going. Not willingly, at least. Casper was with me. I told him to start biting her rear ankles to get her moving, but he’s scared of her.

We got halfway there, out of the gate, but in between the fields, not to the back gate to the back barn yard yet, and she decided she really liked the grass right there. She kept eating and eating and eating. When I pulled the lead, she’d yank back hard, almost enough to knock me down.

Meanwhile, it was raining.

And I was getting tired of watching her eat grass while I got wetter and wetter.

It struck me that I needed to take charge. I yanked the lead up just enough that she couldn’t reach the grass. She tried to lower her head again and I yanked up again. We went back and forth a few times in this battle of wills until she realized going forward was an acceptable option if she couldn’t get her head down to the grass anymore. I wanted to keep her going and I kept the lead taut, walking determinedly toward the back gate.

Glory Bee stood on the other side of the gate mooing at mama.

BP yanked her head one more time and the ring that the lead attaches to SNAPPED OFF.

The evidence, Your Honor:

She started eating grass, and I started panicking. I had an ornery cow, outside fencing, and her lead ring was gone. Worse, the ring had snapped off along with some other metal pieces that held her halter together under her chin. Her halter wasn’t really on anymore, it was just sitting on her head.

But she didn’t know that. And she was pretty focused on the sweet, tall grass she was eating, so I reached under there with the lead, grabbed two rings under her chin that were now disconnected because of the other parts that had snapped off, and snapped them both together onto the lead rope. I knew this wasn’t entirely fixing the problem. I suspected the halter could slip off at any moment, and I was afraid to pull too hard on the lead. I pushed into her side to set her off-balance for a second, enough to make her pick her head up from the grass, then shoved her side again and she started moving. I pulled gently on the lead, afraid I was going to pull her halter off, but she didn’t know that so she kept going and we were close enough now to the back gate that Glory Bee had her attention.

She balked again at the gate, but somehow I pushed, shoved, and wished her in there.

Now both of them need new halters, so before I take them back to the pasture, I’ll get them one at a time in the head lock of the milk stand to change them out. I may put BP in a straightjacket while I’m at it.

The cows can take shelter in their outdoor-access stall….

….with their handy new hay feeder.

So, everybody’s up at the barn, with hay and water and shelter. I’m plum worn out! I’ve got a pot of beans simmering on the stove and a loaf of bread in the oven. And that’s morning on the farm before a storm!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on October 29, 2012  

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Comments

13 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 10-29
    12:27
    pm

    Glad to hear that everyone will be safe and sound. I was thinking about you all while reading about the storm. Hoping all my East coast friends stay safe and that the storm isn’t too bad. But it sounds like it will be a stinker!

  2. 10-29
    1:04
    pm

    Well done! BP needs to understand that even though she is retired and full of herself, YOU are still BossCow.

  3. 10-29
    2:20
    pm

    Are Coco and Chloe in the barn too? Hope everything goes OK during the “big storm” and you don’t lose your power for very long. How lucky you are to have that big beautiful barn to keep all the animals safe and dry!

  4. 10-29
    2:24
    pm

    Coco and Chloe are out in the barn yard with the sheep and donkeys, where their protection is needed most. Not worried about the goats and horses in the barn tonight. The dogs can also shelter in the goat house.

  5. 10-29
    2:55
    pm

    I love reading about your life!

  6. 10-29
    3:15
    pm

    You have a BARN!!! Yay!

    I’m glad you’ve got everyone ready to hunker down, just in case the storm gets bad. Now if you’re offline for a few days, I won’t worry. I hope everything goes smoothly from here on, and you can spend the time doing some cooking or crafting, or whatever sounds cuddly.

  7. 10-29
    3:49
    pm

    It seems nothing is easy when it comes to animals! I had thought about you and figured you would be getting a lot of that wind and rain. Makes you feel good just to know that everybody is safe, protected and well fed. I hope nothing major happens and you have power and no damage. :happyflower:

  8. 10-29
    4:38
    pm

    Awesome post, Suzanne! And the bestest part of all….you did it ALL yourself with no help from a MAN! I’m so proud of you!!! :snoopy: :heart:

  9. 10-29
    5:45
    pm

    Glad you were able to get all the noses and beaks in/under shelter just in case the weather turns remarkably bad. Although my DSL works during storms, I power my entire system down so as not to tempt fate with power dips/surges and/or lightening that could totally wipe out my entire system.

  10. 10-29
    9:54
    pm

    Oh, Suzanne. You and those animals are a hoot. Glory Bee has become the easy one? I never thought I’d see THAT in print! The BP straightjacket comment sent me into a wheezing fit of giggles. Hubby came running, to the same effect. Seriously, I’m glad you are more than prepared and everyone is in a safe spot. Will keep you all in our prayers.
    Pat in Eastern NC

  11. 10-29
    11:12
    pm

    What an ordeal! Thank you so much for the post. All of us have you on our minds. When I saw the blade on the tractor I thought you are ready for all that snow they are predicting. Maybe it won’t get past the mountain tops.

  12. 10-30
    7:45
    am

    What a good feeling it must be, to have them all in safe quarters. What a difference a year makes! God bless you all.

  13. 10-31
    2:14
    pm

    I can understand the panic.
    What I admire about you, suzanne, is that you did not give up. You saw thru the problem. You forged ahead. Your ancestors would be proud, so proud of you !!!
    But then again, they would’ve just known you’d a done it…
    laur

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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