So we rented a bull back in August- his job is to get our cows pregnant. Seems simple enough, right? Like everything on a farm, it’s harder than I thought.
For starters we aim for calving in May or June, late for most outfits in the US. The aim is to calve when the local ruminants (deer & elk) are calving. Makes sense right? This means breeding in August or September.
The problem is we don’t own a bull, don’t really want to (we only have 2 cows), and I don’t want to AI (artificially inseminate). The other problem is most cattle owners around here bring their cattle up to the high country at this time of year. Finding a bull to rent was harder than I thought. We found a ‘lowline angus’ bull in Fruita. I love the name, lowline as in dwarf. He’s about 3 ft tall.
Eventually the time came to return the bull to his owner. This didn’t go quite as well as we hoped. In fact, he’s still here! He’s feisty, to say the least. All sorts of thoughts go through our mind as we’re trying to catch this bull. Don’t get killed, just cooperate!, Please!, and many more that don’t bear repeating. Ultimately I called my local cattle resource around here and told her my dilemma (Yup, she’s a cowgirl). ‘You can get more out of life with sugar instead of vinegar.’ Basically, tame the beast, make friends with him, and he will willingly do what you want. That process is happening now. I love the philosophy, it’s working, but it involves grain. We are a grass fed cattle operation and they’re all getting grain right now. Not much, but it grates my nerves. Once he’s gone the grain goes to the chickens.
Of course another situation is he’s 3 ft tall and our cows are about 4 ft tall. Fingers are crossed that he did his job.
We made some great hay in September. Late for us, but we grazed these pastures earlier in the season. The only way we can make this work, in fact make the farm as a whole work, is to hire the haying done. We hire the work, he owns the tractor and all of the equipment- and he does all of the work. Well, he does the easy part. Cuts it and bales it. There are several days in between those 2 events and we hope for no rain. Eventually it’s up to us to pick it up in the field, put it on a trailer, drive to the hay stack and unload. Roughly 60 lb bales and we got about 160 of them. Not huge numbers, but we’re a small farm.
I mentioned we were hoping for no rain. As the hay dries and cures, the cells dry and rupture. Rain washes the nutrients away. The other problem is mold, moldy hay is rejected by the animals we’re trying to feed.
Anyway, busy busy. Hopefully the bull heads home on Oct 9. Come to the farmers market on the 10th for the news report.