Nebraska Chicken

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We have 72 hectares on the farm that turns grass into protein for families.  We named each paddock after a state in America … with the occasional city judging by circumstantial foliage ( see also Detroit, the shittiest paddock that is now the best paddock thanks to mob grazing ).

Nebraska is a north facing paddock that was once a corn field.  When we bought the farm, corn was grown and dried ready for harvest just before Zelie was born.  Funny side note, that big, beast harvester had a flat on the early morn of harvest so we watched as they called the tire changers in.  The harvest wasn’t ours.  It went the way of the renting farmer.

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After the harvest was done, we worked the field with cattle to create better pasture for cattle.

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The herd did a great job.  Also, Brent seeded alfalfa.  Great for drought.  Great for flavor.

As the field transitioned, we caught some random weeds that the kids collected.  That was a fun year for sunflowers.

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Then the pasture started getting serious.  New grasses volunteering amongst the alfalfa.

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Then we decided to run chickens.  Not many feed fresh alfalfa to their chickens.  Too expensive.  … but we have cows, so it worked out.

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And chickens LOVE alfalfa leaves.  When they are first introduced, they go right for the leaves above everything they have available on the buffet.

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Our Nebraska started with a cornfield in France.  Now, it feeds both cows and chickens.  The pasture is so much more resilient because of the work the animals have done.

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F-ing Calves

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Calving season is never dull.  There is stuff to do when they are born.  There is the making sure mom and calf have bonded … usually good.  Then, there are nutty calves a week old that like to run around and chase each other.  Age appropriate behavior, but GEEZ ….

Today’s move was a bit animated.  The running calves set the herd off a bit.  They settled soon enough.  Though, two silly buggers got stuck in an empty riverbed covered in blackberries.  Brent hopped in and with HIS BARE HANDS started ripping the brush away to get to the calves.  He called for back up.  I showed up with a ski pole and Cindy ( our garden lopper ), he requested a tough, yellow fence post.  He managed to chop his way through, lift the calves to high ground and get them back with the herd.

 

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No photos.  Just didn’t think of it as I was worried about the calves … ah!  and my husband!  But I do have a photo of one of our rump steaks.  I ate it with veg and it was tender and delicious.

 

 

Impromptu Car Show At the Farm

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Some blokes popped over with their crazy cars this evening.  Super cool.  There’s the blue one … which is a Cobra.  The Green one which is a  … uh … super cool one.  The red one which is a Jag.  Sexy, but I’ve never seen a Jag look like that.  A black one which is a bad-ass Merc AMG with extra foam.  AND the sweet Miata.  Black like mine ( back in the day ) without the bordello red interior.  Rosebud, The Technical, posing in the background, handled the visitors with pride.

I love it when people pop by, especially when driving interesting cars.  I gave them a coffee offering from Orac our seventh fambly member.  Then off they went, driving one mile an hour down our dodgy driveway.  I was impressed they took their beauties up to see us.  Thanks guys!

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Without my superhuman camera, I got slightly motivated to do some food photography.  Here is Steak.  We are getting better and better marbling with our beef.  I cooked and ate that steak.  It was fantastic.  I don’t like to eat fat on a steak, but that steak with its grass-fed fat … delicious.  I am biased, but the fat had flavor.
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A Lawn Mowed by Cattle

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This is what they did to that mowed paddock.  They mowed it a bit more.  Uniformly cut to perfection.

Tonight, the herd is back to work cleaning up paddocks.  This paddock isn’t stockpile, but as you can see, it’s not perfect.  They aren’t picky.

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Here’s the photo from yesterday for comparison.  Both taken within five minutes after the move.
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In other news, this bad boy can climb hay bales.  Lucy took this photo while out on a walk.  He’s very pleased with himself.

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My Camera Is Holding On Awesome

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Can’t adjust the settings.  Can’t review what photo I take.  I’m shooting blind.  But I need to keep shooting.

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It’s a shot in the dark.  Like the old days.

The weather is superb.  Our dear friend is here and it warms my heart that we can work together on the farm then relax in the evening sun watching the tractors trudge on.  Rearing grassfed beef has a lot of management of pasture, but little time spent in a tractor .

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When the herd is moved, chickens fed and watered, the beef butchered and packed then delivered, you can lay under the evening sun.  Relax because the day is over.  Play with the kids.

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Chit chat with friends.  Let the grass grow.  In the afternoon, it will be sweeter for the herd.  A late breakfast.  They sleep in, our herd.

 

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Cow Scratch Time

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It’s that time of year where the cows are extra enthused to scratch on any solid object.  And OOOH they love it.  Especially when we bring them up to the yards.  So much to scratch on, so little time.  They really get into it.

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Which is fine.  Though we have this one barrier to our yards that took a beating when the gutter system gone wrong weakened the underfoot, so the giant concrete pillars would wobble if some massive force … or cow scratch … tested it.

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And OOOh they did.  The herd LOVES a good scratch.  Especially now when the weather is warmer.  We used to park the digger to hold the wall up, but in the last few months, we didn’t need that safety net.

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The top bar is made of heavy pipe.  Except for the last bit … the wobbly bit … that is a plank of wood that has been winning the herd triage battle for years.  They test it, but that wood held strong.  Except for today.  The herd came in for triage, Brent went out to set up their next move and I herd a crack.  Instead of helping him, I manned the corner.  There was a snap in the wood, but it might hold for this round and we could fix it after.

I was trying to think of ways to quickly reinforce the plank while we triaged.  All options involved materials and time.  I stepped away to check the water and I heard the final “crack.”  Quickly!  What material can bind two planks of wood withstanding a half ton animal head in search of a scratch?  Duct tape.  Just so happens, I had some close by.

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I quickly patched with duct tape the two pieces of broken plank together to make it, presumably, stronger than it was before.  As a back-up, I asked Brent to drive the digger round to hold up the fence and detour any fence jumpers.

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Hahahah.  We’ve not had a cow jump a barrier.  Don’t worry.  Except for today.  It wasn’t over my outstanding duct tape improvisation.  She tried to jump over a proper barrier.

 

 “She’s going to jump, Brent”

“Don’t worry, she won’t jump”

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“She jumped, Brent”

Yep, she JUMPED.  Amazing.  We moved her safely with the other triaged cows.  They were a bit on edge, but calmed down soon enough.  Now I’m hoping she won’t remember her super cow jumper powers.

 

… and now this.  Monster Cars in France.

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Make It Look Easy

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I come from a dance background.  When we do amazing feats or kick our leg high, we make it look easy.  Nothing hurts.  Simple.  Casual.  Do this all the time.   That’s part of the art.

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I also dabble in the geek world.  Their art has a note of “duh,” which for geeks means make it look easy.  Sometimes, those amazing feats and solutions are not all that easy, but we make it seem so.

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We move children and we move cattle … and actually, we move chickens.  Chickens, that’s easy.  Children, meh … really depends on the temperament.  … not always predictable.  Hard to make that look easy when they scream and you scream back.

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Cattle?  you need to know some tricks.  I really enjoyed this move.  The cattle ( some new to the system ) crossed the road.  Seems simple, but is it really?  Over the years and with concrete examples of cow moves gone wrong, Brent has set up subtleties that make it all look easy.  And just like a ballerina “floating on air” on her toes, weightless … the herd popped over too easy.  What you don’t see are the bloody toes ( ballerina point dancer ref ) of the past getting this art down to making it look effortless.  Behind that move is pasture planning, cow chess moves and temp fence props.  Add to that when to get the herd back to the yards mixed with do we feed hay?  Do we feed hay because the pasture needs it?  So many inputs to make it look easy.  Here they are, the herd, crossing the road.

 

When I lived in the city, I would have loved to be part of that cow move.  That’s why we are offering an opportunity to stay on the farm.  Seems easy, but what are those tricks?  Accepting reservations starting in May.