Stepaside Farm update: September 2018

The good news is that I love our cows as much as ever. Here’s me, mugging with Sweet Pea.

Sweet Pea is a teenager if I ever met one. She’s got no job. Not going to school. No calf in her either. When she’s by herself, we’re best buddies. But when she’s in a herd with the other girls, it’s, “Who? Him? No, I don’t even know him!” Even though we hardly ever name our cows—they usually go by their registration number—we bottle-fed Sweet Pea several years ago when we didn’t think she’d make it. What can I say? Some animals just get into your heart.

I’ve been working on the new property just two miles from the farm. It’s in a bad state, but I am always up for a good project. It’s 40 acres of river bottom that has just gone to seed, and we’re hoping to turn it into pasture. There are six-foot weeds, lots of stumps, and animal carcasses. It’s a pretty place though, with massive oak trees 10-people around.

To get all the weeds cut back, I rented a track caterpillar for a month. There’s a boggy area, and I needed to make sure we had equipment that wouldn’t get stuck. We’ve dug out 22 stumps as big as my car. We’ve just filled our eleventh 50-yard waste bin and probably have ten more to go. Next, we’ll need to to flatten it and irrigate it somehow.

Up on the hill property, we’ve had nine new Angus babies born on the mountain ranch, and some of them belong to one of the new bulls. They look impressive. We’ve put in two more wells and three more troughs. The cows are loving it because there’s so much grass up there. People say cows are stupid, but they’re wrong. The first day the water was in the trough, I saw the footprints coming up to the water. They showed up as the water coming out—just sucking it down.

Cows are smart. At the farm, we moved some of them into a pasture where our horse, Tavvy, has been for a year. Although he could have crossed over a little ditch to get to a second pasture, he didn’t. Not once. The cows? They were in that second pasture in under a day–and good for them because the grass really is greener there.

As I said, it’s a good thing the cows are cute. I’m off to the mountains next week for a 25-mile hike with not another person around. It’s just the thing a soul needs—fresh air, silence, and the beauty of nature. No doubt, I’ll be back at it with new energy when I return.