We rode our bikes to the barn to finish up chores just as the sun was setting. It was a small list of things to do, all light work. The dairy cows need a little more pasture to get them through the night, we need to check on the calves, make sure the pigs have water and tuck in the chickens. We have already given the beef cows fresh pasture as we do every 12 hours or so. They mowed, trampled and manured through a tall jungle of giant ragweed today. They also pruned a black locust sapling for me. Looks great.
The evening air is filled with the noises of cicadas, crickets and the call of a Bobwhite quail along with the soft hum of the bicycle tires on the road. The few remaining barn swallows finish hunting for the day. The breeze is blowing from the southwest and carries the sweet smell of the neighbor’s cornfield. You can still smell a bit of summer in the hay loft in February but that corn smell is fleeting. The neighbors feed corn silage in the winter but that has an entirely different, but pleasant, smell. They will start cutting silage soon and then the corn harvest will begin in earnest. Those tall walls of corn will be gone and we will be able to see our neighbor’s houses again. Fall is coming…and fast.
But tonight we just have a few chores to do. The kids are gone for the evening and Julie and I wanted to be outside together. We park our bikes by the barn and open up a little more grazing for the dairy cows then check on the calves. Not much to worry about with those two, just make sure they have water, a little hay and a clean, dry bed.
The SLW pullets are not quite ready for bed yet, though a few are starting to roost. We are still working to train them to roost indoors. They are still working to train us to leave them alone. Who will win?
Julie leads the way to the main layer flock. We need to move the birds to fresh pasture tomorrow morning so I take a roll of fence with me. The birds are still busy hunting for bugs and getting a last drink of water before going to bed.
They need a little more time. I busy myself building fence for tomorrow’s chicken pasture. It should be enough room to last them until Sunday, complete with fresh cow pies to scratch through. In no time at all I have two of the three fence panels in place and decide to call it a day. I am surprised at how many saplings have come up in the pasture this year. A stray bird or two just refuse to roost in the chicken house each night. I find and catch those birds (one in a nest box, one under house, roosted on the running gear) and close up the house for the night. It won’t be long and the birds will be in the greenhouse.
Julie left before I started on the fence as we were expecting the children to come home any minute. She also wanted to get the dishes done so we could just relax together after we put the kids to bed. She and I both have a number of books going at once and are anxious to make some headway. I have to keep my mouth shut and my eyes scrunched to keep the bugs out on the bicycle ride home in near-total darkness.
It was a beautiful summer evening. Cool weather, light work to do. Really, just a chance to stand in awe of the world around us. I get to live here. For a short while this farm is mine. There are times when it seems like too much work, too much stress, too much all happening at once but today I am thankful.
This is pretty cool.