summer’s gone

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Tomorrow is the day for the two steers slaughter, and I am feeling sad already. I just came back from putting them back onto the hayfield, and what a sight- Nillo and Ochre and Lola were sprinting like barrel horses racing around the hay bales, playing tag across the field, mooing at each other when they stopped for a second, then bucking like broncos as they repeated their antics- 100% pure JOY in being happy cows on a drizzly evening in their most favorite space. Boon even did a bit of his lurching run-gallop after them, I was astounded to watch his extremely smooth gait as he sailed like a Paso Fino across the turf. He also performed an impressive attack on a round bale who must have been yelling TORO at him or something, he almost tossed the 800 lb thing in the air! This was one of the most special times to witness, and probably the most beautiful and memorable highlight of my time with my Highlands so far. I thought briefly how I wish I could have had my camera to make a video, but you know, the most sacred moments are not meant to be captured but absorbed and relished, and then I can tell you about them in words and you can imagine it for yourself.

These steers have come SUCH a long way from being ragamuffin wild things to lustrously healthy and happy, and I’d even say docile, boys. They have been so good and have been such a positive experience for me as I learn about cattle. I’ll miss them being here, but I am so honored to have given them a wonderful life on this farm, where they had Lola as their little sister who showed them the way. Frequently I’ve see her and Ochre grooming each other, and they usually would lay down and chew cud together in the afternoons. I know Lola will really miss them too, but I have good news, she has a new playmate on the way soon, I think. Ruby’s got some changes happening on her backside; a more poochy vulva was spotted as I walked behind her up to the hayfield. She looks magnificent, and her right side is really swollen out in a bigger bulge, soooooo fingers crossed, stars be with us, universe do as you see fit, but please allow Ruby to calf her baby without complications, please please please.

This happy cow evening was especially wondrous after the morning’s event. As I rushed to complete all my chores before heading out on deliveries I thought “you know, instead of living in fear that the cows are getting out, I am going to trust that things are ok.” And then, right then, a strange truck pulled into the driveway, and I hollered hello out the egg room window as a little lady climbed from the drivers seat. She said, are you the one with those cows, and she motioned horns with her hands (hilarious) and I said “Oh shit, are they in the road?” No, she said, the fence was down though, and I yelled some expletives and said thank you so much as I ran out, and she followed me saying she could help, but I ran fast down the blacktop road towards the cows, which I could see where still in the paddock, in the ditch, but the fence was slack and on the ground around them. My good cows! I started setting it straight and then followed the perimeter and found that the polywire was ripped in half on the other side. That’s a new one. As I tried to figure out what to do, I was thinking what happened? It wasn’t a tangled mess and most of the fence was still in place on the posts, but for the cows to have broken the polywire must mean something spooked them. Maybe that bear that’s in the area? I unplugged the fence and set it back up by tying the broken wire ends together, then re-plugged it in and had to go. As I drove around to my ten deliveries in the cities I was thinking again, don’t be full of fear about the cows getting out, just get these deliveries done and get back home to the cows.

Something must have spooked them, they were in basically the same spot when I got home. I opened up the hayfield pasture back up ( I’d taken them off it on Saturday so my neighbor Chris could unload 24 round bales on it, my eat-and-poop-where-I-want-the-fertility plan is in action!) and also a small section of grazing by the pavillion so as to facilitate the on-farm butcher’s arrival tomorrow. I hope and envision, and hopefully am also manifesting, that the herd will be up by the pavilion tomorrow when he arrives, partaking in the lush and delicious grass there. Mike will aim his gun and fire one shot at the first steer, who will fall immediately, and then the second. The other three cows will jog off at the strangeness of things, and I will put the electric fence wire across the path to keep them from returning to the scene. Mike will sever the jugular veins and the steers will bleed out. Life is beautiful and precious, but we all die in the end. My cows could just be pets, but then I would have ten families denied of the meat from these beautiful, happy and healthy creatures. Being a farmer of this sort means having an intense love and a stewardship feeling over the creatures in my care, but knowing that each of us has a role to play in this world.

This Odeza album is beautiful, crank it up and let the sound wave over you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmdP5U2o-as

Thank you to Susie J who took the photo of me and the cows when she and Ernie came out for dinner.

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6 thoughts on “summer’s gone

  1. I think I am almost more excited about this Ruby mama and her baby than I was about my own pregnancies. 🙂
    I will keep my fingers crossed for you and the two steers, wishing all goes well. Your writing as always, makes my day, so funny “he sailed like a Paso Fino across the turf.”. Thank you for sharing those feelings and thoughts. Beautiful cows. I only spent one afternoon with Highlands and totally fell in love with them. I can imagine how much they mean to you.

  2. I know that feeling. I’m taking some goats to the market tonight and I made an appointment to take some of the pigs to the processor on Monday. In about an hour friends are coming over to help process roosters.

    Honestly days like this are among my least favorite on the farm. But we live in the reality of nature’s continuous circle and I can’t have that many roosters and billy goats here even if I wanted to. It’s part of how we make the farm sustainable. We take it very seriously, and I try to remain humble and even reverent about it. Life on the farm. Peace.

    1. It IS how we make the farm sustainable, I totally agree. Raising animals for meat, with big open hearts and caring thoughts the whole, while is not easy, I think sharing our thoughts about the experience does open receptive readers’ hearts and minds to thoroughly consider what it is exactly that is on their plate. How did it live, and how did it die, and am I ok with that? If we do not think about the processes and experiences involved behind our food and what’s on our plates, what a missing piece of the puzzle of the experience of life that’d be.

  3. Beautifully written Khaiti.
    I am concerned about how I will handle having to “harvest” (see – I can’t even say the “s” word) animals I’ve raised and cared for. Posts like this and Bill’s comments above help to put things in perspective, but I was teary-eyed reading your post just thinking about animals I don’t even have yet!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  4. You can never say “oh, just another day at the farm”. Best of luck with this new step in raising cows. I am not familiar with the process at all, and don’t want to be until the time comes…so I don’t change my mind about raising them 🙂 That’s how it was for me with chickens (I know apples and oranges, but that’s all I’ve got so far). I had to have someone do the initial did and I would then help to clean and package for the freezer, but when that someone was not available (on purpose so I can learn) a new me emerged. And all this “harvest” (as above) has it’s own special place in our lives and definitely leaves an imprint on our soul. Crossing all my crossables for Ruby and can’t wait to see the new calf! Laura.

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