Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cows and their strange appetites

Spring is that lovely time of year when every flower that blooms seems like a miracle.  One of the early flowers to bloom in my yard is the Iris.  I have several colors of them.  Most of them are surrounded by grass and weeds and not properly cared for or divided yearly, and yet the beauty of those blooms overwhelms me at times. 

Cliff likes to see pretty flowers, but if it were up to him, he'd only be seeing them in the yards of somebody else.  They are just something for him to mow around.  But he patiently puts up with my casual flower-growing, maybe figuring if nothing else, he'll outlive me.  Then he can cut down every tree and mow every flower.

Walking around the back yard, I noticed something amiss with the Iris planted along the back fence.  

Those spots on the leaves are, I believe, a fungus.  They won't kill the plant.  Wouldn't you think the calves would have the decency to eat the spotted leaves?  Nope, they chose the good ones.
Seeing this, I recalled an incident from last year:  Whatever cow was in the calf pasture then had waited for my red iris to bloom for the first time, stuck her long tongue through the fence, and gobbled up the new blossom.  I was beside myself.  Apparently the Holstein calves growing out there have the same sort of cravings.  Indeed, they already devoured one flower-to-be:

Of course I went whining to Cliff with my problem and he went right to work on it, as any dutiful husband would.  I suggested chicken wire in that area, something no cow could graze through or stick her tongue through.  He went searching through odds and ends of junk he saves for such an occasion and found some used chicken wire.

Everything goes a little better when you have a good lead man (or girl) to oversee the work.  

Please notice the calves have lots of grass; Cliff has already mowed that pen twice, and the grass keeps growing.  And yet, those steers go to all the trouble to reach through the fence and eat my Iris.  

Cows, of course, will eat anything.  Even nails.  They really don't chew their food much, they just swallow it whole.  That's where their four stomachs come in:  When they've had enough, they go to a peaceful spot, lay down, and spit up the food a mouthful at a time, and THEN they chew it.  If there are nails or sharp, small pieces of metal on the ground and they happen to pick one up as they graze, they swallow it and are none the wiser.  If a sharp piece of wire or a nail penetrates the wall of the reticulum, they're in trouble.  Some farmers put a magnet down their cows' throats so any stray pieces of metal will cling to it and not cause damage.

We once bought a bred Jersey cow whose appetite came and went.  One time she'd come in the barn to be milked and eat the dairy feed I gave her.  Other times, she wouldn't.  She also had a tendency to bloat.  We knew something was wrong, and figured we'd just take her to the sale barn and give someone else an opportunity to find the problem.  But Cliff's boss at the butcher shop said he'd buy her for the price we'd paid, so away she went.  

Some weeks later, the cow died.  Richard, the boss, decided to do a autopsy on the cow.  What he found was a double handful of roofing nails in her.  She had hardware disease.  Now, I truly doubt the cow walked up to a bucket of nails and began eating them deliberately.  I'm thinking somehow, for some reason, somebody poured feed of some sort atop a bucket of nails and in eating the feed, she ate the nails.  Maybe an angry neighbor plotted to kill the cow?  Maybe some youngsters poured feed in the wrong place?  Who knows. 

Anyhow, if the calves eat any more Iris this year, they'll have to get out of the pen to do it.   

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my enthusiasm most.

I don't get excited about too many things these days.  Back when I had Blue, my wonderful horse, I was enthusiastic about every ride.  When I had the dog before last, Sadie, I looked forward to our morning walks in the pasture because she kept us entertained jumping in the air to catch the sticks we'd throw.  You'll find an example of that on THIS ENTRY of my blog.  Walking isn't a pleasure when you know it's going to hurt, so my walks these days are seldom and slow.  Oh, and Sadie choked on a pork bone and died.    

Then was our motorcycle phase.  

Not to mention my lifelong love of Jersey cows:  Nothing is more exciting than waiting nine months after a cow is bred, running out to check on her, and finding a healthy newborn heifer calf.  I have blogged about all these topics, and much more.  Those parts of my life are past.

I still anxiously await Cora's arrival, weekday mornings.  I never realize how enthusiastic I am about her company until she's been away for a week or two; then I can't wait to see her!

I sometimes worry about my lack of enthusiasm.  For one thing, it's an early possible sign of dementia.  The main thing, though, is that enthusiasm equals excitement, and it's fun to be excited about something.  You know, like a kid before Christmas.

However, this morning I came to a realization.  I'm an early riser, and no matter how many aches and pains I wake up with, I am always excited knowing daybreak is coming.  The guest bedroom window faces east, so I find myself walking to that end of the hallway to see if day is starting to dawn.  When there's barely enough light outside to see where I'm walking, I'm out there soaking it up.  Little by little the eastern sky starts glowing, the sun comes up, and another day begins.  There's usually a cool breeze blowing at that time, and it almost feels like the breeze is gently washing my face to awaken me.  

I just took a card out of the camera to see what pictures I've taken lately and found this one.

This morning was cloudy, so the sunrise was nothing to brag about.  However, that bright star that shines near the rising sun so often (Venus?) was shining like a beacon.  Although I'm not sure of the name of that star, it's my favorite because it reminds me of Jesus.  I'm not even sure it's always the same star there year around, but it's my favorite star.  Why does it remind me of Jesus?  Because when I was a child, a song we often sang at Church was "Lily of the Valley".

"He's the lily of the valley
The bright and morning star..."

When I see the bright star and think of those words, I pause and tell Jesus and the Father good morning.

Yes, I have a great enthusiasm for early mornings.  I guess I'm not dead yet.