Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quiet Pastures

And just like that, my whole world has changed....

I wake up, look out the kitchen window, and there are my cows, standing in front of the barn, waiting for their winter hay.  The ground is covered by about two inches of snow now.  Not much grass left poking through.  The air is cool.  There isn't much romping around going on out there these days.  They're quiet and patient and waiting to eat.  Standing in the hay zone, waiting for hay to arrive.  Where they will stand eating for the rest of the day.

But wait...  Why am I looking at cows?  Since when are they not chased off to wait their turn?  Oh...

Goliath died.  We went out one morning to do chores, and he was laying down.  Goliath has been a difficult horse for some time.  He had string halt.  Special diet.  Always a fight to keep weight on him.  He laid there looking at us sorrowfully.  We tried our best to get him on his feet.  He wouldn't budge.  Hubby finally said it was time to let him go.  Put him out of his misery.
Goliath, last fall.

That was about two months ago.

Goliath was hubby's favourite.  He only worked with Blondie once this year.  He gets frustrated with the actual work involved with working with horses.  I mean, he can work with them.  They are amazing animals.  But a days work with the Belgiums yields so much less than a days work with equipment.  And hubby is not home very many days.  There is always more work to do than he has time for.
Blondie.  The working girl.

Bella has never been worked here.  Hubby harnessed her once, in the beginning, and she didn't cooperate.  Since he was just learning, and Blondie was more cooperative, and then later, Goliath was such a pro- he never got back around to Bella.  She was #1's 'pony' for a year or so.  It was amazing to watch them run barrels.  But her wide girth was hard on his small legs.  When we bought more riding horses he lost interest in riding her.  She was only taken out of the pasture for deworming and ferrier this year.
Bella.  The REALLY big pony.

And along came winter.  Our hay guy has had some medical issues.  Our winter hay hasn't arrived.  He's not ready to do a days work loading, transporting, unloading hay.  He's been bringing us two bales, twice a week in his pick up truck.  The herd plows through that in no time.  We've been supplementing with our small square bales- the goat hay.

And the whole thing got me thinking.  And we discussed it.  And it was time to move on.

Thunder sold first.  He was the little pony stallion that we bought for #2 in the spring.  He was a sweet heart, but easily distracted by the girls.  If no one was in heat, he was a joy.  But with 5 mares around, he seemed to have more fussy days than good days.  And rather than being fun, it all seemed like a lot of work to #2, when it was much easier to grab Tori or Sugar and go for a ride.

Bella and Blondie went on Monday.  It was hard to let them go.  They've been a part of our family for so long.  But it was time.

Along with the girls went our future in sustainable farming.  Sort of.  We had dreams of harvesting our own hay, plowing our fields, growing our oats, harvesting our oats...  with horse power.  Without relying on fossil fuels.  The thing is, we were using massive fossil fuels to feed them.  Buying hay from another farmer.  Transporting it here.  Moving the bales with the tractor.  And all for a dream.  We're no way near ready to harvest anything.  I now know better than to start plowing.  We're still working on grass management to feed the crew through the summer.  We have many fences to build.  It all seems kind of crazy when you consider the relief our whole system will have by not having them here now.  Maybe some day we'll be ready to work with horses.  But right now it's kind of bass ackwards.

The hardest part is looking out the window first thing in the morning.  And missing their huge bodies watching the house.

There are new watchers now.

And I will adjust.  But it will take time.


  1. Do you have any horses left? If so, will you keep any? For fun? I can tell you are sad. But, your time for working with horses will come again. I would really miss my three little hens.The last pictures are cows? For eating or milk.

  2. Yes, we still have Tori, Sugar and Rita. Tori and Rita are definitely lifers here. Sugar could be too. She was supposed to be my horse, but it looks like she's going to be #2's. Tori was broke to pull a buggy- we bought her from the mennonites- so if anyone gets the urge, they can start with her.

    My girls are beef cows. One of the smaller ones was supposed to go in the freezer this fall, but we didn't get to it while the weather was right. They'll be breeding age next year, so they will stay. Our plan is to eventually sell grass fed beef. We milked Dorie when she lost her first calf, and plan to milk her again when she calves this spring.