Comfort Food and Summer Storms

August is the typically month when the pasture grasses become thin and crunchy under the hot summer sun. Without enough rain, grasses go dormant while weeds such as Priscilla Mint, Dog Bain, Goldenrod and Milkweed flourish.

Our cattle have grazed the fields since winter, enjoying the lush food during the regular rains and cooler nights of spring and early summer. For over three weeks, we have not had any measurable rain. There is still food in the fields but the pickings are slimmer and not as tasty.

To supplement the herd’s foraging, we decided to set a leftover hay bale out for the cows to pick at if needed. Comfort food for the dog days of summer. I dragged the hay ring into the Lower field with the mule, causing a lot of curiosity from the cows and excitement from the calves. Cattle love when something unusual happens, I think they get bored.

Bella, the queen of the herd, always leads the way to food, water and new pastures unless of course she has to go into the chute, then she makes sure to be last in line.

The cows have enough grass left in the field to satisfy their need for food but will nibble on the hay for a change of pace. Bella lets me know that she was expecting a bucket of grain instead of the huge piece of last year’s “shredded wheat”.

Two night ago night, a strong summer storm finally rolled through with thunder, lightning and several inches of rain. I love to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a storm. Although with the herd hanging out in the Lower field, I knew the first task in the morning would be to inspect the fence lines for downed trees, and check if the waterer was still intact.

The morning brought good and bad news. All of the fence lines were clear and the waterer survived but lightning had damaged the electric fence charger. My cows would never test a fence line so we had time to fix the charger. Checking on the watering spot, the creek level was still high hours after the rain stopped. If the water surge from the storm had risen above the lines overnight, no debris became entangled.

Water level still high but no damage.

Last night, another strong storm blew through and dumped an additional 3 inches of rain on ground that was already soggy. The creek surged again with worse results for the waterer this morning. Missing poles, tangle wires covered with debris and a fence charger out of commission left us little choice but to move the herd back to the safety of the Mountain field.

The good news is that everything looks greener already and the cows will get their water from a fountain and not the creek.

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