Fall Agriculture

A young farmer checks on the cows and their pasture situation

By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate

According to the calendar summer has come and gone. Mother Nature on the other hand seems to think we needed to extend our summer since the first couple months were nothing but rain. Regardless, it is autumn and a new set of activities are upon the local farmers and agriculturalists.

A point to stress is please be cautious. There will be a lot of machinery and equipment on the roadways during the next couple months as they travel between their destinations. Please use caution when driving in rural areas and when attempting to pass those of us trying to make a living through agriculture.

On Hickory Orchard Farm, the cows are being shifted between pastures to salvage what little grass this dry spell has left us with. The struggle lately has been one field running out of vegetation before the next is sufficient enough to inhabit Heather Clower admits a few bales of hay have been tossed their way to hold them over until we could rotate pastures.

Fortunately the water troughs have been able to remain sufficient for the stock.

By deer season, the cattle will be brought back to the home farm for the winter months and the bull will lose his occupancy with the girls, but not before we get the pasture clipped once we get some rain. The calves will be taken off their mothers for weaning and they will either go to the stockyard or fill freezers to feed our families.

Clower said “Well, let’s back up, I lied a little. Three cows in particular is already home. “Fritter”, my daughter Paityn’s cow and two of her friends are already residing at the home farm. Not on purpose, but this cow is impossible to keep in. She doesn’t tear down the fence and let the whole herd out fortunately, but she literally lays her huge self on the fence and rides it down until she just walks right out. There have been times neighbors have called to tell us, “Your big red cow is out again,” and by the time we get there she has let herself back in. Just the other day, when walking out the door to head to my son Wyatt’s soccer game, she had decided my Uncle Pat’s yard looked like a good place to hang out with her buddies.

To prevent us from having to drive to other farms to check on her location, we decided she could stay at the home farm with the horses where we can keep an eye on her. It’s a good thing she’s pretty, has good babies, and is easy to catch.”

She said the chickens are laying well and are mostly re-feathered from their spring and summer molt in preparation for winter. When the cold starts setting in, they will be cleaning and re-bedding their coop and putting the water heaters back in place. For now, they’re enjoying the pretty weather and the opportunity to be turned out that goes away when winter comes.

The horse training aspect of the business is ongoing with our new indoor training facility. Show seasons are starting to wrap up therefore they will start growing a winter coat and getting their shoes pulled around November. The Clower’s have been keeping a close eye on their hooves, as horses feet mimic the ground they are on. For example, during wet and muddy season, they tend to have softer soles whereas now, their hooves are dry and brittle and can easily crack. Fortunately, there are products available to assist in this issue.

The rabbits are still living their happy and hoppy lives as they are enjoying the extra time to be turned out to graze. Sadly the clover isn’t thriving as well with this dry session, much to their dismay. One of our rabbits (Sandy) has developed an abscess that I believe is the result from a warble, just like hunters experience in a lot of squirrels harvested prior to the first frost. Though it is nothing to be overly concerned about, we are keeping an eye on her and addressing when needed.

Things are happening on the Burns farm for Logan and Lydia as well. “We are getting ready to pull the bucks from the does and take them to their winter lot,” she began. “We have done some culling of does but we have also replaced some we culled.” They have been doing minor renovations to the interior of their barn in preparation of the impending kidding season.

“We are building permanent kidding stalls,” she exclaimed. “I am so happy and eager to use them this winter.” Recently, she and her husband have purchased a few cows to add to their little farm as well as adding turkeys. “We have been raising the turkeys since March and they’re getting so big,” she said. “I am trying to get my husband talked into getting a couple sheep,” Burns laughed, however that’s not going so well at the moment. “We have enough animals to care for at the moment he says.” Obviously the Burns Farm is steadily growing and awaiting the arrival of newborns in the near future. “Other than that, things are looking and doing well down here,” concluded Burns.

Don Adams, of Limestone, shared his recent endeavors as well. “We could use a little more rain,” he began as we discussed pasture quality. One herd of his cattle have been on hay since early September, therefore they have been carefully tracking their hay usage to ensure an adequate amount is in store for winter. “Most of the grass is just about gone,” he continued as he expects everything to be on feed by early November.

Adams has also been combining corn every chance he gets. They planted approximately 50 acres of corn, around half of which has been harvested. They use the harvested corn to grind for hog feed as well as sell it as shelled corn. Speaking of hogs, Adams had a sow farrow eight piglets recently and at the time of conversation another sow was up to ten and still going. His next litter isn’t expected until around Thanksgiving.

Before long, they will be preg checking the cows to determine their stage of gestation. This is a crucial step for these brood cows, because if they aren’t producing up to expectations, they earn themselves a trip to the stock yard.