This God—his way is perfect

the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.  Ps 18:30 (NOAB)

For three days I cut grass with a push mower and delivered the cuttings to my farm pals: Sonny, Holly, Buff, Jack and Bebe.

Hay is scarce. Following droughts in neighboring states farmers and ranchers learning of available supplies in West Tennessee traveled with their trailers and hauled full loads back to their animals.

Following breakfast grain Bebe diness on hay

The local farm supply held out serving locals until there was no more.  Last weekend I found someone who had older rolls of mixed grass. Two rolls were delivered the next day. While it lacks that fresh, sweet scent my group is accustomed to at least the cattle will eat it with a sprinkling of green. Except for the edges it is too rough to feed the horses.

Jack eats Bermuda with breakfast

Buff washes up while standing in the morning sun

Yesterday I connected with the person who delivered nine square bales of Bermuda a week ago, and he brought us 15 squares.

We have hay. We have fuel. We have grain and chow for all of us. Everyone is in relatively good health.  And we have a safe place to sleep and good tenants for neighbors.

Life is good on the farm thanks to God’s grace.

What’s a little barbwire between friends?

Sonny’s share of hay captures Holly’s interest

Holly is welcome to Sonny's hay and even his grain

A lick of the ear shows appreciation

Outdoor water arrives

with perfect timing

For nearly a week we have had a superb outdoor faucet thanks again to Rev. Jim and one of his grown sons, Jake.

Jake prepares outdoor faucet

When we moved to this new location a previously installed faucet leaked in two places. Wanting to avoid pushing it to a gusher, I opted to fill buckets from the kitchen sink and haul them outside including up the hill to provide water to Bebe, Buff, Jack, Holly and Sonny—outdoor large farm pals.

Jake completes installation of new freeze-proof faucet

All this week with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees and higher heat indices (117 yesterday), oh how thankful I am to run a long hose out to three and just haul buckets from there to the Charolais bull and filly.

And Rev. Jim, who grew up in Arkansas and knows about farming, has been instructing me in best uses of fertilizer, i.e. for the garden, as well as helping me plan for planting seasonal grasses for rotating my horses and cattle.

Rev. Jim rakes equine manure for garden

This former suburbanite may one day be a real farmer!

Bebe improves exponentially

following farm visit by vet

Bebe three days after vet visit

Injured three months ago my sweet filly, Bebe, had reached a plateau with her recovery. There was a lip along the inside leading edge of her leg just below the hock, and skin would not cover it.

So last week I called our large animal vet, Amy, who arrived Friday and trimmed a half-inch of granulated tissue.

With instruction to clean, apply prescription strength medicine and bandage daily, Bebe made marked improvement in 24 hours.

Now three days later it is obvious she will most likely heal without residual scarring, for which I am immensely grateful.

Rolls of hay protected

by a blue tarp

Improvised tie down

A large roll of hay lasts a week since the horses and cattle do not have any pasture on our new farm. For close to a year now the nutritional value of the hay we have been receiving has been minimal. Despite a reasonable price, the hay was a year old and had been left uncovered. In some cases, I had to remove half the outer hay to get to clean, dry layers.

Changing the animals feed to a higher quality grain to compensate for poor forage helped but was still insufficient nutrition. And at the end of each week I became anxious about where we were going to get the next roll of hay and what the quality would be. Each roll seemed to vary in the amount of waste.

Rolls of hay delivered

Through a gracious gift from friends Jimmie and Dee we received 21 rolls of freshly cut hay last week. Jimmie and Dee own a nearby farm where much of their land is in pasture. Without animals they just wanted the grass to be cut and hay not left in the fields which is what happened last year when a contractor cut and baled but never returned to collect it.

After a year with the hay left in the fields to rot, using a tractor but no spear Dee pushed the rolls off into outlying gullies and treed areas. Once again, it was Rev. Jim, their minister and mine, who put us together. For arranging to have their grass cut, baled and hauled, I could keep whatever percentage the new contractor would agree to share and deliver.

Grass cutting on Jimmie and Dee's farm

It took me a couple of months to get someone to do the work. Yet, in the end, 67 rolls were baled, and we received 21 rolls which will last us through November. More than likely there will be another cutting this summer.

Relief, joy, grace and hay abound.

Hay bale released

July has been

a busy month

Pulling poison ivy vine from tree

Rev. Jim and son Tom arrived early one morning and began stretching three strands of barbwire up the hill expanding Buff’s space among the trees and ground cover of pine needles. Buff did not have a clean, dry square-foot of ground before Rev. Jim and Tom went to work. After a very wet spring Buff’s previously fenced area was tramped down and muddy.

The men pulled vines from trees, helped remove large fallen tree limbs and did not leave until Buff was released into new quarters. By day’s end Buff had repositioned himself and sat in every corner, tasted the foilage and rubbed against sapplings, scratching his backside. A content bovine is he.

Buff tastes foilage

Settling into life

on our new farm

Sonny and Holly together

The Brahma Sonny and 12 year old heifer Holly have been extraordinarily lovey-dovey of late. It must be spring!

Palomino paint Jack has moved to a space adjoining Buff, the Charolais-Angus bull who has been spending time up against their shared fence.

Sweetest of all, chestnut Bebe, whose leg was injured the end of April, is nearly healed. She began prancing about as her grain was served yesterday. New tissue has filled the gouge and a sulfur-oil antifungal crème is being applied to complete the repair. Soon her bandage will be reduced to expose the edges of her wound to the air.

Tiger stripe kittens Ty and Mimi turned one year the end of May and both are solicitous of affection just like their mother Nikki. Tab, Alma, Gordy—orange tabbies—and sister Audrey enjoyed their first anniversary the beginning of June.

The only long hair in the group, Gordy, goes everywhere including the kitchen counter despite my admonitions. He is quick, whether leaping in the air on fly-catching missions or escaping capture jumping from the loft to the living room below.

When storms arrive, which have been occurring frequently, Peek, an all-American canine, panics. So she, and another canine Sam, and 17 year old feline Patches join me in the living room where we watch through the glass door tree branches sway and listen to the rain and sometimes hail spitter-spat on the metal roof.

Watching nature’s showy display with some trepidation we see lightning strikes and hear the thunder on its heels.

By grace we are settling into our new home.

Only a hint of snow

or was it

In the morning there was just a hint of its arrival. Scarce, icy droplets glanced off and melted before hitting the ground.

By mid-day the drops turned to flakes floating through the air, and amateur forecasters said there would be no accumulation.

As the temperature dropped one layer carpeted, then two. Well after dusk it was still falling.

Charolais-Angus bull and Palomino paint

In for more snow

Halting propagation

in the New Year

At three weeks of age Ty was named for Tiger Stripe

After this morning all five male cats and kittens will not be propagating thanks to a low-cost spay and neuter service. During the hour drive yesterday Mel and Grayson hardly spoke. The same was not true for Ty. The youngest at seven months he registered his complaints on the way there, at the clinic and all but the last 20 minutes of the ride home when he fell asleep. All that talk can wear one out. It is Gordy’s and Tab’s turn today. The females’ appointments are scheduled for the last week of  2010, and we’ll ring in the New Year without additional feline progeny. What a blessing!

Mel nearly full grown

at 10 months 

‘That’s no cat’

vulpes vulpes

While carrying five gallon buckets of water out to the pasture a visitor crossed from the Brahma Sonny’s space, traversed the horses’ wide open area and exited through the pine trees. (With stormy weather predicted the horses, Jack and Bebe, had been moved for the night to a place adjoining the farmhouse.)

Cat

Mel now 10 months old

At first the visitor’s color—yellow with reddish highlights—looked like it could have been Mel’s papa. (As you may recall Mel is one of three kittens rescued with Gray Momma last autumn.)

On second glance the stride was longer, more deliberate and the tail bushy. In fact that bush extended from the hindquarter in a perfect diagonal to the ground.

With all the rodents around the barn the farm is an ideal hunting ground for some critters. And we often have deer, yearlings mostly with flitting tails, grazing in the pasture beside bovines or jumping fences going to and coming from the pond.

At 6:00 a.m. this morning after sighting the stranger I said to myself: “That’s no cat. That’s a fox!”

Early morning on the farm

 

Mimi and Ty roam, discover and then rest

Ty has begun helping Momma Nikki eat breakfast

Mimi cleans her paw as Ty sleeps
Romping, roaming and tug-of-war can tire one

At 29 days newly named tiger stripe kittens Mimi and Ty are everywhere underfoot. They also squawk like baby birds when I enter their room. Not as wobbly in their gate as they once were now they climb on my feet, sniffing and pawing at my ankles. And, they are not as sedate with each other—playing tug-of-war, nipping and grabbing each other’s tails as well as their mother’s when she walks by them.

Although Mimi was the first to be curious about me, Ty was the first to find additional food as a supplement to mother’s milk. A couple of days ago Ty began helping himself to Nikki’s food.

When they are finished playing Mimi and Ty settle in for a nap.

Siddhartha–a wanderer of another sort

 
 
 
 

 

Siddhartha and Jack search out grain pellets

Any grain pellets Jack left behind earlier Sid helps him find

and definitely not the Siddhartha of Hermann Hesse

 

Sid, the wanderer, just appeared one day with tail wagging at a gated area beside the house. Asking around, I was not able to find his owner. Sid has the build, the color and the markings of an Australian cattle dog which seems appropriate for our farm.

Friendly and eager to please, he has one annoying habit that could be the reason he ended up fending for himself out in the country. Sid thinks jumping up on people and horses will endear him. To the contrary, this is a habit we have been working to dissuade for the better part of a year.

Jack, the Palomino paint who shares space with the canines when they come out for their constitutional, has taken an interest in Sid and one other canine named Sam. To my surprise Sid will lie on his back in complete surrender or sit perfectly still while Jack sniffs or licks him.

Fed grain directly on the back porch since he tips over his dish, Jack usually misses some pellets before beginning to consume hay. Once Sid hits the back yard his first stop is the porch. Leaving the hay Jack returns alongside his pal to find a few more morsels.