Archive for February, 2010

While the Cat’s Away…

…the mice will break things. Steve has left me in charge of the farm while he is on vacation in South Africa for three weeks. It has only been 3 days, and  I have alrerady broken the spear on the back of the tractor (the spear is for carrying large bales of hay). It will come as no surprise to Steve. While training for my farming solo, I broke just about everything I touched. I can’t remember how many times Steve said “never mind, I’ll fix that before I go.” But not to worry! Every time I broke something, we revised the plan from the way Steve does things to a system that Steve calls “idiot-proof (no offense).” I’m sure the system really is idiot-proof. I’m just worried that my clumsiness goes way beyond any idiot Steve has met before.

You don’t need to worry about the cows. They’re fed. They’re watered. They’re happy. We have another tractor. We have another spear.

That should last at least another 3 days.

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This will be my last post until I return from vacation in South Africa in mid-March. When my plane departs on Friday, the herd’s welfare will rest in the able hands of my intrepid business partner, Omar. If you happen to pass by the farm and you see a guy who looks like an accountant being chased round and round the perimeter fence by a bull…that’s Omar. Stop and say hello. He will be glad to see you.

But seriously, Omar is going to do just fine. This is the slowest time of year for our business after all. By the way, my phone will go straight to voice mail (I hope it doesn’t get too full).  So if you could, rather send an email. That way, Omar or I will be able to answer any questions you may have or to take your order.

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Our plans for adding free-range (pastured) chickens to the farm are firming up. We have our sights set on a system that lets hens themselves hatch and raise the chicks instead of incubating the chicks in an indoor brooder. Does this sound simple? Well, it’s not! It’s like trying to learn to juggle with five balls instead of starting with three. But we are determined to try.

We will be starting slowly with VERY small numbers at first. But we will need help. That is why we are now hoping to find an intern for the summer. As soon as we iron out the internship details, I’ll post them.

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Temple Grandin Film

This Saturday, February 6, HBO will premier a new film about the legendary animal behavior scientist, Temple Grandin. If my cattle could talk, they would urge you all to watch since they have been the personal beneficiaries of Dr. Grandin’s life work—humane methods of handling cattle. If this sounds incredibly dry to you, just trust me: you will be pleasantly surprised. This is an amazing story about a truly remarkable woman.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am in the middle of building a corral using one of Dr. Grandin’s designs (which are published free on her website for all to use, by the way). I am currently searching for used conveyor belts with which to cover the walls of the corral. My local gravel pit is fresh out. If anybody knows of a source, please let me know. Just don’t call on Saturday between 8 and 10PM—I’ll be glued to the TV!

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