Monday, June 27, 2016

Parker's Report: Week 7

Week 7: Caring for the Cattle
June 20-24, 2016
                  This week my days followed the same pattern. I would get to the barn and feed the horses. Their happy snorts when I’d arrive and contented munching always makes me smile. While they eat I check for injuries and clean their hooves out. I make sure to speak to each of them by name and give them lots of love. Willie has been getting eaten up by the flies so I put a fly repellant lotion on the bad spots and spray him down with fly spray. Once everyone has eaten I let them out to pasture. Then I sweep the barn. Once the horses are done I swing by the ice machine and fill my cooler with ice for the day before heading out to the tractor and day of bush hogging. On Monday I finished the Mary Alice pasture. Then I reconfigured some gates at the horse barn to allow the horses access to the awning and the shade it provides. However, the horses seem to prefer to stand and bake in the pasture during the heat of the day. I guess that just goes to prove the old saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. After that I moved to the Molasses. I would have finished it on Tuesday but I had a problem with one of my tractor tires. I noticed that the front tire wobbled when I turned. I thought that maybe I was turning too sharply so I watched it for a bit and tried turning different ways. The wobble got progressively worse so I stopped to inspect. Four of the eight lug nuts were missing! In addition, two of the ones that were left were almost completely unscrewed. I went to the shop to grab the necessary tools and lug nuts to fix the problem. Zack was there with the mechanic Carlos. I asked Zack were the best place to look for the lug nuts would be because I had no idea what the organizational method was in the shop. There weren’t any to be found so I went to town to get some more. On my way back Seth called to get me to turn around and pick up some bearings. When I got back Carlos kindly helped me straighten the tire and put the new lug nuts in. Thankfully the pressure from turning had not damaged the rim of the tire. With everything fixed I continued bush hogging for a few more hours that day. On Wednesday I finally finished the Molasses pasture. I also noticed that two Brahman calves had been born in the next pasture over. They were so cute! Thursday brought another pasture change. This time I went back to the Back of the Pines. Dallisgrass has grown up and gone to seed. Like Fescue, which has been the main reason for bush hogging, Dallisgrass can be toxic when the seeds are eaten in a large enough quantity. Cattle that have dallisgrass poisoning act like they are drunk, staggering around and delirious. This is where the term for dallisgrass poisoning “staggers” comes from.  The toxin is also one hydroxyl group away from LSD, so there is a possibility that this is why it causes a hallucinogenic effect. I always forget how big the Back of the Pines is. I spent all day Thursday cutting it and most of Friday. To keep myself from getting bored driving in circles I cut parallel to the fence line. I like the smooth, straight lines it creates. It reminds me of a freshly vacuumed rug. Once I finished it on Friday I recut the old Brahman bull pasture because dallisgrass had grown up and there was a group of heifers in it. Late Friday afternoon I moved to the Anderson Corner pasture and started on it before the weekend.

Pictures below:

Parker's Report: Week 6

Week 6: You Only Need a Roof When It’s Raining, You Only Need the AC When It’s Broken
June 13-17, 2016

Monday morning dawned hot and humid even as I left my apartment for work. By the time I had fed the horses and swept the barn I was sweating. I let the horses out in one of the smaller pastures that has a double gate at the end. After putting up an electric fence in the grass between the horse pastures and corn field, the gates were opened to allow the horses access to the fresh grass. It took them a little bit but they finally figured out that the gates were supposed to be open and they could roam freely in the new enclosure.  Once the horses were taken care of I headed to my bush hog. I was still on the 4020. It took me over an hour to finally get it cranked and once I did I had problems with it overheating and water spewing from the radiator cap. Even though I had gloves and a towel I still managed to burn my hand several times taking the cap off to refill it with water. In addition to being hot outside the tractor itself was hot from running so it wasn’t long before I was quite frustrated from the heat. Things got better that afternoon when the big cab tractor, the 4555, was fixed and Seth said I could use it. On Tuesday I was amused by the horses. They were so eager and excited to be let out in the electric fence enclouser after breakfast but stopped short when they saw the irrigation system running. They all stood where the open gates were trying to figure out what was going on. I moved my bush hog that day from the Back of the Pines to the bull pastures by the cattle pens. I finished the one that the young bulls where in and began on the one in which the older bulls were kept. In the pasture with the young bulls are two Brahmans. All the bulls were in the shade of one particular stand of trees and these two Brahmans did not like the bush hog at all. Every time I would approach the stand of trees they would run to the other side. As I’d round the stand they would run back around. Around mid-afternoon when I was in the older bull pasture a storm popped up. As the clouds were a ways off I continued bush hogging but kept a close eye on the sky. Eventually the clouds caught up to me so I shut down the tractor and swept off the bushhog as best I could amid a sprinkle. Within moments the light sprinkle gave way to a heavy down pour. I took shelter in the nearby cattle pens which are covered and enjoyed watching the rain. While miffed that my afternoon had been cut short I was also excited about the storm. There is just something that makes me happy when it rains. It’s knowing that the crops are receiving some much needed water; the grass is being replenished and rejuvenated; the cattle are receiving a much needed respite from the heat. Once the rain had let up enough so that I could hear my phone I called several people to see if they could come pick me up and take me back to my truck which was several pastures away. Mr. Mike was the only one I could reach. He was riding around with Mr. Jay, Ms. Jean, and Ms. Sara. I enjoyed getting to meet them and we had quite an adventure trying to get to my truck. We were slipping all over the place throwing up mud in the process. Eventually Zack came and he was able to get me to my truck. Wednesday brought more bush hogging. I finished the bull pen and did the old Brahman bull pen as well before moving to the Back of the Long. As I passed next to a tree line surrounding a creek where the cattle were resting in the cool shade and bull calf decided to challenge the tractor. He began hopping and charging and kicking at the bush hog as it moved past him. It made me laugh. Someone thought he was the king of the pasture. Thursday was probably the hottest day. I finished the Back of the Long and finally was able to finish the Back of the Pines. At one point during the day the AC went out in the tractor. It still blew air, just not cold air. I took special care to drink lots of water. Towards the end of the day I knocked the top part of the muffler off. I was cutting around a tree and got too close to a large limb sticking out. I called Seth to tell him and he said that it was ok and that he would order a new one. I just need to be careful that the tractor didn’t overheat or began sounding like pipes on a pick-up truck. On Friday morning I finished my barn duties earlier than normal. When this happens I like to take the extra time to work some of the horses briefly. Lately when this happens I like to work Buddy in particular in an attempt to make him a little less skittish and spastic. I take the horse and make him or her walk and trot in a circle around me in both direction as well as periodically stop mid-stride. This is called lunging and I only spend about five minutes doing so. Once I finished I began bush hogging the Mary Alice pasture. Around mid-afternoon I looked up and the sky was dark purple in the near distance. As I continued to make my passes the clouds moved closer. I was debating whether or not I could make one more pass before the rain began when I saw lightening. My mind went “Nope. Nope! NOPE!”. I promptly parked the tractor by the gate, swept off the grass on the tractor, and made my way to my truck as the rain began to come down in torrents. 

Pictures below:
Rambo the Brahman Bull