Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Toystory, a Role Model to Inspire Our Dexter Bulls

The following column by Ron Hart was printed in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press today.  I wanted to share the link here, but couldn't find the column on Ron Hart's website.  So I emailed to ask him if the column had been published online anywhere because I thought it was so hysterical I wanted to share it on my blog.

He replied quickly, thanking me for my compliment, and gave me this link.

Thank you, Ron Hart, for allowing me to share this!

NOTE:  In the interests of accuracy, let me point out that Toystory, as a Holstein bull, was almost certainly being used to increase milk production, not beef.  The article could be interpreted in that way, and I wanted to add that disclaimer, lest my readers think I don't know the difference between a Holstein and a Hereford!  ;)

Here's a Genex link about Toystory's record setting achievement.

Here's an article about Toystory's passing, along with a photo.  Google also came up with some videos of Toystory at work, but in the interest of good taste, I won't provide a link here.  You'll have to do your own search!

R.I.P., Toystory, may our Dexter bulls be as virile as you were, if not quite as prolific and a whole lot smaller.  Twenty-seven hundred pounds?!  I'll take a Dexter any day! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Big Brush-Off

Winter is the perfect time for brush removal.  I wanted to get some of it taken care of as an encouragement to Herb so he could take it off his very long "To Do" list.  So I called on Randy, our trustworthy lawn service man.

He and his son started on a frosty morning, trimming along the road through the Middle Pasture.

It took two full days of work to get the job done.  I went down on Day 2 to check on how things were going.  You can see the clean fence line in the foreground with Randy and Travis about to tackle the next bit.

Randy knows all the local trees, and he told me this one had to go--it's a wild cherry.  I knew it was dangerous to livestock, but I had no idea what it looked like.  If the leaves fall off in the fall, the cattle can eat them with no harm done.  But if a branch should break off in a storm and the leaves wither, just a small amount will kill a full-size cow.

Randy knows from experience.  His father always told him never to feed wild cherry to the cows because it would kill them.  He didn't believe it, so he gave a branch to one of the milk cows.  "See?" he thought, "She loves it."  And then she went down.  Fortunately, young Randy had the sense to run tell his dad what he'd done, and the vet managed to save the cow.  He couldn't save Randy from getting his hide tanned, though!
Looking back along the cleared fence line and creek bed.  I wanted the cedars saved because they can serve as a secondary fence post, so the guys cleaned them off up to the top of the fence.

The thicket of wild plum was a real doozy.

The bonfire was burning all day both days, and the cattle were fascinated.  They made me laugh because it looked for all the world like they were having a weiner and marshmallow roast.

Siobhan's mouth is open here (left) because she's telling Wellie (red calf at right), "Wellie!  Don't eat that marshmallow after it fell on the ground!"

 Travis and Randy no only took down the scrub trees, but they also cleaned up the ones we were saving, like persimmons and oaks, so that we can drive under them without scraping the top of the Doodad.
 After the marshmallow roast, the cattle went over to dine on privet right off the "food cart."
Now that the creek bed was more accessible, Ebony decided to give herself a clay mask.
There's something fascinating about watching a fire burn, for both humans and bovines, it seems.

Misty inspects the nice neat fence line while the guys wait for the last of the brush to burn and the fire to die down.

Of course I had to tease Randy about giving us a big brush-off, but this was one we were glad for.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Weather or Not

Ten days ago we had flooding in the low places in light jacket weather.  This morning we woke up to 28° and a hard frost that looked like snow.

Whatever the weather, the animals expect to be fed twice a day.  They wait patiently at the gate until we appear.

For the past several weeks Herb has been doing most all of the feeding, but today I joined him with the camera and the four dogs.  (Bonnie and Kara are staying with us while Kara gets over the winter crud.)  Jet was first through the gate into the pasture with the cattle, but like a gentleman, he waited for sister Bonnie.

When Herb dumped the hay over the fence for the cattle, Jet and Bonnie raced over, sure there was something tasty.  Sure enough, Bonnie found a "poopsicle!"

Then Bonnie ran back to Siobhan and me to see if Siobhan had left her any grain.  Dream on, Bonnie!

Royal and Ebby really got into their breakfast.
Shortly after lunch it started to snow and kept on all afternoon.  The cattle hung out at the water cooler in one big mass of furry warmth.

The snow fell in vain for a couple of hours, with nothing to show for all that effort.  Shortly after 4:00 Siobhan gave a loud moo.  There she was, standing at the gate, reminding us that it was time to eat again.  Inside, as soon as I got up Jet twirled in circles, ever excited to go out and feed.  And so we did, all over again, weather or not.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Freshest Sausage Ever!

 This is dedicated to all the meat-eaters out there who think it's horrible to butcher an animal we knew.

Fresh Sausage

Even thought it's got English subtitles (I think it's in Portuguese), be sure to turn up the volume.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Outdoor Therapy

After having been cooped up in the house for a week being sick, when the sun finally peeped out today I was more than ready to get outside.  Since it had rained maybe three inches overnight, Herb and I took the Doodad and drove out to check on everything.

The pond had overflowed its banks, and the runoff into the little wet weather creek overflowed its banks, too.

If only the pond would hold all this water so we could save it for summer!

When the sun popped out from behind the clouds, it set Zephyr Hill Farm aglow.

Even with the soggy ground, the Doodad climbed easily to the top of the hill in the Back Pasture.  We both love this view of the farm.

We had almost a bird's-eye view.

From this vantage point we could see the creek from the hunting preserve (left) join the pond runoff and turn into the little creek (center).  It's rather mind-boggling to think that all this rushing water is on its way to the far-off ocean.

When we got back into the Middle Pasture, I called, "Ooooh, cow!" and held up a bag of dry bread.  I had to laugh as Siobhan came leaping and bucking down the hill--more like a calf than a dignified pregnant lady.  She does love her treats!

On the way back to the house, we stopped to watch our little creek turn across the pasture to join the larger creek.  Herb mentioned that the latest issue of one of his professional counseling journals had an article about outdoor therapy and how it helps people feel better.  We both knew exactly what the article was talking about, because that little drive outdoors, with the sun on our faces and the animals around us, had done us both a world of good.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

We Had a Dream

In July 2010 we attended Nature's Harmony Farm Business School for a weekend seminar.  We came away realizing we already had the perfect customer base--our kids and grandkids.  We had moved to Zephyr Hill Farm on a whim, but that summer weekend the whim became a dream.  We dreamed of Zephyr Hill Farm as a place our children and grandchildren would love to visit, to experience God's amazing creation--especially His creatures, and to build lifelong memories.

On December 23, Jim and Monique arrived with Charis, who turned six on the 28th; Kol, who will be four in January; and Eden, who will be two in April.  Jenny, Jean-Marc and their dog Tai arrived from Ohio on Christmas Eve.  Kara had already been here for several days with her dog Bonnie, cooking, baking and decorating up a storm.  Katie and Cameron could not join us as they were heading to New Zealand the day after Christmas.  We missed them, but the celebration went on . . .

All kinds of fun were on the menu, like jumping off the Kubota . . .

getting horsey kisses . . .

and tickles!

Kol and Charis lifted Eden up for a horsey kiss, too . . .
while Julie was just her perfect size.
Not even big, tall Romeo could faze Eden, a truly fearless animal lover.
Charis discovered the fall leaves . . .
and everyone piled right in.

On Christmas Eve we sang Christmas carols around the table after our dinner of fresh Ohio tamales and homemade grass-fed beef chili.

Christmas morning began with one of our favorite traditions.  Everyone has to stay in their room until Dad and Mom (or Didi and Mimi) turn on all the Christmas lights.  Finally, when everything is ready, I give the cue to come downstairs by turning on Percy Faith's "Joy to the World" at 99 on my Bose player.  It definitely wakes any stragglers!

This has for many years been our way of beginning Christmas morning with the joyous announcement of the birth of Jesus.
Full of exuberance while she waited for the slow grown-ups, Eden raced around and around the room . . .

while Charis and Kol clapped their hands over their ears to dim the pealing music and followed suit.

Like the rest of us, Jean-Marc enjoyed a cup of coffee while Santa Herb distributed the presents, assisted by Aunt Kara the Elf.

Jenny kept her camera poised to capture Christmas memories.

Eden helped Jim open his gift of grass-fed Zephyr Hill Farm beef.
Charis and Kol exercised enormous artistic talent and generosity this year, and Aunt Kara was the beneficiary of an original Charis work of art.

Monique shared Eden's joy over a stuffed doggie from Aunt Jenny and Uncle Jean-Marc.
And finally, after a treasure hunt through the house, the children found Didi and Mimi's present in the basement, an HO train complete with an antique village from Mimi's childhood, a mountain tunnel studded with real West Texas rocks, and a little farm with a pasture full of animals.

We were blessed by five full days with the family, loving every minute (except the ones I spent sick in bed). Sunday found everyone heading for home, whether Ohio or nearby Chattanooga.  Before the grandkids left, they had a few last requests . . .  Eden got to say goodbye to the animals.

Charis got a birthday kiss.
Kol and Eden talked to the cattle over the fence.
And there was time for one last romp on the hay bale playground Jim and Didi had built in the hay barn.

Although we made many happy memories this Christmas, there's one I'll always remember.  Monique told us that when Kol woke up the morning after Christmas, he asked her, "Mama, is this a dream?"

"No, it's real," she reassured him.

But she was wrong.  It was a dream--our dream come true!