CATTLE DRIVE

Just looked it up. Average weight of a full-grown Angus female cow: 1250 pounds. Times 15 = 18,750. That’s a lot of momma cow coming at you up the road, when you want them to turn into the opening in the fence and on to the new pasture.

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But don’t worry, Tyler tells me. My dad is really smart. Here’s Ryan, Cow Guy, Ryan’s dad, pointing the way to the last calf at the end of another successful drive:

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We knew that Ryan planned to move the herd sometime, so when we heard the commotion last evening we managed to get down the driveway to watch the process. Little-known bit of cattle driving wisdom: you have the best luck moving them early in the morning or evening, because they’re somewhat together instead of spread out grazing. Makes sense.

Tyler, his little brother Logan, and mom Stacey had come along this evening for the fun of it. Tyler is 7, Logan, 4, and bouncy as you can imagine, what with it being a school night. They have found one glorious rock apiece, each of which look like a boat, and ask if they may keep them. Tyler has a blue sack into which I supposed he’d put the treasure but no, he says, he has put his rock into the truck to keep it safe.

What’s in your sack? I ask

“It’s a secret.”

Okay.

“No, it’s a surprise, so I can’t tell you.”

Okay.

“See, look. I made this.” He pulls out a card-shaped bit of cardboard with paper pasted to each side. “It’s a remote control for my brain.”

There’s writing on the card. What does this say, I ask.

“Well, it’s a control button. This one says Do Your Work.”

Oh my God, I love little boys!

Ryan asked if we’d noticed that one of the cows has twins. Number 83. You seen them? So there’s 16 calves, 15 mothers.

Well, no, one little calf looks pretty much like another, and if I were willing go walk among them, looking at ear tags, I might identify Number 83. This is not likely to happen, but now, this evening, we’re enjoying the view of the animals in a pasture closer to the house. Maybe I’ll notice a mom nursing two babies?

Anyway, it’s been awhile since we visited. A month, in fact. So. It rained a lot, flooded, actually down here in Corvallis. The riparian area of the farm flooded, which was pretty picturesque, another tree fell across the lower fence. The golf course flooded and the OSU crew practiced on the fairways.

The fact of the rain kept the landscapers away from some of their projects and they were diverted to building the stone planter for the little crab apple tree. Which tree, having finally bloomed, I am happy to say, has white blossoms.

Then the sun returned, and with it, the opportunity for Larry to fix a 6-foot round of chicken wire onto the ground around each orchard tree. This allows the chickens to be free-range again, as their run, while better than the coop alone, is pretty confining. For 3 birds who refuse to get along and behave as a flock. The poor Toastie needs space to get away from evil Henrietta. I know, they’re just being chickens, pecking order and all that, but Miss Henrietta needs her feathers clipped. Without the chicken wire, the birds dig away and expose the roots of the fruit trees in their search for worms and so on.

That was only part of the problem, however. The raised beds that Peter and Larry had built two years ago became the favorite new dirt pile for the birds, and they flung the soil about with abandon. And the rhubarb! They loved to harass the rhubarb. Luckily we’d purchased some 3-foot metal, somewhat decorative, fencing components in an earlier attempt at an earlier version of chickens’ run. Why not put them up around the planters and the rhubarb?

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A little bit fancy, but now the new lettuce and old rhubarb are safe. Job done.

Suddenly everything is green and lush. We went for a walk this morning with new friends across the way, up the hills and into the forest. Wild iris in bloom, ticks. Oh, wait, ticks? We don’t have ticks in Oregon, do we? Yes, seems we do. Well, just don’t walk in the tall grass, and check when you get home. Takes some of the edge off, but the views were worth it.

Sunday is our anniversary! Still together, feeling very lucky, feeling like home.