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The garden is late, and the deer are early!

July 31, 2008

WARNING !! RANTING AND A DISTURBING PHOTO OF FARM LIFE AHEAD, PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

When we went up to the garden Monday to pick the shell peas, and pull the garlic, this is what we found –  what was left of our 90′ strawberry row.  We now have 75 plants that look just like this.  My daughter had just picked the berries on Saturday, and we were looking forward to a continued harvest until fall.  Now the plants are severely set back.  Next year… .

Normally, in late August, after we have rotated through all the lush grass, and all the hay fields have been cut, the deer start to encroach on the garden.  Usually, we are ready, but not this early.  We still have at least 20 acres of hay to go, and there is grass everywhere.  We have increased our rest period on the grazing, to 37 days, which means, there is plenty of feed in many places for the deer, that doesn’t have fresh cow manure on it.  So my message to the deer – EAT GRASS STUPID, NOT MY GARDEN!!*&5#!! 

When the deer start showing up to dine in late summer, I get out our 7′ x100′ rolls of plastic deer netting/fence.  I plant in 90′ to 100′ rows so I can use this deer fence material without cutting it.  We lay it on top of the root crops that are likely to get any attention from the deer.   It stays on all winter, since we leave our carrots, rutabagas, and parsnips in the ground for storage, and dig as needed.  When spring comes and the deer pressure isn’t so great, we roll it up and store it for the next season.
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We have tried several different kinds of deer fences, but the only thing around here (meaning in our area)  that consistently works, is a physical barrier fence.  We have resisted this because of the expense, and once we put a fence of this magnitude in, we won’t be able to expand the garden.  Elk are a problem in this area too, so it has to be 8 or 9 feet high, and it has to be able to hold off a bouncing elk.

Like an iceberg, the deer and elk are just the tip of the problem.  What is lurking nearby is is especially unnerving.  And I’m not talking about our trigger/bow happy, poaching neighbor, I mean the cats that live around here in ever increasing numbers, that have a taste for venison, beef and house cats.

This picture below was taken in the pea row.  That’s my faithful pea sheller walking towards me.
The house is at the far left near the fir trees about 300′ feet away.  The house is sited right on the edge of a canyon, so as not to use up valuable flat ground, and to be near the road.  The main wildlife trail is just to the other side of the road in those trees you see.  We use part of it to get to our house spring which is a 1/4 mile from the house.  The road makes a bend at the house, and from our kitchen table we see the diverse mix of animals that use this trail as they cross the road.

 This picture is taken from the same place, I just turned around.  On Friday afternoon the neighbor called, and left a message saying that he just saw a cougar coming out of our field by the garden and it was headed to Trapper.  That explained why the horse was being silly, and what had been stirring up the dogs.  The hay field is to the left, and providing tons of cover.  My baby turkeys are in the small greenhouse on the right, with the tarp.  and the arrow is pointing to the fence line where the cougar was seen at 2:30 in the afternoon.  If we were in the garden at the time he would have been within 100′ feet of us.  This explains why 3 cats have went missing in as many weeks.  The dogs growling near the barn at night, and not wanting to venture to far into the field, without Mom or Dad.  Lath, the yard calf has been skittish too.  She looks like a candy necklace I’m sure, since I’m tying her at various places near the garden.  She has no Mom to save her and since I have tethered her she is a sitting duck.

None of this is news I know, but it makes me mad.  Every once in a while I will get a comment on this blog, with the gist being I’m not a real homesteader.  That designation belongs to the new enlightened, educated younger people who have just discovered frugal living and trying to raise their own food.   Blah, Blah, Blah.  This land was already homesteaded, you’re too old, you have too big of place, you inherited it…the list goes on and on.  I delete these comments, and I don’t answer them because it’s my blog and I can do what I want.  So there!  But, maybe this rant (it’s always in my head) will clear the air, and I will write about those comments.  I sometimes suspect these commenters may be someone I know, but as I read more blogs, I read these same ideas.  The “new” homesteaders are the broom that sweeps clean, so even though people want to live like the people that are already there, and do some of the same things, the vein is that,  I’m smarter than you, because, well, because, I’m smarter.  And you’re dumber, because you are a country bumpkin you know!  Yes, I know, I’m a country bumpkin, so please quit telling me to paint my house!  I know it needs paint, but it’s low on my priority list.

The next photo is bad, and I’m not kidding.

This is why I’m so freaked out about the world we live in these days.  Welcome to my world!

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We had to document this botched cougar “kill” to prove that there are indeed big cats eating their fair share of livestock.   This happened in May of 2005.  I had just come home from a funeral of a very dear friend, and this is what I found.  Its Mama was licking the wound, so painful, then we have to steal the calf, and kill it.   This is the single most jarring memory of my farm life.
Now when I tell this story to some people, they say what is the big deal, you were going to kill it anyway, right?  Well, yeah I guess you’re right, but in reality, would I make it suffer?   NO.  Some people have suggested that it was better than the cougar eating a deer, at least it was JUST a cow.   Since my business depends on killing animals, you probably think I want to annihilate everything I see.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  I want to find balance in everything I do, and come in contact with.  I don’t believe in feeding wildlife, but we leave fruit in a orchard that is a ways from the house, we take what we can use and leave the rest. 

Our neighbor who is planting our town with his buddies, sends me emails that I don’t like.  One, of bears eating his chicken food, a bonfire in the middle of his hayfield during the summer, and last night, one about not cutting timber to create a carbon sink.  He thinks I need to see these things, and that I think the same way as he and his friends.  It’s not that I don’t agree on some levels, but I resent him acting like I am a child needing to learn something.   Everyone of them is a hypocrite, they have moved into our small community and wanted to change it.  They turn people in for illegal rentals, yet they rent out spaces in their buildings.  They try to shut down the only local restaurant because of traffic issues on the weekends, yet they want to rent the entire restaurant for a special function of theirs.  They vote against cutting large trees on any private forest land, and with a wink and say, I’ll cut mine, no one will know.  And, we have people like that to thank for the law prohibiting hunting big cats and bears with dogs.

So I really don’t know what the answer is, quit farming, because cattle always get a bum rap?  Or do I just keep plugging away and practice the three SSS’s.  Which really brings me back to the beginning of this post.  Why should I have to practice the three SSS’s.  When my grandfather came to this land and homesteaded it, he was surrounded by like minded people.  He had the hard work of clearing this land, and I have grown up with stories of all the trials and tribulations that are the fabric of this homestead and countless others.  I don’t remember hearing any, about needless killing of the wildlife.  Now, the stories of the buffaloes being mowed down on the plains makes me sick, as it should.  But, keeping the hungry wildlife at bay, is that wrong?  In some ways I think homesteading/farming is harder now than it was in the 1800’s. 

My family has been penalized for not selling out, and keeping our landscape looking like it did, since it was originally cleared.  How have we been penalized?  People from 4 miles away, walk by our house every day, because we still have trees, we still have meadows, and the creek is cool and inviting.   We have large trees flanking our driveway that I guess were planted there, to provide shade, and a piss spot for the hundreds of bicyclists that ride by our house every weekend.  I know, I sound like a crank, but come on people, someone lives here!  When you hear a barking dog, or see how upset he is because your loose dog is running through the pasture.  MOVE ON or walk on your own property.  And if your own property isn’t big enough, then buy more.  Or, the best, people come to the country to commune with Mother Nature right?  Well good ol’ MN doesn’t like yelling and loud noises.  Unlike how life is depicted on TV, the cattle don’t bawl unless they are distressed, horses don’t whinny when asked to move out, and dogs don’t (shouldn’t) bark all the time.  If I go to town, I certainly don’t go around yelling and startling all the animals and humans that live there.  If I did, someone would call the cops.  It isn’t just town people, it’s our neighbors too.  We have one guy whose 18 wooded acres adjoins ours.  But, one time when he decided to walk his dogs in one of our pastures, and our dogs tried to kill his, he was mad at me.  My dogs should be able to do their jobs on their own land.  ( I don’t mean their job is to kill other dogs, they are just supposed to alert us to animals/humans that don’t belong here.)   He was there without permission, high as a kite and he told me was bummed out because he liked to come over to our place and watch the sunset, since he has too many trees.  Waaaaa!  This guy is approaching 60… .  I say, cut down some trees, or buy a different place! Period.

We try to live along side our neighbors, I hate hearing  the motocross riders next door, but they did call us and let us know about the cat.  But, they grew up around here and know that we would want to know. 

This post has really gotten out of hand, but what I really want to convey is that when you are voting to save farmland, you have to save the farmers too!!  The world is a diverse place, we need an array of types of farms.  Not just Disneyland’s version, not everyone needs to be a vegetarian to save the earth.  There is room for us carnivores too!  You don’t have to protect the cougars, or forest from me, because if I was a threat to either, they wouldn’t be here.  And we have plenty of both.  Don’t regulate me out of business, or farming, or make me protecting my livestock a dirty thing.  We have offers every week to sell our property, if that happens, the trees will be the first to go, and houses will come next.  So next time you are voting about some law that you think doesn’t really affect you, think again.  That tree you like to pee under in the cool shade, by my paperbox,  will probably be cut down!

So to end it, I think maintaining a homestead, is as hard as starting one.

To calm myself down and you too, if you’re still reading here are some nice pictures.

Ants farming aphid eggs in June.
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Here is the result, in late July.  Looks like a good job of stacking to me.  Unless of course you are the aphid.
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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Aren permalink
    July 31, 2008 2:11 pm

    I’m sorry you’re so frustrated. I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your writing and your pics. I’m currently supposed to be writing an article about Oregon’s land use laws and how they’ve helped protect agriculture. Your perspective (as well as your frustration with the way the post rambled) rings true with me, in that it is difficult to isolate one particular factor for in-depth discussion. Best of luck, and thanks for sharing.

  2. July 31, 2008 4:20 pm

    Oh man, MoH, I’m sorry. I could certainly hear your frustration.

    Our biggest issue here is something that I don’t feel free to post about on my blog – the neighbor’s dogs. We have a neighbor that collects puppies. They don’t want dogs, just puppies. The kids play with the puppies, they don’t train them, the puppies grow up, the puppies see the sheep and goats across the field running around and come over. Then we have to either take care of the problem or deal with dead animals.

    My dad says “Just hand them the bill when their dog kills an animal.” That’s all well and good, and we’ve done that when we’ve had a killed lamb, but how many dead lambs at $150 a pop will the neighbors pay for before they say “Sorry, can’t pay that.” It’s not an amount worth going to small claims court for. And I don’t want to fight them for money to pay for a well bred goat that was killed – I’d rather have the goat.

    We’ve talked to them directly many times and they say “We’ll keep them tied up” but in a few days they feel sorry for them, let the poor things off, and next thing I know, my goats are being chased down the fenceline or one of Matt’s ewes is standing them off trying to protect her lambs – the #(*&$ dogs dig under our goat fence.

    So the neighbors say “If you have to, just shoot them.” So we become their dog disposal. Their way of clearing their property for yet another free puppy from the WalMart parking lot. And my husband and I, to protect our animals are forced to do something that he hates doing and makes me nauseous.

    Even in the country, neighbors can suck.

    I’m glad to be able to get this out here since I can’t on my blog. lol

  3. July 31, 2008 4:53 pm

    Oh. My. Gosh. You know, the more I learn about homesteading, the more I realize how unaware I am. I had NO IDEA of the challenges homesteaders face with wild predators, both the four legged and 2 legged variety (if you know what I mean). Oh, I’ve heard about bear sightings here and there, and the occasional cougar sighting, but as a city girl, I can honestly say that those sightings are represented as occasional flukes, not consistent threats. To know they are out there at ALL times is a completely different and worrisome scenario. And of course you want to respect all life, but gee whiz how do you find the balance? And what exactly is “balance”?

    Gosh, it must be frightening to know that a cougar is on the premises. What do you do? With the safety of Della and her soon to make an appearance calf, those little turkeys, all the other animals and plants, and you and your family to consider, it certainly puts things in a different perspective entirely.

    Well, I know I’m a city girl and a green horn through and through when it comes to homesteading, but know this. I certainly respect all those who make a commitment to live off the land, those who make a conscious effort to be good stewards of the land and the animals in their care, and those who strive to leave a positive foot print in their wake. You fit the bill through and through.

  4. July 31, 2008 4:57 pm

    Oh gee, forgot to say I like the lady bug and bee photo! My farmer wanna-be daughter LOVES ladybugs and talks to them in our garden.

  5. July 31, 2008 6:05 pm

    I’m sorry – I wish I could say I don’t understand or share your frustration but I do. Every situation is different but painful none the less.

    Farmers are never going to be appreciated for what they have done, do know or can do for the earth that we live on. It’s difficult enough as it is to deal with the wildlife but I think dealing with know it all human beings is even worse.

    We too practice SSS…..it’s the only alternative that works here. You cannot even get an official to acknowledge that we have cats or bear in this area. I lost eight lambs in two days a few years back – several of us saw the paw prints of the cat but the officials didn’t see them so it just could not be possible. They couldn’t explain it – didn’t even try. My livestock wasn’t important enough to worry about it either.

    You are an inspiration……what your family built and the knowledge they have passed on through the generations is important – you and your family continuing that is just as important. it may not always seem that way but it is.

    I think farmer’s develop a very thick skin. I know I have – that’s not to say it doesn’t hurt at times because it does but not enough that I’m going to give up. I know my lifestyle makes a difference to my family and the little postage stamp I live on – your does too!

    Keep your eye out for that cat.

  6. July 31, 2008 7:19 pm

    Rant on….

    I’ve had some dumbass cut our fence because he had a hard time hauling his deer back to his “buddies” house. Some folks just don’t seem to understand what fences are for.

    I love the saying that you can’t fix stupid.

  7. July 31, 2008 7:53 pm

    Sorry you’re having to deal with this. We have friends in the mountains west of us that have to deal with wolves and I know what they go through. We’re fortunate that the only thing that might bother us is coyotes and so far they haven’t been a problem at all.

  8. July 31, 2008 9:53 pm

    Life on a farm is hard even on the good days. Sorry you had a tough one today. We have a rather new little farm but I understand what the big farmers face in this world of disrespectful and uneducated people. The American Farmer is the most important thing that we have in the sorry a$$ country.

    Keep your head up,

    Chris

  9. July 31, 2008 10:22 pm

    Aren, thank you for reading through those ramblings. The land issue is complicated. There are many sides to each story. I don’t want to see any more houses built on farmland, but I dislike being told what I can and can’t do with my property.

    Our farm is marginal farmland at best. But, 12 miles to the west of us, I have watched the city gobble up rich bottom land, for mall after mall. Why would the zoning laws allow a grocery store to move from a 30,000 sf building, less than a 1/4 mile and build a slightly larger store? One store, moved to the other side of the parking lot and built a large new store. Within 5 years, the second store is vacant as is the first one. When I was a child, this property was a beautiful farm. Now it is paved, the 20 year old subdivision that was the anchor is starting to show it’s age, and for what? Yet, I have to get a permit to use a cat to clear blackberries, because I might cause erosion.

    I’m one of the original NIMBY’s, I long for the 20 acre parcel next to us to be the riding stable it was when I was a child. Now since it has been parceled out, we deal with 10 different neighbors, who own 25 dogs, and they all squabble with one another over their shared driveways.

    We have never sold any land, just bought more as a parcel came up for sale, yet the old layer of landowners who did subdivide, were glad to take the money at the time, but now all they talk about is the increased traffic, and trespassing issues.
    I think they have no room to complain, but I have to live near these people so I’ll have to settle for complaining on my blog.
    Arrgh, more rambling, good luck on your article, I look forward to reading it.

    Sarah, LOL you can come here and rant anytime you want. I’m sticking my neck out on this post, but the no logging email, pushed me over the edge. This guys friends drive us crazy, they have approached us about taking down some of our barbwire fence, so the wildlife can move freely. I have yet to see our fence stop any wildlife, or harm it. But, they are worried everyday as they walk up our way.

    That is too bad about the dogs next door, I agree with you, pretty soon they will quit paying, and where will you be. Breeding the lines that you want, takes time and forethought. To have that destroyed by senseless pet owners is shameful. I feel for you guys. It sounds like there is an endless supply of dogs. It must be hard on your husband to have to do the deed time after time. Plus, you have little kids, they shouldn’t have to see this kind of behavior time after time.

    We had one neighbor who never bought enough feed for his childrens horses, and the horses were always out. Many times they showed up here skin and bones and hungry for grass or anything to eat. We would always catch the horses, call them and help their girls navigate the busy road with horses in tow. One day one of our dogs got through the fence and chased him up the road while he was jogging, it didn’t bite him, just startled him. He went straight home and called animal control. The next time the horse went by, we closed the gate. Sounds harsh, but really, what do they expect. If animal control had seen the condition of his horses he would have been on the news. We were just trying to give him a break… . But, I mean it, come here and rant anytime you need to vent. Sometimes it helps to blow off a little steam.

    Paula, each area has it’s challenges. We have changed our calving season to May, so we can avoid the cougars when the calves are first born. That has helped immensely. By that time the deer and elk are having their babies, so the cougars have something else to eat. One a week per cougar is a lot of venison or elk. But, since the laws have changed, they are hard to hunt. It is thought to be cruel to have a dog chase the cougar and tree it, then the hunter comes and shoots it. but, humans are at a disadvantage, cats are secretive, bold hunters. Anything can be misrepresented, so a video being shown repeatedly at voting time really tugs at the heart strings of people who live in town. It has been portrayed as if the dogs and hunters are running rampant and chasing and killing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. But, meanwhile they are getting thicker. My husband has been stalked while cutting firewood, and we see their sign quite often. So dogs with us at all times is the way to go. The cats naturally avoid the dogs, and the dogs will alert us if something is awry.

    Della is the Queen around here, when she gets closer to calving, she will be near the house. Her calf will also be under my care most of the time, so it will be safe, in the barn at night. So no worries there.

    I’m glad your little farmer is getting a kick out of the pictures, tell her my not-so-little farmer takes them.

    Thank you for your kind comments, as always.

    Woody, I love that saying. It’s hard to believe sometimes what people think is OK to do.
    We scared our local poacher, after he was dumb enough to tell us he hunted on everyone’s land but us. Yeah Right! I let it slip to his wife, that hubby’s eyesight was failing, and I sure hoped that poacher he was looking for, didn’t have a hunting accident. He called us in two hours, to let us know he had our back and was watching out for our place. He does his own cutting and wrapping, and I’m sure the elk he was bragging about was our missing steer. We have had cattle get sick and die and we have always found them. So a missing 20 month old steer would have turned up. The next spring, the coyotes were chewing on sawed off leg bones. But, you know, ever since that little white lie I told to his wife, we haven’t been missing any beef!

    Linda, I don’t even want to think of wolves. The coyotes are fine around here, they have never bothered the cows and calves. Although the poacher above has decided to rid our area of them, now. We heard he has shot 40 in the last year. Now we have rabbits everywhere. Thanks Jimmy! You moron. It has been rare this last year to hear them howling.
    I miss them.

    Chris, thanks for the nice words. I don’t think the size of the farm matters. It’s the people who live there and how they feel about their land. I don’t want to go on a predator killing rampage, I just want them to leave me alone. You are so right, farmers are so important. As a general rule, farmers and homesteaders are self-reliant, tough stock. Most people have a farm in their ancestry, and I’m glad to see people moving back to the land in greater numbers to homestead or farm.

  10. August 1, 2008 3:28 am

    What a great post! Thank you for saying so many things that need to be said. I kept finding myself nodding my head and saying, yes, yes, yes. We practice different styles of farming to be sure, but I respect yours and learn a lot from what you have to say.
    On the trespassers, varmints etc. I couldn’t agree more. We have people that won’t speak to us or welcome us at their store because we won’t let them ruin our fields with 4-wheelers.
    I have had people jump all over me because we shoot coyotes. When they find a nice cow with her innards torn out because a pack found her when she was calving (happened to a neighbor) what would they do, cheer the things on?
    And on the newbie homesteaders. Yes, yes. Reinventing the wheel, spoke by spoke, and so much more knowledgeable than folks that have done it for a dozen generations…oh dear, stop me now….lol

  11. August 1, 2008 3:30 am

    Oh, I was just reading your answer to linda on coyotes and I wanted to clarify. Our eastern coyotes are different from western. Much more dog bred into them, and they have evolved to be larger and more aggressive toward large livestock.

  12. August 1, 2008 6:19 am

    Threecollie, is Mike OK? I saw you changed your avatar, and it kind of gave me a jolt.

    I’m not saying coyotes haven’t been shot here, there is a dated scrawled on the bathroom door, that was the pantry door, that was originally the front door. It reads” Jan 16, 1921, Coyote. I assume that means they “got one.” Each area has different predators that give them a hard time. The bear my neighbor spends so much time taking pictures of, went bye, bye. I suspect it was the same bear that was harassing neighbors near us, and they called the state, who promptly trapped it and of course released it somewhere…
    We have never been able to catch a cougar in the act, and like some people around here, we don’t have unlimited time to lay in wait for one either. We don’t hunt, and if I am armed it is for a different kind of protection. It would not be wise to try to shoot a cougar with pistol.

    If people would watch their house cats and see how patiently they hunt and how they avoid detection, then just multiply that cat’s size until it weighs 100 -125 lbs and then put that kitty in their yard, they might understand why I’m so nervous. I do not ever want to see a repeat of that calf torn up. We have found the kills, all covered up, and while frightening to discover (makes you want to leave the woods real quick!) at least the animal is dead. Some people think cows don’t grieve, but that cow did. She never came back in heat and rebred, she had no apparent health problems, she stayed separate from the herd for some time, only choosing to stay close to her mother. So it was a learning experience for me.

    I respect yours and the Boss’s cattle experience as well. The way to get is experience is to, well, experience what ever it is you want to learn. I have helped countless people find family cows, most become experts in 3 months, and then they begin telling me what to do. A lady I recently helped, (I’m talking hours of emailing and calling, and finally talking them in on the phone while they were trying to load the heifer in an open pasture) emailed me the other day and thanked me profusely and she was very excited because the AI breeding took. She is very grateful, loves her cow, and still is brimming with questions, and she isn’t telling me what to do!

    It’s the same here at the local little stores, they both have a small little cafe thing going, and the ne’er do wells hang out there, stirring the pot. One has a butcher shop, and we had used the business with previous owners, so we gave her a try.
    Big mistake, 2 steers ended up as all ground beef, and she was redoing her locker, and stored some of our meat in plug in freezers. Someone didn’t notice they weren’t plugged in until they smelled something “dead” weeks later. We lost meat customers on the ground beef thing, plus our meat. She wouldn’t compensate us, she wanted us to take it out in trade, on the next beef we brought in for her to cut. We declined to bring anymore meat there, and now she is mad at us and tells people we are hard to get along with. We are not hard to get along with, if you don’t push the boundaries, but if you do… .

  13. August 1, 2008 6:44 am

    Oh, dear, sorry to comment again, but we have had so similar an experience with a meat processor it is almost frightening…they hung our beautiful beef for four weeks (deer season-too busy to bother to cut it) and offered us compensation on the “next one”. As if!
    Oh, and mIke is doing surprisingly well, although it is like having a different dog than he was all his life. Something must have gone seriously wrong in his brain as he no longer barks among many other quirks. He is happy though so…

  14. August 1, 2008 7:52 am

    I just wanted to drop in and offer a word of encouragement…I am so new to the homesteading game that I don’t even live on the homestead yet (we move later this month), and we won’t get started in earnest until next spring. So, we are young and inexperienced…and I speak for Josh and myself when I say that blogs like yours have been *invaluable* to us, even in this early stage. My feeling is that we have everything to learn, and not much to say to people such as yourself who have been doing it for a long time. It’s a shame others don’t feel the same way.

    Now that we’ll be out among the animals, wild and otherwise, Josh wants to keep a gun in the house. I know that it could be very necessary, but I have my qualms, too. Specifically because I know that I might lean a little too heavily on the comfort a rifle provides when dealing with neighbors or strangers. Big cats….sure, you expect them to do what they are going to do. But I would be SO FURIOUS if anyone ever treated our property the way yours is treated. I could definitely see me pointing a gun in someone’s face. That could be very bad!

  15. August 1, 2008 8:53 am

    TC, that’s a relief about Mike, my old 4-H dog did the same thing, after her stroke, she was a totally different dog. She lived another 4 years after her first stroke.

    The meat cutting thing is such a conundrum. We used to employ mobile slaughter guys, but they are a post in themselves. Our best guy, (he could get right up to them, even though had they never laid eyes on him) had way too many personal problems, for us to continue with. We still feel sorry for him, he was so talented, but had drawn the wrong cards at birth and always made bad choices. We miss his skills, he was honest, (not pulling out the hanging tender, when he thought you weren’t looking)clean, and funny. He just couldn’t get out of the hole he had dug for himself.
    Now we take our animals to a USDA plant. It’s small, but I fear the people will retire soon, they are the right age, and their farm and business is located on desirable real estate, complete with river frontage. Every time we go there, there is another farm or orchard gone, and the subdivisions are getting closer and closer.
    Again, prime farm land being paved over… .

    Sorry, for commenting again! I always want to hear what you have to say.

    Amanda, Thank you! I decided early on I wouldn’t allow negative comments. There is no good served by doing that. Whether it’s blogging, or just people I know personally, there is always going to be a negative one in the lot. I tend to be too negative myself, so I’m trying to work on that.

    On the gun issue, I think it can be a hard decision to come to, if you haven’t been around guns and believe all the bad media. They are necessary, but we never go around brandishing weapons. The way our farm property lies in relation to the road gives us some built in problems that none of our neighbors have. We are too far away for police protection and most days I’m in a remote area working with the cows, to far to yell, or get help. I have to say our dogs give us a measure of security, just by their nature. A good watch dog increases your senses 200 yards. Believe me, we listen to the dogs. Also cattle have a strong sense of smell and bonding to their owners. After being around animals all my life, I watch them for cues. If they are acting strange, there is a reason. Knowing what bothers them, and how they react can make a big difference. I have to be careful, the poacher who has no qualms about helping himself to our beef, probably would have no qualms about harming us, if the situation presented itself. We know he sneaks around and stays hidden in the trees, so if he even thinks there is a remote chance I might have a pistol in my pack, while I’m building fence, he just might decide it isn’t worth it.
    We also have to deal with campers, and wildcrafters. Some of the wildcrafters are armed and protective of their picking sites, even if it’s on someone else’s land. So, I guess my vote would be I need my gun, I hope I never have to use it… .

    Thanks again, for your kind comment and it’s sounds exciting that you are moving to your homestead – keep me posted.

  16. August 1, 2008 9:51 am

    It never ceases to amaze me how we tout free speech, yet try to control what everyone says. Bloggers are especially notorious in my experience. I love what you write and hope you keep it as honest and sincere as you do.

    I know its hard to put yourself “out there” only to be put down for it. For the record, if you’re a country bumpkin – that’s what I want to be when I grow up.

    I live in a small town in a county that was “discovered” by the rich and famous. I don’t blame them for wanting to live here, it is gorgeous and I did move here from somewhere else. I just hate it when they want to change everything – bring in bigger malls, and chain stores all while building multi-million dollar summer homes that drive up real estate prices so much the locals can’t afford to buy any… oy now I’m high jacking your blog.

    I enjoy reading your blog so much, even though I’m a horrible commentor.

  17. August 1, 2008 1:29 pm

    Kathie, you’re not hijacking the blog, I hijacked the women dabbling in normal in my comment! So that makes us even.

    Blogging is very anonymous, even if you comment, so it’s no wonder people get carried away and forget their manners. Although I have come to see that some people have no manners.

    That’s too bad about your town, it’s getting the same here. Our rich neighbor who thinks he’s an environmentalist, has a friend who is a pilot and owns a plane. They fly around all the time taking pictures. Or spend a good portion of the year traveling back and forth to their vacation home on Maui, and he thinks our cows are causing pollution. It drives me crazy.

    My husband is from Montana too, and his uncle (that still lives there) says out of staters are snapping up all the real estate and running for office and changing the towns to the very thing they wanted to escape. Go figure.

    PS: Don’t ever grow up!

  18. August 1, 2008 5:33 pm

    After seeing that picture of the calf, I can completely understand your feelings of caution regarding the large predators. I lost all of my broilers to coyotes earlier in the spring and I was ready to shoot them myself (and I love coyotes too!)

    Like Kathie, I also wanted to be a country girl when I grew up. I love reading about your life!

    I can relate to the neighbor issue. Neighbors (the bad kind) were partly what lead us to move to our current home. In the end that is a good thing I guess (we live in a nicer county and have a place suited more to what we hope to achieve one day).

    I am one of the novices too, but I dislike being “corrected” by those that were still learning just last year. I guess moving to the country sometimes makes you an instant expert, LOL!

    I am learning so much from your blog!

  19. August 1, 2008 10:41 pm

    Gina, I toyed with the idea of including the picture, but you know it still haunts me. I love my cattle. I want it to haunt someone who voted for the NO DOG cougar hunting. That calf could have grown into a cow, that would have lived here a long time, producing calves. It’s a dilemma, if we hunt the deer that are eating our garden, we are taking the food source away from the cougars, which will then eat our calves. So what to do?
    The Salatin pens have saved our _ss on chickens, we even had a bear sit on one and it didn’t break – free range broilers don’t work unless you’re in a fenced back yard. But, idealists are more vocal, and it sounds good until the neighbor’s doggy eats Mr. Free Range broiler or laying hen, and then all hell breaks loose. I’ve been shut down on so many blogs this spring, it wasn’t funny, I quit commenting for awhile, but I lurked and you know what – dogs win over chickens until the human wises up. So, I have decided to TRY to keep my mouth shut, I learn visually, so maybe other people do to.

    That is great that you were able to locate a better place, AND escape your neighbors. The thing about learning is just that, you have to keep learning. A farmer, I admired, who recently passed away at the ripe old age of 98, read an article about us in the local paper, and he wanted to try a bag of kelp for his cattle. Now, if that guy who had been around cattle for 90+ years and was still trying to learn and be open to new things, I can too.

  20. August 2, 2008 3:01 pm

    Critters are different than they were when I was young. In the 50’s/60’s they still knew to be afraid of humans. They’ve lost that and it’s not a good thing.

  21. August 3, 2008 6:53 am

    I feel fortunate, that I was raised to respect wild animals, not fear them. That being said, I can’t condone the neighbors lax habits of sharing his chicken feed with the bears, and finding it cute. The cougars are the only big worry, because they are killers by nature, whereas the black bear around here would rather eat berries, grubs and carrion. The very bear that neighbor was thinking was so cute did cause more problems at other homes. The state relocated the bear, which isn’t helping, he will have a hard time finding chicken food up on Mt Hood, and will probably gravitate towards campgrounds. Sigh.

    As for the cougars being less scared of humans, I think that is about the same around here. We don’t normally see them, but they are close. I just worry they will run out of venison… .

  22. livingaway permalink
    February 26, 2009 2:39 pm

    I completely understand the frustration with people who don’t respect property lines. In the city people almost always respect property lines because the house is less than a hundred feet away and the owner will see. The exception is a nearby small and dying lumber town where some of my friends live. They will cut across anyone’s property with little regard to those who live there. I find it appalling but they see nothing wrong with it.

    In most of the country, people seem to think they can trespass on the parts of your property that doesn’t have your house on it. In one place we lived, we had two acres. Our trailer was on one acre at the back of the acre and the other acre was mostly brush. People cut through the uninhabited acres with their dogs that killed our cats, leaving beer bottles, beer cans, cigarette boxes and other such jetsam all over. In that same place, all the local farmers complained because of the laws against protecting their cattle from the local predators. Of course all the so-called “enlightened” types thought the farmers were uber inhospitable towards the predators. They reasoned the predators were animals too and needed to eat something and why not cows? Well, the cows are the farmers money. The cow dies, there goes part of their income. But no, the ‘reintroduced’ species was more important.

    I don’t know how I got such strong feelings in the matter. I was only six or seven at the time.

  23. hilary permalink
    June 9, 2015 9:37 am

    You are absolutely right and so now I need to mentally apolagize to various people in my life for my intrusions and insensitivities. Thank you for your honesty and your blog.

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