Wednesday, December 11, 2013

     A re-post with fixed link          

                  A Trip to the Farm
                      Helping Art the Farmer get the cows in the barn for Winter

The Story
Art the Farmer called last week saying the barn was just about ready to get the cows in for the Winter and he was hoping I could come up and help him with it all the next day. We had talked about it before so I was prepared, and able to, and did run up and give him a hand, and what an afternoon it was. 

It was just me and Art for most of it, until the farm girl renter from upstairs got home from work and helped a bunch as we had to find a missing calf off in pasture #1 to wrap things up, and by then it was getting pretty dark -- and cold.

From the cow yard we each scanned off into the distance of the pasture looking for something, anything, but saw nothing of the bull calf, so all we could do was start the trudge spreading out over frozen, uneven ground towards the far end of the pasture looking for the calf.

After much trudging, all the way to the far end of the pasture,  we were very lucky to double back and find the calf huddled in some marsh grass about 1,000 feet from the barn as full dark was setting in, along with the severe cold front we knew was coming that night.

It was dark enough at this point that we knew our time was running out and that we would not have another chance to get the calf up to the barn. 

As it went, with Art in the middle and us on either side, and all of us being about fifty feet from the animal, we managed to do a very gentle three-point push on the calf from behind, step by step, to get him worked back toward the corral leading into the cow yard and boy, what a surprise it was when it worked out on the first and only possible try.  

So now we had him in the corral and had to get a neck rope on him so we could tie him off to  a post so as to get a halter on him, and Arthur just took that on and made it happen.

At age 77 the man is amazing. 

While it is taking a toll on him, he keeps on. What else would he do?

We then managed to wrestle/pull/push the calf finally into the barn and  get him into the steel pen with the couple other calves and it was a wrap.  


Hey, I'm a city boy, the son of an Undertaker from the south side of Chicago and all I know about any of this country and old farm stuff is that I love it for many years now.

And as long as Art is around I'll do my best to help him and capture his story and bring it to you.

And God Bless America in the meantime. This is where we're all from, our old farms and barns.

A bit more on the calf story
Along the way, at crucial points when the calf balked, Arthur would call out to us, "Wait a minute ... let him think about it .. " and we would pause, and wait a bit, and he was right every time as the calf gradually kept moving along the line we needed him to keep, one step at a time, then maybe a few, with  each of us making one cautious, crunching step at a time, across the hard, frozen ground.

Had we missed, the calf may have survived the night huddled in the marsh grass, but maybe not. It got really cold that night.

Arthur called it a miracle from God. 

But then, anytime something goes his way it does seem like a miracle because it just doesn't happen often enough for him. On average, Arthur just can't catch a break.

Here's a listen to the phone conversation where we're getting things dialed in the night before and yes, of course, I have Art's permission to make this conversation, and more to come, available to the World.

Since I've known him some thirteen years now, I've always thought people would enjoy, if that's the word, witnessing this classic old Wisconsin dairy farmer living his hardscrabble life. This  phone conversation is a first glimpse into all of it from that perspective. 

And being a first (now second) attempt at adding audio to the blog there might be a glitch, but let's try it and see how it goes -- it's hard to be absolutely sure in Preview mode.

With the first post failing to include the link, here's another try -- click HERE to hear the conversation -- hopefully this time it will work, it just tested OK, so give it a shot.

Go Time
Here's a look at the empty barn waiting for its bovine tenants around 1:30pm CST last Thursday.

And after about four hours of somewhat controlled herding and much coaxing, convincing, pushing, pulling, cajoling, roping and wrestling with them, the nearly forty cows, bulls and calves were all moved into place into stanchions and stalls and things looked more like this. 

And best of all, throughout whole the process there were no injuries to any of the herd, herders, or barn cats.

Stay tuned for more from Art's farm. There aren't many like him left standing these days so as long as I have the chance to document and share, and help him, I will do so.  

And what's that they say about, 'Happiness is a warm barn'? I think this is what they mean. It's a shame the lights have gone out in so many of America's old barns.

Get in touch with any feedback/challenges with the new audio etc.

More later, thanks for clicking in ---