Sorry this is so short but we are in a hurry to get some chores done and off to the airport to pick up two new WWOOFers. It was a late night out for us (home by 9:30 pm!) and eggs had to be washed this morning. We will try posting more later today. Madison, Mckensie hope you enjoy the photos. G
How long is my arm?
Good morning everyone. Maureen is taking a break this morning (hair needs drying!). So its me, Greg to try and match the literary skills of Maureen. We were sorry to see Holly's smiling face leave yesterday. Holly showed her mom, Angie, around the animal barn before she took off. I am sure all the animals were just as sad to see her go.
The day started with Lamb Chop being put in the head stocks to get get his morning spray down. The hat choice was better suited to Maureen though.
It was time for the horses to get a new set of shoes and Lesley and Derick got a chance to see how good horses behave while getting a manicure and new shoes. Charm and Roman were great subjects and Carlos was able to show all the ins and outs of good horse foot care.
Lately we have had a concern that Dolly the cow, is not carrying a calf. So it was decided that Greg would try his hand (or is it ARM) at doing a palp to determine the state of the calf. Well first we had to get Dolly into the squeeze. Now one would expect that this is a simple task. Just put Dolly's head collar on and lead her into the squeeze chute. NOT! Dolly is the rodeo cow. She will let you feed her carrots but go to touch her head with a rope or collar and she is off bucking and kicking. Thank heavens she must have paid enough attention to Molly's demonstrations during milking, Dolly was a little easier to catch and get collared. Well I didn't say docile! But at least there was no kicking or pushing. Three circles around the pen and she gave in. But that wasn't the end of it. As we were getting her into the squeeze, and I was leading her through, it was in her mind to trap me in there as well. With a few frantic shoves, I was able to get out first and get her head trapped. Maybe Dolly was realizing what she was in for. Well for those of you that don't know, a palp involves putting your arm into the nether region (where spent grass is eliminated!) and feeling around to determine if there is an object that feels like a calf in the proper location. Thats "internal", inside the body cavity. Well the results were not satisfying. I could not feel any fetus. Now I know this was my first time, and I was not sure I was in far enough (I thought I was based on Dolly's growns), but there was no big lump as expected. So we are going to talk to the vet next tuesday to make sure I did it right. Oh yeah, I was wearing an arm lenght glove, so the unthinkable was not on my arm!
Well the rest of the day was spent trying to finish little projects. Derick and Lesley finished repairing the screen door to the barn kitchen. Nice job team! I got the maure pile turned so that in the fall, there would be a hefty pile of well seasoned manure and worms ready for spreading. This was not a pleasant job as it was a bit warm yesterday and the pile generates its own heat as well. At least the smell is not so bad after is has been digested a little.
Later in the evening, after all the horses and little ones were bedded down in their respective stalls, Lesley wanted to try her hand at milking Molly. Well lucky for her we use the old fashioned easy way out here, the Surge milking machine. With all our frailties its a more efficient and quicker way of getting the job done. Just to note we do milk our goats by hand. Lesley got right in there and was able to get all the cups to stay on with the milk flowing in a steady stream. Meanwhile, Molly was oblivious to the novice at work. Molly was enjoying her bowl of dinner goodies and milk was flowing.
Well again as Maurren would say, time to go. Its 0730 and the animals are calling. Hope you all have a great day and Maureen should be back tomorrow. G
Well, if one ( or all !!) of our family of Woofers goes missing, we aren’t going to call out 911, we aren’t going to send out a search party….I wont even make a new batch of pecan brownies!!!……We will go and check on little Hol-ley and we will be sure to find a group of very smiling Hol-ley fan club members. The young calf appears to be enjoying all the attention and has already learnt that one of her multiple moms invariably brings (1)food and (2) a satisfying back / neck / ear scratch. The A team worked on a very scientific (NOT) “cuteness” experiment yesterday. Young Chance the lamb who wants to be a people and who is ALWAYS available when a little bit of attention (and even more available when carrots come as a job lot WITH a hug), was introduced to cuteness on legs, long eyelashes, deep brown eyes and dewy nosed Hol-ley. Unfortunately Chance was less than mildly interested in the potential competition but the 3 Amigos were clearly fascinated. Daisy May,Macho and Lamb Chop lined the fence line to watch the prancing dancing gambolling calf in awe. Hol-ley apparently appreciated the expanding audience and turned up her performance …which caused major panic in the Amigo’s pasture. The troublesome threesome clearly considered the new spectacle nothing short of an abomination of nature and all three bolted to a safe zone, well out of range of the unconcerned calf enjoying her first days of life.
Gimpy, the old ewe recovering from an overdose of motherhood took it upon herself to execute a much more thorough investigation of the strange, sprightly creature which had manifested in her pasture. Her hesitant nose carefully sniffed a dewy muzzle and worked her exploratory investigation from tip of the ears to tip of the curly tail before Hol-ley the calf zinged back into mischievous activity and Gimpy retreated to the quiet safety of her stall. Gimpy did apparently find comport in little Chance the lamb, possibly the old ewe recognised that despite her delusional fantasies, Chance is in fact a “mini- me” and not a Border Collie or a person….but we are sure the little lamb will not be easily convinced!
Well, today Holly went back home, I’m sure mom and dad will be happy to have her back but we sure are going to miss her enthusiasm and her ready smile. Thank you Holly for choosing Gentle Giant Meadows ranch to serve your Woofer Internship, it has been a pleasure working with you…hope to see you back here soon. We will miss you.
Finally, today I should have been in Holland with my family to celebrate my nieces wedding. Sadly I was unable to make it…but my thoughts have been with you all, those in Holland and those in England. Congratulations and good luck Nadine and Feike. We wish you all the luck in the world.
Take care, keep safe, M
Welcome little Hol-ley!
The sun is rising over the barns, the newest and long awaited arrival, Hol-ley the heifer calf is hopefully sleeping peacefully in her pen, totally unaware of the excitement of her birth.
It was Holly our youngest Woofer Intern doing a cursory butt check having spent a long week watching every swat of the tail, lump bump and swelling that noticed the discharge from Molly’s nether regions. This past week has been spent watching much of the same but somehow, this discharge was different and young Holly excitedly predicted the obvious…Molly is going to have her baby! Yesterday was the day that Derek and Lesley had elected to go shopping and as the contractions got stronger there was still no sign of our happy twosome. A quick panic phone call and the Chevi screetched into the barnyard, doors opened and within seconds there was a breathless whispering audience watching every move. Holly found a vantage point on the top of the hay pile. Derek Lesley and Greg, watching through the wooden gate held their breath as two larger than normal hooves appeared but no wet nose.Molly was having a problem and Greg stepped in to quietly assist. Within moments, little Hol-ley slid out, the cutest gangliest stickiest new arrival ever.The A team went into action and I’m not sure who enjoyed it most, the girls rubbed and whispered sweet nothings, the calf warm dry and contentedly full of mommas rich creamy milk slept. Welcome to our world little Hol-ley.
Yesterday was a busy day on the ranch besides the late arrival of the calf, it was a BAD day for the roosters. Pillage and plunder has been the norm in the henhouse over the past few weeks and the young roosters have been less than courteous in their amorous attentions. The A team went into action to restore peace and tranquillity. I was assigned to block the henhouse door…with my butt whilst it was temporarily screwed shut. I confess to more than a little anxiety …but it was all good and then the roundup began. Derek flew into action, ten places at once..sadly where the roosters were…not where they had gone too. Holly used speed and agility..the roosters were faster and more agile, Greg used the praying mantis move…but the roosters had eyes in the back of their heads and no praying mantis was going to snatch them. I just picked the offenders out and Lesley who is currently on the officially temporarily broken list took photos. What a team ! Wish you had been here Quatre…and see you soon to share the fun Nara.
Time to go down to feed a calf. Take care, keep safe, M
Just time for a quick Molly moo update. It's 5pm and the A team are on silent vigil around the labour ward. Molly is well into the birthing process and if the team miss a contraction I will be VERY surprised. Going back down with some beef ( oops) stew to feed the hungry 4. Will update as and when I have some more news! Take care, M
Introducing Hol-ley which is a" kind of nice mixture of Holly and Lesley" ( how's that for an Americanism!!!). Weighing in at....just being weighed right now...at 5.55pm at 55#.
Gimpy gets troublesome!
We have some REALLY weary Woofers tonight!!! Today was a bad day to be a Sumo chicken and a pretty awful day to be Holly, our youngest farm volunteer. Holly, who somehow manages to always have a huge smile on her face won the most coveted prize on the ranch…recipient of the Sumo projectile poo award !!! Today was the day that we started to process our Sumo chickens ( fast growing broilers) and the day that our ever enthusiastic students graduated. Poor Holly will find it hard ever to forget the experience and her fluorescent green T shirt will possibly never be quite the same again.
Bran had a wonderful day, having learnt that trying to humanely process the chickens and keep the dog a hygienic distance from the process was not possible, we allowed him to keep a watchful eye on Gimpy, the older ewe that is convalescing in our “hospital wing”. Gimpy was not too appreciative of his diligence and spent the day making him acutely aware of the fact that whilst she may be up there in years she most definitely makes up for it in attitude. A Gimpy “look” and a Gimpy “stomp” is enough to persuade Bran that he would probably ( almost certainly) be better advised to find another object for his undivided attention…. But Bran is either too smart to be mindful of an aged sheep’s warning or too stupid to be cautious and Gimpy the ewe was happy to remind him that her mean disposition is not to be ignored!
Two fellow farmers came to visit and as they were leaving the ranch, Tony smilingly looked over his shoulder and commented “you usually pasture your sheep in the garden?, that’s new” There she was, larger than life, not a care in the world,not looking like she needed to be in the hospital wing and happily taste testing the peas beans blueberries and strawberries. Whilst the A team were rounding up the Sumo chickens, Gimpy went for a walk…into my vedgetable garden. Gimpy was VERY quickly evicted and at least for the moment peace restored to the ranch but Gimpy wasn’t done for the day yet….
The A team also fell foul of aged ewe attitude when Leslie and Holly headed off to Gimpy territory armed with a bucket full of grain. With a stomp of the supposedly not too healthy foot and a “we are not amused” look from the ewe our two interns were left watching the dust as the ewe disappeared into the south forty of the pasture The more persistant Gimpy’s carers were, the more determined that dogged ewe became. The feed bucket is usually a Gimpy magnet, not yesterday, we could have put Rodney the rampant ram in there and that old lady would still have given us the cold shoulder. The A team called for reinforcements which duly arrived and were disdainfully viewed by the old ewe stomping her feet in the corner of the pasture. Game over…the A team …and the food bucket made a tactful withdrawal…..actually probably technically a retreat with one last scowl at Gimpy. All the other chores completed, horses goats cows and sheep bedded down for the night when the errant ewe was remembered. Greg said that he would deal with her….looks passed between the girls…yeah, right! Leslie ran for the camera, sounded like a perfect blog photo. Greg took the bucket…we followed, trying SO hard to hide our smirks….Greg walked confidently…we followed anticipating a Greg/Gimpy duel. Where was that contrary ewe…all tucked up in her stall waiting for dinner and the light to be turned out!!! DOH. Greg wins again !
So, tired aching and not really willing to see another chichen for quite the while the A team retreated to bed. Thank you so much Derek leslie and holly for helping Greg, you are the best.... and I'm SO sorry today is another day! Keep smiling, keep safe, M
A reprieve for our WOOFERS!!
Good Morning world, I’m back. It’s always fun to give the WOOFERS a chance to air their thoughts on the diary and they do such a good job. I think it is definitely one of my better ideas…I had it in the shower…I have a lot of my best ( I think!!) ideas in the shower. What will we do when the a team leave?
Actually, another of my shower inspirations came yesterday morning, the team had really worked hard in the hay field so yesterday was designated a light duty day. My idea brought big (bigger) smiles on the weary faces as they munched breakfast. How about we do chores…then take a road trip to Goodwill. So there we all expectantly jammed into the truck, purses gripped in sweaty palms ….and someone had stolen Goodwill!!! There it was, just a pile of mucky rubble and not a bargain in sight. A quick panic phone call to a friend in the know, (another Goodwill addict) and before Greg had the chance to change our plans the Chevi had been redirected to the new Goodwill location. Happy smiles were restored to anxious faces as we extricated ourselves from the truck and trooped into the store. Greg returned for his “all shopped out” charges to find several sacks of booty and happy WOOFERS.A certain male member of the team who isn’t called Greg but will remain nameless bought himself a new pair of trousers….I will refrain from commenting further and I sincerely ( really ??) apologise for my initial reaction…but in my defence, a photograph will be posted for any reader who feels a comment appropriate! Back to the ranch, Molly and Dolly are still holding out and our team of butt watchers who have worn the grass by the pasture fence into a bed of mud have apparently resigned themselves to a long wait. As soon as there is some news we will update the site, promise.
Just when the WOOFER A team thought they were done, a good friend of ours who had reserved some of our hard won hay turned up to collect his bales. Unbelievably, the team jumped into action again and before the animals had eaten their evening grain ( which is pretty quick) they were back to complete evening chores.
Lovely to see Mum J yesterday looking all well and beautiful again.
Time to get back to work, take care keep safe, M
It’s going to be a short diary entry this morning…my volunteer deputy editor hasn’t yet surfaced from the bed, not a sound can be heard down below. The kettle remains cold and the toaster as yet unused. As I write, Leslie and Derek have appeared, ….so I am going to hand over the editorial reins to my Guest Editor Leslie, after I tell our missing ranch hand Quatre that we miss her. Take care Quatre, see you soon. M
Good morning! I’m Lesley, one of the volunteers here at Gentle Giant. Derek and I have been here since June 23rd and will continue working with Maureen and Greg until August 22nd. Every day so far has been a different adventure, but yesterday certainly takes the cake. We were bucking bales, which means that we were wandering around a 10 acre field throwing 50lb bales of hay onto trucks in the sweltering sun and heat all day! Greg said it would be the hardest working day of the year, and now I believe him.
Although the description of our activities may sound miserable, we all had a great time. Heidi and Patrick, who should receive “Friend of the Year” awards joined us and helped keep attitudes positive. Holly, being the smallest and youngest of the crew was a tough, bale throwing superstar. Lift with your legs, perfect form Holly! Maureen and I took turns driving the truck and sweetly endured the tired workers yelling STOP! and GO! with no please or thank you’s. Derek took a turn driving at the end of the day, but will not be allowed to do that job next year. He kept stopping the truck for optimum photo opportunities, rather than optimum bale bucking, further wearing out the team…but he did get a few good photos and we found the energy to laugh at his antics. Greg, our intrepid leader on this mission lifted each of the 970 bales of hay twice over the course of the day. By the time we were eating dinner his hands were putty, but somehow this morning he seems ready for another day of intense physical labor.
After the day was done Derek and I were so proud of our accomplishments. The whole barn was filled with almost 1000 bales of hay. This was definitely the hardest day of work that we have ever done together and it was a thrilling feeling. Thank you so much to Maureen and Greg to teaching us about being farmers. Someday we’ll have our own farm and it will be, in no small way, successful due to our time spent here at Gentle Giant.
Some final thoughts: Quatre, we REALLY missed you while bucking bales. You need to be here next year. And finally, still no baby calves. Where are you babies?
GREAT job Lesley, thank you for taking up the editorial gauntlet!! Take care, M
Happy Sunday! My body feels like it only just went to bed on Saturday…where did bedtime go?
We haven’t heard as much as a cough grunt or snore from our WOOFER Interns sleeping soundly in their apartment below. Their poor bodies must have taken a beating yesterday as they gathered dragged and lifted bales of hay onto the truck and trailer.
All morning it was “hurry up and wait” as ears were tuned to hear the clacking sound of the baler out in the hay pasture. Horses were turned out into fields bathed in sunshine, the henhouse was all quiet as the chickens hid from the searing heat and the sheep once out into the pasture lay chewing their cud under the shade of a big old maple tree.That’s when life got interesting!
I made an executive decision, I knew I shouldn’t have, it was bound to have reprocussions….and it did! “Poor” Rodney the ram, he has been forced into incarceration in the bullpen pending the arrival ( if they should ever decide to make their arrival !) of Molly Moo and dolly’s calves.Plaintive Maaaaaas kept being heard from the gate area and sure enough there was Rodney looking much the same as a prisoner peering through the bars on death row. We had sympathy for him,it wasn’t his fault the ladies were not producing their long awaited offspring on schedule…so it was decided to let him out to play. Unfortunately for Rodney but even more unfortunately for us, Rodneys urge to play was underestimated and he was determined to make the most of his free time! Rodneys pasture was next to that currently occupied by his harem who eagerly gathered alluringly around the fence line. A wanting Rodney with a testosterone level off the chart courted his receptive audience and busily pranced and posed as the hormone level on the other side of the fence caused the ewes to get vocal. Pushing jostling and baaaing their way to admire the handsome stud. Getting to my point….Rodney the ram was in the mood for loooove and consequently NOT in the mood for dinner, but we weren’t to know ….we soon found out! Great plan devised, feed the still expectant cows behind the gate, (Rodney always likes everyone else’s food more than his own) lock the gate then get Rodney in to eat his grain. So, the plan didn’t work quite as intended. Rodney the randy ram was not going to leave the hormone area, there were his ladies and there was he. We sent in Bran the border collie who slid to a screeching halt as Ronnie’s head lowered in threat. Bran has been T boned before and not being the bravest dog in the world was not prepared to pay the ultimate price just to get Rodney in, Bran took up the pose, border collie in waiting….and we waited. I took up the challenge but Rodney was not in the mood for co operation. Things were getting tense…Derek was a hero, he ran, he chased, he threw his body over the lusting ram ( incidentally…not too good an idea!) but Rodney was determined. Unfortunately,…for Rodney, an English woman on a mission isn’t going to be thwarted by a rampant ram….out came the bull zapper. Rodney made his first mistake, he turned his back on me…what comes to mind as THE most prominent appendage on a rams rear end..well it got zapped!! quickly followed by a nose zap when he lowered his head to let me know that he was not impressed. That was the last straw,….with one last longing look at his harem, Rodney scooted for home.
I’m out of time, more hay bucking today, I’ll let you in on all the news from the hayfield tomorrow. Take care, keep safe, M
Saturday morning, outside the sun is shining over the ranch and the predicted temperature is over 80 degrees, “wall to wall sunshine” they say, that means “fence to fence” in the field. Wonderful, today we think is the day we start bucking the hay in the pasture and stacking it in the barn and it is forecast to be the hottest day of the year! The A team have been mentally prepared.. (well, as far as we can prepare them !!), muscles have been flexed and stretched and we are ready to go..I think!!!
“It’s dead” said the mournful voice down the phone, “there’s no more I can do for her”. From the other end of the line I had mental pictures of all the possible applicants that may have made an unscheduled entrance into critter heaven. A little bit of prodding and the deceased causing the concern turned out to be…the lawnmower deck. My JD lawnmower hit one rock too many, it chewed up one ( or maybe two) irrigation risers, it had risen like Lasarus several times but this time it was as dead as a really dead dodo and there is no way it is coming back to life. The surgical A team, clearly did everything possible, the photo evidence shows a deep diagnostic discussion in progress but the prognosis was dire and it was with deep regret Greg declared it dead and unfixable. Deep regret because that means Greg has to buy a new one, smile !!!
Lamb Chop got back into the head squeeze for his daily butt scrub without too much resistance, he has become accustomed to his tail being unceremoniously lifted and the scrubbing brush taken to his grungy “bits” but yesterday he had a special photo call. Lamb Chop looks quite the cool dude with his sun hat set at a sassy angle on his head. Bless him the little man that has forgotten he is a sheep just wants to be Derek’s best buddy ( as long as he has peanuts …or carrots will do!)
Followers of the diary will have noted that no mention of Molly Dolly and their calves…that’s because, to date, there aren’t any!!! As soon as a nose, feet or water bubble appears I will update the diary…!!
In the henhouse, our young chickens have come of age, tiny little eggs are appearing in the nest boxes and since they have physically matured enough to lay eggs, the testosterone level has gone up higher than the temperatures on the east coast. Rampant roosters upset the ladies, upset ladies means egg count is down, egg count down means immanent rooster round up.
Time to go, have a great day, keep safe, think of us out in the field. Take care, M
Its me, Maureen, (the Boss)