September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Squirrels, pheasants, bunnies make us happy

By Kerry [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

I wonder if Peter Rabbit enters his den after a long day hopping around and complains about the weather. Maybe the pheasant that has been visiting our back yard also returns to his beautiful hen and explains how he hopes tomorrow will be a better weather day than today.
And what about the squirrels? They yell at me any time I get in their area. Can you imagine what it's like to have a grumpy squirrel come home every night complaining about the human that was in my space? Even I complained a bit this past week, and I don't complain about the weather too much.
"I am really not enjoying this at all," I complained Monday morning, when it was so unbelievably cold in the milking parlor. It was so frigid that I even wore my Carhart insulated bibs. It takes a lot for me to even consider wearing that outfit. Most of the time, I figure if I just keep working, and working fast, to generate body heat, it won't seem as miserable as it feels at that moment.
But a person can only take cold fingers for so long and then he or she has to complain. Earlier this week, Steve, Russell and I took quite a few milking shifts due to the weather. We figured our employees would appreciate not having to drive in a blizzard and I know we were not going to be going anywhere soon, so why not offer to work. It keeps everyone safer.
With the three of us out in the barn, things clip along fairly quickly and we can cut almost an entire hour off our total milking time. Steve and I milk the cows and Russell gets to feed them. Even when we have new calves born in the middle of a blizzard. That's right. On the coldest, windiest day, we were blessed to have three more calves born Sunday afternoon. Remember last week I wrote about things coming in threes. Now I really have proof - two boy calves and one heifer calf were all born within hours of each other.
I bet those new baby calves were complaining to their mommas about the drastic temperature change they experienced - from a body temperature of 100 degrees F to an environment of -20 degrees F. That shock has to be awful.
We do have a specially built box where we can put new calves that enter the world on cold days. There is a heat lamp and soft, dry straw fills the bottom of the box. After being left in there for a few days, a calf is ready to go out into a Poly Dome where they acclimate quickly.
Getting back to those wild animals.
The rabbit I wondered about earlier in this column has also moved into the calving barn. I picture this bunny hopping around the cows and the cows chewing their cud and thinking nothing of their soft, furry friend. Now, I haven't actually observed this bunny that has chosen to live in our barn, but I have seen plenty of evidence.
In fact, from the looks of it, I think he or she is inviting relatives to come stay in the barn. The evidence trail just keeps getting longer and longer and wider and wider. I am not going to attempt to keep the bunnies out of our barn. They are just coming in to eat some of the dry hay we have stacked in a corner.
Bunnies need to eat, too, and I have a soft spot for any type of animal - except Starlings. If I had a decent pellet gun, Starlings would be non-existent on our farm. Same thing goes for the male pheasant that has been creeping closer and closer to the house. I blame Steve for luring this wildlife into the yard.
It's OK, I like seeing him - the pheasant that is. Steve kind of missed seeing squirrels feed in our back yard. You see, he fixed the big grain bin that holds the corn for our corn burner, so it no longer leaked corn onto the ground. The squirrels quit coming in for lunch, so Steve unfixed the bin and used a five-gallon pail of corn to create a trail from the oak trees in the pasture over to the west side of the house.
Not only has he attracted the squirrels, but now the pheasant comes around too. So we all may complain about the weather, but in the end, we all manage to find ways to deal with this miserable time of year and it creates symbiosis. The corn makes the pheasant and squirrels happy, which makes Steve happy.
The hay in the calving barn makes the little bunnies happy and that makes me happy.[[In-content Ad]]


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