Our farm project kicked off this weekend. It was lovely to go home, visit with my family, eat Mom’s cooking and relax with a good book (I started ‘The Help’ yesterday and finished it today). My sister and I followed both of our brothers around and managed to take some photos that we think will work. Then today to finish the trip off, we went to cheer for our nephew Ian and his hockey team ‘The Holland Rockets’.
Saturday morning, we bundled up for the cold and went to spend some time on my brother Gordie’s farm. It is calving season for him and he had four baby calves still in the barn. Cattle like to keep a bit of a distance once they are older, but with these calves all being less than two days old, they were pretty open to me hanging out with them in their pen. I also spent some time with the horses. I love their eyes, patting their neck and giving them a hug. Reminds me of when I was a kid… I used to go out to the pasture, groom them all (we had five at the time) and then grab Brandy or Blaze’s mane, jump up bareback and sit a while. Anyways, they usually seem to like my company.
About halfway through the morning, the battery died on my camera… once again reminding me of the fact that a) I need to charge my battery the night before a shoot and b) I need to buy a spare battery. So, no longer having the excuse that I had to take pictures, I helped Gordie carry grain from the truck to the feeder. In the winter, my brother carries 48 five gallon pails of grain every day (two pails per trip) in order to feed his cattle. I helped him carry eight, but at 25lbs of barley per pail, my arms got sore pretty fast.
This morning, we joined my brother Warren for the morning feed on his farm. Warren handles the feeding a little differently, and instead of carrying pails, fills a feed wagon with silage and grain and then drives beside the manger with an auger spilling the food out. So what in years past would have taken over an hour with a couple of people, now takes half with one. Makes for quite a bit of dust in the air but seems to be very efficient.
Saturday night we took a look at some old slide reels marked ‘Farming’ and among many others, came across this little nugget. In the late 60’s my Dad was volunteering for the 4-H seed club and designed and illustrated this display. Dad has a signature hand-rendered type style that he uses for all of his signs and I always love to find new examples of it.
Talking it through with Mom and Dad, this is how the rest of the year is going to shape up in terms of what we need to photograph (of course this depends entirely on the weather):
January/February/March calving time, feeding cattle, hauling grain/hay
April: getting equipment ready for the field, preparing cattle for the pasture
May: seeding, fencing, moving cattle to pasture, putting in the garden
June: finishing seeding, spraying, haying
July: haying and hauling the hay bales home
August: harvest time, selling cattle, hauling straw bales home
September: finishing harvest, rounding up cattle, making silage, hauling manure
October: fertilizing, working the fields
November: repairs, getting ready for winter, buying cattle, hauling grain
December: feeding cattle, bookwork
… and there’s always the rainy day jobs, mowing and caring for the yard, painting, building, etc.
I think this will turn out to be a fun project — my family seems keen and I’m really excited for the final result that we keep envisioning in our heads. Being the planning types, my sister and I have already picked out all of our home weekends for the year and are looking forward to February’s trip!