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HOOFING Around in the SNOW

Week Three of 2024, Allie's FOOTHILL FROLIC FARM POST

A full week of snow on the ground here at Foothill Frolic Farm and yes, the title is to be taken literally, spoken from the mouths of both us and the cattle. When some of our South facing slopes had started loosing their white blankets on the last day of the week and we were out feeding in the moonlight, my body noticed the immediate difference of snow covered frozen ground versus that of soft, grass covered non frozen ground. As I could not even see with great detail, I had not realized how used to the "hoofing" in the snow I had got until I felt the quick difference of sensation. It had only taken me a week to forget that feeling, as I had become accustomed to the new steps in the hardened, snow covered ground. I figure part of our bodies interpretation is also by what we hear when we step. I was not just hearing my footsteps crunching in the snow, but a whole herd's hoofs crunching in and around me with every drop of hay. The chilling cold brings an infinite quietness to the out of doors when there can be isolation and that was the way of it seemingly this week when we were out feeding. The cattle's hoof noises seemed penetrating in a memorable way, especially when the last herd's 2nd hay feeding was at dark.

The Snow Fall started just as predicted on Monday morning January 15th. Our first feeding that day was in the falling snow and all seemed wintry and exciting. In my mind, from the way I had interpreted the weather, once the snow started falling and the temperature started dropping we would have easy feeding until everything defrosted. When I say, "easy feeding", I mean non sloppy, hard grounds, as opposed to rain saturated, wintry wet grounds that hoofs and tractor tires do not mix well with. In the winter my worst dreaded days are days in which the sky decides to drop inches of rain, and really it does not even have to be inches, just beyond the grounds saturation point. So the falling snow and freezing temperatures made for a perfect week of real winter weather. After morning feeding chores, to welcome the snow, I went out sledding with Eastenn Dutch, and to my dismay, within the snow storm falling we were getting wet, along with having fun. Then by the time we made it back to the homeplace, before it was time to head out for afternoon 2nd feeding, water drops were dripping from trees and it almost had turned into a sleety rain. It was then my up beat mood took a pop and started to deflate. Even though it had been cooler the week before, it had not been cold enough for the ground to be a little warm still so the snow was practically melting underneath and then as the temperatures were riding right at freezing the the precipitation could not decide to be snow or rain. All three herds were in current paddocks that were in good condition so they could take a little moisture and hoof action without it being to bad, but it seemed more sloppy than my expected envision and that made the feeding not quite as picturesque as I had made it out to be at the beginning of the day. Sure enough though, what I had envisioned came when we all awoke the next morning on Tuesday the 16th. The high was is the 20's and snow falls came here and there throughout the day.

On Tuesday night going into Wednesday morning we had our coldest temperature of the week at 6 degrees and it was on that morning we discovered a tire as "Flatter as a Flitter" on the Ford.

This was not good, as we did not have a spare on hand. We tried to start the International, but it's forte has never been single digit weather starting and so that was a bust. So here it was the coldest morning we had encountered for this winter season and there were over 185 hungry cattle waiting for their breakfast and we were out of operation. Dad was concerned that the tire place would not have that certain tire in stock and sure enough, Miller's could not get it in till the next morning. At first, when I was talking to my best old timer farmer friend, Robert, he was for certain he had sold his last 6 lugged spare, but luckily after thinking and looking around he remembered he had a 6 lugged spare for his McCormick that was a smaller tire than that of the Ford's front tire, but as long as the rim/hub would fit then we very well had found our ticket to getting the cattle fed. Dad and Eastenn Dutch headed over to Maple View Farm to get it and sure enough it was a fit and we were back in business!!

Other than being behind for the day and really going straight from morning feeding to afternoon feeding, everything else lined up like clock work.

Tires and Engines always like to play their role as the lead nemesis when it comes to cold weather cattle feeding and hay making, which is why the best Word to the Wise is to always have a back-up or a bestest farmer friend that is wise enough to have a back-up!!

On the coldest day we fed out 6 1/2 bales in a day, but our set in norm after all the three herds are back here slowly rotating through fields here is about 5 bales a day. Our large main herd of 70 large animals + 6 calves gets 2 1/2 bales, the yearling herd of 56 gets 1 1/2 bales, and the calf herd of 46 gets 1 bale. We did plenty of ice breaking from in the two herd's water troughs, while the big herd currently has access to the back Spring Feed Gammon Creek, and the creeks never froze over so no ice breaking there. Speaking of the long line of frugal clothes wearers, from my last farm journal post, take a look at the full on winter wrap hat and the green coat of Grampy's. These were his from his Army days back in the 60's and he is still putting them to good use. We did a good job at staying warm this week when we were out feeding and doing farm chores. Seems like we were clocking at least 5-6 hours a day of just getting the animals tended to and fed in the way in which we go about it. I had a flash back sensation memory on one of the coldest days about recalling being in the Kroger grocery store when I was younger, when they use to have those long chest freezers that lined the isles with no coverings. I would put my face down in those and breath in through my nose real deep and it would feel like ice crystals would form inside my nose. Well, this was exactly what was happening when I would just breath in through my nose on that most frigid day.

As the Flat Tire on Tuesday had not been enough, when Grampy was taking the Ford Tire to get a new one, the ol Chevy Truck broke down on the Johnson City Hwy. Which despite its age, is not a common occurrence. We had to change gears and go get the tire out the truck, transfer it to the wagon car and take it on to Miller's and then swing back by to get Grampy after the tow truck hauled it away to M & M's Napa Auto Works. Of course this put us a little behind for our afternoon feeding, but not as much behind as when we got home and looked into the calf paddock and did not see a single calf!! At first I was hoping they would be over in this one corner, under the trees that they like to huddle in that is slightly hidden and out of sight, but as I approached NOP, not there. That is when I switched into my running gear and called all troops, well that is really just Matthew my husband. Luckily he was available and close by. It appeared as if there had been a break, a tangle, and a catch in the current perimeter electric fence of where the calves were and hence their disappearance. I went running to external cut off fences that could be put up to keep them further contained if they had just made it to the next paddock over. Sure enough they had made it straight to the bottom of the adjacent paddock with a handful of them up in the flat around the covered hay run. Dad had hopped in the tractor that already had a 1/2 bale remaining on the hay spear. Matthew had grabbed the handy dandy 300 ft measuring tape reel that we use in almost every and any emergency "cattle out" situation. To our liking, the calves were very calm and collected, not jittery or chaotic one bit. They in a herd like fashion followed the bale of hay right close to where they were suppose to be and all we had to do was push them a little in the right direction with the measuring tape. The last handful that was not with the rest of the group saw what was happening and decided to follow suite and go right into their paddock. Matthew and Eastenn Dutch fixed the fence while Dad and I started feeding. All in all, something that could have added a multiple hour kink, only took about 25 minutes to straighten out. So as it goes with farming within the troubles there is always pleasure that comes with a story that has a good ending.

By being out later on a few occasions during the week there was something about the clear and cold times that presented such classic dusk sky colors in full lilac, periwinkle, and peachy rose. The snow covered Holston Mountains and beyond seemed to be highlighted with these colors too. I will have to say that through all the long hours of farm work, it is always the day in day out lure of visual colors in the changing seasons, horizons, and living creatures that captures me every time and will forever be imprinted within my being. No matter the hardships and imperfections I will always be thankful and grateful for this opportunity of experience.



Now taking PreOrders for our 2024 Custom Beef Line Up.

Help KEEP it LOCAL. Help FULFILL our FARM's GOAL of KEEPING our BEAUTIFUL, and much LOVED cattle out of the conventional industrial cattle market.



By placing a 2024 PreOrder you are actively taking a stand for a better local farming system by keeping high quality-organically raised-100%grassfed & grassfinished BEEFS right here in our Tri Cities Region.


Best ethical/common sense decision for all three participating parties!




Foothill Frolic Farm's 3 Generation Cattle Series Feature

This Photo Series is an idea I had to show the relation of generations within a "Birth to Beef" Regenerative Cattle Farm.

For our third week, let us feature Mamma Cow L11 and her 2 calves she has birthed since 2022. Mamma COW L11, is currently pregnant with her calf that will be born in the spring of our 2024 calving season. Of all the Featured Mamma Cows thus far, L11 is the oldest and is a classic stocky Hereford X Angus Cross Baldy. Even though this represents just the calves that are currently still in our herds, she has repeatedly calved year in and year out for we would guess at least 12 years.

Mamma Cow L11, 1st Generation

"Sweet Gallienne" 232H, born on March 9th, 2022--2nd Generation

"Tiptoe Lightly" 32H, Born on March 30th, 2023--3rd Generation

Until Next Time, Eat Well and Be Well and Pass Along,

Allison Mills Neal of Foothill Frolic Farm

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