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Spring's Surprising Transformations

Posted 5/9/2013 9:11am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

After weeks of wringing our hands, waiting for the grass to get growing, it has suddenly outpaced the ruminating ability of our sheep and cows. This happens every year.  It shouldn't surprise me anymore. But it is the speed at which it transforms itself from struggling, shivering shoots of grass to bold, stemmy pasture that is near miraculous. 

The sheep and cows are transformed too from placid, resigned ruminants eating dry hay to discontented beasts who bellow and baa to be moved as soon as the velvety clover and alfalfa have been nibbled out of a paddock. So move them we do.  Add week-old lambs and calves into the mix and our farm too can quickly transform into a three-ring circus. With neighbor kids stopping traffic, Roy and I attempted to move the herd of cows across the road the other evening. All was going well down to the last four calves (as my grandfather would say scornfully in Pennsylvania Dutch, "da duma junga" - stupid youth) who hesitated crossing an unfamiliar surface then balked and ran back into their known pasture (never mind that all their mom's and aunts are safely across and bawling for them with mouths full of fresh grass).  What followed was a lot of corralling and coaxing and finally a mama cow returning to help escort them across while a few cars patiently waited.  One lesson we learn over and over again is good neighbors are invaluable and if you can try to understand the instinctual nature of animals and work with it, life is a lot easier.  Thank goodness for good mama cows.