Wednesday, October 22, 2014

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Cast iron dinner bell!
Last year, a very dear friend of mine was cleaning out her barn and endowed me with her cast iron llama dinner bell. I couldn’t believe it; it was so beautiful!  I brought it home and couldn’t wait to hang it.  

I was nervous to hang it outside because although it should be weather proof (to some degree), the weather at our farm is pretty severe at times. Every weather condition that takes place throughout the county just seems 10x more intense here.  J

So, I began to scout out a place on the farm where I could enjoy and see it, but also where it would be somewhat protected from the elements.  All the while that I was looking for the perfect spot, never once did anyone suggest we mount it where the animals could hear it ring! J

While sneaking into the barn, I think I've been heard!
Feeding at my farm rarely entails much coaxing of the animals to partake.  I try to sneak out and get buckets filled and flakes of hay distributed before all the thundering of several tons of animal come galloping, leaping, and scampering to meet me.

I can't tell if he heard the camera click
or actually heard the barn door creak!!
I have found that it’s very difficult to be “sneaky” with a headlamp on! The spotlight beckons, “COME!” 
I keep the barn doors well greased so that they don’t squeak and give my whereabouts away. The thing about horses---they can be ¼ mile away and hear that barn door and come galloping up before I can get food ready.
Jenna isn't waiting anymore, she's going to go check out the noise.
She's certain she saw me head to the barn.

So, I try to get out to the barn, close the gates around the barn undetected, and THEN open the barn doors.
Summer feeding is different from winter feeding at our farm for all the animals to some extent. We have SO MUCH grass, and our fields are so lush that the grain quantity I offer to everyone tapers off substantially during the summer. Overfeeding in the summer causes as many problems as underfeeding in the winter. Because all situations are different, I won’t even suggest that what I do is perfect; however, it does work for my farm.  

Song is still listening to the Sheep get their food.
She knows it's her time next!

BUT, when the days grow shorter, and the fields lose their nutrient capabilities, the assisted feedings become more important. Those feedings are usually done in the morning and afternoon when the sun’s warmth is not so prevalent….so I wear my “barn jacket”. Through the years, my barn jacket has become synonymous with “DINNER TIME!” at the farm.  It doesn’t matter which animal sees me first, he/she will start running…..  and soon, they are ALL running back to the paddock nearest the house.

Silver is excited that the buckets are now making their way to her paddock.
She's just not sure she likes the look of a camera up at my face.

When my daughters head outside, without me, with their own barn jackets on, it doesn’t create the same effect. We never really had noticed that until on one occasion one had grabbed my jacket as a quick throw on. She hadn’t gotten more than 10 paces off the back deck before all the animals had broken into a full gallop to come up for “DINNER TIME!”.  We have apples and pears on a few of the trees nearest that fence line for just that occasion!  J 

Everyone deciding that life is good.
Meal time at the farm is an important part of animal care. During the time they are eating, you can look them over, evaluate their chewing capabilities, look at feet/hooves, check for ticks, look for scrapes/cuts, remove brambles, and know which one will have to stay behind after meal time to be checked out further. 

Song and Silver are wondering, "is there more where that came from?"

I don’t feed my farm all at once.  It’s too impossible.  I feed one group of animals at a time so that I can spend time with everyone. Believe it or not, everyone is patient. They weren’t always that way, but through the years, they have learned that I will get to everyone eventually.

Decided to check out the treat bucket for herself

In the winter when morning lights and heat get turned on, the horses whinny and sheep begin to baa in anticipation of the morning feeding. As much as I’d like to stay inside and grab a cup of tea first, I usually throw on my coat and head to the barn.

Dinner Bell not yet mounted.

So, as much as I’d like to actually ring the dinner bell and watch all the animals come, at this point in time, the dinner bell will just be for my enjoyment!  And enjoy it, I do!!  J

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