Topic: Harvest Hills Farm activity
You'll have to look closely to find the cattle on the ridge, hidden by the gray mist. The weather has been so warm, while the ground is still cold so clouds of misty fog have been scattered in the nooks of the farm every morning.
In winter, the cattle are fed large round bales of hay (organic, made from the cultivated fields maintained for the purpose of creating winter grass hay for our herd). They can't graze when the ground is snow-covered. But as soon as the snow cover is gone, their natural instinct is to roam freely and attempt to graze. Although they have to return to the areas where their round bale feeders are located to get enough calories, you can still find them wandering around the center pasture 40 acres throughout the day.
Cattle are actually very smart, it's said that their brains have as many sulci as human brains. And we know they have retained knowledge (memories). Of course, it's common knowledge that cows and their calves identify and "know" each other. But they also know toxic from edible plants and remember their favorite grazing spots and watering sites.
They also form relationships and organizations within the herd. We love to watch the cows define an area of pasture to be the "nursery" and then "assign" each other to watch the babies while the rest go off to eat. They often enlist 1 year olds and sometimes we'll even see a bull supervising in the nursery when they join the herd for the Summer.
Right now at the farm, it's preparation for delivery. The calves should be born in April and May. We have later deliveries because USUALLY it's still quite cold in March in northwestern Illinois and our cows deliver outside. And, we want to prevent undue stress on our calves. But, it looks like this year, weather won't be an issue.
Though I suspect one year with an early Spring will not make us change our plans. We haven't had a problem yet and other farmers have lost calves to freezing, something we would never risk.
Meanwhile, we can all enjoy the early Spring and get other chores and garden prep done.
Just resist the urge to plant!