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Natural events took their toll on the farm in July

Eppich News: Storms and predators affected crops and livestock

By the end of June, we finally made some time to rebuild a quarter mile of fence on our home native pasture. Half of our cow herd was still at home being supplemented with hay due to the late grass and the crazy spring.

On June 28 John had his second cataract surgery done. On July 2 we moved the rest of our cows out to the pasture. Afterward, Gregory worked summerfallow for a few days while John recuperated. He wasn’t supposed to lift anything and he had to stay out of the dust.

On July 14 we got eight-tenths of an inch of rain. The next day we went to an auction sale and learned that there had been hail in Landis (our farmland about 30 km away from home). We left the sale to see how bad it had been and to make sure our cows were still in their pastures. Luckily the cows were where they were supposed to be but the hail damage was extensive. Our 170 acres of barley were completely hailed out, the native grass was mashed to the ground and our hayfield was severely beaten up. We went back to the sale but returned in the evening with the horses so that we could get a closer look at the animals. Due to the many gopher and badger holes it is quite possible for an animal to get hurt while trying to run away from the painful hailstones.

Thankfully the animals were sound but we noticed that a calf was missing. We soon found what was left of it — only a trampled clearing in the grass, some clean bones, cotton ball puffs of fur, and an ear tag. It had just been a few days since we had been out and all the animals were accounted for and healthy.

On July 25 we spent the day cutting up meat. We were getting low on meat and with haying and harvest quickly approaching we needed to remedy that. Leon and Audrey Ochs came over and assisted us. While we were working, Leon got a call from a neighbour to let him know that he may have gotten hail on his crop near Landis. Sure enough, he also had a field get hailed out. It just so happened that Leon’s field is right across the road from our hayfield and pasture. After two hailstorms the hayfield looks terrible, but thankfully the pasture grass seems to be recovering.

Bulls brought home

On July 29 we started bringing the bulls home. We got the yearling bull out of the native pasture at Landis with no difficulty. Next, we went to the native pasture at home to get the old bull. Gregory and I were riding across the pasture to round up the cows when we spotted some birds flying up from a red shape. When we rode over, we discovered a dead cow. We finally found her ear tag and identified her as a second-calver. Looking at where she was on the hill and by the fence, we think she must have been struck by lightning. We had a bad storm just a few days before. There was nothing else we could do so we rounded up the cows and loaded up the bull.

The third bull was on the pasture that we had fenced this last winter and so to bring him home we first had to build a corral. John took the tractor with the post hole auger and we took the post pounder truck with some ties and posts. We started pounding posts after supper on the 30th and had it together enough that we used a few panels in the gateways and brought the bull home August 1.July was a hard month for us but there is no changing it. All we can do is keep working. Haying and harvest are sure to have their challenges and struggles but we will get there, one day at a time.

About the author

Contributor

Heather Eppich is a young former Idaho rancher building a new farm and family with her husband and young son, near Handel, Sask. Contact her at: [email protected]

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