Saturday, April 13:

   Isabel has been out on the monastery pasture for a week and is liking the change, evidently, although it means a lot more walking than she was doing in the barnyard.  The pastures up there are less steeply sloped than the home pasture but still far from level.  When we set up a week’s worth of paddocks we lay out a long rectangle reaching down the hill, and by the time we get down toward the bottom it’s getting to be a bit of a hike up to the stock tank.  With her sacroiliac in a kink Isabel isn’t too fond of going uphill but she thinks it’s worth it for the fresh green forage poking up through last year’s frost-cured grass.

   When we open the fence to let the cows through they take three steps forward with their heads down, tearing, tearing at the green blades.  Poppy, the black-faced Jersey who is due to calve in two weeks, only takes a few bites before pushing aside a neighbor to see if that cow has found anything special; another bite or two and she’s off to bully someone else, always afraid there’s something special she’s missing out on.  Reminds me of people.

    The first of the rainbarrels is in place in back of the monastery, an IBC (intermediate bulk container) or “water hog”.  It did not fill with the last rain, and we thought we had not placed it low enough for gravity-flow, until someone checked the valve on the front and found it open; rain had come in through the pipe at the top and gone right back out again.  Two other tanks still need to be cleaned before we take them up and add them to the system.  Even with four tanks catching rain water we will only have ten to twelve days of free water up there; cows drink a lot.