Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Livestock Cake For Thanksgiving

The sun is setting and we're busy getting ready for our Thanksgiving feast. The house smells so goo...d.

Seven pies are cooling, the buttercup squash is cooked- ready to reheat, and the rolls just came out of the oven. Thanksgiving will be spent at Kirk's brothers tomorrow and Friday we will have another feast at our house for those who had to work on Thursday.

But we aren't the only ones that will eat well. Kirk went to town on Tuesday to pick up some cake for the livestock. You know... cake. Well maybe you don't.

It wasn't until I went to buy some last spring that I realized not everyone called the compressed grain, and hay made into a cylinder shape - cake. I'd gone into our local CO-OP feed store and was waited on by a new employee I found out later was from South Dakota. When I asked for a bag of cake, he gave me a blank stare. "A bag of 14 % protein will do.", I replied to his confused look that was rapidly gaining a panicked expression. I knew that look, the one that says, I'm talking to the local crazy lady. How do I get out of this. No you may not ask how I know?

Luckily an experienced employee stepped up behind him and pointed to a feed on the list on the computer and explained that the feed supplement for range cattle and sheep in the winter comes in 14 and 16 percent protein and the locals call it cake.

Cake sitting on top of corn, oats, barley, and a pelleted feed for the goats.

As I left and headed toward the dock with my receipt, "The locals call it cake." echoed in my head and I wondered, 'Then what does everyone else call it?' and 'What is the rectangular boxes on the back of most of the flat bed pickups in the county, if they aren't cake feeders?' I still don't know.

But since I'm old, I remember before the cake feeders were invented. We locals shoveled cake by hand out of the bed of the pickup. One day in particular sticks out in my mind. The wind chill must of been at least fifty below zero Fahrenheit. Small frostbite blisters were forming on my reddened cheeks where the frames of my metal glasses touched as I stood in the back of the pickup legs apart bracing against the wind while I dribbled cake over the tailgate. The black Angus cows and black baldies, trailed behind nibbling on the cake as my brother drove the pickup in a slow sweeping arch. (Now don't tell me black baldy is a local term too for a Hereford/ Black Angus cross?) With the change in direction the wind gusts were hitting me head on. As I raised my shovel to thrust it into the tall pile of cake, a blast of wind caught it's face like a sail in a squall. I went flying over the side of the pickup, not once but several times before it was my brother's turn to shovel. He thought it great entertainment watching me and of course being the older brother, stronger and larger, had no problem when it was his turn.

Ranchers today have it easy sitting comfortably inside their pickups, the heater blasting keeping them warm while the - cake feeder- does the work.

Though we don't have range cattle or sheep, we buy cake, or whatever it is properly called, every winter to feed on extra cold days and as a treat on holidays such as Thanksgiving.

Leta, our dairy goat, curling her lip in anticipation of the tasty morsel.

And here's Tinker Bell, who's definitely not light on her feet, excepting one from Kirk.
Our grand daughters on Thanksgiving will scurry for pile of rubber boots to find a pair their size or near to it when we mention it's chore time. Then they will put cake in a scooper and go around feeding it to the livestock. The goats will gain the lion's share as they are the least intimidating in size. Kirk and I will end up seeing that the Bess, the horse; Tinker Bell, and the calf, Pedro, receive their share. The scene is as dependable as the sun setting in the West. So is our middle grand daughter eating a piece of cake as she feeds another to the goats. I remember as a child eating doing chores and eating COB or corn, oats, and barley grain with the molasses coating that is a staple livestock feed in the USA.

The pigs and the chickens won't be getting cake. They'll get left overs of our feast and the bees .... I've a quart of sugar water mixed up for them.

The hives are taped up for the move back to our house.
What will the cat's get? Turkey of course. Bridgette, our old cat, will insist that it's served warm.
I'd best be off it's getting late and much is left to do but before I go I wish to tell you Thank You. That you read my blog, sharing my world with me, and support my efforts as I learn to express myself through the written language. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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