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Electrical Issues

Snow has been forecast for this weekend ever since, last weekend. As the week went on the amounts crept upwards. By Thursday they were predicting nine to fourteen inches.
So Monday two of the heated automatic waterers were froze over. The fuse was blown and the new one immediately joined its predecessor. My husband came home from work early and he and his father check wiring, multi-meters and other things I shy away from. The short was somewhere underground between the barn and the tanks. Everyone hung their heads and cried a little on the inside.
There were no shut off valves. Not below ground at least. No way to keep the water pipes from freezing in one old tank that was perfectly good and one they had just spent days getting installed. The heat had to be fixed before the storm coming in with the weekend.
The power company came out and located lines. They found the short, or maybe just where there was a splice, simply wrapped in electric tape and  buried underground. With a payloader, skid steer and shovels they dug it up. The bucket snagged the wire, pulling it loose but fortunately just scraped the waterline, not breaking it causing any further messes.Sure enough the wires were black and insulation melted. My computer guy/farmer/electrician husband tested the wires before patching and reburying. He tends to be cautious and a perfectionist.
There was another short. Somewhere else in between, underground. The the snow melted and it all drained into the hole. Now there were not only wires to fix but they were under a foot of water. Pumps are good to have. It was still muddy.
They called up Scott. It’s good to know people with trenchers. Abandoning the old line They trenched in two new wires to reach the waterers separately to avoid anymore under ground splices than absolutely necessary. With shiny new wire, wire that’s actually rated to be run underground, above ground junction boxes, a new trench dug, and wire ran, to the tank that has had an extension cord run to it for years. All that dug through knee deep mud. Knee deep on 8 that is.
It was all buried in and working good long before the cold and snow hit. With time left over for taking the duals off the tractor and putting the big snow blower on.
Category: 8, Cows, Farming  One Comment

Better Weather

The storm is over. The snow is mostly gone, melted by the next morning already. The calves are laid out in the shelter of the windbreak soaking up the warmth of the sun. Cows are happily filling their bellies with hay. Snow drifts are piled in twisting, curving formations. We are all resting and gathering strength, hoping the forecasts are wrong about the next one being on the way.

Did I mention that we have a hen setting? We don’t ave any idea when to expect chicks but are sure looking forward to it!

Category: Cows  One Comment

April Snows

It is snowing, hopefully it brings May flowers just as well as showers do. The wind howled all day yesterday and the day before. It rained all night, then changed to snow this morning. Fortunately the worst of it is East of us, unfortunate for them though.

Yesterday 8 and I ran out through the cows. They were already locked out of the pivot. Locked into the pasture to try to force them to stay behind a windbreak. Going across the pasture we saw a calf moving funny. Looking closer she was carrying a leg. It curled under her wobbling in a sickening manner whenever she stepped on it. It was broken. There was a blizzard predicted for the next day.

Deciding that through the wheat in the pivot would be an easier rout than through all the cows, down the lane, and round and round we headed her for the gate. The mama was a little high headed, the calf was managing to follow on three legs but it was hard for her. They finally went through the gate. The mama went the right way nicely from there, down to the corrals and the old horse barn. We went as slow as possible, following way behind so we didn’t rush them. She went right in the gate and we shut it behind her leaving them in the corral.

We had to wait for the father-in-law to get home to do anything with her. Once he did get back we went out to see what we could do. The mama stood back and watched while her calf was pushed to the old horse barn. The one that was falling down until they pushed it up with the payloader this winter, and tightened the cables holding it in a somewhat upright position. With the wind howling around us we crouched in the rickety old building out of reach of the mama and looked at the leg. It had broke just above the ankle. Swollen and floppy but not awful. Unless it moved then my stomach lurched and I had to look away.

We had found some old slats, a pair of The Goblin Child’s pants tossed in the rag drawer once they developed holes, and duct tape. Throwing the calf down and sitting on her we pulled the pant legs over her leg. Breaking the slat down to the right length we taped them to three sides of the leg. Once everything seemed secured we sent her back out to mom.

Overnight the rain set in, then blowing snow by morning. The horses were happy to be locked in the barn, warm and dry with lots of hay. The cows were fed up against the shelter of the windbreak. Calves bucking and playing in the snow. Coming back to check on the two calves in the pen I found the new born calf laid in an exposed corner with a snow drift building over him. The calf with the broken leg was shivering.
I got the snow covered calf up. he woke with a beller that brought his mom running. She didn’t eat me and I was able to push them back towards the barn from yesterday where both calves could find dry shelter, if only they would.
Hopefully the storm will end tonight and give the cattle some rest. Give the calves a chance to dry off and warm up. Give us a chance to start doctoring the ones that get sick from this. It is spring, the weather will warm up soon. Hopefully soon enough.

 

Category: 8, Cows  2 Comments

Of Cows And Such

Poppy had her calf very early this year. Not early for calving. Just early for her. About a month earlier than usual. She has had an April calf ever since she started having them. This time she barely missed my birthday. I lively, lovely bull calf with white on his forehead. They were both doing great.

A couple of days later she was down. She was not getting up and was not even interested in trying to do so. We stood and looked at her pondering what to do. I tried our vet, she’s nearly impossible to get on weekends. I texted a friend to see if she had ever seen this. Her best guess was that Poppy’s back was out from calving paralyzing her. A common problem when a cow has a large calf, but they usually go down during calving and this was the smallest calf Poppy had ever had.

I finally got a hold of a different vet. He didn’t pause, didn’t think about it, he declared it to be milk fever. I doubted him. I’ve heard of an know about grass tetany, a phosphorous imbalance when a newly milking cow goes out on green grass. No, that isn’t what this is I said. Not that, he was starting to get impatient, why call and ask if you aren’t going to believe. Seriously people. This is different, she needs some medicine into her belly. The words were going fast. They were foreign to me and flowed out from between my ears like water unable to grasp them. But he would put what I needed out down at the clinic.

Amidst words of doubt and dislike for this particular vet I left to get the meds. They put plenty of doubt and worry into my head. I would ask the vet when I got there. Get my questions answered. When I got there three large bottles of liquid medicine, a rubber tube, and needles where hung by the mailbox out front. In a Walmart bag. By themselves. No vet to be seen.

I called again on the way home and asked again for exact directions. Where in the abdomen? How do I find the right spot? Just off the back, between the ribs and hip bone. He was disdainful. Why did I need so much help for such a simple undertaking?

At home we left the kids parked on the couch refusing to move and went back out to Poppy, still in the same spot, still not even trying to move. We took our time getting ready. Pondering the where and how of it. Then, saying a brief prayer as I knelt over her, I stuck the needle in. My patient husband handed me the tube. With a little fumbling we connected the two and started the medicine pouring, slowly, into her.

It seemed to take forever as we took turns standing with our arms in the air letting it pour down into her. Once it was finally empty we left her and went back to make sure our children were alive. They were.

I went back out to check on her a little later. No change. Again after supper. Still no change. I went ahead and gave her the last bottle, sure and confident now in the needle placement. Her calf was there now wanting his supper. I grabbed her flank and pulled as hard as I could, trying to give him better access. Together we were able to get something for him to get a hold of and he got a light supper. I went home, nothing else I could do for the night.

The next morning, afraid of what they would find, I waited anxiously for word of her. Soon enough it came. She was up! She was up and her calf was right there with her! Everything was alright.

A week later The Father-in-law stopped by. One of his cows was down. Did we have any of that medicine left? We didn’t, having poured a probably excess amount into Poppy. So the cycle was repeated. I ran to the vet. No vet involved but a receptionist that was quickly charmed by The Goblin Child. We got a good stock of the large bottles. Back home we went along to see the cow laying, trying much harder than Poppy to get up. She would get her legs under her and stagger forward then collapse again.

I stuck the needle in. My cow hating husband, patiently handed me the rubber hose and we put two bottles into her. By evening she was up and going. I see her in the pasture once in awhile and nod to her. Thinking that she doesn’t share the feeling of kinship I do, but still, hello. Glad to see you still up and going.

 

 

Category: Cows  2 Comments

Playing With Cattle

We’ve been going out and walking through the calves that are still here. A small pen with the runts and our small group of heifers. The goal is to get the heifers used to being handled by and around people, quiet well trained cattle are always better than wild and crazy cattle. I am happy to see my theories on this holding out in the calves of our calves being right up there in the front to check us out when we go to see them.

The kids have been enjoying the process. One of them is a big help and is loving playing with them. The other not so much. He may also be the reason that quieting the chicks back fired and now they are instead twice as terrified. I was really enjoying watching The Goblin Child lure the calves in as close as possible, and very close was quite possible. The two calves with the green ear tags, 313 and 317, are our two heifers.

 

 

Category: 8, Cows, Goblin Child  3 Comments

Proud Parent Moments

It ranks right up there with taking their first steps. I am so excited that I was able to get it on video! The Goblin Child opened her first gate horseback! She had been watching us, Coyote and  I, do it and we had talked about how she would be able to someday. We had ridden through this gate yesterday and I told he it was an easy one to unlatch, in one way really hard because it’s in a corner though.

We got to go sort the bulls out of the cows today. She got to come along on Princess Onna. Off the lead rope even! She’s been doing so good I thought we could try it. Princess Onna always got overly excited when she and Tanna moved cows together so I was hesitant to let he try it on her own. But she’s been good about it with The Goblin Child so they got to go loose today.

After doing a wonderful job of helping, while poor 8 watched from the four wheeler, she wanted to go for a ride. We went up the lane to go out in the pasture. She walked ahead of us to the gate declaring her intent. I was thrilled to let her try and hurried to get my camera ready. It took a few tries to get lined up and bent into that corner but she stuck with it and together they managed to get it! What very good girls, the both of them.

 

I Don’t Know Where To Start

There are so many things I’ve wanted to talk about lately and I haven’t found time for any of it. I need to look back through all the pictures I’ve taken to remind myself what we’ve done. I finally got the garden written about. I haven’t mentioned any of the chicken adventures, or the corn planting, or what ever else there has been.

Some how I missed corn planting. But it’s planted and getting rained on. Hopefully it will be warm enough for it to come up. The home made GPS worked beautifully, even if the John Deer planter didn’t hardly work at all. Yay for John Deer. We will stick to Case.

Planting Potatoes

It is supposed to be done on Easter weekend. I don’t know who decided that or why but it’s the rule. We didn’t quite make it. But on Tuesday, once the weather finally got nice, we planted potatoes. And by we I in no way mean me. Mostly it was The Goblin Child and her patient father. I spent most of the time trying to keep 8 from walking on the freshly planted rows.

The Goblin Child is getting old enough that she was really good help. She was gentle with the seed potatoes and was able to do exactly what needed done. 8 tromped around like the big boy that he is galloping happily across rows of planted potatoes and tossing the seedlings into holes.

Poppy finally had her calf! On the late side as usual, a nice healthy, so far, hold our breath and cross our fingers that he stays that way. Now we are only waiting on our heifer to calve. Blue is open, again, it will be good bye to Blue as soon as I can get her to a sale barn. The Goblin Child is mad about it but this is two years in a row, she has to go. The other cows had theirs and everything is good.

Our Cowgirl Strikes Again

We started the day bright and early, 8 likes to wake us up by six on any day we would otherwise be able to sleep in. We scarfed down a delicious breakfast and Tanna arrived to help sort pairs. 8 went out in the tractor to help the men feed and us girls saddled the horses. The Goblin Child wanted up behind Tanna and I rode Coyote as usual. We got them sorted in record time, they quite literally ran out the gate. The Goblin Child clung tight and was a real trouper not complaining all the way though.

 

 

Once in the lane they needed to go all the way out to the farthest pen, clear at the top of the hill. I got off to get gates and decided not to get back on. I had gotten off and on so many time I was clean out of cake, Coyotes reward for letting me on again, and baby calves can be much easier to move on foot. Leading Coyote along behind me I looked over at Tanna and The Goblin Child double on Onna and realized I could do something about it. I put The Goblin Child on Coyote.

 

 

At first he got to stand and eat at the trough while we tried to get the calves to move. Then I would grab a rein and bring him along a few steps then let him eat, try to convince calves to move. As we slowly progressed up the hill The Goblin Child began to move Coyote along by herself. Once we reached the circle at the top I turned her loose to push the cattle through the gate with Tanna. Poor Coyote. He put up with it for a little while then said that he was done, he’d had enough. Please save him.

 

 

After closing the gate I climbed on behind my saddle and let The Goblin Child steer us home. It was terrifying. Not just having a small child who had no control in charge of my hot, grouchy horse, not confined in a small area but on the way home, but also sitting right on his haunches. He’s bouncy. I thought for sure I was going to fall off.

After unsaddling I turned Coyote loose to graze, surely he deserved a reward for putting up with all that. The guys had been planting oats and I was going to keep a very close eye on him to make sure he didn’t get into the planted field. I forgot he was out there. As we were getting ready to leave that afternoon I remembered Coyote. I ran out the door frantically searching for him. Behind the house I caught a glimpse of his butt disappearing behind a shed. Running back there I found The Goblin Child leading him to the gate. She informed me that she was putting him away for me and indeed she was. What a good, big girl!

Little Cowboys

The Goblin Child sometimes wants to dress up as a cowboy, I always tell her that she IS a cowboy so no matter how she dresses she is dressed up like a cowboy. She doesn’t quite grasp the nuances.

Today as we wandered around the yard trying not to be blown away by the howling wind we found a calf laying in a corner, trying to hide behind a ceder tree. The pens are next to the house but the cows are not actually against the house. The calf was a long way from any prospective mother. We debated about which way to try to take him back and decided to go through the yard to the gate behind the house.

I told The Goblin Child that I needed her to be a big girl and help me, lots. She climbed the fence and ran for the gate. I crawled under the tree and flushed the calf. He ran right where we needed him, through the yard fence and towards the gate. I held him in the drive while the tiny little Goblin Child put all her strength into pulling the big heavy gate off its support block and into the howling wind. As she struggled the calf would run towards her as he paced the gate looking for a hole. She would leap back away from him shrieking a little in fear, then went back to hefting on the gate. Finally she was able to pull it back far enough to allow the calf to squeeze through on his next pass. What a brave girl. We had him.

We called the powers that be to make sure there wasn’t a reason for him to go anywhere else then put him back. It was 8’s turn to cowboy. For him too the urge to chase cattle was tempered by fear. He wanted to get that calf but needed a little backup.