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An All Too Brief Vacation

We left for Lincoln bright and early Friday morning. Ok, not too early but we got on the road by eight. And started off on our long drive. To town where we played at the playground while the car got washed. We had decided to take the northern rout instead of the southerly and more direct rout because we always go that way and wanted a change of scenery.

Since we  were going that general direction anyway I thought it would be interesting to go a little farther off course and go through the area my Grandpa grew up in. That part of Nebraska is beautiful, not that most of the rest of the state isn’t but I am partial to the big rolling hills and huge oak trees.

We found Fullerton easily enough. A beautiful little town with big old houses and the typical main street. It was much bigger than my vague remembrances as a child. Nobody could quite remember the exact location of the house my great grandparents had lived in after moving to town and I was a rather small child at the time. I found an area that seemed vaguely familiar and decided to call that the place.

We also stopped by what may have been the farm, or at least the general area where the farm used to be that my Grandpa grew up on. I used to love to hear the stories about rooster fights he would encourage, terrible injuries incurred by he and his brothers and, most of all, about the teams of horses they farmed with. I loved to hear about Prince and Bird and all the others long forgotten, how as a very young boy, five I think, his dad would put him to driving the team, at the end of the field he would come and turn them around and put my grandpa back on the reins.

The only hint as to the location of the old place was that part of it had been sold as a church camp. Sure enough my searches found Whispering Cedars Baptist church camp in just the right area. So we drove up and looked at it. High on the bluffs just as it had been described we found it. Maybe we drove past the old place too but we had no idea where it was. I thought about stopping by some nearby farm and asking, rural memories often go back that far, but that seemed a little excessive. We had found the general area and that was enough.

Then in to Genoa to the cemetery to visit my great grandparents graves and back on the road, rushing to Lincoln.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt of ’16

We had never gotten in to town for the yearly Easter egg hunt before. The kids were just too young and there are people, we try to avoid that when ever possible. This year we were going to go. Then it snowed. We had to run to the big city for groceries and thought we could be back in time, brought snow suits and everything. We were ready.

Then they postponed it. Just because of a little snow and cold weather. Wimps.

The weather was perfect this time. Sunny and warm, the whole town had turned out for it. I think The Goblin Child was a little over whelmed, she was pretty clingy. 8 wanted to eat the gravel in the parking lot.

Finally it was time. They called the children in age groups to their respective areas. Ours were separate unfortunately. I had hoped to watch 8 but The Goblin Child and I had to line up. They pointed out that we could spread out down the line as far as we wanted so we went clear to the end where there were no other children and talked about where we could see eggs to pick up. They were scattered thick on the grass.

Then it was time, she was off like a shot grabbing all the eggs she could get. And in seconds it was over, after all that waiting. But she had eggs, lots of them and she was happy. Walking over to find 8 we were still finding candy laying on the ground.

8 had not been overly interested in the whole thing. He loves the plastic eggs and just wanted to play with them. He had a decent haul though so he, or somebody, must have picked a few up. Leaves were more fun to pick up than eggs, unless they were in other peoples baskets. Those he was willing to try to get.

We met up and dumped the eggs, the plastic ones go back for next year. Then they played in the park. A boy came over to GC on the swing and I thought he was going to try to take it from her, but no he was a friend from preschool who wanted to say hi. She was very glad to see him and followed him to the slide. It was good to see so many children playing nicely together. The chamber of commerce does a really great job putting on their Easter egg hunt, we’ll have to get back next year.

 

Season of Plumbing Disasters

For as long as we have been bathing children my very cautious husband has been warning me to be sure that NO toys go down the drain. We have a strainer that goes in the drain that is supposed to be used with every draining and nothing had ever gone down the drain. I was pretty comfortable with it.

Until…

There were no small toys in the tub only big things that I didn’t need to worry about. 8 had a fit about getting his hair washed, I got him finished and in bed then came back to finish The Goblin Child. She wanted to finish with a shower. I pulled the plug without putting in the strainer and she frantically began to grab her toys away from the drain. I started to laugh and tell her they wouldn’t fit down the drain but she was so worried I let her protect them and helped her out a little.

Then it slipped passed her fingers. I saw it as it rushed towards the drain but not soon enough to stop it. The nipple from big baby’s bottle, carefully removed from it’s ring and of course unscrewed from the bottle. I dove, hand first, down the drain after it and caught it with the tip of my finger. There was still water in the tub and I could feel it tugging at my flimsy grasp on the nipple. With teeth clinched I hung on with all my might. The last of the water finally passed and still it was there almost within reach yet totally beyond my grasp.

To make a long story short I tried to get it but only pushed it farther. I finally accepted the inevitable and told my husband. He had been warning me of the disastrous consequences should this happened. I expected to be in trouble. He was very nice about it and when he came home from work that night he started in on the plumbing.

He tore everything apart, hoping to dig out our addition, only to find that the pipes were rusted through, paper thin and leaking already. I wont go as far as to say it was in any way a good thing that we washed toys down the drain but it is lucky that he found the leaky pipes before they burst altogether. Then he started looking for the nipple, it had somehow disappeared. He started asking me if I was positive it had gone down the drain? Had I seen it?

I got in there with him and we stuck things up the pipes from each direction and poked and prodded. Nothing was to be found with our explorations. We were dumbfounded. There was no way it had made it past the P trap and it certainly hadn’t come back up the drain, it had to be there. I gave up and proposed flushing it out with water. Saner heads prevailed and he gave it one last try. And got it! It did exist! The day was saved and we got new plastic pipes and a shiny and handy new shelf in the bathroom cabinet. And a new strainer right it the drain so this can never happen again.

 

Easter Floods

Not like rain floods, more like basement floods. Nobody ever goes into the basement up at the big house anymore just the kids when they are playing down there. Fortunately on Friday someone did. A pipe to an outside hydrant was leaking into the basement. Not inches of water but a slowly saturating spread. Of course the kids still had stuff in their bedrooms down there, this time by kids I mean my husband and his sisters. Who ever moves out and actually takes everything with? My husbands former room was hit the worst and of course he had the most stuff still there. Unfortunately mostly books, his collectors edition hard covers and very old books from his grandparents and other family. He’s the only one I’ve ever met who is as obsessed with books as I am.

He and his sister set to work cleaning out the basement, vacuuming up as much water as they could, setting up fans, rolling up carpet and hauling stuff out. We hauled two very full pickup loads to the dump and rushed the books to the only place we had room to spread them out, the playhouse. As I loaded soaking old books on to the table I couldn’t help but glance through. There was a happy birthday 1911 inside the front cover of one and, I haven’t gotten to read it over thoroughly, but what looks like a tax paper listing all of his grandpas assets from the fifties or sixties if I remember correctly. These are treasures that need to be saved. And we are working on it, they are damaged for sure but salvageable, only one that was so completely soaked it doesn’t show any sign of drying.

That took a couple of days and the job isn’t done yet. But it was Easter! So we stopped to celebrate. The Easter bunny paid a visit and brought lots of candy. No potatoes got planted but food was eaten and eggs hidden. Not dyed, they experimented with fake eggs that unfortunately wouldn’t take color. I thought that was the whole point? Why make fake eggs to color that won’t color? But other than slowing the fun down a bit, and we just had other fun while that got worked out anyway, it didn’t bother anything at all. We just got out the markers.

We had dyed our soon to be deviled eggs the the night before anyway.

 

Snow Crazed

We were supposed to get a blizzard. Luckily it hasn’t happened, but that didn’t stop the weather from making everything and everyone crazy. Coyote went insane getting cattle in yesterday, I keep telling him he’s nearly twenty he should be calming down. And I’m always kind of glad he doesn’t listen.

This morning trying to get children ready to go feed I really thought I was going to have to kill them. Then I turned this on and we were saved.

 

It has an amazing affect. The Goblin Child isn’t as crazy about it but 8 will sit and stare. For whole minutes at a time, and he never sits still. Hopefully he will try to emulate them as he grows up. Mixed in with these cute little guys is Little Fred and, as always, Farmer Derek.

 

This is our kind of TV. Up at the in-laws house the other day they were watching real TV. I was as always shocked and horrified. It’s amazing what people will willingly sit and watch and it confirmed once again that I have no interest in getting cable (or Dish whatever)

The Coming Storm

The first I heard of it, the weather radio went of and they were talking fifteen inches of snow. Fortunately once I calmed down and listened to the whole thing that was for Goshen county WY. We weren’t officially under a blizzard warning like they were but we were supposed to get many inches and high winds. We are of course calving.

So Tuesday afternoon I went to get Coyote to go help bring the cows and calves in from the corn stalks and get them nicely tucked in behind sheltering windbreaks. As I led Coyote in I meet the father-in-law headed out with calf chains (they look like a choke chain for a dog, used to slip around a calves legs to help pull it when the mom is having trouble). He said a cow in the pen of old, crippled and fence jumping cattle was having trouble. There was one on the ground and she had legs sticking out. Apparently he was going to pull it out in the pen. I thought it sounded like an interesting plan and hurried to saddle Coyote.

As soon as I was on and down the lane a little, I could see over the fences that he was walking the cow down the lane towards the barn. I turned around and started working to clear a path into the barn to put her in the chute. He got her up to the last set of gates, on his fourwheeler by now, she stepped through the gate and stopped. He hooked the chains on the calf, gave a good pull and the calf came out and slipped to the ground. We all held our breath for that long heart breaking moment until at last, it took a tiny shuddering breath. It was alive!

We left it lay there trying to come fully to life with it’s concerned mama licking on it, once in awhile, and went to get the rest of the cows. Oh but wait! As we tried to clear a path to the barn I rode Coyote up to a closed gate preparing to reach down to open the latch when he leaped into the air spun about and took off the other direction. I shook my head at his antics and we tried again, it’s just a cow in there silly I told him. As we rode up to the gate again he did it again. This time I realized it was a cow and a rooster! That must be perfectly understandable then. He did it one more time before I got off and lead him through the gate. Had I known the ride this was foretelling I may have given up then and taken a fourwheeler.

The first cows came easily enough, the like to trick you that way into thinking it’s going to be an easy job. In the next bunch one shook her head at him and he lost it. Lost it worse maybe? Not sure he had been there to start with, must have been the coming weather change. He spent the ride leaping and spinning, prancing and trying to bolt. I know we were a little help, although the father-in-law likes to spend most of his time coming over to move the cow that’s going in front of me. I’m sure he just wants to be helpful? Maybe he sees the way Coyote is acting and thinks he needs to save me? We don’t need saving, this is how we roll. I don’t know what’s up with that but I do know that as rotten as Coyote is I’ll be sad if he ever realizes he’s getting up there, he’s going to be twenty next year when did that happen? Hopefully he never starts to act his age. He can be a little difficult. Some of those moves got quite painful to ride, by the time we were done I could barely move, it felt like I had been hiking down Pikes Peak, full body sore. He makes me feel like I can actually ride though, instead of perch up there and try not to fall off like I really do. And then I think he’ll make a kids horse some day? I must be crazy.

We got them all tucked away nicely and fed up against the windbreak this morning. We were ready. But the bad snow never started. It rained, that cold windy awful rain that makes everything miserable. There are going to be lots of sick calves after this, but luckily no blizzard.

The horses are cold, only Princess Onna looked like she was shivering any so she got the blanket. The barn has the cow and twins in it, I think they need it worse. I gave the horses some more feed up against the windbreak they weren’t using and it felt pretty warm to me standing there. I’ll go check again latter and maybe switch the blanket around to a different horse.

Rusty, recent recipient of my current obsession with clicker training, came when I called, while the others, seeing me trying to lead them to the windbreak, ran off and I was able to lead him, with no halter or anything useful like that, away from feed, past big mean Coyote and to another pile of feed. I am so loving clicker training. And rather fond of Rusty.

 

In case you ever wondered what it was like to ride a crazed, zippy, bouncy Coyote. Not doing anything overly interesting, I can stay on through his high school moves, airs above the ground and such, but I like my phone and don’t think I should try to stay on and hold a phone.  And maybe part of the reason we were only a little help.

 

Milk Cow

20160319_105648Not as in a milk cow but a calf named Milk Cow.

An old cow had a set of twins. It’s a rare cow that will keep track of both and have enough milk for them both, this was not one of those rare cows. I had been watching the calf for a couple of days. She wandered around the corral bawling for her mama and trying to nurse all the other cows. It wasn’t working very well.

Finally this morning, after days of being bugged about it, the Father-in-Law called and said she was laying outside the fence again, still no mom, did we still want her? I did! We had talked about getting The Goblin Child a bottle calf, me enthusiastically, her father with great doubt and trepidation. Yes, I realized that I would end up being the one to feed it. But I would also keep it, or sell it, in the end, so fairs fair.

So we went and picked her up. She rode to the barn in the back of the pickup, held by my long suffering husband who never wants anything to do with cattle and still gets stuck helping with these things constantly. On the ride home we asked The Goblin Child what she wanted to name it? After vetoing Onna, because we can only have so many of those, she decided on Milk Cow. We thought it was quite fitting.

In the barn she refused her bottle of milk at first, despite being hungry for days. 8 was terrified of her bawling and The Goblin Child didn’t want to get near her. We went inside, regrouped and tried again later. These things take a while to figure out. Next try she was starving. Wolfed the whole bottle down and wanted more.

 

 

Riding and Revelations

My mom and I have been having long involved discussions about any problems encountered while riding being the riders fault. I sent her a great article about how you are riding the horse you created not the one you bought or had trained, she said some people wouldn’t recognize themselves in it. Then she started to worry that maybe she should be recognizing herself. She and Smoke were having some problems at the moment, but surely they weren’t her fault.

I know that Coyote is perfect in every way, so of course I am riding the horse I made. Except for the times he looses his mind, like when that cow tried to eat him but that wasn’t my fault!

But if we were going to stand by our firm beliefs we had to think about this a little deeper, look for causes, even if we didn’t like them. So how was I causing Coyotes wild mood swings? I wasn’t communicating fear to him, I hadn’t been scared of the bony old cow that he made mad in the first place by biting on the butt. But, I do know of his fears and quirks. I fully believe that his double swirls signify a double personality, calm and completely trust worthy and crazed insane pony all mixed into the same pony all at the same time.

So while I decline to accept responsibility for him being insane we decided that I must take responsibility for putting a horse I know to be crazed in a position that exacerbates his insanity. Perfect, that puzzle solved.

Then I got an email from my mom last night it was the best one ever! She had, well a lot of stuff, I’ll let her tell you….

 

well, today I decided to own my belief that ‘its always the riders fault’. I thought harder about it and remembered that

for a year or more I have been blaming bad behavior on maybe-lame. Letting my horse get away with a little bit more

and a little bit more. So, no, my horse did not suddenly out of no where misbehave. Even if he had off a whole winter,
and could possibly be given a little slack for that, the fact that I have given him the idea he may be able to do as he pleases
was already established. Someone told me last year that if I wanted to believe it was all my fault and none of the horses 
I could go ahead and feel sorry for myself. Actually it worked the other way, at least this time. I felt pretty confident.
Now maybe it had nothing to do with my newly re-found alpha attitude- even though still a little fearful- we had a great
ride. Up on the bit and forward, but not out of control, no hint of a trot, hooray, we made it around the hay field!!!
I loved it! And the idea that it would in some way be a bad thing that it is always the riders fault is shocking to me. Instead I find it empowering. WE have the ability to fix the problems that WE cause. We aren’t sitting helplessly on a giant animal that can do as it pleases with us. We are mounted upon a sensitive powerful beast that is willing and happy to take the slightest of cues from us so we can work together. How awesome is that! If we are telling them things that aren’t what we mean to WE  can change that as long as we are willing to step up and take responsibility. Willing to take a sometimes painful and honest look at ourselves and see what WE are doing wrong.
Now I need to figure out what I’m doing to mess up the other horses. Oh dear.

 

The Season of Sickness

It’s been a bed winter. I often imagine that this is what the plague years were like. Or the influenza outbreaks or measles or any of the sicknesses that used to wipe out so many people before we were blessed with modern medicine. I hear people say that we don’t need it, their grandpa/ great aunt Charlotte/ some unknown person way back when lived to one hundred and they didn’t need any of this new fangled medicine. Or vaccines for that matter.

That’s great but what about everybody else? The ones who died by the thousands because there was no penicillin? No C Sections? My sister-in-law and I would not be here. To simple things like not knowing how much aspirin to take, leading to numerous deaths among those it was supposed to help during the 1918 flu epidemic. But I digress.

Everybody is sick. The two children are in bed coughing there poor little hearts out. Doctor says probably RSV, something the insurance company spent a fortune on, can’t remember for sure but at least a thousand a shot once a month, protecting The Goblin Child from as a baby. Hopefully it really is mostly harmless for otherwise healthy children. Both are on medication, might as well get it over with at the same time at least. Both for Strep Throat. Maybe they wont reinfect each other. The Goblin Child has tossed hers right back up once, tossed pain meds once and tonight it was her super for no apparent reason. Right on my feet, what fun. She has been running a pretty good fever for days now. Tonight she was actually feeling batter and of a normal temperature.

Yesterday I begged my hard working husband to come home and rescue me. A nasty bug hit me, and I think 8 earlier in the day. I collapsed on the couch letting him take over child care duties. Tonight it was his turn to be sick.

But I can hardly complain when everyone else seems to have it so much worse. My brothers children have been sick all winter it seems like, up all night last night throwing up. Again. Glad we haven’t gotten to do that. My mom has been trying to die for the last week. She sounds awful, the doctor says bronchitis. The flu has been going around and Cade got it bad, shared it with his mom. Ava somehow managed to avoid it. Yay!

A friend had a child go into Febrile convulsions. Talk about terrifying. She was ok, so was the child. Her new baby had a lung infection early on in the year, nothing is worse than a sick newborn. That whole family has been sick with one thing right after another all winter, now ear infections and tubes.

Another has had to deal with ear infections, sore throats, cough, sinus infections, throw up, diarrhea and dog poop. That is more bodily fluids on the carpet of one house than anyone should ever have to clean. Life is just not fair sometimes.

There is a family at school who had home schooled until this year. All four of their children are home sick, with one in the hospital. It’s like the natives being introduced to European diseases all over again and the only compelling argument in favor of public schooling I’ve heard. Get them exposed from a young age. In our little local school of two hundred children there has been around twenty kids and a handful of teachers home sick almost every day it seems.

Spring is coming, the weather is beautiful, surely something has to put an end to this season of sickness. Until then I will spend my time being grateful to modern medicine and keep dispensing the pain killers.

What we do to Keep Busy

I often get the impression that my brother and my father for sure can’t figure out how we can stand to live out here in the sticks where there is nothing to do.

We have ways of keeping oueselves busy. They may not involve movies, museums and library’s, not that we don’t have those but they’re so far away and we are so busy doing other things, who has time?