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Grammy and Different Papa

I know we all seem ancient to young children but sometimes it can be a shock to realize how old they think we are. The Goblin Childs favorite thing to watch right now is classic Micky Mouse. Every time this one comes on she starts telling me how it’s Grammy and Different papa.

Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean she thinks they’re old maybe she just thinks they’re this pretty.

 

Run Ragged

I am noticing that I am happiest when quite busy, with days of nothing mixed in for recuperating, but the way we’ve been going lately is more than a little ridicules.

We, which doesn’t always mean me, have been getting cattle sorted and worked to go to pasture. I have taken my turn at providing that always necessary child care. It makes more sense for me to stay home anyway since I am the one with the baby. I have not gotten in on any of the sorting but the goblin child went along this morning to play cowgirl, until she fell asleep on the front of the four wheeler.

Princess Onna is at the vet now waiting to be bred. We have many conversations around here about how the vet is going to put a baby in her tummy. She had a couple of small issues but I guess things were looking good and she should be ready to go. I on the other hand was woefully unprepared. I didn’t get the money and paper work mailed off until the last minute and it just barely got there in the nick of time. Here’s hoping for a healthy beautiful foal. I really don’t have a color I’m hoping for, I bred to a grulla for the bloodlines not the color weird I know, but I would like a little filly and am really liking Ruth Ann for a name at the moment.

It keeps raining and the guys are  frantic to get in the fields. Even if not for the rain the fancy new (used) planter is still not working despite the days they have put in working on it. Maybe they will be back to the little old one if they can ever start planting.

The garden is nearly nonexistent. A few bedraggled potatoes, some onions and cabbage all planted before the snows. The tomatoes and peppers sit in the greenhouse waiting for warm weather and dry soil getting a bit lanky and pale. Even the plants planted in the greenhouse are wishing for some sun so they can grow.

I have way too many chickens to take care of. It takes me hours, slight exaggeration, to feed them once I am finally able to get 8 to sleep so I can get out in the cold rainy weather. Warm days are easier.

I have traded Whackster, Poppies calf from last year, for a pretty little Normandy heifer. I should probably mention it to my father in law, make sure he’s willing to give me pasture for yet another cow before I finalize the deal.

But the thing that makes it all difficult, the straw that broke the camels back and keeps me up nights worrying is summer camp. For some insane reason I agreed to teach a class. It was pity, they were desperate, probably the only reason they asked me anyway. But still, what was I thinking? I am terrified of talking in front of people, I have never taught anything in my life. It may be glorified babysitting for, hopefully not very many, pre-K kids but still. I can brand, I can castrate, I can drive a semi, manual or automatic, I can start a colt and turn a cow on the fence, once or twice I have even managed to watch the nursery at church with all the children surviving unscathed but this I don’t think I can handle.

None of this on it’s own would be such a big deal if not for one little time drain. How does one small child take up so much time? The time I spend getting him to sleep alone would allow me to get the house clean. How do people do anything with a baby to watch? He a cute little thing but so amazingly high maintenance. Who would’ve thought it.

There’s good reason people don’t ask me to babysit. Our idea of fun involves getting dirty and collecting lots of ticks!

 

Woman’s Work

We branded my cow herd Thursday. All four calves, and the cows. The last one had calved and I wanted to get it done as soon as possible. Snow put it off the first time I planned to try. I talked to a friend and she was free Thursday. The two of us would have no problem running such a small bunch through the calf table. Then I thought I would see if the girl who has been coming out to ride with me wanted to come. Then her sister was there when I asked and I couldn’t not ask her. Then I asked another friend and she wanted to come play with us too. Then finally it occurred to me that we had a big enough crew to do a lot more than four head.

I talked to my father-in-law and volunteered to do one bunch of his cattle for him. He then invited himself to our branding. You really can’t tell a man he can’t come brand his own cattle so he came and invited a friend of his own. So much for our all girl branding. Since the boys were crashing our party we were thrilled when my husband with many jobs was able to get away from one of them to come play with us too.

The girl who’s been riding with me rode Jerry to help get the cows in. We got mine in first with the help of the worlds only cow goat. Then we braved more of the deep mud to get the big bunch. The goat came right along for that too. So did a couple of the guys. The gate to that pen is at the bottom of the hill. The mud and muck was indescribably deep. Not quite as bad as quicksand, there is a bottom to it down there somewhere. It was half a corral that was as bad as the gate that gave us so much trouble trying to get the cows out of the corrals last week. Even the top of the hill had deep, greasy mud.

Most of the cattle went out the gate nicely. All except for the last two calves who were delighting in out running us in the muck. Unwilling to run our horses they had no trouble until along came Daisy. She had no trouble running on the slick ground and the calves soon discovered it was no fun after all and ran straight out the gate.

We got back to find my cows in the chute waiting. They wanted me to brand my own and that would’ve been great but our much beloved Poppy was up first and I could barely stand to do it. Unfortunately The Goblin Child’s first introduction to branding was me saying “Poor Poppy” and she repeated it somewhat distressed throughout the whole process.

I took up position in the back pushing calves in and Paula came to join me, leaving Heather to brand and vaccinate with the father-in-law. That left four people to get the big bunch sorted and ready to go. It worked great. When we started the big bunch the children were happily foisted off onto the two youngest girls. That I consider child care a job to deserve more thanks than working cattle shows just how twisted we are doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just that we do it all the time, and love it, but the chance to play at things we got to do before children came along makes it seem like more of a chore. It was sure nice to have someone to help watch kids.

With the big bunch nearly done I snuck out behind the barn with my husband to, well unfortunately to start loading cattle. Oh well, you can only have so much fun in one day. The Goblin Child’s favorite playmate, Whitten, was sad to have to leave as we were climbing in the semis to haul the cattle so we invited him to come along while his mom ran errands. It was all fun and games until we stuck the semi.

Even with all the moisture we’ve had lately the driveway looked dry. We pulled in to back across the road into the pasture to unload. Unfortunately the exact spot we stopped to start backing had a small puddle just big enough for all the back tires and they sunk. We unloaded there and there were enough of us to carefully guide the cows and calves across the road through the gate. I then called Whitten’s mom to tell her we were stuck and she may never get her son back. She came to rescue him immediately. Like rats fleeing a sinking ship we begged rides from her. As we prepared to escape the men got the semi free and we decided to stick around after all.

That days work may have been finished but the next day brought more calves and the next. Paula made it back for another days work at the calf table even though she would far rather rope and drag calves. Hopefully the others will come back again too. We are now out of sorted pairs to work and get out to pasture and the rain has set in again. That’s just fine we all have injuries and sore muscles that need a days rest to recuperate.

 

Just Wrong

That’s all that can be said about this it’s just plain wrong. We are going into Memorial Day weekend. Today is the last day of school, they are supposed to be outside enjoying a track and field day. Playing in short sleeves on green grass. You really can’t have a snow day on the last day of school.

Playing With Ponies

 

Cleaning Corrals

We got the pairs out of the well flooded corrals this week before more rain came in. They had weathered the storm pretty good with minimal losses, only one dead, one very sick and two lame probably stepped on. All four of those were in the same pen.

I saddled Coyote and put on his big cow working bit. I mock all those people who move up to bigger bits to control their horses and here I am with my big cow working bit. Sigh. But let me explain. We usually ride in a halter, bareback. He walks, mostly, quietly and responds to the lightest touch of leg or shift of seat. He loves to work cattle, it is very exciting and requires clearer commands under higher stress then trail riding. Halters, like hackmores, don’t give  clear commands. He has told me he does not like a snaffle. So here we are in his big cow working bit. (this is about like it, ours isn’t as fancy) He responds nicely to it no matter how hopped up he is. And he gets slightly crazed.

Anyway, we waded through knee deep mud pushing the cattle out. Pretty simple, they wanted to go, I fought to keep Coyote to a walk. He has beautiful, perfect, sound legs like iron but he is getting a bit of age on him and this was horrible, sucking, leg sticking mud. The last thing I want to do is lame my beloved pony, he wanted to go. Fast. We pranced.

One bunch of cattle, the ones with all the problems, had one gate they had to go through. The mud in it was awful, worse than everywhere else even. All the cows and calves struggled through and got out it. Except our three problem children.  The sick one said no he was not getting up his mom ran over to stay with him, problem solved. The not so lame calf followed the others out the gate. Or to the gate. Once in the gate he sunk to his belly in the sticky mud and was stuck. My father-in-law started to follow him but was persuaded to let me do the honors. He’s no spring chicken and doesn’t need to be trying to walk in that mess. I am no spring chicken either, but I am slightly springier.

I tied Coyote with his reins, hooked to his halter I know how quickly he can slip a bridle off, I didn’t need him stepping on me in his crazed state, and wadded in. And promptly got stuck, lost a boot and nearly fell over a couple of times but was able to get the calf free. Making my way back to Coyote I found him looking disappointed to still be tied with his bridle plopped into the muck beneath him. I was a little grouchy by then and short on clean places to wipe it so I put the bit back in his mouth, filth and all.

We pushed them out to the corrals that were dryer and open to the pasture then came back for the last calf. He was of course stuck in the mud. Once again being young and agile, it’s all relative, I dove in. The father-in-law started to follow but was happy to wait on dryer ground to serve as anchor. I reached a hind leg and drug the calf towards me gaining a foot or so then grabbed the outstretched hand of my father-in-law and pulled as I let go of the calf grabbed a boot and yanked first one foot than the other free moving slightly closer to high ground. This was repeated over and over as we gained inch after precious inch.  Finally he was free of that mud hole. We were still in the same pen though with the gate between us and freedom.

Thank goodness for payloaders. It plowed it’s way into the gate and gave the little guy a ride out of there. We found the problem, a broken leg, and set it before hauling him out to the cows. I haven’t heard any news of him and with 8 I can’t get out to see for myself hopefully the leg heals nicely.

Oh Hail

I don’t think that’s the first time I’ve used that title but to bad. What else can you say about this type of weather? Last weekend we had a foot of snow this weekend it was hail. The guys are getting antsy about getting the corn planted. With all the time spent getting the “new” drill working and the weather these last two weeks it’s getting late and still too muddy. Just talked to a neighbor who has been pulling 24 hour planting sprees in between storms.

The sound of the hail is deafening

It doesn’t stop once the storm has passed. Better to hear this roar going than coming.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

8 is getting so big! He is growing up much faster than his sister did, of course we had an extra two months of her being a tiny baby. This is easier. He laughed for the first time yesterday. A delightful giggle done many times while I changed his diaper. Of course he wouldn’t do it again for his father, or me.

He slept through the night Friday night! Clear till five thirty. Somehow that leads to less sleep not more. I wake up and lay there worrying about why he hasn’t woke up yet. Then when he gets up late he is ready to be up and the Goblin Child wakes up and we are all up for the day. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was five thirty but he hasn’t done that again. It’s been four, four thirty every day this week. I’m tired. Oh well, at least he’s only up once. And surely his laugh will cure even complete exhaustion?

The Great Mothers Day Blizzard of ’15

Or something like that.

We got a lot of snow. Wet, heavy, tree limb breaking, flower smashing, sick calf making snow. It wasn’t too bad around here but neither was the one in October a couple of years ago that killed so many cattle so it’s hard to judge. School is cancelled for Monday so we might get to sleep in a little. (we didn’t the phone rang shortly after six)

It started Saturday with lots of cold rain to get the animals soaked through and well chilled. The official winter storm warning started at six, we had a birthday party to go to at four. I was totally not worried but thought I would take the pick up because of all that mud. My devoted husband said of course he was coming with he would far  rather attend a children’s birthday party than stay home and enjoy a little alone time, besides he didn’t want us driving home in the snow if it got bad. We were so glad to have him come, we always enjoy his company.

The party was great, the food was delicious and The Goblin child got to use up some energy. We watched out the window as the rain turned to snow but it didn’t seem bad and it had been so warm surely it was melting as it hit the ground. Finally we drug ourselves away and started home the highway was snow packed. The tires spun as we pulled out, it was solid ice and slush. We didn’t get above thirty for the entire, usually short, drive home.

Before we left for the party I locked the shivering horses in the barn. When we got home I let them out to eat and drink. Before bed I bundled up and went out into the cold dark night to put them back in where they could be warm and dry, if without food and water. I didn’t bring a hater, they usually go in willingly, if a little hesitantly. I shooed them away from their hay bale and they left reluctantly. Coyote walked straight to the water trough and took a long deep drink then wadded through the knee deep mud around the corner and right into the barn where he stood waiting for the others. I was impressed. I spent the next half hour floundering around in deep sticky mud, hoping my knee held together as I continually got stuck and had to yank my over flowing mud boots free, chasing those dang mares around in circles as they refused to go back in.

Coyote really wanted them to join him. He stood inside the door calling them frantically. The goat stood under his feet baaing. If they were wading knee deep it was well up to her belly. I finally gave up and left them out. I left the door open for Coyote and Baa though and prayed that they didn’t destroy anything with free run of the barn. (they didn’t)

All night it snowed and right into morning giving us a good foot of snow that didn’t melt more that melted as it came down. Once 8 finally fell asleep Sunday we headed out to explore/check the damages. We waded out into snow that was taller than The Goblin Child. The horses given the option to stay inside were hunched against the wind eating but not shivering. The child and I fed our millions of chickens and then just outside one of the doors she spotted there on the ground a bird. Sitting motionless in the snow was a turtle dove. Of course we bothered it. The poor thing tried to fly crashed into the roof and fell to the ground. The cat and Daisy immediately dove for it. I chased them off and, breaking a rule that’s been drilled into me since childhood, scooped up the bird.

The poor thing barely fluttered in my hand. Brushing clumps of snow out from under its wings I tried to decide what to do with it. I decided it was probably just cold and I would risk the chickens. One group of them at least, if the bird was sick it could just as easily expose them while they all were outside anyway. I sat it inside the shed with a pile of food in front of it. when I came to check on it later it was perched on a chair and the next time it fluttered around my head at the door. I stepped out of the way and it flew off. This morning (Tuesday, it’s taken three days to write this stupid thing) I found one not so lucky laying dead in front of the house.

All in all we came through good. Cows are mostly caved so the biggest trouble there is going to be sick ones from the cold and wet and mud. The potatoes got their tops frosted it’s going to set them back but the asparagus looks alright.