I can feel fall coming. The pumpkins are big and beautiful. The garden is subsiding. The air is still hot, but with crisp cool nights.
I can feel fall passing by and am doing nothing about it. The need to harvest, to carve pumpkins, to set by supplies for the winter, it’s overwhelming. But it’s hot and still mostly summer. The contradictions leave me feeling depressed with a wistful longing for times long past.
Watching Tales from the Green Valley to satisfy my craving my son sat and joined me in the watching. He stared at the boiled partridge with dumplings they prepared from scratch, as in alive, and insisted on finding the recipe. Then as they hand spread wheat seed, covering it with a Hawthorn branch pulled by a horse he wanted to try that too.
Ah, a child who takes after me.
That is one thing that we can do. I discussed it with my farmer husband. He bequeathed us a corner of his garden that will be fallow through the year. If we wanted we could gather left over wheat seed and give it a try. We spent the morning raking and tilling a very small piece of land. Then went in search of seed. Our search is a bit late. They’ve spent the weekend up until now cleaning out the drills that planted the ‘real’ wheat crop in the last couple of weeks. He was slightly annoyed as he was trying to get work done when we came asking for scraps. But, he found a place in the seed truck where seed always hung up and needed cleaned out. Then came in search of us so we could catch it to use.
It was way more than our tiny plot needed and we kept the extra to grind over the winter. I love having home grown and ground wheat to cook with.
Then we planted. He planted. He hopes to harvest by hand next summer and use the straw for braiding rope or making baskets. Maybe together we can fill this craving I always feel.
We have put up as many vegetables as we have jars and room for. canned tomatoes, green beans, pickles beans. Frozen corn. Soon we will dig potatoes and bring in some pumpkins and store them away. Some things don’t change as much as we think. The pleasure of putting away food for winter is still strong.
I’ve begun picking a few of the pumpkins and placing them around the house. Maybe the best season of all isn’t quite us passing by.
We got to spend a rare afternoon at the river with good friends yesterday. And even more unusual my husband was able to escape and join us.
It was the perfect day. Miserably hot, cooled beautifully by the cold river water. There is no phone reception down there so my husband wasn’t bothered by the usual phone calls every few minutes. We got to enjoy piece and quiet.
The kids bounced and screamed in the deep water under the water fall. They found a huge trout in the shallow water. I walked up to see it too and shrieked as it swam at my foot. No more doubting their story about the big fish. They floated down stream, allowed beyond our careful watch for the first time to explore a little on their own.
Us adults soaked and rested and occasionally played in the deeper water too. Two of us shrieked as we saw the trout jumping up the waterfall. One of those was a grown man It appeared briefly feet above the water as it climbed up stream.
As we stood together for a moment, my husband and I, my friend said wait, hold still, I’ll get your picture. We gathered one child and called the other.
Nothing more clearly shows this child’s personality and the story of our lives with him than these pictures.
Some men buy their wives flowers. And maybe the type of wife who wants flowers is naturally drawn to the type of man who buys flowers?
I never have been a huge fan of cut flowers. I’d rather see them growing happily still on the plant.
Luckily for me my husband is the type who gives much better gifts. Even with his tendency to give good gifts the one he gave me yesterday was above and beyond.
My allergies are killing me. I spend my days sneezing, eyes watering, very attractive all the way around.
One of my favorite cows was sick. Black Betty, after the song which gets stuck in my head every time I say her name, has been happily raising a couple of bottle calves. She went from a wild range cow to a pet this spring after loosing her calf and getting a new one to raise. She is big and sweet and I was very worried about her.
I had locked the little bunch of cows she is running with in the corrals but there was a impenetrable barrier between her and the chute I’d need to get her in to take care of her.
The weeds in the lanes and corrals are well over head high. Clouds of yellow pollen billow from them at the slightest touch. If I tried to pass through them I would die. There was no chance I could bring her up to the barn.
My husband does not like cows and is working hard to get the wheat harvest finished. He put off getting started combining to take the children and together, bring Black Betty up to the barn.
The 4wheelers were turned yellow from their coating of pollen. Even my non-allergic family were coughing and sneezing. But they got her up.
I waited in the barn, which had taken climbing through some weeds to get to. I cleared spider webs out of the way and got the cute ready. We gave her the recommended shots and turned her back out into the wall of weeds.
Then he hurried off to the combine.
It may not seem like much. Running a cow in to the barn. But to me it was the best gift he could have given. Betty seems to be feeling much better today.
A gift of time, which is in such limited quantities, spent doing something you hate is such a valuable gift. I will treasure it always.
Larely, while the Goblin Child has been happily riding around ON her horse, she has been saying how nice it would be to go on a trailride. I point out that she is in fact currently trailriding.
That doesn’t count of course. She wants real trails, beautiful and scenic and somewhere she has never been before.
We have two horses. Three of us. There are trails nearby. But getting there and figuring out the logistics is daunting.
Finally it occurred to me that we could manage that. Fort Robinson isn’t that far away. They offer trail rides. One of which goes up into the buttes. She could have her trail ride and I could get a bit of revenge. Don’t like riding your horse here at home? Here, how do you like these trails 😈 as we climb the steep terrifying buttes.
It rained all night long and we woke up to a cool damp morning. I was worried they wouldn’t be giving rides.
Telling the kids we had to get some shopping done I drug them out of the house. We drove through the town with the stores and out the other side. I thought they might be engrossed in their tablets and not notice where we were going. Instead they were happily looking out windows. And still never questioned that we had passed the store I had said we were going to.
Pulling up to the fort we were supprised to see a neighbor of ours get out and beat us to the ticket line. She was signing up for the next available traileride for her kids. We signed up for that one too. Plus a jeep ride to fill the time between.
The goblin Child had texted one of her friends about something completely unrelated. It was a huge surprise when the friend texted back that she was at the fort, and they, she and her family, were going to be taking the same trail ride we were!
Wow, what a small world.
We toured one of the museums. Took our jeep ride. It was very pleasantly cool in the open top jeep as we wound up the buttes. Lunch in the restaurant, buffalo for everyone! Then it was time for our ride.
The trail horses were the usual tired, bored with life, and sick of people. I got a big raw boned sorrel who came with the warning to watch him and not let him bite the horse in front. My son got a cute little bay roan, rabacino? who walked so nicely right behind. My daughter got a long lanky grey who fell in line next to her friend. They were clear in the back of the line.
We started out across the gentle rolling hills. I fell into conversation with the girl leading the ride. She was a horse girl, of course! who also loved her milk cows. We had a lot to talk about. I remembered to look back and check on the children once in awhile. Every time I did my horse took the opportunity to reach out and bite the lead horse. Then we started climbing. The trail went straight up for quite a ways. The horses panted and climbed dutifully upwards. We stopped occasionally to let them rest.
The trail was mostly wide and not terrifying. Not even to me who is terrified of heights when horseback. A couple of places got narrow on steep side hills but we all survived. It made me think how nice it was not to be riding out flabby out of shape horses. They would never have made the climb. At the very top of the butte we stopped to admire the amazing view, and let the horses breath a bit. I took the chance to get my phone out and get the few pictures I did get. My horse took the opportunity to bite the horse in front of him.
Then it was time to start down.
At first the trail was gentle, winding down along the sides of the hills. Then it took a turn straight down. Holding my breath and tensing I let my horse know how terrified I was. He stumbled a little. I forced myself to breath, deep and regular. Then made muscles relax, as much as I could. I thought about how embarrassing it would be to insist on getting off and walking. On a guided traileride. On a horse who had packed all sorts of non horse riding tourists in sandals and shorts down this same hill. That was enough to make me stay on. Each slip on a loose rock made me gasp and cling tighter to the saddle horn. Each time we brushed against a sharp yucca I was sure it would be the last straw that made him take off bucking down the hill.
Not surprisingly, we made it to the bottom without incident.
Back on the gentle rolling hills I was able to breath again. To check back on the children riding behind me. My horse too the chance to bite the horse in front of him.
We all survived the ride. My son was exhausted. All that long slow was a lot more work than zipping around on his little mare in the yard. My daughter had a great time coming up with stories with her friend. They had decided on the worst case scenario for the ride. Her story goes like this:
Your riding along on your horse and the horse gets bit by a rattle snake. That makes the horse buck. You fall off the horse, over the steep cliff we were riding along. You get impaled on a tree on the way down. A mountain lion comes along and eats your legs as you hang there. Then you catch on fire!
Luckily, none of those things happened. But think how fun if they had.
She enjoyed the ride greatly, but doesn’t think it would be worth it to work on steering her own horse so they could go do it together. It was more fun on a horse she could just sit on.
It was surprising to see so many swooping and diving in the yard. After that brief moment of surprise I realized they couldn’t be birds. They were dragon flies!
Huge and black they filled the air space of the yard. Enough that I would be scared to walk through the middle.
The children came out briefly when I called them to come see. My husband stayed longer. Our patience was rewarded as we noticed the small bugs. Golden brown they glowed nearly golden in the setting sun. They seemed to be hatching? They were flying up from the grass of the yard, hundreds of them. We could see them as they came up. If we looked close. Then we would see a dragon fly swoop towards them and snatch them out of the air. Occasionally one would slip past the gathered hoard and find its way to freedom.
It’s always fun to see all the dragon flies. I know, in abstract, that they are wonderful for controlling mosquitoes and other insects. To get to see them swoop down and attack, to hear the occasional clatter of wings as they crash together as two go after the same bug, it brings the abstract to reality.
My dad has been here visiting for the last few days. It’s been great.
But I’m glad he left. Or at least glad he left when he did.
Mid afternoon clouds began to build. Thunder rumbled in the distance. It started sprinkling lightly. No big deal. I went out and played with horses. The laundry even finished drying.
Then the lightning started for real. We sat outside and watched. The lightening was coming to the ground, it looked like just over the hill. Then it started to rain for real. The kids blew bubbles and chased them in the rain. Giggling and wet. Then they shrieked with joy as a few hail stones pelted them.
The joy occasionally turned to pain as large stones hurt!
Eventually the fun wore out. It had been hailing for a long time. Some of the stones were big! And still it hailed. It would come in sheets, heavy and hard. Luckily there was no wind even though the clouds circled and swirled overhead. I stood and watched, texting friends, taking pictures. Fascinated by the storm. Then I realized my feet were getting wet. The water rushing down the road like a river was also filling our door step. Hail stones splashed in the river that was our road.
The sprayer kept fertilizing. He had been going all day. The fertilizer needed watered in anyway. In the beginning we hoped the rain would be enough to soak it in we now hoped wouldn’t wash it away. He came flying through the yard once. I thought he was giving up. But no. He was just moving on to the next field. A little hail wasn’t going to slow him down. Not until he finished the job.
Once the rain and hail stopped for a few minutes 8 and I went out to explore. We looked at the cows, then saw white hills in the distance. They were white, looked like they were covered in snow. We saw the water flooding through the corrals, coming down from the white hills in the distance. We drove over to see the snow. Needed 4wheel drive to get through the inches of hail covering the road. Stopped to look at the waterfall of water rushing over the road.
We had been lucky to miss the worst of the hail. As bad as it had been at home I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like so close but so much worse than we got. Our first real rain of the year and what a rain it was. Outside it’s still coming down. At least it isn’t hailing any more.
The weather has been very clearly predicted. For the last few days all we’ve heard about is the coming storm. Snow predictions measured in feet, howling winds, nights with temps around zero.
It’s the middle of calving season. As much as we all want grass and some moisture for the coming year, no one wants this.
The weekend was spent getting things ready. The heavies, the springers, the cows closest to calving, are already sorted off and in a pen with good shelter, close enough to keep an easy eye on. I saddled up and made one last trip through the rest, pulling anything that looked remotely close to calving. Even one who I’m pretty sure is just so obese that everything on her jiggles. I don’t actually believe she is bred, but better safe than sorry.
Once all those were in we went through them all again. Looking carefully to try to choose between the ones who look like they could calve, eventually, and the ones who are teetering on the brink. Those were brought in even closer into the best possible protection we have. They were tucked away with plenty of feed and straw bales to bed down on. I was gratified to find two new calves in there the next morning. We had selected well.
Then a cow calved out in the usual calving pen.
Dang it. How do they do that? No matter how closely you look them over there’s always one who calves the day after you sort, in with the ones you didn’t choose.
Although it snowed all morning, the afternoon was clear. The calm before the storm. I went to brig the pair in. The cow saw me coming and started pawing when I was half way across. This was going to be fun. It was a pleasant surprise when she picked her little heifer calf up and walked quietly and agreeably across the pen. Because of course she had the calf on the far side. I got ahead of myself thinking how good this was going.
We got to the mud puddle at the gate, because of course there is a mud puddle at the gate. The calf stopped to sniff and it all went to heck. The calf hooked onto the fourwheeler and would only follow me, not her desperately calling mother. And only when I was going away from the gate. Not if I drove in the direction I wanted them to go. The mom was getting grouchy and looking me very intently in the eye. The other cows were minding their own business trying to eat. Until we disturbed them and they had to get in on the fun.
Finally getting the calf between the fourwheeler and the fence I was able to give it a shove, move her a few feet ahead. Then I’d pull the fourwheeler ahead to catch up. Then shove the calf along again. In this slow leapfrogging manner we made it through the gate. As soon as I puled away the cow came running.
We were almost there.
I closed the gate behind the pair and asked them to keep going. The cow, head high, looked me in the eye and said no. I stepped through the mud puddle to ask them to go. I felt a slight tug. Before comprehension set in I set my foot down and felt icy water through my sock as my bootless foot sank down into the muck.
My boot had stayed behind with the last step. I was nose to nose with a grouchy cow, ankle deep in muck, wearing only one boot.
Apparently the noises I made at that point were scarier than anything I had offered up until then. She showed that she really could get her calf to move if she actually wanted to and off they went. I was forced to chose between putting my ‘muddy’, we all know there’s a lot more in that muck than mud, foot back in my nice clean boot and hopping back to the fourwheeler half shod.
I shook my foot as clean as I could get it and put my boot on. Now the cow would be in the warmest safest spot I could get her to. I hope she appreciated it. On the cold drive back to the house I was starting to think I should have left her!
Miracles don’t have to be huge and flashy to have a huge impact. Sometime the small whispers and touches of God are barely even noticeable. Until we realize what it would have been like without that small touch.
Going out to feed on a cold frosty morning I was met with two new calves. One with a close, attentive mama, was up bouncing around.
The other lay in a frosty shivering heap, as his mama napped near by. I got her up and bothered her, hoping she would get defensive of her calf, start licking and helping him get warm. She shook her head at me and laid back down as soon as I left. He shivered harder.
Back with proper tools this time I rolled him into the sled. She shook her head and yelled at me but didn’t come close enough to make me use the hammer I had ready just in case.
Bellowing loudly she chased us to the gate. If she had shown that much interest earlier I wouldn’t have needed to be taking her calf in the first place. As we got to the gate I started to wonder how this was going to work out. I had left it open so I wouldn’t have to stop, but how would I keep her in once I got out? It wouldn’t be fun having her ‘help’ as I got the calf into the warmer.
As I pulled the 4wheeler through the gate, the rope connecting the sled to the 4wheeler came untied. Right in the middle of the gate. I cursed it in my head. What a terrible thing to have happen. Then went to pull it through by hand.
Because I was there pulling it slowly by hand I was able to shut the gate as the calf came through. I was able to chase the mom back a little bit and keep her from coming through the gate. I was able to close the gate on her nose as she tried to follow through. The rope had come untied at exactly te perfect spot to make everything work perfectly.
It’s those tiny, sometimes barely even noticeable, miracles that make the huge differences. The calf and I both survived. He is getting warm now. I will go get his mom and bring her in so they can have another try at this whole mothering thing. Maybe he’ll be able to help himself out a bit more and make it work this time.
God is good.
Calf pictured is not the calf in question. This calf we pulled out of a heifer. It was huge, bigger than Pansy. Up and doing good!