21 March 2022

Grappling Hook

The weather was beautiful. Warm and not windy yet. We forced the kids away from tablets and computers. Without them the kids are really quite enjoyable.

Working with horses and doing chores around the place, we ended up out by the old school house barn. It is getting closer to falling down all the time and the kids are not allowed to play in or near it. They are very good about that. To the point that when I told 8 he could go in and look around while we were there together The Goblin Child said no, she was not going in there, and left.

Us two foolish people went in and explored. You’d think that after being explored for so many years it would no longer have secrets to give up. But still, we find more. As the children get bigger they can climb farther, see new things. 8 climbed an old stall divider and peered into the hay loft. He wanted my to have a look too. There were some ancient rotted hay bales and a tire. Mostly there is sunlight streaming through where a roof once was.

I was happy to oblige him and I climbed up and peered around too. There in the middle of the loft was a headstall. I could see a bit and some twisted leather remains. Right out in the middle where there was no way I was walking.

Climbing down I let 8 replace me. He spotted it and we spent some time locating it from below to see if there was a way to reach it that way. Quickly realizing the hopelessness of that we stopped to think about things.

A grappling hook! That was what we needed! Something we could throw out there, hook the bridle, and drag it back. But where would we find something like that? We headed back towards the house to search.

There we found The Goblin Child happily swinging. She may not be interested in going into the wreck of a barn just for fun, but the quest was more than she could resist. We all continued on together. Junk piles are a great resource. We scavenged through the trash and the scrap iron pile. Finally finding the perfect hunk of metal. Then to gather the rope that we use to tie cow legs back so calves can nurse. I wasn’t going to use my good rope for this! And back to the barn.
Each child got to take a turn climbing up and tossing the rope. I had visions of heads banged and teeth knocked out, but they each tried without causing injury. Then it was my turn, waiting had been hard 😉 I was able to hook the bridle and almost get it over. After a third or forth try it was there!

And the bit was broken 🙁

Oh well. It was still fascinating. Coming up with a back story for it has been so much fun. The leather is of course shot. But I am sending the buckle to a friend to see if she can remake the very basic headstall reusing the old buckle. We polished the bit up a bit and will put it in the house where we can admire it.  We had a grand adventure and learned about problem solving and resourcefulness.

1 November 2021

Halloween ’21

October has been so full of festivities that by the time Halloween proper rolled around I was exhausted. The kids weren’t and that is the important thing.

It was cold all day. We worked inside on shelling beans, freezing brussel sprouts and fitting in one last little bit of Halloween WOW and LOTRO. When evening rolled around we bundled up nice and warm then headed out into the chill.

That wasn’t actually all that chilly. I had forced layers of long underwear, coats, and gloves onto the children. They quickly discarded them. The weather was actually just about perfect. It’s supposed to be cold on Halloween. Even with the hint of mist in the air we all stayed warm walking as fast as we could, anxious to get to the next house and the next treat. We had planned on doing one street. They finished that in record time and we decided to go down the next one, then the next, and the next. They canvased most of the town and we were still home well ahead of bed time!

The littlest of the children had a hard time keeping up with the big ones. One of them crashed a few times right on his head in his rush to keep up and enjoy the fun. Luckily his trusty hat saved his face. He wore out quickly and retired to the car with his father who was as easily tired of trick or treating as my darling husband. The men followed in the vehicles, as the women ran behind the children loosely herding them along. No serious injuries were received, no children ran over by cars, we even made it home without hitting any deer!

Halloween was a success.

There’s nothing like a small town Halloween. There are houses where all the children are ushered inside. We stand on the street waiting without worry. All the children we meet we well known to each other. Even if not recognized under the costumes. They join together in bands then separate coming and going through the night. Home made treats are handed out without us worrying about who made them or what could be inside. Supper is traditionally held at the church, a combination of irony and beauty.

 

 

 

 

28 October 2021

Fall Program ’21

The first grade class dressed up as crayons. The second and third grade classes were all cookies.

 

 

 

 

22 June 2021

Windmill Repairs

The kids and I spent last summer checking on the heifers. Towards fall we took over the cow herd too. This year we are starting out with the whole bunch.

While fixing fences this spring we found one tank badly in need of banking, piling dirt in around it so the cows, and calves, can reach over the side to get a drink. It was dug and washed down so deep next to the tank that only the cows could reach and only if they stretched clear up and over. That left one little tank for the cattle to drink out of. If it got filled by the big tank once the big tank got full. Which it couldn’t because the side of the tank was getting smashed lower than the over flow by cows standing on tip toes to reach over the side.

I bugged my husband until we all went over and got it fixed!

Today was the first day we were able to get back over and check on the repairs. The tanks looked good.

We went past the heifers. Their tank didn’t look good. It looked empty.

One heifer was in the tank. The rest were standing around looking thirsty. There was water still in the water hole next to it. It wasn’t an extreme emergency. Something needed done though. Soon. I was trying to decide if we could move the herd of yearlings, cow people will understand the issues involved with trying to move yearlings, using only one pickup across a wide open hay field. Or if we should go home and get the pickup and trailer and two 4wheelers.

As always happens when I need him, whether I know it or not, my husband called. He told me to check a few things before jumping straight to moving heifers. I know nothing about working on windmills. He said to look down the pipe and see of we could see the rod down there that the chain was supposed to be hooked to. I couldn’t.

As we were talking about how it wasn’t going to work our son was fiddling around. He held up the pipe that we were looking down. He had unscrewed it! Now we could see, and reach, another six inches down. With the top of the pipe off we could see the rod! Brilliant child.

Hanging up we went to work trying to follow directions and improvise to get them to work. Releasing the break on the windmill we let the wind lower the chain as far down as possible. It wasn’t near close enough to connect the chain coming down from the windmill to the rod it had to pump to bring up water.

All we had on hand were my fencing pliers, one vice grip, a flash light we found in the glove box, and a piece of chain left hanging on the windmill.

Using that we were able to remove the piece that needed to screw onto the rod. We got that, and the spare piece of chain attached to it. screwed onto the rod! The horror that would occur if we dropped anything down the pipe was fresh on my mind and I repeated it continuously to the children. My daughter clung to the chain and the lower half of the concoction as if her life depended on it.
No matter how hard we pulled we couldn’t get the rod up any higher. No matter how much we let the windmill go hoping it would somehow lower itself enough to reach, it couldn’t. When we connected rod and chain, using our spare chain, we could get the rod high enough but couldn’t hold it there to disconnect and reconnect chains.

I was about to give up.

Just when I needed him, my husband called back to see how things were going. Should he leave work and drive over?

From the first time I met him there hasn’t been a time that I really needed him that God hasn’t sent my husband to me. I try not to let myself get too comfortable in the knowledge that he will be there, but he always is.

We told him our problem. He gave us a solution. Take the vice grips off the chain where we were using them to hold the two chunks together. Find some wire, we were fencing after all, we had wire! Use that to hold the chains together. Let the windmill pull the rod up. Quickly snap the vice grips onto the rod to hold it up where it needed to be, disconnect and reconnect the chains where they needed to be.

Duh. So simple but so far out of my ignorant brain.

We went to work at it. Both children had been right there with me this whole time, working as hard as they could. Accomplishing every bit as much as I was. What good kids and what a great learning opportunity.

With a good bit of trial and error, but no fingers pinched or eyes poked out by wires flying through the air, we eventually got it. We only had to take out bolt back out once to put the pipe back over the chain so we could screw it back on once we had the chain connected. Sometimes the wind died down. As soon as we needed to rod drawn up a gust would come by and turn the windmill. God was with us in so many ways.

Wires removed, nuts tightened on the bolt. break released on the windmill the wind came up steady. Pumping water into the empty tank. It was flowing again. The windmill working beautifully. We had succeeded. To kids, a pair of fencing pliers, one vice grip, and me in my complete ignorance of windmill. And my husband over the phone of course.

 

14 June 2021

Ducks!

We have ducklings in the windmill pond!
Both a good and bad thing. I can’t believe she nested there. It feels like I just turned the windmill on. Surely there couldn’t even have been water there when she started sitting? Or maybe it’s been on longer than I think?
Hopefully they can survive the cows. One of them was very curious while we were there. I was about ready to jump in boots and all and chase her away. The mom took off running through the grass when we got there. Trying to lure the predator away I’m guessing.
I want to point out that this isn’t a natural pond. It is only there because of the cattle. Without them there would be much less water like this available for wildlife. There is no moving cattle to save ducks. We will have to trust them to survive in the wild just like they always do. We just gave them a little extra help by having cattle there. As is usually the case.
Makes me wonder more about the coyote we chased off checking the tank just before putting the cattle in. Maybe it was yet another case of wildlife being saved by cattle and routine cattle care. They will continue to keep coyotes at bay. Cows don’t regularly let coyotes hang out with them.
13 June 2021

Elk!

Driving home last night I slowed down upon seeing some deer grazing along the road. The deer are so bad on our road I’m getting to be as bad as those Aussies, refusing to drive at night out of fear of hitting things. We may bot have kangaroos here, but deer are a close second.
As I slowed down I noticed something different about these deer.
They were elk!
This was just over a mile from our house. Elk aren’t uncommon around here, just not right here. We get them on our pasture and wheat fields west of here about ten miles all the time. That’s a lot closer to the pine ridge, their usual habitat. Right here we never get them.
We did get a mountain lion a couple of years ago, also more common in the pine ridge. Maybe the extra numbers of them are pushing the elk farther afield?
I stopped in the middle of the road for a few minutes to look at them and grab a few pictures. Then they ran off, towards our home. As cool as it is to see them I hope they don’t actually come visit. Those things are hard on fences!
3 May 2020

Positive Punishment? Negative Reinforcement? A Little Of Everything?

Sometimes the lines between the quadrants aren’t as clear as we would like.

My daughter hadn’t been sleeping. I need sleep, I found this to be very strong Positive Punishment. Walking through the days in a tired foggy haze made me grouchy and miserable to live with. That was not strong enough positive punishment to keep her from coming into our room every night just wanting someone to come back  to her room with her to stand there until she fell asleep, over and over again.

We tried all sorts of different techniques to get her to stop. After the first few times which were nightmare induced, it wasn’t because of fear so much as habit. She would be up and headed to our room before she was even fully awake. We tried patience, I admit I yelled a few times, my husband made her a noise machine that played audio books for her all night long. Please just lay there and listen to your book instead of coming to get us every time you wake up, we begged her.

None of it worked.

We were exhausted and our tempers were getting short.

This is where the lines start to blur.

I have been making the children come with me to feed in the mornings since they have been out of school. It’s good for them and they enjoy it once they get out there, even if they beg not to have to go every single day. It’s a fight to get them out the door.

It’s good for them, everyone needs to learn about work and responsibility. To them it is positive punishment though.

I told her that if she could make it through the night without waking us up she wouldn’t have to come with to feed.

It worked. She said the next day that she had been out of bed and almost to our door before she remembered feeding.

So she went back to bed.

What  category does this fall under?

Not positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement would be offering her a reward for doing the thing we wanted. We are, but only in the form of relief from  punishment. The one receiving the punishment, or reward, is the one who gets to decide what is punishment or reward, not the one giving it.

Had she not slept I would have been applying positive punishment by making her continue to go feed with me.

Positive punishment isn’t always a bad thing. We think of it as punishing, cruel and hurtful. By the scientific definition it is anything that stops a behavior. In real life the punishment I offered is something that is far better for her than not to be punished. So often we, our horses, everything, look at things that are good for them as a bad  thing. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, sometimes it’s hard to do. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best thing to do.

We would  like the lines between the quadrants to be well defined and clear. Punishment bad. Reward good.  Really though life is a constant weighing and re-balancing of the scales.

She is still sleeping through the night. She is still not going with to feed. Responsibility and the importance of work in life will have to be taught at some point, right now getting to sleep through the night weighs far more heavily on my scale.

25 January 2019

Toothless, 2

With only one tooth left in front after the two of them had been fighting for the middle spot the remaining one got to take over the center. She looked like a young adorable hillbilly. She wouldn’t let me take a picture and I didn’t try very hard to get one because there was no rush. I would have time. She looked so adorable.

When I Picked her up from the bus after school the next day she showed me how she could bend her tooth clear backwards. I appear to be overcoming my revulsion for wiggly teeth. Instead of gagging I noticed that was bending CLEAR backwards and there was very little holding it in. I told her just to pull it out. She said she couldn’t.

We sat on the couch that evening watching a bit of tv. Without a word she left. Disappearing for awhile. She returned tooth in hand and an even more gap toothed grin. She had done the deed.

This time the tooth fairy was very careful to remember to visit. It was probably easier to keep her wings de-iced since she was already in the neighborhood.