19 March 2016

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.



13 March 2016

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.


11 March 2016

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.

5 March 2016

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?







2 March 2016

Starting Spring Seeds

Not late really, it just felt like it after meaning to get it done for weeks and not accomplishing anything. Did it on Sunday, the 28th. Important to keep records straight.

I planted Petunias! And there will be more to come later. I had Vining, wild, and seeds from our volunteer plants to plant. I ordered some Espresso Frappe Rose Hybrid seeds from Burpee taking advantage of their free shipping over the weekend.

prod022668And from Terroir Seeds more good old fashioned, sweet smelling, heirloom seeds. This time I chose the Dwarf petunia and Shenandoah to shake things up a little. The two types I got last time, a couple years ago, are still giving us plentiful volunteers and lots of seeds left in the packets still. This is a much smaller company than Burpee, which I like a lot and they are much cheaper, a hundred seeds for three dollars as opposed to fifteen seeds for five. Plus they come back from seed. I would never have to buy another petunia if I didn’t just want to. Unfortunately their website wouldn’t let me borrow any pictures, so follow the link (here again in case you missed it) and check out those beauties.

My gardener husband planted the first run of tomatoes and peppers. These will go in the greenhouse. Next planting he will do the ones for the regular outside garden. I don’t know which verities he planted but we are waiting impatiently for them to sprout. The few days always seems to take so long.


27 February 2016

Shipping and Sorting

It’s been a busy few days. On top of 8 not sleeping, at all ( Hey 8, your sister started sleeping through the night just before she turned one, we really wouldn’t mind if you wanted to follow her example. And when she was up at night it was once or twice, not hourly, all night.)

20160225_134900Thursday we shipped the calves to the sale barn, the sales are on Friday and the father-in-law didn’t think there would be time to get them all there Friday morning before the sale. It took all day, there wouldn’t have been time. I didn’t do anything but watch in the morning, soaking up the sunshine. Wait. Thinking about it we helped feed then went to help get them in, waited at the gate to count, it was still really cold and 8 had a messy diaper. We went home. Then, much later, I went to watch in the warm sun.

After the first loads my hard working husband went into town to his other job and the kids and I played outside.

The afternoon loads were more exciting. It could have been that they  had me to help instead of my cow whisperer husband or it could have been that the crazy’s always hang back till last and there was lots of last minute sorting. I was bringing calves up the lane when they started sorting in the front pen. They had decided to pull any heifers that had been ridden. They didn’t sort well. Then a gate got pushed open, they needed sorted again.

There were a few more heifers with the hair gone off their tail heads that he wanted to pull (that’s how you can tell if they’ve been cycling, the other cattle ride them, it rubs the hair off. They are teenagers after all), some trouble loading, I should have been helping I suppose instead of googling info on cow whorls,  and at the very end the bulls. There were three in there. One that sorted off nice and easy in the very beginning and two who were in the very last sort. One pulled off easy enough leaving the crazy’s, the very last three head. One that wanted out, one that has my vote for being the one that could jump like a deer and lead the great escape escapade a few weeks ago. She was running back and forth crashing into the fences until her nose was gushing blood, nobody was stepping foot into the pen to sort her off because the last bull was in there and he wanted to eat us. He was just a little guy, a bull only because a band broke after he was banded this spring, but he was on the fight. His head was up and he was charging everyone he looked at. By pure chance, after many laps, he and crazy ran opposite directions and they got them separated, loaded and on the road.

Not the bulls, they stayed home. I went back to check the children and brought The Goblin Child with me to put the little bulls out in the pen with the big bulls and the saved heifers out in a pen of their own. Finally that day, that exhausting part of it was over.

Saturday was gorgeous, warm and calm with lots of sunshine. I started the day, without water actually. My multi talented husband ran out first thing in the morning to get the pump for the well going. Then after feeding kids, dressing kids and so on I started the morning by saddling Coyote. Clint the neighbor who does seem to live here sometimes was back again, with his saddle this time to ride Onna, we’ll leave the princess part out for him, and we went to sort cows.

My cow hating husband held the gate and we started looking for the ear tags of the cattle who had been jumping fences all summer, skinny lame cows and anything else that had to go. We saw lots of cows springing and bagging up, calving is going to start soon. Coyote and Onna were hot and raring to go. I was very glad I had put on my big cow working bit and Clint with a snaffle was getting a workout. Onna turned from black to white with lather. She loves chasing cattle as much as Coyote does and would not slow down. He had no trouble getting her to gait today, she zipped the whole time. She doesn’t know how to work properly, her turns are wide and slow but executed with great enthusiasm. She did very well and he had nothing but good to say about her.

Coyote was a cow eating fool today. He sat down and worked those cows properly, I don’t know that he would have held up to a calf at a real cutting but up against an old cow he was matching step for step. Nose to nose he leaped back and forth holding those old girls. Then he started plodding back after the next cow a little slower every time. I remembered that he is nearly twenty, out of shape and still, rightfully so, wearing his winter coat on a hot day. The father-in-law was out there on his fourwheeler by then so we quit helping sort and stood by the gate to help when they got there. He was still wanting to work them as they came but after he was perfectly willing to stand quietly and so was I. Poor guy.

Of course I can’t get pictures during the exciting stuff, I do have work to do. Ruins all the fun. But taking it easy on Coyote did allow a little time for picture taking. Course I had to stop and get back to work just as it got interesting.


24 February 2016

Happy Birthday 8!!

Unlike your sister’s rather sudden arrival  you were carefully planned. We tried to schedule you for the same day as your cousin. But she came about a little earlier and ruined that grand scheme. Happy Birthday Truly, a little late!! So we chose your date because it was double your dads and we thought we could remember. (Even though I had the 26th stuck in my head today for some reason–Dad)

You spent your last couple of months trying to kill me. I thought a few times you were ready to come but no you were just squirming and stretching your legs. Clear into my ribs. I swear I could feel your head and your heels as you pushed as hard as you could. (We should have known at this point that you would NEVER hold still even after you came out–Dad)

When it was time your Grammy and Papa, or different papa as your sister refers to him, came out to help out and take care of your sister. They brought her a horse and clothes for you. Not a fair deal was it. (I think 8 would agree that having clothes instead of a horse was a good deal rather than the other way around–Dad) We had to be at the hospital by six in the morning. It’s a half hour drive in to Chadron, so we had to get up very early and I couldn’t have my morning coffee. I love that that was the difficulty in your birth story.

That morning is a blur of poking and prodding by the nurses. Finally they wheeled me into the cold operating room.  It was a lot less rushed than last time. And sooo cold. They gave me heated blankets, that helped a little. Your father was by my side the whole time, I couldn’t have done it without him. He held my hand and, occasionally, peeked over the blanket they had up to block my view to tell me what they were doing. (I saw WAY too much of the inside of your mama-Dad)

We are lucky enough to have a great doctor that we go to church with and are all around very fond of. Technically her husband performed the c-section, but she was our doctor the rest of the pregnancy and would have delivered your sister too if not for extenuating circumstances. So he cut me open and maybe took you out I don’t know I couldn’t see, they would not let me look it ruined all the fun.  You came out splashing fluid all over their feet and peed immediately. I could see that. All over Dr. Kristi. She did not drop you because of it. I might have. (Once again, foreshadowing…you go through diapers like crazy–Dad)

They proceeded to dig around awhile longer then sewed things back up. I was much more alert this time, the first time around I was completely out of it. I may not have been able to feel anything below my ribs but I could sure feel the skin being tugged back down. They made quick work of it then wheeled us to the recovery room. (Your mama was a trooper–Dad)

After that the recovery was quick, I could feel my feet again in a few hours. You were a beautiful baby, not all red and squishy and funny looking like I always think babies are. Your sister was fascinated by you, she didn’t hate you or want to send you back the way people kept telling us to expect. She has wanted to hold you and play with you from the beginning. It gets a little scary sometimes. For us if not you. Fortunately you are as big as she is already and we can let you guys play a little. (And hopefully a lot more in the next few years–Dad)

I still haven’t decided if knowing the nurses was a benefit or a draw back. It got pretty embarrassing sometimes knowing I would see these people again outside the hospital. You nearly slept through the night in the beginning and were so quiet. Then they told us my pain killers were being passed through to you, I quit the heavy stuff as soon as possible. You were much more alert after that. (But it WAS nice while it lasted–Dad)

It was very uneventful. After your sister we were happy about that. You are and were a good, sweet, overly energetic baby and we are so happy to have you. Happy birthday, 8, from your mama and lala! We love you!


22 February 2016

In The Cab

Maybe we should just start this one out with the video. Again probably easier to watch here. When I say that Lance is the go to guy I mean that quite literally. My husband has spent more time talking to him lately than he has to me and when he talks to other, far off, experts about this stuff they always say that he ought to talk to Lance.


So we have the base (NTRIP server) that receives the satellite signal and sends it to the server (NTRIP caster) that the tractor (NTRIP client) connects to in order to send the data it collects and receive direction. And by direction I mean that some of that stuff in the cab actually steers the tractor.

Speaking of steering the tractor. The factory steering wheel comes off and the EZ Pilot attaches to  the steering column with it’s own special steering wheel. It’s connected to the rest of the stuff that gives it direction. There is a receiver on the roof that gets the satellite signal and probably an external antenna to improve the cell signal. A computer screen to display the pertinent information with a blue tooth receiver to connect to a cell phone, or possibly a Raspberry Pi.

I keep talking about Raspberry Pi and forget that they aren’t a household name. A Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer, about the size of two decks of cards on top of each other, that runs about forty dollars, last I knew. They can be programmed to do countless really cool things. Looking at their site I see them used as a baby monitor, a book scanner and for games. Open source all the way! ( As I type on my Mac 😉  Some day I’ll be cool enough to use Linux) We use one to watch TV, movies and stuff off of our FreeNAS, the last really cool computer project my brilliant husband took on, and one to catch podcasts. That’s all for now but only for lack of time not a lack of ideas and uses. Raspberry pi are what schools would be using if they really wanted to teach students how to use computers, that’s what they are designed for, instead of teaching them to use face book and twitter and, horror of horrors, use windows (I refuse to capitalize that). But then they would have to have teachers who knew how to use a computer. (Speaking as a person who can barely work a computer and fully knowing we would not be able to watch TV past the next update if something were to happen to my husband. And, yes dear, that is why we would miss you ;P) That was kind of fun, but I digress.

While I tried to figure out the cab portion of this and was busy with life, the parts came! And he began the install on the tractor.

19 February 2016

By The Grace of God

I need to take a break from the intricacies of modern farming techniques  to remember what is really important.

This morning with, as usual, a small child at my feet I stretched up to reach one of the high cabinets in the kitchen. As on tip toes I reached over my head to the handle and pulled the door open something crashed down on to me. It bounced off my elbow and landed with a gentle poof in the nearly full trash can.

It took me a moment to realize what had happened. My elbow hurt. But there on top of the garbage was a large heavy glass pitcher. I vaguely remember shoving it up into the cabinet to get it off the counter. I should have been more careful in my placement. The door must have been all that was holding it up and when I opened it it crashed down.

Only it didn’t. Instead of shattering on the hard floor and our bare feet or on a small fragile head it bounced off my elbow, which hurt I will admit but did no damage, and into the perfectly filled trash can, not to full so it would fall out but down just enough that there was an edge to catch it and still provide lots of cushion. An incredibly small target and the only place it could have landed without hurting someone. It may seem like such a small insignificant thing, a miracle involving a garbage can, but the possibility of severe damage was so great.

God is good.

I’ve been so caught up in this farming stuff, it came at a perfect time to remind me to take time out of what ever we are doing that we think is so important to remember what really matters

18 February 2016

The Base Station

Why does anyone write anything when it’s already all been written and is so readily available on the internet? It provides me with no incentive to write something original when it has already been said so much better than I ever could. But I learn best by writing and that is my goal so I guess I will try.

To not quite quote an article I was reading, a base station is a receiver, placed at a fixed location, that monitors the GPS satellites . The base station corrects errors in the system and relays them to the tractor (rover receiver) through a radio link, the internet connected to a cell phone, then to the tractor through blue tooth.

But back to the base station. It is an antenna connected to a computer, or Raspberry Pi, that collects the satellite data. It provides a fixed location to correct the lack of uniformity in the satellite signal that the tractor receives, due to atmospheric conditions. Without it you get the low accuracy of four inches or greater. I know, I’m repeating myself.  The base is an NTRIP server. NTRIP means network transport of RTCM data over IP, what that means I don’t know. But the NTRIP server sends its info back to the NTRIP caster. Which is actually a server.

Confused yet?

A server, when not involved in all this stuff is a computer that hosts things like blogs and web pages and probably a lot of other things I am not looking that up too. But for this purpose the base is called the server and it sends its info back to a real server which for this job is called an NTRIP castor. Because it casts the info out to the tractor. Or not, but still called a caster.

One caster can have many different base stations hooked up to it. Each base station can cover approximately twenty miles, one millimeter per kilometer from the base, whatever the equivalent of that would be in miles.

So the base station (NTRIP server) connects to the server (NTRIP caster) which connects to the phone in the tractor (NTRIP client) to tell it how to steer the tractor.  Easy cheesy!

Until next time another great video by lance!